New Clause. — (Reduction of Entertainments Duty in Case of Racing of Motor Cycles with Standard Power Units.)

Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th June 1951.

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(1) In section one of the Finance Act, 1935 (which as subsequently amended provided for reduced rates of duty when the performers are an essential part of the sport or entertainment), the words "a circus, the racing or trial of speed of motor cycles fitted with standard power units and where the ultimate result of such trial of speed is dependent upon the skill of the rider, a travelling show, a menagerie, or any game or sport other than the racing or trial of speed of animals, vehicles, motor vessels or aircraft" shall be substituted throughout for the words "a circus, a travelling show, a menagerie, or any game or sport other than the racing or trial of speed of animals, vehicles, motor vessels or aircraft"

(2) In this section—

  1. (a) the word "vehicles" shall not include motor cycles fitted with standard power units:
  2. (b) the words "standard power units" shall mean internal combustion engines of identical cubic capacity.—[Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.45 p.m.

Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing:

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This is the first of the New Clauses which deals with one of the aspects of the Entertainments Duty. I would say at the outset that I consider, and always have done, that this classification of different forms of entertainment for Entertainments Duty purposes is as non-party an issue as we can ever find in the Finance Bill. That is the historic position, and I think it is true today as regards this particular duty in connection with which I am moving this new Clause.

May I first deal with the position of a speedway as it is taxed and classified at the present time. It comes under the heading of mechanical or non-live entertainments or sports, and therefore a 45 per cent. Entertainments Duty is charged upon the admission price, instead of a 15 per cent. duty which is charged on such entertainments and sports as football and other analogous things. That is to say, the tax on a 2s. 6d. speedway ticket is 1s. 1d. and the tax on a 2s. 6d. football match admission ticket at the present time is 3d.—and so it goes on down the scale.

I cannot speak of what would be the effect of the proposals in the Finance Bill as regards any change in Entertainments Duty upon a speedway, and I think it a very great pity that one cannot do so. All I can do is to paint the picture as it is at the present time. To give an example, which I think sums up the extraordinary and rather absurd position regarding the relative incidence of the Entertainments Duty, may I give figures relating to one of the big stadiums on the outskirts of London? If that stadium is filled for speedway racing, the value of it is some £23,000 and the tax paid on that capacity admission is £10,000. If the same stadium is filled with spectators for a football match, the value of the capacity is £39,000 and the actual tax paid is only £3,000.

That shows what an absurd muddle we have got into as regards this classification of different kinds of entertainment and sport—£10,000 tax on £23,000 and £3,000 tax on £39,000 from exactly the same stadium, filled with very much the same sort of people, because the people who watch football are not unique and nor are those who watch at a speedway.

The effect of the tax as it is today on existing tracks is quite a serious matter. Four tracks have already closed down, and I am informed—and having gone into the matter as far as I can, I think I can endorse the information—that at least another six tracks will close down without any additional tax which may, or may not, be imposed as a result of the present Finance Bill. That really is a very serious matter because the national figure for attendance at speedway racing, is something like 10,250,000 people—a diminishing number, may I say, over the last few years. Such a figure is a reasonable proportion of the total of those who attend all sports and entertainment of that class.

I do not say that 10,250,000 different people attend these meetings every year. That is not a fact, any more than it would be a fact to say that different people go to football matches every week, but 10,250,000 people pay for admission to speedways in the course of the year. That number is steadily diminishing. In the last year it diminished more rapidly than can fairly be described by the word "steady." The drop was pretty drastic.

That is reflected in the amount of revenue derived by the Exchequer from the duty on this sport. In 1950 the tax paid was £430,000, though that figure also includes money from motor racing and motorcycle racing, which is very different, as I will point out later. The revenue in 1950 showed a decrease of 20 per cent. on that in 1949, and a decrease of 12 per cent. on that in 1948. These figures show that this form of Entertainments Duty comes well within the zone of danger—the zone of the law of diminishing returns.

It is certain from what I have said—and I could pass details privately to the Financial Secretary or the Chancellor about the future of some of the tracks—that unless something is done the revenue derived will decline even more. A larger number of tracks will be closed down altogether, and finally, not only will that form of entertainment cease, but of course the revenue from it will cease. That must be borne in mind by anybody who wishes to give fair consideration to this question.

I should like to refer to what may or may not be inserted into the Finance Bill with regard to Entertainments Duty as a whole. So far as I have been able to discover, my latest information being as recent as only three hours ago, no consultation has taken place between the Treasury and the Speedway Control Board and those interested in this sport about any proposals for the re-allocation of the burden of the tax. It makes this question most difficult to debate and to consider fairly when we do not know what the proposals are.

It is right next to turn to the effect on the Revenue if this entertainment were reclassified and put on the same basis as football and other so-called "live" sports by the duty being reduced from 45 per cent. to 15 per cent. The apparent reduction in revenue would be in the nature of £280,000. I think the Financial Secretary would agree that the reduction would be slightly less than that figure because the details on which that estimate is based include the tax on motor racing and motor cycle racing.

But it is fair to argue—and everybody who knows anything about it agrees—that if the duty were reduced, not only would the decline in attendance be stopped, but the attendance would improve. In fact, the apparent decline estimated on existing figures would not transpire. The true decline would be considerably less. Another point in this connection is that those who promote the entertainment have undertaken to pass on to the public any reduction in tax to the extent of at least 50 per cent. That of itself would be a considerable inducement to greater attendances, especially in certain classes of seats.

Before I conclude, I must try to prove that this entertainment has a right to claim re-classification. It is different from any ordinary form of motor-cycle racing. Speedway racing takes place on standard tracks with machines with standard engines and standard tyres. Everything is as standardised as possible. The use of a standard engine has done a lot to contribute towards the high reputation of our motorcycle engines and has assisted to promote big sales abroad. We should not lose sight of that. It is a good reason why the entertainment should be kept alive in this form.

There is no revenue to this entertainment from any part of the trade. Motorcycle and motorcar racing is heavily subsidised by trade interests—the lubricating oil people and the tyre concerns, and all the rest of it; but this business is not subsidised, and it does not receive one penny from outside. It derives no revenue from any form of betting or any "rake-off" or commission from the totalisator. It relies absolutely on what is paid at the turnstiles for the tickets, less tax. I would also point out that these races are run under a very rigid form of discipline and are amazingly well organised. As the machines are standardised, success in a race depends entirely upon the skill of the rider. That point cannot possibly be evaded.

One might say that the race could not take place if there was not a motor bicycle. Of course, it could not, and it could not take place if there were no petrol—and there would be no petrol if we were not living on this earth. I do not think that that argument takes us very much further. One could apply it to cricket, football and other entertainments. All would be impossible unless something else were there as well as the human being.

In this case, the something else is the machine, which is standardised as far as it is humanly possible to standardise this equipment, as are the tracks and even the tyres which carry the rider. That point puts this form of sport outside the general considerations which cover a great many other forms of entertainment when they have to be considered for Entertainments Duty. I should like to point out that there has not yet been evolved any standard horse or dog, nor is there yet a standard bat, although there are certain limitations imposed upon that weapon.

It may well be that the Government are doubtful whether they could give any concession in the form of re-classification because they fear that the door would be opened to other forms of entertainment which would claim to be justified in putting forward a similar argument. The Treasury are always terribly frightened about opening doors, though they like to slam them in people's faces. I suggest that this door could be reserved for consideration and action without letting anything else pass through, and I should like to explain why.

There is no difficulty whatever in finding a barrier between the speedway and for instance, the cinema industry. I cannot help thinking that possibly the Chancellor and the Financial Secretary may be more alarmed at any claims which might be made by the cinema industry if something were done to the speedways than they are afraid of claims from other forms of entertainment. But it is perfectly easy, right and proper to draw a line between the canned indirect entertainment and a live industry. In principle that was accepted when differentiation was made between the live theatre and the cinema screen.

5.0 p.m.

How it is that that barrier, that bar, that dividing line, which has been agreed to by Parliament for a good many years, suddenly disappears when speedway racing is on one side of the line and the cinema is on the other? I really do not think that the Chancellor need fear any risk that the cinema industry would, with any justice, base a claim for a change of treatment merely on something that was done for the speedway.

I would point out that the fact that films are made of football matches has never been considered as a basis either for a reduction of the duty on cinema seats or for an increased duty on football, and that fact seems to me to recognise that there really is, in the long run, a difference between the canned representation of what takes place in human form and watching what is actually taking place.

I urge this case upon the Chancellor, because it is a very serious one. For some years now, there has been a grave sense of injustice about this duty among several million people who are keen speedway followers. That really is so. Those who organise this industry have behaved remarkably well. They have not organised any form of demonstration against the incidence of Entertainments Duty, but they have behaved in such a way under many Governments as I cannot think anybody else has ever behaved. It would have been perfectly possible for them to organise demonstrations and to do a great deal about it. They have learned their way to the Treasury pretty well, as some of us have, in praying constant visits in order to put their point of view very clearly to the Financial Secretary and also to a series of Chancellors of the Exchequer.

Speedway racing is called a family sport, but I am not claiming any sentimental right that, because it is called a family sport, it should be treated, merely on that ground, in any different way. When people talk about a family sport, what it really means is that the proportion of young people who go to speedway racing is higher than the proportion of young people who go to football matches, and because of that it does seem a little bit incongruous to the young people that, while father pays practically no duty on a seat at a football match—he pays nothing at all if he is only standing—his children have to pay three times as much if they go to the speedway to occupy a seat of exactly the same value. It is not a good thing that that should happen.

Again, this is a non-betting, non-gambling form of entertainment, and it is one of the very few forms of entertainment to which young people can go, and, if they want, can shout their heads off. There are probably very few forms of entertainment where they can do that today without being turned out. It is true that they might try it in the cinema—[Interruption.] By the time we reach the House, I fear that we can never be classified as young. Even if we were allowed to shout our heads off, I think you, Sir Charles, would have something to say about it. Because of this fact, the speedway is in a very different class. There are very few opportunities in these days for the young really to let themselves go, and there is no possible doubt of their keenness and interest in this form of sport.

Anybody who watches these crowds collecting in order to attend speedway meetings will see something that I think is very fascinating indeed. When I go, I stand outside quite a long time watching people streaming in from miles around and wearing club colours. What are they all talking about? Are they talking about the make of machine which is going to race? No, never. They are all talking about the names of the riders who are to compete, and that is a point which I wish to stress most strongly.

This is a live sport and a very human sport; it depends on the skill of human beings, and should be so classified and taxed. I ask why it is that this matter cannot be discussed on a completely non-party basis, as I have tried to keep it as far as possible. In the past, these things have come as near as we could possibly get to being allowed a free vote. I should have thought that, since this matter involves less than £250,000, it might well be left to a free vote of the Committee. Let the Chancellor risk a free vote on this occasion. We know perfectly well that it will not bring the Government down if he gives way, and, indeed, if he does give way, it might in some ways strengthen the hand of the Government and be a very popular move. That risk should be willingly taken, because this form of entertainment deserves both help and fair play.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

I want to add my word of support to the general case which the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing) has just made. I thought he made that case very fairly and fully, and most certainly without any political bias. Perhaps I had better say that, although there is no speedway track in my own constituency, I am very interested in this question. It is true that there is a track in a neighbouring constituency, and that many of my constituents follow this sport. It is because, like the hon. Member who moved this Clause, I have seen the sport and have seen that, in fact, the majority of those who follow it are the young type of honest, decent working-class and middle-class person, that I am so interested in trying to put right what I feel to be a very serious anomaly.

For a long time past, the Treasury have made up their minds—though I have never yet been able to understand how or why they reached their conclusion—that this is a mechanical sport. I suppose it is because motor cycles are used, but, as the hon. Member opposite has said, the motor cycle is of standard cubic capacity. It has the same tyres, and it is the same in all respects; in fact, these motor cycles are made by the same firm, whose works are situated in an adjacent constituency to mine—that of my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Messer). They are known as the J.A.P. motor cycle, which are ridden by various drivers, and it depends entirely upon the skill of the individual driver whether he comes in first or last.

The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare mentioned the differentiation between the two rates of Entertainments Duty. I think it is not only unfair, but disgusting, to expect a young factory worker, say, in Coventry, who has been working hard all the week, and who goes along to see speedway racing, to pay three times as much taxation as a person who pays 20 guineas for a ringside seat at the Albert Hall. I do not begrudge the person who pays the 20 guineas, but I think it is unfair that he should pay only £3 in taxation as against the factory worker paying £9 in taxation for the same outlay of cash.

The hon. Gentleman opposite also mentioned that in this type of sport there is no advertising so far as oil, petrol, tyres or even the engines of the motor cycles are concerned, because I think it has been mentioned that anyone who competes does so with the same make of machine.

Photo of Mr James Johnson Mr James Johnson , Rugby

Is it a monopoly?

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

No, it is not a monopoly. It just happens that this firm—[Laughter.] Well, if it is going to be suggested that it is a monopoly because a particular firm produces a near-perfect type of article, one could say that the Rolls Royce engine is a monopoly in so far as it happens to be the finest engine in the world. In the same way, J.A.P. could say that theirs is the finest motor-cycle engine.

It has been argued that the cinemas, or those who go in for horse racing, might try to cash in if there were a re-classification. I cannot see how anyone can logically argue that the cinema is a live entertainment in the same way as speedway. Neither can I see the logic of the argument that horse racing is on a par with the speedway. It may be true that they have both got horse power, but I have never yet seen a horse with works and inside identical in all respects with every other horse. I do not follow horse racing, but I do know, according to what I read, that it makes a difference to the horses if the course happens to be wet or dry.

The Deputy-Chairman:

I think the hon. Gentleman is anticipating another new Clause about horse racing.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

I was trying to show, Sir Charles, that there is, in fact, no comparison between one type of Entertainments Duty as against another. However, in view of what you have said, I will not proceed further with that argument.

I want now to deal with the classifications. This sport should be correctly classified on the same basis as cricket and other live entertainments, and I emphasise "correctly classified." We are not asking for any preferential treatment for this sport, but only that it should be correctly classified under its proper heading and thus repair, to some extent, the damage done to it since 1935, I think it was, when it was incorrectly classified.

What would it mean? It would mean something like £280,000 in a full year. But with a £4,000 million Budget I cannot see that that is going to make much difference. Even if it did, I am convinced that the £280,000 would, to some extent, if not entirely, be recouped through the increased attendances. What is even more important, it would mean the reopening of the many tracks that have had to close down. I read in the Press today that two more tracks have had to close down. They tried changing their days in order to get the people to come along but found this tax so oppressive that they had no alternative but to close down.

What is the position at the moment? I will quote some figures which I think should persuade the Chancellor that he has all to gain and nothing to lose from at least giving an assurance that he will do something in the matter. The figures for the Harringay track show that in April, 1950, there was an attendance of just over 28,000, while in April this year that figure had fallen to 14,000. In other words, it had dropped by half. It is reasonable to suppose, therefore, that if the tax were put on a proper basis, at least some of those who at the moment will not pay 2s. or 3s. to go once to the speedway would probably go twice if they found they could do so by paying slightly more than for going once, and the Chancellor would gain by that.

5.15 p.m.

Mention has been made of the tracks that have been closed. There are some eight or nine of them which, I think, would reopen if this long overdue improvement were made. I honestly do not understand the Treasury's argument against this. First of all, they tried the argument that it would mean a loss of revenue. When it was found that would not apply, the Treasury tried to use the argument that the cinemas might come forward with a similar request. How one can say that the cinemas could argue that theirs is live entertainment I do not know. Now, I understand, the Treasury think that the horse racing fraternity and those in similar types of entertainment might argue that they were entitled to the same treatment. I cannot see the logic of that. Having tried to look at it fairly from both points of view, I am convinced that there is no case at all to be made against the abolition of what I feel to be the most unfair imposition of this tax on speedway racing.

I think it would be true to say that the majority of hon. Members on this side of the Committee would vote for this Clause if they felt that by so doing they were in no way endangering the Government. That is how strongly they feel on the issue. [Laughter.] I see no reason for laughter, because I was going on to say that, important as this matter is, we realise that it is far more important to keep the present Government in power and to keep the Tories out.

I ask the Treasury to realise that this is not just a one-sided or political issue. It is something which we feel that the Chancellor and the Treasury could and should put right. Therefore, we ask them to look at the matter again and to give us at least some promise that an improvement will be made. I do not want the Treasury to say that when they come to consider a re-arrangement for the cinemas they will do it in such a way that it will apply to speedway racing. That, I think, would be unfair. What should obviously be undertaken is a complete reclassification under its correct heading of this particular sport.

Photo of Sir Cyril Black Sir Cyril Black , Wimbledon

I intend to be extremely brief in what I have to say, as I realise that on both sides of the Committee there is a large number of Members who are anxious to speak on this issue. Let me say straightaway that I feel so much more strongly on the matter than the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. A. Lewis), that, in the absence of some satisfactory assurance from the Government spokesman, I shall have no hesitation in going into the Lobby against the Government and thereby record my judgment on this issue.

There is a large speedway track in my constituency, and I am very happy that I have been successful in catching your eye, Sir Charles, because, if I had not had the opportunity of speaking on this matter on which my constituents feel very strongly, I should have had a great feeling of apprehension in going back to my constituency and having to admit I had not done so.

I should like to emphasise a point which I think has not been mentioned so far, and that is that speedway, perhaps more than the great majority of sports, is a family sport and as such is deserving of special consideration and special help. It is a sport that appeals to men and to women, to the old and to the young, and whole families, parents and children, attend it together. That is something very much in favour of speedway compared with a great many other sports.

The result of the injustice from which this sport has suffered during the past 16 years has been that six tracks at least have closed down up to the moment because they cannot be operated remuneratively. Six more tracks, at least, are in imminent danger of closing down for the same reason; and this is before the new increased duty has come into force. If the existing duty is of such a penal and serious character as to close down speedway tracks in various parts of the country, what is likely to be the result of the increased duty if that is ever imposed?

I suggest very seriously to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, even looking at this matter from the narrow fiscal point of view and disregarding all other considerations, he will be losing money in maintaining this discriminatory and unfair duty. If he were to recognise the strength of the case for treating speedway on the same footing as football it would be likely to result in the Revenue receiving a larger amount of duty in the aggregate rather than a smaller amount. Therefore, even from the narrow fiscal viewpoint the Government will be likely to profit and not lose by recognising the strength of the case we are now putting forward.

Speedway is an open air sport. It encourages people to be out in the stadiums in which they are in the open air as distinct from being in an enclosed building with perhaps the stuffy atmosphere one often finds in such places. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I recognise that some hon. Members apparently feel rather sensitive on this particular matter. The point has already been made, but I desire to emphasise it, that speedway is a non-betting sport. I am reliably informed it is impossible to lay bets on speedway racing. No machinery exists for it, and there is no betting associated with this sport. In my judgment, that fact entitles the sport to favourable consideration.

There is a sense of grievance among the public who feel it is quite wrong that speedway should be treated differently from football in this matter of Entertainments Duty. It so happens that the speedway track in my constituency immediately adjoins the local football ground. Thousands of people support both sports. They go to speedway on Monday and football on Saturday, and they are not impressed in the slightest by the kind of narrow technical arguments which are brought forward to attempt to justify the entirely different treatment given to speedway from that accorded to football.

The sporting public will never be persuaded that there is any good or common sense reason for treating speedway so unfairly compared with football. I join my entreaty to those already directed from both sides of the Committee to the Chancellor to realise that here he has everything to gain from the fiscal point of view by making the concession, and to realise that he will earn a vast amount of goodwill in undertaking what will be generally regarded as an act of justice.

Photo of Mr Ralph Morley Mr Ralph Morley , Southampton, Itchen

I wish to speak very briefly in favour of the idea behind this Clause. If the state of the parties in the House of Commons had not been so close, a number of us from this side of the Committee would have put down precisely the same Clause. But although we consider this is a matter of importance and that an injustice has been done to speedway racing, we do not think it is of sufficient importance to defeat His Majesty's Government. We hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be persuaded by the representations that are being made this afternoon to make some needed concession.

As has been stated already, speedway racing is a family sport. It is a sport to which father and mother and Bill and Gladys can go together. It is a very clean sport. There is no betting at all attached to it, and there is no advertisement connected with it. It deserves to be classified as a live sport, because the machines which are used are of the same cubic capacity and use the same type of tyres and oil. The only difference is in the skill and courage of the riders of the machines. The element of success or failure depends entirely upon the personality of the riders and not upon the machines they use, because all the machines are the same.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer would lose nothing financially by making some concession in this case, because owing to the high incidence of the present duty the attendance at various speedway racing centres has been rapidly diminishing during the last two years and, in the process, receipts to the Chancellor from Entertainments Duty have been lessened. In 1950 there were two million fewer people attending speedway racing tracks in this country than in 1949, and the receipts from Entertainments Duty last year were £120,000 less than they were in 1949. That process is continuing.

Last year six of these tracks closed down. The organisers could not get a sufficient number of people at attend to make the tracks remunerative. The reason was the high price of admission, due to the high incidence of Entertainments Duty. This year six more speedway tracks are threatening to close down, and I heard today that my own track in Southampton is likely to close down through lack of revenue.

Therefore, if this duty is continued at its present rate there will be a lessening and not an increase of returns to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. So, from the point of view of justice to the people concerned, from the aspect that this is really a live entertainment, and because of the interests of the Exchequer itself, I ask my right hon. Friend the Chancellor to consider making some real concession in this matter.

5.30 p.m.

The speedway cannot be compared with the cinema. There is no advertisement in speedway racing, whereas so far as the cinema is concerned practically every manufacturer of cosmetics and lingerie uses photographs of the most pulchritudinous of the reigning cinema queens to advertise his particular wares. Speedway racing is a clean sport and a family sport, and very largely a working-class sport. I ask the representatives of the Treasury Bench if they cannot make some reasonable concession.

Photo of Mr Eric Bullus Mr Eric Bullus , Wembley North

I am anxious to be identified and associated with the Clause, not only because of the justice of the case but because it directly affects the Stadium of Wembley. The Stadium is pre-eminent in sport and is loved by sportsmen, in general, and, in particular, by her two Members of Parliament.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer realises that over the past few weeks I, in common with other hon. Members, have sought from time to time to put down Questions calling his attention to this discriminatory tax. We have used a different form of words not only to avoid repetition but chiefly to get the Question past the Table. Ten days ago I had the privilege of asking the last Question on this subject. I felt that I had a sympathetic smile from the Chancellor when he said in his best style: "We shall, of course, be discussing the question next week." If I was mistaken then, I am sure that I am not mistaken now in saying that the whole of the Committee are in favour of the new Clause.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer is well aware of all the arguments that can be put forward for the Clause, especially after listening to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing) and of the other Members of the Committee. I make bold to suggest that the whole crux of the matter is in the attendances, which are rapidly falling. Already in 1951 there is a drop in the attendance of first division clubs of 25 per cent., of 15 per cent. for the second division, and 8 per cent. for the third division.

Reference has been made to the number of tracks which have been closed. My hon. Friend pointed out that six had been shut down, four of them directly because of this discriminatory tax. The hon. Member for Itchen (Mr. Morley) indicated that the stadium in his constituency is likely also to be closed. I presume to suggest that it is his duty and the duty of other Members on the opposite side of the Committee who feel as he does to go into the Division Lobby and support the Clause.

Squadron Leader Kingdom:

I, too, shall not be long in voicing my support for the spirit behind the Clause. Speedway racing, as we have heard, is an open air sport, and therefore it needs what support we can give it. I have received letters from hundreds of my constituents in which they tell me how complete a family affair is the speedway: All my family"— says one of them— there are eight of us—are supporters of speedway, and we are afraid that the extra tax may be the ultimate cause of many tracks having to close down. This letter is no exception; I have hundreds in the same tune. Speedway racing is a good sport. It is training people in a very sound way, and has everything to be said for it in that respect.

In a constituency like mine, the economic life of most of the people is in providing something which is absolutely essential to all industrial workers: that is, a holiday in the short months of the summer season. I never hesitate to stress that that is the industry of a seaside resort like my own, that of Great Yarmouth. It has, therefore, to be treated in the same way as when we have regard to a great industry—like the textile industry, for example—and ask, "Is this tax that we are putting on so discriminatory that it will damage that industry and that town and the people who work in it?

My feeling is that the damage is already occurring. In April of last year the average weekly figure of people attending our speedways was just over 6,000. In April, 1951, the number had already dropped to 4,500. It is true that the figures do not apply to the summer season—I am glad that they do not, because we hope that our holiday makers will have more money in their pockets during their holiday periods to be able to spend more money on these entertainments, and that our figures will go up. It is the few vital summer months that enable people in the holiday resorts to make the money by which they can tide themselves over for the rest of the year.

This tax will stop a certain amount of wealth coming into the town, not only during the holiday season but throughout the rest of the year. That is not a good thing for people living in the kind of industry I have described. Therefore, I plead with the representatives of the Treasury Bench at least to take this matter back and have another look at it. I ask them to decide that speedway racing is a live sport and that it will be harmful to impose the tax at this rate, and that we may have some reconsideration of the question before the Bill reaches its final stages.

Photo of Mr Hugh Wilson Mr Hugh Wilson , Truro

I want very briefly to support the Clause and to mention a point which has not so far arisen. I support the Clause from the point of view of Cornwall. We in Cornwall have a special interest in the speedway, for a unique reason: that there is in Cornwall no other organised open air sport on a large scale. We have no large racecourses, no dog tracks and no organised football grounds of any size. In East Cornwall, association football is enthusiastically followed, but it is entirely on a local scale and is almost entirely amateur. West Cornwall, of course, plays rugby football.

But we have the speedway. Owing to local enterprise, between St. Austell and Parr a very efficient speedway has been constructed, in a very convenient spot suitable for people to reach it, but situated in such a position that an objection which is sometimes raised to the speedway does not in that case apply. It is sometimes complained that speedway racing is a very noisy sport and is a nuisance to the neighbourhood. In Cornwall, our speedway is situated at a place which is not heavily developed, and although it is between two sizeable towns it is not in a built-up area.

This speedway, however, although it is very popular, has been having a hard struggle. I am told that it is particularly popular with the agricultural workers, because it is a sport to which they can go in the evenings. Working, as many of them do, six or seven days a week, they do not get the same opportunities as other people of going to afternoon sport, but they go to the speedway and travel very long distances to do so.

In reinforcement of the points which have already been made, I would merely point out that should our Cornish speedway be forced to close down the Revenue will receive no remuneration from any other alternative source whatever, because the agricultural workers cannot go to any other form of sport. The result would be a loss of revenue to the Treasury. For these reasons, I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to give favourable consideration to the new Clause.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Test

I want to urge the Chancellor to accept this Clause, althought I do not quite accept the picture of the situation as given in the very admirable speech of the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing). I do not think the problem is of the size he mentioned; I do not think it affects such millions of people. None the less, although it affects a smaller number of people, a wrong is being done to them, and a wrong is a wrong no matter how small the group. I do not think either that the financial problem for the Treasury is the £250,000 which he mentioned.

It is my firm belief that unless this concession is given speedway is finished in this country, and that there will, therefore, be no revenue from it at all. Indeed, had this discussion been postponed a little longer, it would have been merely academic, because speedway would not then have been in existence.

Reference has been made to the Southampton Speedway and to the possibility of its being closed down. It may interest the Chancellor to know that it has now been closed and that he will get no revenue from it at all. I visited the Southampton Speedway some three or four weeks ago during discussions on this matter, and I talked not only to the directors of the Speedway company but also with very ordinary men and women who attended this sport week by week in family groups.

There was a group of supporters so keen that they organised functions to save the club, if possible, from bankruptcy, and devoted voluntarily whatever sums they raised towards financing the club. I talked to men who, in the early days of the speedway track, had taken their families to it regularly, and of whose families now only one member goes week by week, because that is all that can be afforded for what previously had been a family outing. I saw the books of the company, and I realised that even then the company was running at a loss, whereas if the tax taken week by week had been moderate that company could have made a profit.

Economically, speedway differs from many sports because it has heavy weekly overheads. Riders have to maintain their bicycles. They claim, incidentally, that they are already paying Purchase Tax on their bicycles and that they are giving further tax to the country by buying the petrol they consume. Half the weekly expenditure, roughly, of a speedway track goes in contributions to the Inland Revenue.

I do not want to repeat the general argument that this is a good sport because no gambling is associated with it, although I do believe that a sport in connection with which no gambling takes place is a sport which we in this Committee ought to encourage. I was struck on my first visit to the speedway by the magnificent skill and courage of the riders. I would say that there is as much artistry shown in the driving and handling of those machines as there is shown by the players of musical instruments at a concert. A speedway rider uses a standard instrument, although violinists use instruments that are by no means standard—

Photo of Mr Douglas Houghton Mr Douglas Houghton , Sowerby

Does my hon. Friend think that the rider and the violinist make the same noise?

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Test

I would suggest in all seriousness that it is better for our young folk to be encouraged to watch those fine young men engaged in acts of skill and courage than to be driven to watch films which show a very great regard for Betty Grable's legs or Jane Russell's torso. We often hear in debates such as this about the law of diminishing returns. I want to say quite seriously to the Chancellor that there will be no returns for him because speedway must close down unless there is a more equitable form of taxation.

Photo of Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite , Bristol North West

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? Without disagreeing with his main argument at all, may I ask him, when he says that the speedway public may be driven into the cinemas, whether it is not the case that the cinemas are also complaining of falling attendances, and whether the real trouble before the Committee is the height of Entertainments Duty as a whole?

5.45 p.m.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Test

We are discussing at the moment only the tax on this particular entertainment and sport. On other aspects of the Entertainments Duty doubtless we should have other things to say. I would ask my right hon. Friend to accept the Clause because speedway is being destroyed, because this taxation is bad finance, because it is bad for sport, and because it is bad for a small but honest and keen group of English sportsmen.

Photo of Sir Stephen McAdden Sir Stephen McAdden , Southend East

I promise to be brief in giving support to the Clause. I feel that the disadvantages from which speedway is suffering—as hon. Members on both sides of the Committee recognise—are due to the fact that the Act in which Entertainments Duty was first levied upon sport was passed long before speedway ever came into existence. The Finance Act, 1916, was responsible for introducing Entertainments Duty in the first instance. That was a Measure passed during a war, and the duty was agreed to on an assurance by the then Chancellor that it was only a temporary measure.

Nothing happened in the matter until 1935, when provisions were made for reducing the rate of tax in respect of stage plays in order to differentiate between them and cinema entertainments. That reduction which was made at that time seems to me to have been made for a specific purpose, at a time when speedway racing certainly was not fully developed. It was not until 1946 that steps were taken in order to try to apply that measure of reduction in Entertainments Duty to particular forms of sport.

Speedway racing does not benefit from the relief afforded in 1946 because that did not extend to racing or trials of speed by animals, vehicles, motor vessels or aircraft. Provision was made at that time, however, that bicycle racing, as distinct from motor speedway racing, should be made liable only to the lower rate of tax.

Sufficient arguments have been advanced, I think, on both sides of the Committee for it to be clear that motorcycle speedway racing is done with standard vehicles, so that a great amount of ability and skill has to be displayed by the riders of the machines. Seeing that it was possible for a distinction to be made in the case of ordinary bicycles, so also it should be possible for the Treasury—if it is willing—to find ways and means of giving this very valuable assistance to speedway racing with standard machines.

I urge the Chancellor to accept the Clause. Members on both sides of the Committee have supported it—even though only some of them are prepared to carry their beliefs to a greater extent than others. I do hope that those who speak for the Treasury in this matter will give this Clause adequate consideration, and give speedway much needed assistance.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I do not want to detain the Committee long. I would say to one or two hon. Gentlemen opposite who have talked about voting on principle that I hope the time will never come when they will have to undergo the test of deciding whether they feel so strongly on a particular issue that they would vote for it even though their votes would be sufficient to bring down a Government of their own party.

We on this side plead with the Financial Secretary to show a little more understanding of the fact that this is not a mere racket. When I first began to get letters and circulars, I suspected that they were from one of the pressure groups with which all Members of Parliament are afflicted. We have had this sort of thing from the Pools promoters, and I was naturally suspicious that this was the result of another pressure group and I threw away all the printed circulars which I received. I ought here to declare that I have a half share in the Coventry Speedway with my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson).

What impressed me later was the number of letters written at full length in people's own handwriting which I received. They were genuine letters and not merely the result of the action of a pressure group. Since the abolition of basic petrol, I have received more letters on this subject than on any other from my constituents, and I believe that there is a genuine spontaneous interest in the sport and that it is not an interest merely contrived by a commercial organisation. I ask the Financial Secretary to recognise that there is a genuine need for consideration to be given to speedway fans.

I also ask the Financial Secretary not to bring in the question of the general level of Entertainments Duty. What we are arguing, certainly from this side of the Committee, is that this is a genuine case of an injustice being done to a certain form of sport as a result of a faulty classification. We are discussing not the general level of duty but whether or not it was right to classify speedways on the one side broadly with athletics or on the other side broadly with sports in which gambling could take place, and our case is that a mistake was made in the classification.

I have asked the Treasury about this, and I gather that the answer is that they cannot make distinctions between one form of racing and another, but, as the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. McAdden) has pointed out, distinctions are made between different forms of racing. Ordinary track athletics where people run round on their own feet is classed at a certain rate of duty, as in the case of bicycle sports if the bicycle has not a motor attached to it. A sudden jump occurs in the case of a speedway where the bicycle has a motor, and we are told that this sport is the same as motor car racing.

As I represent Coventry I should very much like to see some reduction in the duty for motor racing. In motor car racing the skill of the drivers matters but it is not the only factor, because there are variations in the performance of the motor cars. But there is no variation between the machines or the petrol used in speedway racing. Every effort is made to see that all the riders start with exactly comparable machines. The Treasury allow ordinary bicycle racing at a lower rate of duty because everything depends on the skill of the rider and there is no real difference in the machines. In the case of the speedway, everything is done to see that it is also a test of the rider. In these circumstances, why should the speedway be classed at the top level and not at the bottom level?

First of all, the subject of gambling was brought up, but that has now been withdrawn because it is admitted that there is no gambling. There is no tote on these courses and the fans would resent gambling on the risks taken by the riders. Now we are told that the reason for the difference is mechanical. Why should a genuine test of skill have to bear the burden of three times as much tax as other sports? I agree that this is a marginal case and that it is a very difficult matter to judge, but I should have thought that, after the debate we have had, the Financial Secretary and the Chancellor would have become aware that this is a matter which has been brought about not because of pressure but because a genuine mistake has been made in classification.

I can understand why a mistake was made. Very often speedways began on tracks where greyhound racing was taking place and often they were organised by the same companies and it was therefore assumed that speedway racing could be lumped in with greyhound racing as both were controlled by the same concern. That was years ago, and now we know that it is not true. What we demand from the Financial Secretary is not sweet words but a detailed explanation of why this form of sport is classified not with athletics and ordinary non-mechanical bicycling but with motor car racing. If he can satisfy me that the present classification is correct, I shall have no objection to it, but I doubt whether he can do that.

At present the Treasury appear to have dug their toes in. All I ask is that our argument shall receive reasonable consideration. Many hon. Members on this side of the Committee are concerned about this not merely because of votes but because their constituents have a legitimate grievance. Why should not the Financial Secretary think the matter over before the Report stage? I do not ask him to commit himself today, but I think that he should have some regard for the strong feeling in the Committee.

For many hours a relatively small number of hon. Members have sat in the Committee arguing about the rates of tax on people with £15,000 a year, but this is a debate in which there is a genuine public and popular interest among ordinary working people. In view of the genuine demand from both sides of the Committee, I urge my hon. Friend not to say now that he cannot change his mind but to give himself time to think this over before the Report stage.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), has made a very cogent speech which he began with an exordium about conscience and ended by saying that he did not want the opportunity this afternoon of showing which way he intended to vote in the Lobby. With the exception of that, I think he was on the whole on the right lines. He also referred to the curious fact that the great taxation Clauses which we have been discussing, which affect the whole life of the nation and its commercial future in many cases—such as Clauses 28 and 32—have passed by in almost complete silence from the benches opposite.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

It was because we agreed with them.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

They also passed in the absence of the hon. Member for Coventry, East, and I do not think that he should come here now and give us these exhortations at this stage. We ought to have a certain sense of proportion about this matter. We are now discussing taxation amounting to about £250,000, but some of the other Clauses involved sums of £60 million or £70 million and they have been debated entirely from this side of the Committee.

The arguments appear to have been very cogently put and I do not propose to go over them again. I should like just to refer to the matter of classification, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Coventry, East. We must be honest about this. If more revenue has to be raised, it ought not to be raised as a result of having an absolutely idiotic classification. The hon. Member for Coventry, East, showed that this classification is completely absurd. The addition of a motor to a bicycle makes the result dead entertainment. When a man hits a golf ball it is live entertainment but when he rides a horse it is dead entertainment. All the talent on the Treasury Bench ought not to be found defending a proposition for which no sensible man and not even a boy in the fourth form could see any justification.

6.0 p.m.

The first point is that a very small sum of revenue is involved. The other question which has been very ably debated is the old law of diminishing returns. I think that all those who have speedways in their constituencies know that the law of diminishing returns is beginning to operate—at any rate, in the opinion of those who run these affairs. I hasten to add that, unlike the hon. Member for Coventry, East, I have no financial or other interest in any speedway. I saw the sport once, and I thought that it was very attractive but unsuited to my figure or calibre, so I am completely dis-interested.

I think that the figures for the years 1948, 1949 and 1950 show that, in spite of the fact that there were three more tracks in 1950 than in 1949, we are, as a matter of practical fact, going to see a fall in revenue owing to the operation of the law of diminishing returns. I hope that the Government will give us some sympathetic reply because, if they do not, I feel that we should press the matter to a Division, and we shall then have the interesting opportunity of seeing how far hon. Members opposite react to the exhortations about voting according to our consciences.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I have listened with great interest and attention to the speeches of hon. Members who obviously have such great knowledge of this important question. I hope that they will return the compliment by listening to the rather different argument, which, I think, has not been so frequently expressed in the last few weeks, and which appears convincing to the Government. I can assure hon. Members who have spoken today that we entirely share their feeling that this is what the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing), in moving the new Clause, called it, a fascinating form of entertainment, and that if we could ignore everything else we should be extremely pleased to reduce the Entertainments Duty on it.

If we had not to meet the bill of the social services, which has increased by a very large amount since five years ago, and of the heavy defence programme, I think we would all have great pleasure in reducing the Entertainments Duty on a number of things. But I ask hon. Members to recognise that the Government are bound to raise revenue, and are also bound, if they are to discharge their financial responsibilities conscientiously, to impose taxes in a way which they feel can be honestly defended. I would therefore invite hon. Members to consider the real difficulty in the way of removing this particular form of entertainment from the higher to the lower rate, which is what this Clause asks us to do.

Hon. Members this afternoon have really put forward two quite separate and distinct arguments in favour of the new Clause. The first is that the increase in the higher rate of duty introduced this year, or the duty itself, is an intolerable burden on those who attend this particular form of racing and makes it almost impossible for the speedways to carry on. The second argument is that whether or not it is impossible for the tracks to carry on, it is in principle intolerable—I think that the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare said that it was a grave injustice—that speedways should bear a higher rate of tax than cricket or football.

I think that the second argument is really the one that weighs most with hon. Members on both sides of the House. And, indeed, as far as the Government are concerned I should make clear straight away that what weighs with us is not the cost of the proposed alteration, but our duty to maintain a structure of taxes which we feel we can honestly defend.

Taking first the question of the amount of the duty, I do not think that some of the fears expressed by hon. Members this afternoon are really borne out by the facts and figures. In the main, the tickets for speedway tracks, including tax, cost 1s. 9d. or 2s. 3d. Those are the most commonly priced tickets. Under the Budget proposals, these prices would go up by only 2d., and, under the further arrangements which were indicated in the Budget speech, one halfpenny of that 2d. would go to the speedway owners, much as in the case of the cinema scheme, thus assisting them to meet present conditions, which are said to be proving difficult.

Therefore, on the typical 1s. 9d. seat, somebody who visits a speedway once a week would pay only 2d. a week extra as a result of the Budget proposals, and the present total Entertainments Duty paid is only 8½d. a week. That is the actual measure of what we are discussing this afternoon.

Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing:

Surely if the Budget proposals were brought into effect in accordance with the Schedule, more than 8½d. would be paid on the 1s. 9d. ticket; it is 10½d. more.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I was speaking of the duty at present before the new duty comes into effect in August. The 8½d. would, of course, rise to 10d. under the arrangement suggested in the Budget speech. The basic fact is that the 1s. 9d. seat at present is paying 8½d. duty.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Will my hon. Friend take into consideration the differential as between speedway tracks and football and cricket?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I should like to state my argument without too many interruptions, because we have heard the other arguments, and I would like to reply to them. That does not seem to us, in all the circumstances, an unreasonable contribution to the cost of our national defence by those who, after all, choose, like others who choose to go to the cinemas, to attend this particular form of entertainment of their own free will. Let us also remember this: the speedway owners—and this is quite natural—have only offered to pass on to the public one-half of any reduction in tax.

Mr. Orr-Ewing:

I must correct that statement. I made it clear that they have undertaken to pass on at least 50 per cent., and that 50 per cent. will be far exceeded in some cases.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

My information is that the offer is one-half; but I will accept the statement that it is at least one-half, if the hon. Gentleman wishes. If the Clause were accepted, it would mean a reduction of 3d. or 4d. on the 1s. 9d. seat. Can it be said that that is of very great significance? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] The patrons would obviously like a reduction of 3d. or 4d.

Some hon. Members have suggested that if we adopt that course the Exchequer would more than recoup itself for the apparent loss of revenue. When we look into the arithmetic, I do not think that that argument, although it sounds attractive, can possibly be sustained. It would mean, as a result of a reduction of 3d. or 4d. on a 1s. 9d. seat, that the total attendances would have to be multiplied something like three times in order that there should not be a loss of revenue. I do not think that it can be seriously argued that such a reduction in the price would increase attendances threefold.

It has also been maintained today—and I know that there is genuine misconception about this—that the tax is at present leading to a heavy reduction in attendances and tracks are closing down. I think the information that we have from hon. Members today only gives half the picture. The total attendances at speedway races in 1950—though admittedly lower than in 1949, which was a very good year because of the exceptionally fine summer—were 10,350,000 compared with 6,623,000 in 1946. So the total attendances are now very much larger than they were four or five years ago.

It appears to us, on an objective review of these facts, that the decline in attendances, which has been seen, certainly over recent months, is part of the decline from the big post-war attendances of all kinds a few years ago, and partly a drop back from an artificial level, to which the industry itself expanded on a perhaps, too optimistic estimate of its prospects. Such decline as there has been is not necessarily due to the tax, any more than is the decline in the attendance at a number of other entertainments which are already paying the lower rates of tax.

We have heard several statements today about tracks closing down. What hon. Members did not realise is that the number of tracks operating at the end of May this year, which is a fortnight ago—which is as far as my figures go—is higher than 12 months ago. My information does not extend to Southampton, but the number of speedway tracks operating at this moment is higher than it was 12 months ago. I only say that so that we may see the figures in their true perspective.

The main burden of the case, so cogently put by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), is the distinction between football, cricket and the theatre on the one hand and speedway racing, other forms of racing and cinemas on the other. That distinction goes back to a decision of Parliament in 1935 to place theatres, music, and concerts at a lower rate of duty than any other entertainments. Then there was the further decision in 1946 to add to theatres, sports such as cricket and football, where the human performer was not aided by mechanical power or the speed of animals.

Indeed, that is an illustration of the type of difficulty which arises in taxation if the Government or Parliament in a moment of enthusiasm, as for theatres in 1935 and for the so-called live sports in 1946, agrees to differentiate between the rates of tax. From that moment on—and this is the serious difficulty that confronts us and which we have not escaped—we have got to draw a line which the administrators and the Government can conscientiously defend.

Many of the arguments advanced today, powerful though they no doubt are, are really arguments for having no discrimination in this matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think they are. They are arguments for raising the rate on theatres and the so-called live sports to the main rate at which the great bulk of the revenue is raised. But nobody in practice is proposing that we should do that in the present circumstances.

Therefore, the practical issue for us, as raised by this Clause, is whether we could remove speedway racing from the category, which includes all other motor racing and other types of racing and cinemas, and in the future class it with the theatre and sports which do not involve mechanical power.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

And, as my hon. Friend says, bicycles. The first thing to do in examining that issue is to be clear about the nature of the distinction. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Alder-shot (Mr. Lyttelton) the other day amused himself and me a great deal by talking about the racing of elephants, golf balls and so forth. He was rather inaccurate in supposing that the official distinction between these two rates of tax is based on the fact that only live activities are subject to the lower rate. Nor is it due to the skill of the human performer. The real basis of distinction is that the concession is given where the human performer's efforts are not supplemented by mechanical power or based on the speed of animals.

6.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is referring to tennis.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

No. I was referring to the violin, and it will be within the recollection of the Committee that that is played by the aid of mechanical means.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that I said mechanical power and not mechanical means. If hon. Members will co-operate in trying to follow the logic of my argument, they will see that it cannot reasonably be argued that speedway racing falls into the group where the player is not supplemented by mechanical power.

Perhaps I might examine one by one the arguments advanced this afternoon in supporting this new Clause. First of all, it is said that there is no betting at speedway tracks. Betting has, however, nothing to do with the distinction, and never has had. In any case, there is no betting at cinemas, so that that does not carry us very far. Next it is said that speedway racing—and I have no doubt it is true—is frequently attended by the family. So is the cinema. Again, it is said that speedway racing is clean and an outdoor activity. But dog racing and horse racing are surely outdoor activities.

I do not know why it is thought that cinema-going should be less clean than speedway racing. Certainly that is not an argument which the Government could advance to the cinema industry or to Parliament as a good reason for imposing a higher rate of tax on the cinema than on the speedway. If we tried to do it, hon. Members would make just as eloquent speeches about discrimination against the cinemas as they have done today about speedway racing.

Alternatively, it is suggested that we can get over this difficulty by making the lower rate of duty apply where the result is dependent on the skill of the driver. Surely the horse-racing fraternity could then argue—and I speak here diffidently—that, in handicap races anyway, the result is dependent on the skill of the rider. I do not want to compete with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House or the Leader of the Opposition in knowledge of such operations, but I should be very reluctant to come forward and argue in this Committee that the result of horse racing is not dependent on the skill of the rider. Indeed, could not the cinemas maintain—is it not at least as good an argument?—that the success of films is dependent primarily on the human skill of the actors and producers, and that the reproducing mechanism is also a piece of standard mechanical equipment? I think that that point could be argued with great force.

It was argued by the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare that canned entertainment, as he put it, could be distinguished and placed on a different rate of tax from uncanned entertainment—or whatever the opposite kind of entertainment would be called. When he argued that, as he was entitled to do, he argued, in reality, for a special tax on the cinema, because horse racing and dog racing are not mechanically produced to the spectators. That is where his argument would lead.

If one has to be moved, not by enthusiasm for speedway racing or some other form of entertainment, but by the logic and equity on which any defensible tax must be based, one is forced to the conclusion that, so long as the present distinction between those two rates of tax remains in force, we could not conscientiously defend the removal of speedway racing from the group which includes all other forms of racing, and the cinema industry.

It also seems to us that the enthusiasts for speedway racing are somewhat exaggerating the burden of the tax, when we reflect that the average price of the typical seat is 1s. 9d. and that the increase proposed in the Budget is only 2d. Secondly, I should like to emphasise that in the present consultations with the cinema interests about the possible modifications of the Budget scheme—on which we are also, of course, consulting the speedway proprietors—we have kept the present problem, and the representations made to us by hon. Members in the last few weeks, very much in mind.

Though I want to be as frank as possible with the Committee—there has been a lot of candour this afternoon—I am in a difficulty in giving too many particulars about discussions which are actually going on with these industries at the present moment; but I can say that, under the proposals which the Government have now put forward, it would be open to the speedways not to make any increase at all in the present price of seats up to 2s.—that is, present price, tax inclusive—and also to pay no increase in duty on those seats. There would be an option for the speedway owners to raise prices, but if they did so it would be because, in their judgment, the public were willing and able to pay such higher prices. If they did raise prices higher revenue would accrue to the promoters, and would presumably assist them to carry on.

It seems to us that those proposals go some way, at any rate, to meet the anxieties of my hon. Friends. Naturally we hope to make further progress in these consultations before the Report stage of the Bill. In addition, I can give an assurance to hon. Members on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. In view of the admitted difficulties caused by the present double rate of tax, which I have tried to explain this afternoon, we will review the whole structure of the Entertainments Duty before next year, taking account of the trends in speedway takings in the course of this summer, to see whether there is any possible way of meeting the genuine feelings and anxieties which this distinction obviously raises, without losing revenue which at the present time we must have.

The difficulties of the Entertainments Duty, I must warn the Committee, are very great; and we can only say that we will do our best. Hon. Members may remember that we gave a similar undertaking a year ago about the possibility of making reductions in Purchase Tax on household necessities in this Budget. We spent a very great deal of time and labour on that and, as the Committee knows, we were able to carry out that undertaking. Our undertaking in the case of Entertainments Duty is given in the same spirit.

On that understanding, and for all the reasons which I have tried to put candidly before the Committee, I must ask the Committee not to accept the proposed new Clause.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I find the pledge which the Financial Secretary has given rather difficult to follow. Is it a pledge which

could in any circumstances involve less money being taken out of the speedway racing industry or not, or merely for getting more revenue and reducing the incidence on what is described as the "typical ticket"? We ought to be quite clear where we are getting. If there is to be no reduction in the total I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has met the case which was put before the Committee.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

We will review the whole structure of the present Entertainments Duty. What has been said this afternoon indicates the real difficulty before us. I am not going to say that there will be an easy solution to the problem, but I am satisfied that we have to look at it and try to find some solution. That does not rule out the possibilty of taking less money, as the right hon. Gentleman has just put it, from the speedway tracks.

Photo of Mr William Whiteley Mr William Whiteley , Blaydon

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. William Whiteley)rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put accordingly, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 279; Noes, 297.

Division No. 136.]AYES[6.30 p.m.
Aitken, W. T.Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.De la Bère, R.
Alport, C. J. M.Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Deedes, W. F.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Browne, Jack (Govan)Digby, S. Wingfield
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Dodds-Parker, A. D.
Arbuthnot, JohnBullus, Wing Commander E. E.Donner, P. W.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Burden, F. A.Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Butcher, H. W.Drayson, G. B.
Astor, Hon. M. L.Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (S'ffr'n W 'ld'n)Drewe, C.
Baker, P. A. D.Carr, Robert (Mitcham)Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Carson, Hon. E.Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.
Baldwin, A. E.Channon, H.Dunglass, Lord
Banks, Col. C.Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.Duthie, W. S.
Baxter, A. B.Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Eccles, D. M.
Beamish, Maj. TuftonClarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Eden, Rt. Hon. A.
Bell, R. M.Clyde, J. L.Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)Colegate, A.Erroll, F. J.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Cooper-Key, E. M.Fisher, Nigel
Bennett, William (Woodside)Corbett. Lt.-Col. Uvedale (Ludlow)Fort, R.
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Taxteth)Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Foster, John
Birch, NigelCranborne, ViscountFraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)
Bishop, F. P.Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)
Black, C. W.Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Crouch, R. F.Gage, C. H.
Boothby, R.Crowder, Capt. John (Finchley)Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)
Bossom, A. C.Crowder, Petre (Ruistip—Northwood)Gammans, L. D.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Cundiff, F. W.Garner-Evans, E. H. (Denbigh)
Boyle, Sir EdwardCuthbert, W. N.Gates, Maj. E. E.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. B.Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S)Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.
Braine, B. R.Davidson, ViscountessGridley, Sir Arnold
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Davies, Nigel (Epping)Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cr. G. (Bristol, N. W.)de Chair, SomersetGrimston, Robert (Westbury)
Harden, J. R. E.McAdden, S. J.Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Harris, Reader (Heston)Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Savory, Prof, D. L.
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)McKibbin, A.Scott, Donald
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Shepherd, William
Harvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMaclay, Hon. JohnSmiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Hay, JohnMaclean, FitzroySmithers, Peter (Winchester)
Head, Brig. A. H.MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Headlam, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CuthbertMacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)Snadden, W. McN
Heald, LionelMacmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Soames, Capt. C.
Heath, EdwardMacpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries)Spearman, A. C. M.
Henderson, John (Cathcart)Maitland, Cmdr. J. W.Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.Manningham-Buller, R. E.Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Higgs, J. M. C.Marlowe, A. A. H.Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde)
Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Stevens, G. P.
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Maude, Angus (Ealing, S.)Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Hinchingbrooke, ViscountMaude, John (Exeter)Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Hirst, GeoffreyMaudling, R.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Hollis, M. C.Medlicott, Brig. F.Storey, S.
Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)Mellor, Sir JohnStrauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Hope, Lord JohnMolson, A. H. E.Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Hopkinson, HenryMonckton, Sir WalterStudholme, H. G.
Hornsby-Smith, Miss P.Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir ThomasSummers, G. S.
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. FlorenceMorrison, John (Salisbury)Sutcliffe, H.
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Howard, Greville (St. Ives)Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Nabarro, G.Teeling, W.
Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport)Nicholls, HarmarTeevan, T. L.
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Nicholson, G.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Hurd, A. R.Nield, Basil (Chester)Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)
Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.Thompson, Lt.-Cmdr R. (Croydon, W.)
Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Nugent, G. R. H.Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth)
Hutchison, Col. James (Glasgow)Nutting, AnthonyThornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.Oakshott, H. D.Thorp, Brig. R. A. F.
Hylton-Foster, H. B.Odey, G. W.Tilney, John
Jeffreys, General Sir GeorgeO'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir HughTurner, H. F. L.
Jennings, R.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Turton, R. H.
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Tweedsmuir, Lady
Jones, A. (Hall Green)Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Vane, W. M. F.
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Kaberry, D.Osborne, C.Vosper, D. F.
Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)Peake, Rt. Hon. O.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Lambert, Hon. G.Perkins, W. R. D.Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Lancaster, Col. C. G.Peto, Brig. C. H. M.Walker-Smith, D. C.
Langford-Holt, J.Pitman, I. J.Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Powell, J. EnochWard, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Leather, E. H. C.Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.Watkinson, H.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T.Profumo, J. D.Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Lindsay, MartinRaikes, H. V.Wheatley, Maj. M. J. (Poole)
Linstead, H. NRayner, Brig. R.White, Baker (Canterbury)
Llewellyn, D.Redmayne, M.Williams, Charles (Torquay)
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)Remnant, Hon. P.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)Renton, D. L. M.Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley)Wills, G.
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Robertson, Sir David (Caithness)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S. W.)Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Low, A. R. W.Robson-Brown, W.Wood, Hon. R.
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)York, C.
Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)Roper, Sir Harold
Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughRopner, Col. L.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Russell, R. S.Major Conant and
Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.
NOES
Acland, Sir RichardBenson, G.Burke, W. A.
Adams, RichardBeswick, F.Burton, Miss E.
Albu, A. H.Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Bing, G. H. C.Callaghan, L. J.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Blenkinsop, A.Carmichael, J.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)Blyton, W. R.Castle, Mrs. B. A.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Boardman, H.Champion, A. J.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Booth, A.Chetwynd, G. R.
Awbery, S. S.Bottomley, A. G.Clunie, J.
Ayles, W. H.Bowden, H. W.Cooks, F. S.
Bacon, Miss AliceBowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)Coldrick, W.
Baird, J.Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethCollick, P.
Balfour, A.Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Collindridge, F.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Brooks, T. J. (Normanton)Cook, T. F.
Bartley, P.Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Cooper, Geoffrey (Middlesbrough, W.)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Cooper, John (Deptford)
Benn, WedgwoodBrown, Thomas (Ince)Corbet, Mrs. Freda (Peckham)
Cove, W. G.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)Pryde, D. J.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Crawley, A.Janner, B.Rankin, J.
Crosland, C. A. R.Jay, D. P. T.Rees, Mrs. D.
Crossman, R. H. S.Jeger, George (Goole)Reeves, J.
Cullen, Mrs. A.Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras. S.)Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Daines, P.Jenkins, R. H.Reid, William (Camlachie)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Johnson, James (Rugby)Rhodes, H.
Darling, George (Hillsborough)Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Richards, R.
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)Jones, David (Hartlepool)Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Davies, Harold (Leek)Jones, Frederick Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
de Freitas, GeoffreyJones, William Elwyn (Conway)Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Deer, G.Keenan, W.Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Delargy, H. J.Kenyon, C.Ross, William
Dodds, N. N.Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Royle, C.
Donnelly, D.King, Dr. H. M.Shackleton, E. A. A.
Driberg, T. E. N.Kinghorn, Sqn. Ldr. E.Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir. Hartley
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. J. (W. Bromwich)Kinley, J.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Dye, S.Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.Shurmer, P. L. E.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Lee, Frederick (Newton)Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Edelman, M.Lee, Mist Jennie (Cannock)Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Edwards, John (Brighouse)Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Simmons, C. J.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)Slater, J.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Lewis, John (Bolton, W.)Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)Lindgren, G. SSmith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Sorensen, R. W.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Logan, D. G.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir. Frank
Ewart, R.Longden, Fred (Small Heath)Sparks, J. A.
Fernyhough, E.McAllister, G.Steele, T.
Field, Capt. W. J.Macdonald, A. J. F. (Roxburgh)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Finch, H. J.McGhee, H. G.Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)McGovern, J.Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Follick, M.McInnes, J.Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Foot, M. M.Mack, J. D.Stross, Dr. Barnett
Forman, J. C.McKay, John (Wallsend)Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Mackay, R. W. G. (Reading, N.)Sylvester, G. O.
Freeman, John (Watford)McLeavy, F.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Freeman, Peter (Newport)MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Ganley, Mrs. C. S.MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Thomas, George (Cardiff)
George, Lady Megan LloydMainwaring, W. H.Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Gibson, C. W.Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Gilzean, A.Mann, Mrs. JeanThorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Glanville, James (Consett)Manuel, A. C.Thurtle, Ernest
Gooch, E. G.Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Timmons, J.
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Mathers, Rt. Hon. G.Tomney, F.
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)Mellish, R. J.Turner-Samuels, M.
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)Messer, F.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.Middleton, Mrs. L.Usborne, H.
Grey, C. F.Mikardo, Ian.Vernon, W. F.
Griffiths, David (Bother Valley)Mitchison, G. R.Viant, S. P.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Moeran, E. W.Wallace, H. W.
Griffiths, William (Exchange)Monslow, W.Watkins, T. E.
Grimond, J.Moody, A. S.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Gunter, R. J.Morgan, Dr. H. B.Weitzman, D.
Hale, Joseph (Rochdale)Morley, R.Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Wells, William (Walsall)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colns Valley)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)West, D. G.
Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)Mort, D. L.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh E.)
Hamilton, W. W.Moyle, A.White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Hannan, W.Mulley, F. W.White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Hardman, D. R.Murray, J. D.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Hardy, E. A.Nally, W.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Hargreaves, A.Neal, Harold (Bolsover)Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Hastings, S.Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.Wilkes, L.
Hayman, F. H.Oldfield, W. H.Willey, Frederick (Sunderland)
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Tipton)Oliver, G. H.Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Herbison, Miss M.Orbach, M.Williams, David (Neath)
Hewitson, Capt. M.Padley, W. E.Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Hobson, C. R.Paget R. T.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Holman, P.Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V'lly)Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)
Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Houghton, D.Panned, T. C.Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Hoy, J.Pargiter, G. A.Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Hubbard, T.Parker, J.Wise, F. J.
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Paton, J.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Pearson, A.Woods, Rev. G. S.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Peart, T. F.Wyatt, W. L.
Hughes, Moelwyn (Islington, N.)Popplewell, E.Yates, V. F.
Hynd, H. (Accrington)Porter, G.Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Proctor, W. T.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Wilkins and
Mr. Kenneth Robinson.

Question put, and agreed to.