This is an Amendment to remove the tax which it is sought to impose on sweets, soft drinks and the like. This is an amazing Finance Bill. We are engaged in a financial crisis. The right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot afford this and cannot afford that. Busy in saving the economy and rescuing the nation, with the assistance or under the directions of "Neddy", 'this is his main instrument for the purpose. This is a tax to yield £30 million this year and £50 million in a full year on ordinary sweets and ordinary soft drinks. It is not until the latest financial crisis has come upon us that any Government have thought it necessary to tax any of these things, but this now remains the only method of saving the country.
It is, as I see it, the largest item of taxation, certainly the largest item of personal taxation, in the whole of this Finance Bill. There is not much more to be said about that than that it is utterly ridiculous, that it shows the straits to which the Government and the Treasury have apparently been driven and that it throws a lurid light on the complete absence of even a sense of humour in those who are charged with directing the financial fortunes of the country at the moment. There is nothing whatever to be said for this tax. If the Government cannot think of anything better than this to rescue the nation, they had better resign at once.
That is the point about this Amendment and this tax. There is no more to be said for it. I do not suppose for a moment that even at this late hour the Government will see how ridiculous the tax is, how particularly ridiculous it is in a year when they are remitting £83 million to Surtax payers. What utter idiots they are making of themselves and their party by relying on this kind of tax to rescue the country from the financial difficulties into which their own policy has plunged it.