Because Customs' head office records are not kept in this form, and detailed examination of the local records would be necessary. This would involve altogether disproportionate labour and expense. In any event, many registered traders are both wholesalers and manufacturers.
In view of the fact that on several occasions recently Her Majesty's Commissioners for Customs and Excise have withdrawn the wholesale registration while allowing registration to remain with the same firms for a part of their business which is manufacturing, thereby making it clear, and in accordance with the Act, that they are separate registrations, why cannot this information be given?
As, during a recent debate on the Adjournment, my right hon. Friend stated, and in letters it has been stated, that one of the reasons for withdrawing Purchase Tax registration from wholesalers is to save administrative costs, why should we not be told of the approximate amount of saving effected by this action?
Because it is impossible to break down the precise elements in the cost of administration of a large service such as this in order to say that one element would be saved and one would not. It is perfectly clear, however, that the larger the number of points at which this tax is collected, the higher the administrative cost.
But in view of the fact that, when withdrawing wholesale Purchase Tax registrations, a greater number of registrations in many cases have to be given to manufacturers who supply the wholesalers, might it not increase the cost of administration by increasing the number of registrations with manufacturers?
But it is not the total figure that I want. In view of the fact that complaints about the withdrawal of registrations have come from wholesalers, are we to take it that all the registrations which have been withdrawn have been those of wholesalers? If not, will my hon. Friend look into the matter again and tell us how many have come from wholesalers and how many from manufacturers?
As I explained to my hon. Friend in reply to his earlier Question, some traders are registered both as manufacturers and as wholesalers. Consequently, it is impossible to give separate figures for the two categories.
In view of the fact that in some cases manufacturers, while acting also as wholesalers, have been allowed to retain their manufacturing licence, while their wholesale registration has been withdrawn, surely it is possible to obtain those figures if my hon. Friend is willing to do so.
I have given my hon. Friend, during the last few weeks, a considerable amount of information, but he has an insatiable appetite for statistics, which I admire, though it gives me a great deal of trouble.