I cannot give way yet. It is nothing to the purpose to say that it is a man's own money. All taxation is that. I do not know that I differ very greatly from the economists of old who said that all taxation was robbery. Of course, if the State is taking money which belongs to an individual and using it for purposes of which the individual who supplies the money may or may not approve, that question is bound to be raised. If he does not approve, he does not like paying the money—and sometimes if he does approve he does not like paying it either. But we cannot run a modern society without taxation. That is obvious.
What we are concerned with is a proposal to use the present national crisis—and the Government are never tired of telling us about it—as the occasion for reducing the national revenue by £88 million in a full year and giving that amount to precisely that class of taxpayer which, as things now stand, is best off. That is the proposal which the Committee is being asked to consider.
Look at the situation. We have just very substantially reduced the food subsidies. I am not arguing now whether that was a good or bad thing to do, but nobody denies that it has raised the cost of living very considerably precisely among those sections of the population who live in the main on rationed, subsidised foods. There is not an old age pensioner in the country who is not making a very substantial inequitable contribution to the alleged financial needs of the country because of the withdrawal of the food susidies.
I know that it is sometimes argued, "Oh, we are giving it back; we are only taking it out of one pocket and putting it into another." The people who use that argument always forget that the pockets out of which they are taking the money do not belong to the same people as the pockets into which they are paying a compensating payment. They are taking money from the poorest and giving it, in the main, to the richest.
I dare say that the hon. and gallant Member does not like explaining to old age pensioners in his constituency why they have to pay so much for their bacon, cheese, butter, tea and bread. Let him go and explain, at the same time as he explains that, that he wants to give something to the richest people in the constituency, those who pay the full rate of Income Tax. One has to have a very substantial income nowadays before paying the full rate of Income Tax. In those circumstances, when the old age pensioner is being called upon to cut down his food in order to make his contribution, it is proposed to give a substantial sum of money every year to the people who have already been benefited.