Rivers Act (Effluent Plant Expenditure)

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th July 1953.

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Photo of Sir Harold Sutcliffe Sir Harold Sutcliffe , Heywood and Royton 12:00 am, 28th July 1953

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how far since the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act, 1951, Her Majesty's Inspectors of Inland Revenue have been authorised to permit as an expense for taxation purposes, expenditure compulsorily incurred in the installation of trade effluent plants.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I am advised that such expenditure is of a capital nature, and not therefore allowable as an expense for taxation purposes. Capital expenditure on the construction of industrial buildings or on the provision of machinery or plant would, however, rank for the statutory allowances given in respect of such expenditure.

Photo of Sir Harold Sutcliffe Sir Harold Sutcliffe , Heywood and Royton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some firms will have to pay immense sums to install these plants, out of all proportion to the amount of capital in those companies for production purposes, and that this expenditure has to be capitalised over a period of 50 years and is in the nature of sunk capital? Is he aware that this is really a very serious matter for many firms and will he look into the problem again?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

All that I can do is to carry out the law as it stands. I am aware of my hon. Friend's difficulties. Indeed, he wrote to me about them and I sent him the best reply that I could. I am sorry that in the present circumstances I cannot go further, but I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to improvements in respect of certain types of capital expenditure—buildings and so forth—in this year's Finance Bill.

Photo of Mr Richard Fort Mr Richard Fort , Clitheroe

Whilst welcoming the improvements to which my right hon. Friend has referred, in view of the fact that it is the wish of hon. Members on both sides of the House that our rivers should be cleared within a reasonable length of time, may I ask if he would undertake to consider this problem when he goes into matters for next year's Finance Bill?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

These and many other matters will obviously be before me, and the pressure of my hon. Friend will do no harm.

Mr. T. Williams:

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that unless industrial undertakings can undertake expenditure on this kind of machinery or equipment the rivers boards will be unable to keep the fishery waters as clear and clean as they ought to be?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I am aware of the point which the right hon. Gentleman has brought to my attention.