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.
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?
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.
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?