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 Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North 12:00 am, 3rd July 1957

I should like to deal with one aspect of the two speeches which the Minister has made. In both of them, he pinned his argument to a generalisation about all these new Clauses. He did not go into the several details put to him by my hon. Friends. The best that he could do was to say, when dealing with sewing machines, that he would like to look into the matter and write to my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Collins) after the debate on the Bill is completed.

I submit that that is not a proper way to treat serious arguments, and that he should have dealt with each of the Clauses on its merits. His generalisation was that these Clauses would be too expensive. That may be, but what does "expensive" mean? Does it mean expensive to the health of the people? Expensive to the defence of the realm? Expensive to industry?

Like many generalisations, his is quite unsound. It has been put to him that in certain cases the removal or reduction of Purchase Tax would have a beneficial effect on purchasing power—that it would encourage industry, and have a beneficial effect on exports. What effect would some of the Clauses have on the tools of various trades? These matters seem to be beyond the ken of the Minister, and I suggest that he is not treating the Committee with due respect when he does not give precise, diligent, careful and exhaustive consideration to each of the detailed arguments that have been advanced. The right hon. Gentleman's answer was completely without discrimination. He did not discriminate between one new Clause and another. Why does he not do so? Is it because he is incompetent, or is it because he is negligent?

I should have liked to have said a word about the example of musical instruments