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New Clause.; — (Reduction of Purchase Tax from Five or Ten per Cent. to One per Cent.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd July 1957.

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Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire 12:00 am, 3rd July 1957

That is a much better way of putting it.

Another argument put forward against the proposed Clause was that it would be much too expensive and would cost many millions. Could not the Treasury turn its mind to making a smaller concession? May I cite one way, in particular, which might attract the sympathetic consideration of the Chancellor and his colleagues? I put it forward as an illustration. There is a tax of 60 per cent. upon all musical instruments except the organ. Why the organ has been selected for exemption, I do not know. That is a tax upon culture and art. The amount that the Treasury gets is well under £1 million and the amount which it can retain must be very small indeed.

Schools are in difficulties about getting musical instruments for their classes. Not only must they pay very high prices for new instruments, but the tax affects the price of second-hand instruments. Protest after protest is being received from the county councils about their difficulties in finding sufficient musical instruments in order to teach the young. The more they have to pay, the more money the Treasury has to find to finance the county councils. What the Treasury puts into one pocket, it ultimately takes out again, because it is necessary to meet the very Purchase Tax which it has collected.

This affects not only the county councils, but also the public schools. Protest after protest has been received from some of our leading public schools. What will be the effect of the tax upon music? The Treasury has already decided to reduce and, in some cases, abolish Entertainments Duty. Why free the listener and continue to tax the person who provides the music and the entertainment?

We have brought the matter to the Chancellor's attention, and I hope that it will have sympathetic consideration. It is an absurd tax which, as I have shown, affects culture and art and the teaching of it to the young.