Purchase Tax

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th May 1965.

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Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin 12:00 am, 4th May 1965

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to rectify the various Purchase Tax anomalies; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Niall MacDermot Mr Niall MacDermot , Derby North

As the hon. Member is aware, apart from a minor amendment relating the value of goods for Purchase Tax purposes, my right hon. Friend was unable to propose any changes in Purchase Tax in this year's Budget.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware of the very considerable expense and inconvenience which wholesalers and retailers suffer as a result of these anomalies, some of which are quite absurd? For example, Beecham's Powders are taxed, but Kwells are tax-free. False nails and eyelashes are tax-free, but curlers for eyelashes are taxed. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman reinvestigate this?

Photo of Mr Niall MacDermot Mr Niall MacDermot , Derby North

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is hoping to slip into the shoes of the former Member for Kidderminster. With a tax of this kind one can always point to anomalies by comparing articles falling just one side of the line with those on the other. From time to time it is possible to review this tax, but my right hon. Friend was not able to do so this year.

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will allow tax relief where musical instruments are purchased for use in schools.

Photo of Mr Niall MacDermot Mr Niall MacDermot , Derby North

I have nothing to add to the Answer given on 2nd February to a similar question from the hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. Hunt).

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that there is a tax relief on musical instruments in many other countries, including the United States of America? Is he further aware that, provided the necessary safeguards are taken to stop abuses, this is something which should be encouraged in schools? I earnestly ask him to bear in mind that this could be done along the lines of the personal export scheme, and I hope that he and his right hon. Friend will look at this again.

Photo of Mr Niall MacDermot Mr Niall MacDermot , Derby North

I have looked into this suggestion, and I am aware of the provisions under American tax law, but, because of the way in which our Purchase Tax is administered, it is not practicable, and as a general rule we do not seek to make special concessions for particular users of taxable articles. If a distinction can be made as to a particular type of article, that is a different matter.

Mr. Buchan:

Will my hon. and learned Friend have another look at this matter? I do not see why this problem is so intractable? It becomes, in a sense, a tax on knowledge. In education musical instruments play the rĂ´le of books, and should be treated in the same way.

Photo of Mr Niall MacDermot Mr Niall MacDermot , Derby North

This is an argument which we encounter over many things purchased by local authorities for schools, but the general rule is that unless, as for example in the case of school desks, one can distinguish the article by its nature, the tax has to be paid.