Orders of the Day — Third Schedule. — (Purchase Tax — Intermediate rate.)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1947.

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Photo of Mr Cecil Poole Mr Cecil Poole , Lichfield 12:00 am, 17th June 1947

I should like to say a few words with regard to the plea of my hon. Friend the Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson). When the Chancellor is considering water heaters, I hope he will consider something else, too. I am very sorry that the Minister of Fuel and Power was not here tonight to hear the plea of my hon. Friend, because if he had been here I am sure he would have been appalled at that suggestion. The water heater is one of the heaviest consumers of electricity, and for people to plead for water heaters to be installed in houses when we are face to face with the situation which will arise next winter is, to me, to show a complete disregard of our position. Anyone would think that there had been no fuel crisis last winter, when an hon. Member advocates the removal of restrictions on purchases of that sort. There is no connection between the supply of water heaters and the supply of new houses for the people, and my hon. Friend is quite out of touch if he thinks the working class heats its water with water heaters. They are the most wasteful form of heating, and have no relation to the housing problem, and the building of a house will not be held up because it has not a water heater.

I think there is a stronger case to be made for exempting vacuum cleaners than some of the other commodities, in regard to which the Chancellor has conceded the point, and dismissed the tax with a wave of his hand. I am with those who say that this is a most valuable adjunct of the housewife, and it is unfair today to penalise her in her cleaning tasks. The vacuum cleaner ought to be one of the first things to be exempted, because domestic servants are largely non-existent in many households today. I say the vacuum cleaner ought to be exempt from the tax, but the water heater, no. I am reminded of information given to me last year when electric tires were freed from Purchase Tax. Then, had the electric fires sold in the area served by the Ironbridge Power Station all been on during the whole of the 24 hours they would have absorbed the total output capacity of that power station. That was the situation last year when electric fires were freed. Take the tax off water heaters and allow an abundance of them to be used, and the fuel crisis which is still looming will be a very stark reality to all of us.