Clause 1. — ;(Charge of Income Tax for 1955–56 and Surtax Rates for 1954–55.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th April 1955.

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Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne 12:00 am, 27th April 1955

We are dealing with the Budget before us. The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right if he says—and I know that it was implied in his intervention—that, on a fair view, one would have to fit any particular Budget into the whole pattern of financial development over a number of years, but, if the hon. Gentleman is to do that, he must not begin in 1951. He must begin in 1945 if he is going to talk about the effect of this Budget in the whole pattern of post-war economics. If the hon. Gentleman does not do that, and I am sure he is not prepared to do it, at any rate this afternoon, we have to look at the kind of proposal in Clause 1, which we are now discussing.

5.0 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman asked why do we not vote against the Clause, but, if we voted against it and succeeded, the only result would be that the Chancellor would continue to collect from the taxpayers£150 million more revenue than he needs. So we have to take out that money as exceptionally budgeted for, because we cannot continue to raise it, and accept relief in the only way in which it is offered.

We are entitled to say how we would have preferred the remission to be done, and it is about that point that I want to say something. For years during the war, the Government compelled the people to lend them money which they promised to return. Surely it would have been more equitable to have made a proposal to make some provision for the return of some part of these post-war credits? Would it not have been more equitable to do that than to give£1 million to Unilever? Never mind who else did not do it, would it not have been better to do that now? [An HON. MEMBER: "Give way."] I am not going to give way again. We do not want to spend the whole day discussing Clause 1.

Take the question of the petrol tax. Would it not have been a considerable contribution to reducing the cost of living to have remitted that extra amount, or some part of it? It is one of the biggest burdens on working-class life.

The final point I want to make is about the Purchase Tax, particularly because of its effect on Lancashire, and perhaps I may be forgiven for devoting two more minutes to the effect of this Budget on Lancashire. Every Lancashire hon. Member, without exception, on both sides of the House, for four years, has been begging the right hon. Gentleman to remit the Purchase Tax on cotton piece goods. It would be some relief to a heavily burdened industry, and no one who knows anything about it, irrespective of party or politics, doubts that fact. What has the right hon. Gentleman done? He has reduced half of it, at a cost this year of£2¼ million, and in a full year—