Clause 6. — (Reduction of Purchase Tax on Certain Household Goods.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th May 1957.

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Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge 12:00 am, 28th May 1957

I think the phrase was "releasing purchasing power". The fact is that it is a release of purchasing power, and I find it impossible to accept that the Financial Secretary believes what he said when he told us that it would be impossible in the present situation to release this purchasing power by taking the tax off kitchen utensils.

Every hon. Member who has spoken has emphasised that there was no tax upon these kitchen items until two years ago. Not even during the war, when things were difficult for us, or in the days when we were building up our reserves after the war, did we have to resort to a tax of this kind. Then in 1955 the 30 per cent. was clamped on. I should have thought that this year, if we were to reduce the tax at all, we could have wiped it right out.

If there had been an economic crisis and things were going badly, if there had been a demand for sacrifices all round and the Chancellor had said that he must keep a tax of 15 per cent. on these kitchen items, we might have accepted it. When, however, in this same Finace Bill, he is making concessions to the Surtax payers amounting to £30 million, he cannot use the argument about inflation concerning this tax on essential items of household use.

For the Financial Secretary to have to say to his hon. Friends that he cannot correct an anomaly because the mass of confusion is now so great and the attempt to right other anomalies has created further anomalies, suggests that he is getting somewhere near to the madhouse stage. If the situation is as confused and chaotic as all this, if the hon. Gentleman accepts that it is unfair, unjust and anomalous to have these taxes on certain items in domestic use, and that the administrative difficulties are great, cannot he give an assurance that in the next few months he will clean up the whole business of the levying of Purchase Tax? Cannot we have an indication that he accepts these arguments and will do something about them in the future?