Schedule 1. — (Substantive Changes in Purchase Tax Rates, etc.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st May 1958.

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Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton 12:00 am, 21st May 1958

We had no choice in the matter. Otherwise, it would have been possible to mount a full debate on each one, as happened, the Committee may recall, in the autumn Budget of 1955. However, having examined this, it was considered by you, Sir Charles, to be a greater convenience for the Committee as a whole that they should be debated as a group, the first having been moved by my hon. Friend. That, however, was not our intention, and since we shall be called upon to vote on certain Amendments separately, and not as a group, the right hon. Gentleman might at least have taken the trouble to get the figures, in order to see the loss to the Revenue that would be involved in the acceptance of the Amendments on which we shall be called to vote.

Although we are delighted now to see that there are more Conservative Members in the Committee than there have been all day, we have gone on for long periods of the day without seeing a single backbencher anywhere on the benches opposite, apart from the indefatigable Parliamentary Private Secretary, who is worth every penny that he is paid. I am sure that most hon. Members opposite have no idea whatever how much revenue is involved in each of the Amendments on which they will shortly be dividing.

As has been made clear to the Committee, most of these items which we have discussed in this debate are now taxed at 15 per cent., although some of the later ones to which my hon. Friend drew attention—electric kettles, timing mechanisms in alarm clocks, and all the rest—are still taxed at 30 per cent. It is this group which is of great historical interest to many hon. Members, because these items formed the central theme of the Lord Privy Seal's famous "pots and pans" Budget.

We all recall how that Budget came about, how, earlier in the year, we had had the Election Budget, introduced by the Lord Privy Seal, and how, in the economic crisis which occurred and which the Government had denied had ever been with us, he found it necessary in the autumn to introduce the autumn Budget. That, of course, killed the Lord Privy Seal. The purpose of that Budget——