I beg to move,
That this House considers that value added tax should not apply to children's clothing.
Since the motion was put down the Government have put down an amendment to it which would seek to leave the whole matter to the Budget, but it should be said that the whole House, the Chancellor and the Financial Secretary, who is to reply, will be aware that the Chancellor deliberately took power in the last Finance Act to zero rate anything that he wishes without waiting for a Budget. Indeed, we all know that this is a simple, tactical manoeuvre to avoid a vote on the issue, but the country will see the vote as being for or against taxing children's clothing. That is the issue to which I shall be addressing myself.
I find it hard to believe that anyone given a choice as to what should be taxed, would deliberately choose to tax children's clothing. So I hope that I carry with me all hon. Members on both sides of the House on the general principle of not wishing to introduce a tax on children's clothing. Unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer changes his mind, he will have the doubtful honour of being the first Chancellor of the Exchequer to tax children's clothing. He will need better arguments than those yet advanced to justify such action.
Before dealing with those arguments, I should like to mention briefly children's shoes. The House will know that the Chancellor agreed to an inquiry to avoid a revolt from his own side of the House The medical case was very well made out in the debate by hon. Members on both sides of the House, particularly by the hon. Members for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford), Reading (Dr. Vaughan) and Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) in excellent speeches. It would be an appalling insult to the House and to those hon Members who spoke in that debate if the Chancellor did not now zero rate children's shoes, particularly after having told us how much he had been influenced by the debate. Certainly tinkering about with some medically approved shoe would not be enough.
Please let me finish. The hon. Lady should not get so angry. She may do herself some harm. I have reread her speech with great care. I agree that she accepted her right hon. Friend's decision to set up an inquiry into having children's shoes zero rated. She appeared to be saying that she was prepared to accept that certain types of shoes should be zero rated, but I should think that most hon. Members would prefer all children's shoes to be zero rated.
With respect to the hon. Gentleman, had that been my view there would have been no point in setting up a committee. I have never asked for—and never would—the zero rating of all children's shoes, because I believe that some are positively physically harmful. What I wanted and achieved was the setting up of a committee to find out which shoes were medically useful for children and for them not to be taxed.
The last thing in the world that I should ever seek to do is to misrepresent the hon. Lady's views, but what I was saying was, to a considerable extent, based on what she said during that debate about the need to zero rate children's shoes.
The hon. Lady and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are entitled to their quibble, and I use the word deliberately because if the hon. Lady thinks that the Chancellor set up the inquiry to do other than avoid being defeated in the debate I must tell her that she does not understand the workings of the House. However, the hon. Lady will no doubt tell us what kind of carefully medically approved shoes she would like to see children wearing. I shall leave it to her to present her own case. I shall leave her to say what kind of shoes she would like her children to wear, but I know what kind I should like mine to wear. I shall say little more about children's shoes because I feel that the House and the country have made their views known to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I now come to the main burden of the Chancellor's case about taxing children's clothing. He refused to zero rate children's clothes largely because, he said, of the unscrupulous traders who take advantage of the size problem under purchase tax. He went on to say that because VAT is a broad based tax he must include children's clothing within it. I have had an opportunity of discussing the size problem with a number of ladies', gentlemen's and children's clothing manufacturers, buyers in large and small retail shops and stores, and mail order houses, but before coming on to deal with their views perhaps I may make one last comment on this broad based comprehensive tax which is free from anomalies. That is how it was described by the Chancellor and his cohorts on the Treasury Bench.
I have a theory about why they described it in that way. It is that the Chancellor's first intention was to have a genuinely broad based comprehensive tax—and that would have been free from anomalies because it would have taxed everything including food, housing, fuel and transport. I have no doubt that that is what the Chancellor has it in mind to do eventually under the cloak of harmonisation. But the facts of life prevented him from doing that. The trouble is that all the briefs were prepared for the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends as if it were still a broad-based tax. We know that it is nothing of the sort. It is riddled with anomalies, as we showed in our lengthy debates on the Finance Bill, and that cannot be used as an excuse for not zero rating children's clothing.
I now come to the size argument. I believe that the Chancellor was wrong when he talked about unscrupulous traders using the size problem to escape purchase tax. According to the best information that I have been able to obtain, most respectable retailers, including well-known big name stores and large leading manufacturers, connive together to avoid purchase tax. Indeed, they frequently use what is known in the trade as "tolerance" in sizes to ensure that so-called children's sizes can be sold to adults free of tax. It is impossible to tell whether the volume of tax avoided is 20 per cent., 25 per cent., or more, but I willingly concede that a large amount of tax is evaded in this way. I use the word "evaded"—that is to say, the illegal version of the word—because that is precisely what it is.
I understand that many large manufacturers are compelled to comply with the demands of retailers—the large ones in particular—to supply adult clothing as children's clothing for fear of losing business. I find it shameful that this deliberate tax evasion is used by the Chancellor as an excuse to tax children's clothing of all sizes instead of doing something about these trading methods.
I admit at once that it would not be easy to deal with this problem. As I understand it, it cannot be done on a matter of lengths. The advice that I have received—and I presume that it is available to the Chancellor—is that he will need to act on chest measurements or, as they say in the ladies' trade, bust measurements.
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that the advice available to him may not be as all-embracing and comprehensive as he imagines? Will he also accept that chest—or bust measurements, as the case may be—are—and have been for the last 30 years—used as well as length in a hopeless endeavour to define what is children's clothing?
I am aware of the problem, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not wish to mislead the House, as he nearly did in his last speech on this subject. The hon. Gentleman's greatest experience—indeed, his only experience as I understand it—is in rainwear. I have been talking to dress——
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish my sentence. I have been talking to dress, casual wear and trouser suit manufacturers. I have been talking to all kinds of clothing manufacturers, so I have a reasonable view of the matter.
The hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that, apart from manufacturing rainwear and coats, I have been involved personally in manufacturing skirts and other articles of men's and ladies' apparel. In addition, I have served as Chairman of the Garment Manufacturing Section of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. In that capacity I dealt with all kinds of garments and I therefore speak with some authority.
The hon. Gentleman has invited me to take up some more of his time. When I was Chairman of the Garment Manufacturing Section of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce I was interested in the production of all types of clothing, and not merely rainwear. If I get an opportunity to speak later in the debate I shall give the House some examples based on my experience.
I think that we have had enough from the hon. Gentleman. I had the unfortunate experience of being on a local council with the hon. Gentleman, and I heard him at great length upon many subjects. No doubt he is an expert on children's clothing and on everything else on which he cares to speak. I am prepared to accept that he is an expert on every aspect of clothing—ladies', gentlemen's, children's, old women's, young women's, any kind that he cares to talk on. I do not think that I could be more generous than that. I was talking about the difficulty that the Chancellor would have in dealing with this problem, and I do not think that the hon. Gentleman would disagree with anything that I said before he decided that he had to intervene.
The position now is that coats up to a chest size of 37⅛in. are classed as children's clothing and are not subject to tax. Dresses up to a 36in. bust measurement are also not taxable. I hasten to add that that is the garment measurement, and not the body measurement, which gives some idea of the complexity of the problem. Garments of that size could be, and are, used by a large number of slim women. If the Chancellor decided to reduce the measurement to 32in. for exemption from tax, I am told that most women—other than Twiggy and a few others—would have to pay tax. The difficulty about that is that it would immediately result in a large number of 11-, 12- and 13-year olds having to pay tax. That is to say, some larger young boys and girls would have to pay tax. That is just one additional disadvantage of being large.
But I must say to the Chancellor that I would have thought that even that situation would be better than having one-to-10 year-olds paying tax as well, which is precisely what the Chancellor would have us do. If the Chancellor feels that he cannot persuade scrupulous firms to stop conspiring with manufacturers—for it is surely a conspiracy to avoid tax that these firms are engaged in—let him not use that as an excuse for taxing babies and young children. That is precisely what he is doing.
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. To make sure that I understood his argument on this case of alleged conniving and conspiracy, may I ask him whether he said that about 20 per cent. or 25 per cent. of purchase tax on clothing was avoided because of this?
No. I said that I was not sure of the percentage. The hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. Fidler) knows the percentage. He is absolutely certain. He knows about every aspect of the clothing industry. He quoted the figures 25th per cent. to 30 per cent. The Chancellor said he did not know. What I said was that it could be as much as 25 per cent. or 30 per cent., but that I did not know what the precise percentage was.
If the hon. Gentleman is seeking simply to obviate the hardship to families, would all the complications that he has referred to not be obviated if, instead of bringing forward this motion just before the Budget, when clearly it can hardly be sensibly argued—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because the Minister cannot give away Budget secrets now. If the hon. Gentleman were to join in the effort that I have been making to persuade the Chancellor and his hon. Friends to assist these families, not in this indirect way where there are so many loopholes and which will not help the families whom we most wish to help, but essentially by improving FIS and family allowances—
The hon. Lady and the Chancellor must not try to get off the hook in that way. There is nothing to prevent the Chancellor telling us today, or last month or the month before, that he has already, with 47 regulations since the last Budget, zero rated and made all sorts of changes. It is absolute hypocritical nonsense to suggest that the Chancellor has got to wait for the Budget. It is absurd to suggest at this stage that the Chancellor should do something about FIS, when the hon. Lady knows very well what happened to her Government's initial proposal, through the late Lain Macleod, that family allowances should be increased. There was no suggestion of any FIS, which in any case is not taken up by anything like the number of families that she suggests. All she is trying to do is to wriggle out of facing up to the problem whether or not children's clothes should be taxed, which is all that we are debating today.
I do not know that I can go along with everything that my right hon. Friend says.
I now come to the question of the yield from the tax. The Treasury statement on the question of the yield from this tax is that no upper estimates can be given. I have, therefore, tried to make my own estimate of the loss of yield which there might be from zero rating childrens' clothing. The family expenditure survey of 1971 states that children's clothing represents 1·1 per cent. of total household expenditure. From that, one can obtain some kind of idea of the amount of money spent on children's clothing.
I am sure that I would not wish the hon. Gentleman to lose out in any way, because he has so much expertise to impart to the House.
The estimate that I have made on the yield is 10 per cent. of £370 million, or about £37 million. It may be £10 million more or less, or even £20 million, but it would be incredible if any Chancellor could on 5th April reduce taxation for those at the highest end of the income scale by £300 million whilst at the same time refusing to allow this amount to relieve children's clothing from tax. The cost to a family with three children would be rather more than appears to be the case.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), with his customary under-statement, estimated in the last debate that it would be in the region of 19p. This does not take into account the way in which retailers calculate their margins. Now, many of them add their profit margins to the cost, including purchase tax, to get a real return on sales. The margin can vary from 50 per cent. on cost, to give one-third on sales, to 100 per cent. to give 50 per cent. on sales. Under VAT they should only put the margin on cost, excluding VAT, which they recover, unlike purchase tax. That is what they should do.
If they do as I am told many will be doing, the average family will be paying up to 100 per cent. more than the actual VAT because margins will continue to be put on costs plus VAT, and the rebate will be pocketed. That is what will be happening in the case of many retailers.
We know that the weights and measures inspectors and some of the 300 staff of the Price Commission, while checking on prices and profit margins of 1 million traders, are supposed to keep a specially watchful eye on retailers' profit margins during the first three months of VAT. I always thought that the weights and measures inspectors had other jobs as well. I do not know how experienced they are likely to be in coping with profit margins and costings of small retailers. I would be interested to know from the Financial Secretary what training these officials will undergo for their arduous tasks and how many hours of the day, and night, they will work to keep up with the average retailer of whom, according to the 1971 survey, there were 485,346. That is excluding the service industries and market stalls. I do not know whefther they will go round the market stalls as well, but if they do, the best of luck to them.
The information given in answers to Questions and from talking especially to small firms makes it clear that the whole VAT operation is miles behind schedule. The latest official figures to the end of last week, which were given in reply to a Question of mine yesterday, are that 950,000 applications were made for registration out of 1·5 million estimated traders. But this again is a fiddle. It was a fiddled answer. I did not ask for the number of applications. I asked for the numbers registered. In the past the answers that I got gave the number of people registered, but I did not get that answer this time. I was told the number of applications—950.000.
Even at that level, 950,000 leaves over 500,000 still to register. Even if they all send in their applications tomorrow morning, I find it very hard to understand how on earth the Customs and Excise will be able to cope with the whole of that before 1st April 1973.
There is also the question of the regional figures. In the Question that I tabled I asked what was the position in the regions, and I was told that the information is not available—very strange. Where do the Government get the figures from? From where do they get the figure of 950,000 applications? I should have thought that it was the regions which submitted the information to them. I cannot imagine that the Treasury is not getting a copy of every registration form which is sent and then doing the calculations from that. I hope that the Financial Secretary will look again at that answer, which was of doubtful significance and difficult to understand.
The figures show that the whole of trade and industry will be in chaos on 1st April, and, as I say, I doubt that all could be registered in time even if, by some means or other, all the applications were plonked on the Customs and Excise desk tomorrow morning.
I am trying to relate this part of the hon. Gentleman's argument to the motion. If his rather sweeping claims about the state of registration are anywhere near accurate, does he think that acceptance of the motion would assist the position?
Yes, I would far rather that the decision were taken and that the Chancellor postponed VAT, which would give more time to consider how he would zero rate children's clothing. I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman is not interested in the facts which show the sort of chaos likely on 1st April, but I thought that the House would be interested to know what the situation was.
The Chancellor should now take the sensible course and announce a postponement. It would be outrageous to do as he plans, to penalise hundreds of thousands of small retailers just because they do not find this monstrous tax and the registration form as easy to understand as the Chancellor does. What is more, to introduce such a tax on child- ren's clothing at any time would be grossly unfair, but to do so at the very time when he is introducing statutory control of incomes is utter folly such as even this Government have not yet exceeded. It seems certain to lead to the mothers' revolt which has been widely forecast. One does not need a vivid imagination to foresee the effect when husbands faced with compulsory pay restraint are told by their wives of the increased cost of children's clothing.
Inflation is the major problem of our age. Many will regard a deliberate increase in the price of clothing for the youngest in the land as an odd way to cure it. I ask the Chancellor and his right hon. and hon. Friends to think again and accept the motion.
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
recognises that Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer will give full consideration to all representations made in respect of any aspect of taxation, direct or indirect, and appreciates that no statement on any such matter should be made in advance of the Budget.
As hon. Members may know, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has thought it right to attend a council meeting of the EEC Finance Ministers in Brussels for immediate discussions on the implications of the financial changes which have taken place in the last few days. The meeting was due to start a few minutes ago. I am sure that the House appreciates that, as matters of great concern to the United Kingdom are being considered, my right hon. Friend felt it right to be present personally. But he has asked me to say how sorry he is that he is not able to attend this debate.
I believe it to be true that attempts to alter the traditions of the House often reveal the reasons why those traditions have been long established. This has sometimes become apparent when changes have been made quite deliberately to alter our procedures. It is equally true of those traditions which we scarcely notice, and one of these is that, in the period immediately before Budget day, Treasury Ministers say nothing on any aspect of taxation which might anticipate or seem to anticipate the Chancellor's Budget statement. There are good reasons for this, of which, I am sure, it is not necessary to remind the House. All Chancellors of the Exchequer have recognised the wisdom of maintaining that position.
The Chancellor has already made 34 changes in the provisional arrangements for value added tax, all of which affect the yield, including one announced on the back pages of The Times yesterday. Is the hon. Gentleman maintaining that children's clothing is the only aspect of value added tax which is not open to a decision, like the others, at any time the Chancellor wishes to take it?
I am about to answer it, but I cannot do so unless I am allowed to open my mouth for more than a second. The hon. Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) said that there had been orders for zero rating, giving exemptions, and so on. That is not so. There have been a number of Treasury orders—for example, those on second-hand goods, terminal markets and disallowance of inputs—which were anticipated in last year's Budget debates. Those orders have been laid, as, I think, the House thought it right that they should be, but broad questions of coverage are rightly regarded as budgetary matters.
Generally speaking, all Chancellors of the Exchequer have taken the view that that is the right position to adopt. As I understand it, under the old rules, Supply Days related to the voting of Supply and, accordingly, debates had to be related to the question of expenditure, so that any proposal for a debate on taxation would have been out of order. It was only in 1966 that the rules were changed so that any subject could be debated on a Supply Day, and I have not been able to discover any subsequent Supply Day debate on any taxation matter in the pre-Budget period.
The entry of Treasury Ministers into their traditional purdah in no way inhibits hon. Members or persons outside from making representations to the Chancellor of the day. Indeed, if anything, it signifies an intensification of such repre- sentations. Therefore, on the important question of VAT and children's clothing, as on many other important fiscal matters, responsible people and responsible newspapers are now putting forward their views for the Chancellor's consideration.
If that were what the Opposition were doing today in a Supply Day debate, it would certainly be unusual but it would be a responsible line to take. The Opposition could have put down a motion calling on the Chancellor to consider this question, or another, so that their views, like those of others, could be taken fully into account before the Budget. But, as the House can judge from the Order Paper and the speech of the hon. Member from Heywood and Royton, that is not what the Opposition have chosen to do on this occasion. Instead, they have deliberately put down a motion, which I understand they are likely to press to a Division, to take what amounts to a specific decision on a particular aspect of taxation in isolation from all other questions of taxation, and they have done this at a time when Budget day itself is less than three weeks off.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not want these constitutional matters to be misrepresented. Let me give him an example to show that the doctrine which he is advancing has no traditional validity whatever. In 1853, Mr. Gladstone, the best Chancellor this country ever had, made a public speech on the malt tax two months before his Budget. He was challenged on it, and, very rarely for him, he made a joke. He said, "Purdah does not imply chastity. If I choose to speak on this country's fiscal affairs and to give some indication of my intentions, I may do so unless it can be proved that commercial advantage accrues". The hon. Gentleman has to prove that in some way a commercial advantage could accrue to somebody before he can shield himself in his yashmak.
The hon. Gentleman has used exotic terms to make his point. I am sure that he does not wish me to misrepresent the constitutional point—I do not think that I should put it as high as that—and I do not wish him to misrepresent it, either. It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman has to go back to Gladstone in 1853. I think it is the case that successive Chancellors have generally taken the view that it is sensible to deliver a Budget statement which takes account of the various factors which need to be regarded as a whole.
Instead of making representations in the usual manner, the Opposition have chosen today to do something without precedent. I can find no precedent for a Supply Day debate of this kind. [Interruption.] I am glad that the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints agrees with me. I understand that it was out of order until a few years ago, and there appears to have been no such debate since that position changed. The Opposition have chosen to act in a way which, regardless of the merits of the case, we can only describe as wholly irresponsible.
Even after some years in the House, I am still somewhat surprised that a former First Lord of the Treasury—the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson)—and the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who evidently aspires to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, could have put their names to such a motion. In those circumstances, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends, and some Labour Members, will support the amendment.
The hon. Gentleman has referred to my position. He said that the Chancellor welcomes at this stage in his purdah representations from groups in the country who have a view. All that the Opposition are seeking to do is to invite the House to express a view, not to bind the Government, but to say that the House considers that children's clothes should be free of tax. Everything that the Minister has said so far seems to me to be liberating his right hon. and hon. Friends to vote exactly as they feel, so that he has a clear idea of the real views of the House, without the application of party Whips. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will now confirm my view of the implications of what he has said.
I shall be very happy to spell out the implications of the right hon. Gentleman's motion. He is clearly now trying to wriggle out of the position into which he has got himself. He could have tabled a motion asking for con- sideration of this or that topic. But he has put down a motion tantamount to asking for a decision on the matter, and I understand that he intends to press it to a Division—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] I am answering the right hon. Gentleman's question. I am saying that he is wriggling, that he is trying to get himself out of the position into which he has got himself. He could have made representations. Throughout, we have given great thought and care to considering all representations made to us on value added tax. But it is a vastly different matter, less than three weeks before a Budget, to table an unprecedented motion of this kind for debate on a Supply Day, and then to force it to a Division.
That being so, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will feel it right to support the amendment. I believe that it is a necessary amendment, whatever views may be held on the merits of the matters raised by the hon. Member for Heywood and Royton.
Naturally, as the amendment makes absolutely clear, my right hon. Friend will, as is his duty, take fully into account all the representations made on children's clothes and VAT, on various other aspects of VAT, and indeed on all aspects of taxation. The House will not expect me to go further than that clear assurance.
I trust that because I intervene only briefly in the debate, no doubt more briefly than Mr. Gladstone would have done on the occasion to which the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints, referred, the House will not consider that I am being in any way discourteous to it. On the contrary, I should be breaking with the traditions of the House without good reason—for none has been advanced—if I said more.
I am not arguing that. I am saying that it is right and proper that the matters which normally fall within a Budget, with regard to coverage and so on, should be regarded as a whole. On that basis, it is right that we should adhere to the traditions.
I repeat that there is no precedent for such a Motion as we have before us. It is a crude, feeble, political gimmick, and I believe that it will be recognised as such outside the House. I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to treat it as such by going into the Lobby in support of the Government Amendment.
I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to take part in the debate, because about two months ago I tabled a motion on the subject which has now been signed by 142 hon. Members. I regret that they include only one Conservative Member, a clear indication of Conservative Members' concern about the matter.
I support the motion and oppose the amendment, because I consider that there is no reason for delaying the decision about value added tax on children's clothing and footwear. Already, because of rising food prices, which the Government say they cannot or will not try to control, and because of rising rents and rates and increased mortgage payments, families are finding the burden of making ends meet almost intolerable. VAT on children's clothing and footwear will be the last straw.
This is why there is so much pressure on the trade unions by ordinary rank and file members throughout the country for pay increases, even to the extent of taking strike action. When responsible men and women in the Health Service, the gas industry and the Civil Service take the ultimate action, there is cause for alarm. Over the years those workers have set an example to the nation by the way in which they have steadfastly refused to be drawn into unofficial action. The Prime Minister and senior Ministers are claiming daily that the public are behind them in their anti-inflation policy. I do not believe that, because the whole policy is so blatantly unfair.
Since my motion on VAT was published in the national Press, I have received a heavy volume of correspondence from families throughout the country protesting about this poll tax on children's clothing and footwear. Time does not
permit me to go into detail, but I should like to give a few examples of the kind of letters I have received. I assure the House that these are typical examples. One letter says:
My husband earns approximately £2,000 and we have two children. Since August, 1972 I have spent the following on various items. For son aged 9: corduroy trousers, £2·85, anorak £3·50, shoes (Co-op sale) £1·50, Clark's shoes, £2·99, corduroy jeans £2·40, which is a total of £13·24. For daughter aged 12: anorak £3·50, corduroy trousers £2·75, shoes £3·69 and £3·75 and black school blazer bought at the Co-op, £4·75, a total of £18·44. Thus making a total of £31·68 for the two children in five months.
Another letter refers to the line that some people have been taking on this subject. It says:
When questioned about value added tax on children's clothing and footwear the Government's answer is always that this move is to stop smaller than average women buying children's clothes which at present are exempt. This is sheer nonsense. What is more, it is downright criminal. I have yet to see such a woman get into any of my children's clothes.
The letter continues:
The question about footwear raises a more serious problem. Firstly, children could be wearing their brother's and sister's shoes. Parents unable to do anything else will be forced to buy cheap and ill-fitting shoes. Is this what our great Government wants? A nation of children with corns and bunions before they reach working age.
These are typical letters that I have received throughout the country. The next letter comes from an old-age pensioner. He says:
…as a boy…money was very tight, and it was a case of wearing shoes, patched up, for a longer period than they should have been worn. This was out of financial necessity. At the age of 21 years it was necessary to have some of my toes amputated. You see, the feet were growing but the shoes were not—result, hammer toes. A mother will find it hard, if this tax is imposed, to buy this item as often as she normally would, with the result that the feet will suffer and the child's comfort affected for the rest of its life. Surely all orthopaedic surgeons will back you up on this one matter.
That gentleman is worried about children's feet, but that is only part of the problem. The trade will tell us that there have been increases in the price of wool and leather and that there will be increases in the price of clothes and footwear. Conservative hon. Members will know something about this. In the 12 months that has just elapsed the price of wool rose from 90p per lb. to 250p
per lb. That increase with increased labour costs will push up the cost of children's clothing and footwear by 15 per cent. If we add VAT at 10 per cent. there will be an increase of 25 per cent. on children's clothes and footwear by the autumn of this year.
My inquiries show that a family with three children spend approximately £120 a year on children's clothes and shoes. If the full 25 per cent. is applied, an additional £30 a year will have to be found by the parents who clothe their children and provide them with shoes. That is a modest figure. I could quote other examples where the position is much worse.
Some Ministers do not realise the price of some of these essentials. The very lowest price for a pair of shoes for a young boy is £3·50. We all know that boys will kick out two or three pairs of shoes in the course of a year. Trousers are £3 to £4. A blazer is £8. All these things have to be found, including shorts, socks and underwear. The effect of this on a family with three children will be to put up its cost of living to the extent of £30 in one year for those items alone.
I congratulate the Daily Mail on the campaign which it is running to have children's clothes and shoes zero-rated when VAT is due in April. It is doing a public service by spending so much of its time and energy in organising a petition which has already been signed by 100,000 people without too much effort.
I assure the House that there will be a substantial effort in the period to come. The Daily Mail's petition and the protest which Labour hon. Members are making is back by the British Medical Association, which has 52,000 members, and the Society of Chiropodists, which has 4,000 members. The BMA and the Society of Chiropodists are backing the campaign to have VAT on children's shoes and clothing—and shoes in particular—zero-rate. They are concerned that the poorer families will not buy new shotes and will make do with old ones. They are concerned that poorer families will be satisfied with ill-fitting shoes and that shoes will be passed down to younger children. They are concerned that poorer families will buy the cheapest possible type of shoe, probably of some composite material which is very bad for one's feet.
I do not expect some Conservative hon. Members to understand the problems of trying to bring up a family on a modest income. Most of them have been born with silver spoons in their mouths. If we take the Prime Minister at his word—I bear in mind the promises which he made at the General Election and I realise that it is difficult to trust his word—he said that he wanted to help poorer families. Even the Minister for Industry when dealing with aspects of the gas dispute this afternoon, said that it was the intention of the Government to try to help poorer families. I suggest that here is an opportunity for the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to show sincerity by saying now that VAT will not be put on children's clothes and footwear.
There is no need to wait until the Budget. As my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) described to the House, it could be done now. An indication could be given to the country. At least there would be some credibility that the Government are trying to help the poorer families. The Financial Secretary said that he hoped that hon. Members will go into the Lobby in support of the Government amendment. Any Conservative hon. Member who is concerned about the problem should think very seriously and go into the Lobby in support of the motion in the name of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition.
No one on the Government's side of the House could have been more powerful than I have been in my advocacy for not bringing in VAT this year. Nevertheless, I propose to vote with the Government and reserve my position on VAT until the proposals are put forward by the Government in the Budget debate. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench will abandon their strange and oriental attitude about not disclaiming or not saying anything, and adopting a peculiarly constitutional position, and consider the economic problems which face us today, and which changed overnight in the most alarming way.
The Treasury is on the horns of a grave dilemma about VAT. There are two main problems which face the Government. The first problem is to produce a Budget which will not shake the world by its fiscal irresponsibility, which means not going to the market to borrow about £3,000 million.
My hon. Friend says £4,000 million. This is in the days when it is called need-borrowing requirements. When I was a young man it was known as Budget deficit, and I prefer to use the old-fashioned term. The Government are faced with a Budget deficit of between £3,000 million and £4,000 million. Since yesterday their problem in battling against inflation has been made vastly more dangerous by the change in the exchanges.
As the Government are likely to be aware, the change in the currency arrangements has resulted, roughly speaking, in a further devaluation of 5 per cent. in the £ sterling against European currencies, What has been happening with the prices of raw materials, to which the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Walter Johnson) referred? Certain raw material prices have gone up far more than 5 per cent. Indeed, some prices, like those for tin, copper and diamonds, have shown an 11 per cent. increase. We are faced with a grave problem with value added tax in these circumstances.
If it is proposed, as is suggested by The Economist, that the rate should be fixed at 5 per cent., this would be fiscally totally irresponsible and would cost the Revenue about £400 million. If, on the other hand, the rate is fixed at 10 per cent. the effect is bound to be inflationary and to run counter to the main policy of the Government to control inflation. The hon. Gentleman spoke about the prices of children's clothing and was right to say that they will inevitably go up. The increases will be passed by the Prices Board because the prices of raw materials are going up.
The Government must recalibrate their intellectual machinery and rethink the financial problems facing the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer on 5th December lashed himself to the mast of this absurd, leaking colander of a cockle- shell which is value added tax, and determined to sail through, to hell with inflation and to hell with fiscal probity. "Let us go forward", he said, "and take on Scylla and Charybdis simultaneously." We are lashed to the mast with him. All this new Ulysses needs is a pair of Treasury scissors which will just cut out the whole concept of value added tax from the next Budget—snip, snip, snip. That is all we need so that we shall not be in the absurd dilemma of either being fiscally absurd or of forcing upwards the price and cost of inflation.
These things, although I have said them in a jesting way, are immensely serious. The Government have shown occasional flexibility—indeed, have almost established a reputation for flexibility. They have none of the Gladstonian attitude—and I am one of Mr. Gladstone's greatest admirers. I regard him as one of the greatest of Englishmen. Surely now is the time to change around and to observe the realities of the situation, and realise that through the normal purchase tax and other taxes it is perfectly possible to collect new money and at the same time avoid forcing the rate of inflation higher than it need be.
Having heard my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) and the reply of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, talking about yields here, goods there and replies to questions and constitutional propriety and all that sort of thing, I thought it a healthy sign that the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Walter Johnson) brought the debate to the difficulties of ordinary families, which would be further added to by value added tax.
I must declare an interest. I have five children. The oldest of them is 12. My second son had a new pair of shoes last weekend. They cost £3·89. The same size of shoe for my eldest son 18 months ago cost just over £2. That is the sort of problem which families far worse off than those of hon. Members are having to face all the time. That is the sort of problem we are talking about when it is suggested that we should add to the price of the goods they have to buy an extra 10 per cent. or 7½ per cent. or whatever it will be by value added tax.
The Government have given us some fancy figures about earnings in the gas industry. But the basic wage of a gas labourer for a 44-hour week is less than £20. The basic wage for a skilled man for a 44-hour week is £23. Three million male workers, the majority of them heads of families, are earning £25 a week or less. It is in this context that one sees the true perspective of value added tax and what it means to the ordinary working-class family.
Right hon. and hon. Members opposite should go round some of our constituencies in the North, where wages are not high. They will see springing up again the second-hand clothes shops—something which we were told about by our parents who remembered their experiences in the 'thirties. We see the growth in poor areas of second-hand clothes being offered in the front windows of houses. We see often the front window of an old house filled with various sizes of children's shoes, ranging from babies' slippers up to football boots for 16- and 17-year olds. The whole range of second-hand shoes for children is on sale. The same applies to coats and dresses. Then, of course, there is the phenomenon of the "nearly new" shop.
This is a sign of the times. There are queues outside jumble sales—and this is where we see the poverty affecting so many families. Where do they go when the tables are set out? They first go to the tables with children's shoes and coats. The charitable organisations, such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Child Poverty Action Group, are asking more than anything in their circulars and advertisements for children's clothing and shoes. These are the things which are of concern to us on this side of the House, and this is why we say that value added tax should not be imposed on children's clothing.
The right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) rightly pointed to the increase there will be in the prices of raw materials. Increased prices of raw materials will be reflected in the market and in any case they have generally escalated in the last 18 months. As he said, they are bound to be approved by the Prices Board. Yet, in addition to all this, we are to have 10 per cent. value added tax. We tend to talk in this House a great deal about the difficulties of retailers' margins, but these will be peripheral to the great explosion in prices brought about because the Government refuse to tackle the whole problem of raw materials in their prices policy.
The Government have consistently refused throughout their freeze policy to try to put any restriction on food prices; they have refused to consider any type of food subsidy; they have refused to consider whether they could control the prices of basics like bread and meat.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to know how things are arranged and how the money goes in most households. Money goes first for the rent, then for food. Clothes come a very poor third. Anyone who has been a member of a large working-class family knows how clothes can go from brother to brother, daughter to daughter. They need constant work by devoted mothers, stitching and darning. The problem is that there comes a time when they are too thin to be worn again, when new clothes have to be bought. There will be a limited amount of money available for children's clothes because most of the money will have been used to meet escalating food prices and rents.
This will mean second-hand shoes, the purchase of substitute plastic—Ho Chi Minh sandals and the like—leading to foot rot, perspiration and generally poor feet. All of my children take a very wide "F" fitting. We have quite a problem tracking down shops which can supply such shoes. They could never be obtained second-hand. Translate this problem into the circumstances of the ordinary family with the constant pressure upon the mother, trying to save out of her housekeeping, and we can see just how difficult the problem is.
Industrial disputes begin on the kitchen floor not the factory floor. The pressure comes from the mother demanding more money from the wage packet. This is why we are most concerned about the main issues of rents, food prices and the taxation of children's clothes. We should not put the success or failure of the Government's financial policy on kids aged from one day to 10 years. That is what the Government are doing and it is mean and nasty.
If the Government are prepared to receive representations from everyone they should receive them from this House because we represent people from every walk of life.
I have no doubt that if members of the Treasury team have, over the last six months or a year, been addressing meetings throughout the country as I have they will have found points of view being put forward similar to those now put forward by members of the Opposition. Further, these points of view are being put forward by Conservatives, Socialists and no doubt Liberals too when we have them.
There is a slight misapprehension on the part of the Government because when it comes to children's shoes we are still discussing last year's Budget. There was quite a strong body of feeling on this side of the House that children's shoes should at all times and in all circumstances be exempt from tax. It is our job in Parliament to encourage the wearing of well-fitting shoes.
That is not what my hon. Friend and I were asking for. We were asking for positive discrimination in favour of shoes which were medically sound, not in favour of the wedge heels and the winkle-pickers.
My hon. Friend has a point. What we were anxious to do was to see that children should have the right sort of shoes, fitting correctly in length and breadth. We felt that fiscal policy should encourage this rather than discourage it. We were told that there was any amount of time before this year's Budget, that there was no hurry at all. The months ticked by and not even the Committee had been appointed. We became restive.
This restlessness was picked up by the Daily Mirror Group. Soon afterwards a chairman was apointed. When we made further protestations we were again told that there was plenty of time and that under the particular clause in the Finance Bill the zero rating could be changed at any time. I hope that we shall hear why the Chancellor has been sitting on this report since 6th December. We want to know whether the report will cause trouble or whether it is in favour of what some of us want and is being saved as something to sugar the pill, come the Budget. There seems to be no reason why a decision announced in December should interfere with a Budget which was not due for some months. We are not terribly convinced by the arguments put forward so far. It is a specious argument.
The hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Walter Johnson) has been running a first-class campaign with the help of the Daily Mail. He pointed out that by the time working-class children reach adult working life their feet are often ruined for ever. This was clearly apparent to any hon. Member who was in the Forces. After I left the Army I did a lot of medical examinations for it. The feet of potential officers were always in splendid shape but the feet of the other ranks, those obviously doomed to be other ranks for their two years, were frequently crippled because poverty had decided what type of shoe their parents bought for them. In all probability it was the shoe which had been worn by an elder brother or sister, already three-quarters worn, already moulded to the shape of another foot.
Patients in ordinary National Health Service general practice, where I spent my first 12 years, also suffer in this way. Many of them aged over 65 have received a crippling early in life which is beginning to show itself seriously now. Frequently they are disabled. Now, in my poverty, I attend only to private patients. It is rare to find anyone who has feet which are in a bad condition. There is an income difference. Feet can be entirely ruined because of the wrong shoe. The Government cannot possibly agree to do anything which might persuade parents to put their children in the wrong shoes, even though it may be done for the best motive.
One of the most appalling figures to come from the Family Expenditure Survey, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Trew) will seek to refer, is that which says that the average family of three spends £40 per annum on children's clothes and shoes.
I was misinformed earlier. Any Member who visits a constituent who has children at a grammar school or a good comprehensive school will find that it costs a family of three £300 plus if they are to be as well-dressed as their contemporaries. I went to see one such family and we worked it out that it was £317. This was nothing extravagant or lavish, it was just to see that their children were indistinguishable in their clothing from other school children. Children have this right. Children can be damaged for ever if they are sent to school hallmarked as coming from an impoverished family. The inabilities of their parents, perhaps through no fault of their own, to cope with the family budget, should not be displayed to the rest of the school. We must do what we can to ensure that these children have a good start in life. Their minds as well as their feet may be crippled and they may find themselves in the delinquency courts.
Like the hon. Member for Derby, South, I have had a number of letters on this subject, with 95 per cent. of them being in favour of a concession in this respect. It is interesting to study the 5 per cent. of people who are against concessions to children. Apart from those with obvious political motives, some come from cranks—people who, because they, regrettably, have been childless, wonder why they should pay for other people's children. However, they will expect other people's children, when they are wage-earning adults, to look after them when they are old-age pensioners. The other group of people who have complained are, surprisingly enough, the rich. Occasionally a rich person writes saying, "This is only a trifling sum". It is a trifling sum perhaps if we take the family expenditure survey figures, but it is not if we take the amount which should be spent on children in order that they might have good shoes and clothes.
This is part of the wider debate on value added tax. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), I cannot help but feel that it is a regressive tax which will increase inflation and, above all, will increase the anxiety of inflation. Just when people are scared of poverty and are frightened daily by the thought that perhaps nationally we are going bankrupt, it cannot be a good idea to terrify people still more with a tax of immense complexity which they do not understand and which will increase the cost of the basic necessities of life.
I should like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to assure us that we shall not have a tax on food. I have repeatedly asked for such an assurance in the last year, and I shall continue to ask for it. We know that he will not impose it in the Budget this year. Perhaps he will go a bit further and give a promise which covers the next 18 months. If he feels that he cannot do that, perhaps he will answer the question raised on last year's Budget and tell us what will happen about children's shoes.
It is a great pleasure for me to speak after the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford), who has made extremely strongly the case in support of the Motion. He made the case strongly in speeches during the Report stage of last year's Finance Bill. It was a pleasure to hear him making it even more strongly today.
I hope that the reply of the Minister of State will be more adequate than that of the Financial Secretary, which seemed to me a classic example of how to avoid dealing with a subject which is of serious concern to the House. I hope that the Minister of State will reply to the powerful arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett).
It is not good enough for the Minister to say that this matter can be considered only in a Budget because the history of value added tax in the past 12 months shows that it is not a normal tax which can be considered only at Budget time. For example, the enormous concession on tax-paid stocks given just before Christmas would, in normal years, have occurred perhaps only in a Budget. Clearly the problems associated with introducing a tax of this sort mean that abnormal steps must be taken. I am, therefore, extremely glad that we have created the precedent of using a Supply Day to discuss an important tax matter. There are strong feelings about this subject on this side of the House and, as the hon. Member for Norwich, South has shown, on the benches opposite.
The regressive effects of the application of value added tax to children's footwear and clothing were made clear during the debates in Committee and in the House on the Finance Bill last year. Few issues have created as much feeling among my constituents as this matter. I sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and I had an acknowledgment from the Financial Secretary only yesterday—a petition signed by several hundred people in my constituency about the imposition of value added tax, particularly on infants' clothes. Already leather prices are going up in the same way as meat prices. For some reason the two are linked. I should have thought that if the farmers were getting more for their meat they would be able to sell the leather more cheaply, but it seems that it does not work like that. Leather prices are rising as quickly as meat prices. I heard only yesterday that the price of non-leather footwear materials is also likely to increase.
This tax will have a particularly serious and iniquitous effect on young parents. It will, in verity, be a tax on parenthood. It will fall, not only on all the clothing requisites for a first-born child, but on the other necessities of the nursery—the pram, cot, playpen and all the other equipment which has been exempt from purchase tax. For the first time we are imposing a substantial tax on parenthood. It will fall at a particularly unfortunate moment for people who have just had their first child. Up to then the household may have had two incomes—those of the husband and the wife—to support two people. When there is only one income to support three people, difficulties arise. There may be arguments for restricting the growth of population, but this iniquitous tax on young families is not the way to do it.
Reference has been made to the administrative problems. My hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton dealt very well with the question of large children and small adults. There are borderline cases, but there will always be borderline cases and anomalies, particularly in the administration of value added tax. If we can have the anomaly that lawn turf is subject to VAT while lawn seed is not, we can afford to have some anomalies concerning the boundary between large children and small adults.
It has been suggested that to differentiate will create problems for shopkeepers because they will have to deal at retail level with some goods which are zero rated and other goods which bear the tax. But that is no different from the problems facing the owner of a food shop who is selling, say, chocolate biscuits, potato crisps and other items which bear the tax. Therefore, the administrative objections about the boundary between children and adults and about shopkeepers could be dealt with if there were the political will to deal with them. The object of the motion is to show the Treasury that there is a political will to deal with this problem which has such a serious social effect upon families.
It is perfectly possible to modify the tax in this way. Such a modification will not interfere with the essential character of the tax any more than do other items that are zero rated. Many changes in VAT have been announced since the Finance Act, 1972, and it is perfectly possible for an announcement to be made today. Indeed, there is provision in that Act for such an announcement to be made before a Budget and before a new Finance Bill is published.
If the Government are not prepared to do this either today or later, 1st April will be a sad day for the children. As the hon. Member for Norwich, South, said, they will bear the scars for many years.
I have listened carefully to what has been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House. The debate has ranged far beyond the terms of the motion, which does not refer to clothing and footwear and does not refer to the regressive impact of VAT. The hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Walter Johnson) referred to footwear. If that is the feeling of the Opposition, why is "footwear" omitted from the motion?
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman is able to read as clearly as I can without the aid of glasses. The motion refers to the desirability of not adding VAT to children's clothing. As I hope to prove, it is impossible for the motion to be adopted, because of lack of definition. The motion does not include "shoes". In trying to buttress false arguments the hon. Member for Derby, South, referred to an increase in the price of leather of 15 per cent., to which he said must be added VAT of 10 per cent., which makes 25 per cent. He went on to say that since the average family spends £120 a year on children's clothing, 25 per cent. must be added, but that 25 per cent. is related to footwear and not to clothing.
I appreciate the generous references made by the hon. Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) to my expertise on clothing. Knowing him to be a man of sincerity and truth, I am embarrassed, but I appreciate his remarks. Equally, I recognise that in his profession of accountancy he stands in similar eminence. I therefore find it difficult to understand why, with his multitude of clients, he is unable to produce figures of the yield, or lack of yield, from garments sold by his clients who happen to be in the clothing industry. The clothing industry is required on its invoices to enter the percentage of children's garments, which are tax free, and the percentage of adult clothing which is subject to tax. His investigations into the industry have not been as profound as I should have expected.
The hon. Gentleman told us that coats 37⅛ in. long are children's garments which do not bear tax, and that garments with a bust measurement of 36 in. ——
The hon. Gentleman was obviously so interested in what he was going to say that he did not take a note of what I said. I particularly said that it was extremely difficult to deal with lengths.
If, tomorrow, HANSARD proves me wrong I will willingly withdraw what I said. The hon. Member for Heyward and Royton referred to children's coats 37⅛ in. long bearing no tax, and he went on to say—he may regret it—that garments with bust measurements up to 36 in. bore no tax. I tell the hon. Gentleman that garments with a bust measurement of 36 in. are outside the exemption for children's clothing and therefore taxable.
As I thought that reference might be made to my participation in the debate last year, yesterday I visited one of a large chain of stores which has seen fit to canonise my first name, and apply it to a brand of clothing. I will not mention the name of the store. In the boys' and girls' department I found cardigans of long length with 32 in. and 34 in. chest measurements. If the hon. Member for Heyward and Royton were not quite so well-endowed in circumference he, with his height, would be able to utilise one of those garments tax free. I found long-sleeved jumpers with chest measurements of 32 in. and 34 in. in the children's department, and they were tax free. I found shirts with chest measurements of 32 in. and 34 in. tax free. These are the chest and bust sizes of young adults well above the age which is normally regarded as the age at which children's clothing would be worn.
As I thought that this might be unusual, I went to the skirt department, where I found skirts for children with waist measurements of 22 in. to 25 in. with a length of 18 in. The ladies' short skirts begin at size 12, with a length of 18 in.
From my considerable experience, I make it clear that manufacturers are not acting unscrupulously. They are taking advantage of the existing regulations. Quite legitimately they are supplying five garments out of every 24 to ladies as children's clothing and therefore free of tax. Garments above size 12 are subject to purchase tax.
I willingly accept that, and I am glad to have the hon. Gentleman's support. As an accountant, he is not acting unscrupulously if he assists his clients to pay the minimum tax to which they are liable by carefully reading and exercising the tax laws. In the same way, every clothing manufacturer is entitled to read the regulations and to invoice and describe his garments in such a way as to attract the lowest level of tax.
In the debate on the Finance Bill last year I said that between 20 and 25 per cent. of the garments sold to ladies were sold tax free because the sizes 10 and 12 are in the category of children's clothing. Whereas it is difficult to define the article, it is impossible to identify the final wearer, however the article is defined——
I allowed my hon. Friend to make his speech without interruption. I shall come to that point. Last year I said that between 20 and 25 per cent. of garments sold to ladies were sold tax free although they were designed and produced for adult persons. At that time the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to the missing word "young" before "children's" in the Opposition motion. Had the Opposition thought it possible to define the group consisting of babies in nappies up to children of 8 or 9, no doubt they would have introduced different wording. They would not have asked that VAT should not apply to children's clothing. They would have defined a group. They obviously found it impossible to define that group, and that is why the loose wording recurs today.
However much I regret it, a large quantity of clothing falling within the terms of the motion is purchased by ladies who fall into the category of adults and cannot honestly be regarded as falling into the category for which the exemption is intended.
I urge my hon. Friend to consider the position of those who fall well below this margin, with its impossibility of definition. I realise the difficulties and I would have preferred a definition to make it impossible for an adult to purchase for his or her own use an article sold tax-free as a child's garment. I urge my hon. Friend to consider whether it is possible still to do this if the trade itself, which has been complaining about this matter, puts forward a watertight definition which will allow of no loop holes.
I seek to draw a distinction between clothing and footwear. I pointed out in last year's debate that young children's footwear was given such a bashing that it was worn out, if not in weeks, certainly in months. At that time I asked my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to exempt children's footwear altogether, and I was delighted that my right hon. Friend appointed the Munro Committee to look into the matter. I do not confine my remarks only to shoes produced for medical purposes but am seeking to emphasise that the situation with regard to clothing is different from that which applies to footwear.
Children grow out of their garments much more quickly than the garments deteriorate. Adult garments are worn until they drop to pieces, but children's clothes are often discarded while still virtually new. It is not unusual for clothes to be handed on from the first to the second child, and then even to the third child. No opprobrium attaches to a younger brother or sister having garments handed down. Therefore, the case for exempting children's clothes from the tax is not as strong as that for exempting their shoes.
The hon. Member for Heywood and Royton was kind enough to refer to my knowledge of the industry. If the hon. Gentleman would give the House a definition to cover the situation of children's items purchased for adult use, I would be prepared to support the Opposition's motion. However, it is obvious that the hon. Member can offer no such definition. The trade has asked for the present exemption to continue because it will be helpful to sales. No definition has been advanced to close a loophole which has existed for many years.
I appreciate the problem faced by parents of young children, but if we are to exempt any large category of clothing in the manner suggested by the Opposition, to achieve the required yield the tax may have to be increased on the adult range of clothing. This would mean a heavier burden on families with grownup children, and indeed on families without children.
We are debating whether a certain section of the community should be exempted from tax. It would be easy to obtain 100,000, or even 10 million signatures, for a petition in favour of abolishing income tax, because everybody is in favour of paying less, but when we examine the Opposition's motion we see how impossible it is to define one particular group. I ask my hon. Friends to support the Government's amendment, which clearly indicates that consideration will be given to logical, reasoned arguments without any attempt, as the Opposition are attempting, to play to the gallery.
I intervene briefly to draw attention to the way in which the public are gradually being led into the way in which VAT will be introduced—significantly, perhaps, on All Fools Day, 1st April. I hope that information will be made available to the public, not only about VAT as it will apply to children's clothing but as it will apply to very many other items.
However, it is obvious from the Government's amendment that they are not prepared to make any information available. I hope to tell the House why I believe it is vital in the public interest that a great deal more information about VAT should be made available straight away.
A visit to any high street in the country will demonstrate that there is a massive advertising campaign by garages and electrical appliance shops, setting out in bold clear terms the slogan "Buy now and avoid VAT". We have been told time and again since last year's Budget that the Chancellor of the Exchequer intends to levy VAT at a rate of 10 per cent. or less on many items and that the prices of some items in the shops would fall. But there has been a clear attempt by a large number of manufacturers in a whole variety of commodities to confuse the public. Against all the assurances which we have been given over the past year that VAT would be administered in a fair and just way, we now see that there will be a large number of unjustified price increases. Although we are told by garages and electrical appliance shops that we must buy now to avoid VAT, what will happen is that after 1st April prices will in many instances fall.
Certain commercial outlets are now trying to prepare the public for the fact that prices will not be reduced with the introduction of VAT on 1st April. I can see no other reason for their campaigns. The oft-proclaimed belief of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that prices would in certain cases be reduced will not come about, and it appears that manufacturers and distributors are preparing the ground deliberately to confuse the public.
I undertook to be brief, and I conclude by drawing attention to Written Question No. 87 which appears in my name on today's Order Paper. It is an attempt to elicit information for the public, and I hope that in the Government's reply to this debate we shall be given some clear information about the consumer articles which I itemise in that Question. I instance among other things cars, washing machines, television sets, cameras, binoculars and lawn mowers and I go on to include central heating appliances and a whole range of consumer items. I should like to see comparable figures relating to purchase tax on these articles to the effect of VAT rates of 7½ per cent., 10 per cent. and 12½ per cent. In that way the public would have a very clear guide before VAT was introduced about whether it would be better to buy now or to wait until the introduction of the tax.
I appreciate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you may think I am extending my argument rather widely. I have been prompted to do so by the Government amendment, and I checked carefully with your predecessor that I should be in order. He assured me that I would. I hope that the Treasury will give the House and the public some clear indications on this whole range of consumer goods and the rates of VAT to be applied to them.
At this time of the year many people are getting married. Young couples may be contemplating going out and spending as much as £1,000. If the often-proclaimed reductions in prices come about, a couple proposing to spend £1,000 may save between £100 and £150.
Leaving aside the arguments about children's clothing, in terms of public enlightenment the whole subject of VAT and its introduction is of vital interest to the public, and the Treasury should do all that it can to enlighten us.
The speech that we heard earlier from the Financial Secretary was little more than a lot of pedantic and semantic flannel which was not addressed to the subject matter of the debate. If the Government had been honest when framing their amendment they might have said:
… recognises that Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer will give full consideration to all representations … except those of this House …
It is an extraordinary constitutional doctrine that while newspapers, campaigners, petitioners and everyone else outside this House can state a view before the Budget about what should be done, this House is not expected to do so.
The Opposition motion says quite clearly:
That this House considers that value added tax should not apply to children's clothing".
That is not asking this House to take a decision. However it is for this House collectively to express a view, and I believe that the Government have raised a deeper issue than the motion suggests. One of our primary functions is to vote money to the Government and to express a view on taxation matters which are vital to the country. The introduction of VAT is an entirely appropriate and proper matter on which the House should convey a view to the Government, and I took strong exception to the tenor of the speech of the Financial Secretary.
The hon. Gentleman has misrepresented totally what I said. It is clear to all concerned in this House and outside it that the Government have done everything possible to ensure the fullest possible consultation on this tax, and we said that we would take account of all the views expressed. That was not the point which I made. My point was that the Opposition on a Supply Day a short time before the Budget in an unprecedented way have tabled a motion which clearly is phrased in such a way that a specific decision is sought. It was to that that I objected.
The hon. Gentleman is merely summarising what he said earlier. However I take the contrary view. This House must be entitled to convey a view to the Government.
Should not the hon. Gentleman put the matter more strongly? This is not simply a matter of the way that the Opposition motion is phrased. It is the duty of the Financial Secretary to come to this House and to answer the Opposition motion in terms. The method he has taken to evade answering it has no constitutional validity. It is a trumped-up device to avoid getting involved in the argument. Is not that the case?
The hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Brian Walden) always expresses these points much more forcibly than I do in my modest way. However, I agree with him. Value added tax and its different ramifications have been anticipated by everyone for more than a year, and it is not good enough for this constitutional fable to be used as an excuse for not having a thorough debate in this House and reaching a decision on it.
I speak from a slightly different position from that of the Opposition. It is well known that the Liberal Party in principle has supported a value added tax, and I am glad that the Opposition have not wandered into a general discussion of the merits of the tax. However, while I accept that the Government will go ahead with its introduction, I believe that there is a clear case for not applying the tax inflexibly right across the board. The Government should be prepared to consider exceptions.
One of the Government's answers is that the success of the tax depends on the theory that it must be broadly based. They say that if it is not broadly based it will not work. I accept that in principle. However it has been calculated that if the Government sought to replace the revenue from purchase tax and selective employment tax with a straight VAT right across the board the rate imposed would be about 7·8 per cent. Since the expected rate is about 10 per cent. it is clear that there is room for manœuvre within the overall anticipated flat rate for a slightly narrower base on the tax and for exemptions to be made on items like children's clothes and in the case of charities.
However commendable VAT is in principle, in replacing our purchase tax system it could have the effect of making some luxuries cheaper and many necessities dearer. The people who have received benefits from the Government in terms of surtax concessions will not worry about a little extra on children's clothes. But it has a regressive impact unless the Government are prepared to to introduce an exception here.
I am probably one of the few fathers who do not leave the buying of children's clothes to their wives. I notice very little dissent from that proposition. I suspected that to be the case. There are one or two fathers who take some delight and interest in buying their children's clothes. On the rare occasions that my children come to London, I take them to one of the multiple stores in Oxford Street where there is a large selection of children's clothing. The expense involved is considerable. It is all very well on the salary of a Member of Parliament to withstand the expense of buying clothes for two children aged 5 and 6. It is a very different matter when one considers the impact of a 15 per cent. tax on children's clothes on those trying to cope on a fairly small weekly wage packet.
I happen to represent an area which has the lowest average wage level of any region in the country. For that reason I am especially sensitive when the Government expect people to accept in the national interest a restrictive incomes policy when at the same time they introduce a direct increase in the cost of living on necessities which matter to the ordinary family.
That is one reason why the Government should listen to this plea. It is no argument to say that because there are some anomalies on the boundary between children's clothes and adults' clothes under the purchase tax system, we must have taxation on all clothing. After all, the anomalies are limited only to clothes of a certain size and not to the generality of children's clothes. They are also limited to a relatively small number of people.
The hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. Fidler) described his visits to a certain store. However, he did not say that precisely the same clothes were on sale in the children's department and the adults' department. I suspect not. Today the style of teenagers' clothing is very different from that which an adult will wear, though I accept that there is a limited range of clothing which can be worn by a child or by an adult.
As a student one of my regular vacation jobs was as a salesman in a well-known department store in Edinburgh——
It was not all that long ago. I found myself working in the boys' department during the January sale. Occasionally someone came in who was small enough to find a sports jacket which fitted him. However, for every sports jacket sold to an adult there were nine or 10 sold to children.
We should not make too much of a mountain of the anomalies which now exist. The lifting of VAT or the zero-rating of children's clothes would not increase the anomalies which represent a relatively small problem.
My colleagues and I will have no hesitation in supporting the motion. I hope that some hon. Members on the Government side will also support it. The House must not be inhibited from expressing a view on this matter by all the constitutional flannel we have heard from the Government.
There are often very strong arguments on both sides of the House for the Chancellor to consider representations about children's clothing and footwear.
I submit that it would be entirely wrong to accept the Opposition motion. Let us assume that the terms of the Opposition motion were that the House considers that the personal allowance of a single person should be raised to a certain level. It is easy to see that the objection to that would be that the House must not pick out one item of the Budget and attempt to get the Government to agree to reduce or remove the tax on it.
The Opposition are asking the Chancellor to take a decision now about the tax on children's clothing. My hon. Friend must weigh the whole impact of VAT to see that it is spread fairly. I have made representations about purchase taxed goods. The Chancellor weighed all the representations on both sides and came to the conclusion that there would be unfairness to traders with purchase taxed goods who either let them out or sold them afterwards. The House is being asked to take a decision about the matter.
The hon. and learned Gentleman is a most distinguished lawyer and, as he knows, no one respects him more than I do. May I, with temerity, suggest that he is entirely wrong and has misunderstood what is involved? The Chancellor has no power to vary personal allowances between Budgets. But the Government specifically took powers to zero-rate anything they chose at any time between Budgets. Therefore, the very analogy that the hon. and learned Gentleman is giving shows that his argument is wholly fallacious and has no constitutional point whatever.
The arguments remain that the Chancellor must weigh one thing against another. There is obviously a very strong argument for exempting charities from VAT. I have written to my right hon. Friend about this matter, but I do not expect him to agree with my argument without taking into account that he must weigh charities against children's clothing and many other matters—theatres, sports and so on. An argument could be put forward that charities come into the homes of the poorest more often than children's clothing and shoes. It would be entirely wrong for the Government to be asked to make a decision in this debate. They must weigh the representations from all sides. The fact that the House makes a representation should not be a reason for the Chancellor agreeing to it. The House is not in a position to weigh the argument for charities against other matters. Nor has it the opportunity in debate to weigh sports against charities, and so on. On the merits we can appreciate that it would be with great reluctance that the Chancellor would maintain his decision to apply VAT to children s clothing and shoes.
The Labour Government were in the same dilemma when they increased purchase tax—incidentally, they increased it six times—on household textiles, sheets, and knitting wool. There were very strong arguments in each case why the Labour Government should not do that, because it would affect people who could ill afford it.
If the motion simply stated that the House asked the Chancellor to note that there were strong arguments for not imposing VAT on children's clothing, I am sure that most of us would agree. However, the House should not agree to a motion which imposes on the Chancellor a decision to that effect. That is the difference between the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) and me on the constitutional point.
The hon. and learned Gentleman is most courteous in giving way to me twice in a short speech and I will not interrupt him again. His argument fascinates me and I am sure he will want to reply to what I say. I could not agree with him less. I am amazed that he should say such things. There is no body in this country better able to judge what the Chancellor should or should not allocate than the House of Commons. We do it in public expenditure debates when we discuss what future budgetary policy is likely to be. It is an incredible argument that certain interests should be able to make representations and in some cases be given guarded assurances but that the House of Commons must at all costs forgo the opportunity. I simply cannot believe that the hon. and learned Gentleman is telling the House that.
The House of Commons is entitled to put forward strong arguments for not applying VAT to children's clothing. However, it would be unconstitutional and wrong to make the Chancellor agree. I have not had the opportunity—indeed, I should be out of order—to press the claim of charities against that of children's clothing. I cannot do it in this debate. I cannot put the case about sport, with which I do not agree anyway, and others cannot put the case about theatres. How can the House come to a decision that, in the forthcoming Budget, children's clothing should not have VAT applied to it?
I think that the Treasury Bench was objecting to the whole idea of the debate. This is extraordinary. The whole concept was to try to have more open discussion of Budget problems by the House of Commons. The late Iain Macleod was very much in favour of this idea. The whole tradition of the House should move towards it. We should not have this great mumbo-jumbo rot of a whole lot of secret Treasury people coming here. They get it wrong. We are better informed than the Treasury. We want more open Budget discussion, not closed Budget discussion.
I advise the Minister, when he replies, to say that he will consider the representations that have been made in the debate because of the strong arguments from both sides. However, he cannot say that the Chancellor will agree to the motion. That is the whole difference between the two sides of the House.
The Government amendment states in terms that the Chancellor
will give full consideration to all representations".
What stronger representations are there than those made in the House? I do not agree with the conclusion that because the representations are made in the House, therefore the Chancellor must agree not to impose VAT on children's clothing and should disregard all the other considerations of making it a fair burden. He may in the end remove VAT from children's clothing. However, it would be entirely wrong for him to agree to do so in this debate.
I wonder what on earth all the fuss is about. I cannot understand the Government's attitude. There is to an extent a precedent for the motion. Although it was a private Member's motion—incidentally. I introduced it—the House carried it, much to my astonishment. I think that the Government Chief Whip was caught with his pants down. Any- way, the House accepted the motion calling for a measure of consumer protection. We chased the Government from time to time and eventually economic circumstances and the facts of life forced them to adopt the general principles of that motion.
That is precisely what we are trying to do tonight. We are trying to inform the Government, and the Treasury in particular, of our views on VAT and its anti-social effects as it relates to children's clothing. That is the issue and Treasury Ministers, as befits them, are making extremely heavy weather of a simple matter.
I enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford). I agree with him. His speech gave me great personal satisfaction as it was another indication that the deep-seated Socialist traditions of Norwich occasionally rub off on to the Tory benches. I was going to add mischievously that if the hon. Gentleman is not careful he will find himself on the transfer list at an early date.
I want to refer briefly to the effect of imposing VAT on children's clothing, the cost of which is already high. The standard of children's clothing has risen steadily compared with what it was when I was a child, and I am sure that no one would like to see a return to the cast-off clothing era which my generation knew.
It is all very well to make do and mend. It helps sometimes, but the psychological effect on a child today of a return to the use of cast-off clothing could be extremely serious. It could have serious repercussions in later life, and therefore to impose a tax of this sort—and VAT is a tax from the cradle to the grave—is anti-social.
It is possible to argue that the use of cast-off or cheaper clothing may not have a direct effect on health, but there is no doubt that cheap or worn shoes can have a direct effect. Because of the increase in the cost of children's shoes there is already a tendency for people to buy the cheap and shoddy imported footwear that is coming in in increasing quantities, to the detriment of our own shoe trade.
I have listened to the arguments of the experts about the medico-social aspects, but they overlook one thing. It is not only a question of having the correct width and length of shoes. What must be remembered is that leaking shoes can be a menace to health as they can lay the seeds of rheumatism in later life.
It is a simple matter to separate teenage clothing from that worn by children. I know, for a personal reason which I do not wish to discuss, that teenage clothing can be worn by older people. Adult men and women with small physical measurements are able to wear teenage clothing, but it is not a complicated matter to separate children's from teenage clothing. It is a question of simple wording and not a matter involving all the legal gobbledegook to which we are treated from time to time.
We are not tonight asking the Government to give a definite decision and betray Treasury secrets. That is getting a bit old hat in view of the income tax announcement some time ago. All that we are asking the Government to do is to accept our point of view, as expressed in the House tonight, and inform the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action we think he should take. We know that the Chancellor is heavily engaged, and he has our deepest sympathy in what he is trying to do. All we are asking him to do is to accept what the House of Commons thinks. We are asking him to listen to the voice of the ordinary back-bencher. Some of us are very much married and have a good deal of experience of the past. We are asking the Chancellor to accept what we think and what our constituents think and to do something in the Budget to meet the expressed wish of the House.
I believe that the question of the tax on children's shoes is vital because of the effect, which we have gone into in great detail on many occasions, which ill-fitting shoes can have and which lasts for a lifetime.
I do not want, and have never wanted, the zero rating of all children's shoes. What I asked my right hon. Friend the Chancellor to do on 16th May—and in this I was joined by my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford) and others—was to set up a specialist committee on this subject to work out medically approved sizes and fittings, and that he agreed to do. The committee's report has not been published and it seems to me—[Interruption.]—this is a serious matter. If the House sets up a committee of eminent persons and then takes decisions on the matters they are discussing just before their report is published, we shall rapidly find that we cannot get eminent persons to serve on such committees.
It would be the height of absurdity for any action to be taken in the matter of children's shoes before the committee's report is published. I have every confidence in my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench to see that this matter is dealt with, perhaps not before the Budget as my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South asked but before VAT comes into operation on 1st April, which is what really matters. I believe that that will be done and that we are crying wolf unnecessarily on this subject.
On the matter of children's clothes, the hon. Member for Heywood and Roy-ton (Mr. Joel Barnett) referred to the tremendous complications of sizes, tax evasion and so on. I have always believed that it would be far more sensible to increase the income of a family who would be adversely affected by VAT rather than go through the tremendous convolution of trying to draw up watertight provisions to stop this type of evasion. I say that particularly because, with the raising of the school leaving age, people are having to support their children for very much longer than used to be the case.
It would be infinitely better to help these families—and I believe that they do need help—by an improvement in FIS and FAM in advance of our scheme for tax credits which will come in eventually but which is at the moment much too far ahead for the purpose we have in mind today. We must do something as soon as we can by way of FIS and FAM to obviate the hardship that will otherwise befall large families, and families with large children.
I find the debate and the attempts of Ministers and hon. Members on the Government side to defend the Government's position quite astonishing. The Minister says that due to the imminence of the Budget he cannot comment on the validity of the arguments put forward by the Opposition Front Bench and on our motion that children's clothing should be exempted from VAT. The hon. Gentleman did not remind the House that in October 1970, six months before the Budget, the Chancellor was prepared to announce that income tax would be decreased by 6p. There was no question of Budget secrecy about that. The Minister cannot get away with that excuse just because this is an uncomfortable topic for the Government and because it raises delicate issues for them. The Minister cannot hide behind the Budget secrecy lark.
Equally astonishing is the argument that the House of Commons must not express a view on the matter. The Government amendment says that the Chancellor
will give full consideration to all representations".
The motion presents the House of Commons with an opportunity to make its representations. This is our debate. This is our way of making our representations to the Government that VAT should not be imposed on children's clothing.
The arguments about the dangers of ill-fitting shoes to children's health, the impact of the tax on less-well-off families because of the increase in the cost of clothing and shoes, and how the tax will affect less-well-off families with more than one or two children are clear. I do not wish to reiterate valid and serious points.
There are, however, a few points which I should like to draw to the Minister's attention and on which I shall seek detailed answers. One relates to the loss of revenue if children's clothing is exempted from VAT. My hon. Friend spoke in terms of the loss to the Inland Revenue being £37 million. But let us assume that it is anything up to £50 million. Are we to be asked to believe that our entire economic well-being and the Government's whole fiscal policy depend on children's clothing being taxed, thereby bringing in £50 million—the same Government which in 1971 reduced public expenditure by £900 million and in 1972 increased it by £1,200 million, doing somersaults every other month? Is the £50 million crucial to the Government's financial policy?
I cannot give way because of the time factor. Will the Minister also deal with the impact of value added tax on children's shoes and clothing and other items and the impact of the tax on the cost of living? I am particularly interested in the impact on the less-welloff families.
In Committee upstairs discussion is proceeding on the Counter-Inflation Bill, which seeks to ask the less-well-off workers to accept the standstill on incomes or to have smaller pay increases, and yet the Government at the same time are putting forward measures that will increase and further aggravate the inflationary process.
The Minister must tell us how ordinary people are supposed to accept the fact that the cost of the basic necessities of life will increase including rents, rates, clothing and possibly children's clothes and shoes after the Budget. Will the Minister tell us in down-to-earth terms how the less-well-off family is to cope.
An hon. Member spoke earlier about people writing to him who were earning £2,000 a year. I can assure the House that well over half of my constituents have never seen, nor are they likely ever to see under the Conservative Government, an income of £2,000 a year. Finally, it is indeed astounding that in the last two or three years the Government have concentrated specifically on measures to hit at children. They have introduced measures such as increasing the price of school meals and curtailing free school milk. Now possibly children's clothing and children's shoes are to cost more. The saving accruing from such measures is unlikely to total £100 million a year. These actions are measly measures to bring in revenue. We have the right to express a view on this matter and to tell the Chancellor that what he is proposing in his Budget in the next few weeks will be such as the country has not witnessed for many years—that is, a Government considering taxing children's shoes and clothing.
Some hon. Members opposite have argued that one of the reasons why VAT should be imposed on children's clothing is that 20 per cent. of children's clothes were purchased for wear by adults. In order to close the loophole, they are proposing that the other 80 per cent. of those clothes should be taxed, whereas they are not taxed at present. That is hitting children under 10 years of age.
It is less than 20 per cent. becauses only women's clothes are affected and women make up only about half the population. The figure is therefore less than 10 per cent., and therefore that 10 per cent. is to determine the future position for children's clothing and shoes.
I wish to refer to the Government's amendment and not restrict myself to the Opposition motion. The amendment calls on the House to recognise that
Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer will give full consideration to all representations made in respect of any aspect of taxation".
I trust that my right hon. Friend will give full consideration to the representations about the anomalies of value added tax. I should like to hear tonight what action will be taken to reduce the hardship created by the tax.
I have four points to raise, the last three exclusively concerning Ulster, and I hope that hon. Members will bear with me while I make them. First, however, I must say that it would be a tragedy to increase the price of children's shoes. It would be wrong to encourage parents to pass on shoes to younger children because, as one hon. Member has said—I believe that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford)—the shoes have already been moulded to the original wearer's foot and nothing but harm can be done to children who will have to wear them subsequently.
I do not wish to see an era of cast-off clothing. I live in a fairly affluent constituency and we live in an affluent society—[Interruption.]—but it would be a tragedy if a tax was imposed on children's clothes so that it caused families to hand down worn-out clothes to younger sons and daughters.
Order. I can help the hon. Member. He may mention the three topics to which he referred but he must not go into detail. He has mentioned fertilisers and he may now mention the other two, but no more.
I find myself in an extraordinary position. Although I can mention subjects, I cannot give my reasons for mentioning them. I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer about hearing aids, and perhaps the Minister of State will either refer to them later this evening or write to me.
I should rather like to explain the qualification I was about to add. However, having mentioned those three matters, let me return briefly to the Opposition motion. I share the concern expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South and ask the Treasury Minister to give us some hope of determination by the Government that a tax will not be placed upon children's shoes. To do so would be a terrible tragedy and a great mistake on the Government's part.
That is all I have to say, Mr. Speaker, although there are many other matters I should have liked to put to the House.
When the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) reads his speech tomorrow I am sure that he will be as astonished about it as we are.
I suggest that the terms of the Government's amendment can be met by voting for our motion. The Financial Secretary made heavy weather of what he described as an unprecedented situation, but we are living in rather unprecedented times and I hope he understands that the idea of imposing VAT on children's clothing has evoked anxiety that reaches far wider than our party's ranks. If one's correspondence is anything to go by, there is considerable public support for the view that children's clothing should be zero rated because of the special position it held in relation to purchase tax.
I hope, too, that the hon. Gentleman thoroughly understands the inflationary effect that such an addition would necessarily have on a family budget, quite apart from the national inflationary situation. Such an imposition cannot be divorced from grim items like the current dispute with the gas industry workers, because it is exactly workers of that kind who are beset with the problems that a man meets when he has a very low income and several children and faces ever-rising clothing expenditure. VAT in this respect must be viewed together with the measures proposed in the Counter-Inflation Bill. The tax will press most heavily on low-paid workers, who are not necessarily only those who qualify for FIS but others who are above that level of income.
I cannot understand why the Government should be so adamant or should seek to hide behind precedents which, as the Financial Secretary has said, have been put aside since 1966. That being so I suggest that three weeks before the announced Budget day it is quite valid for the House to assert its opinion in debate and, if necessary, impose its will on the Government. It is best to do that now, because now is the time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer is more likely to listen to advice. Where is he to get that advice? He should get it in the main from debate in the House. But to moan about the Opposition tabling the motion tonight is crazy.
I therefore hope not only that my hon. Friends will support the motion but that Government supporters who have expressed their anxiety—and particularly the hon. Member for Down, North—will vote with us. I am sure that the hon. Member for Down, North will be one of those who will put his constituents' interests above those of his party at this time. We cannot instruct the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but we can seek to persuade him.
This is clearly a most serious matter, and I have the greatest sympathy with those mothers and fathers who are worried about the possibility of the imposition of this tax on children's clothing. But it is also an emotional issue which has become even more highly charged, largely due to some alarmist contributions from the Opposition benches.
The hon. Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) was more or less encouraging retailers to raise their margins unnecessarily. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) was, to use his words, trying to get the working class to adopt "the right attitude" to VAT. I remind him that the replacement of purchase tax and the selective employment tax by VAT will reduce the tax incidence on food, which is the first essential item, by £60 million or £70 million per annum, so in that case the tax is not regressive at all.
I must take issue with my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford) who used emotive words like "this terrifying tax", which it is not.
In last summer's debates on the Finance Bill I indicated my own views on the subject of children's shoes. I hope that the committee considering the matter will soon come to some conclusions on that important question, and report.
In regard to other children's wear, the case put by my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) for selective assistance possibly represents the right approach to the subject. There is no question of a means test. It is a highly excellent principle that the money available should be used selectively by those who really need it and not by the rich patients of my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South. Money recovered in tax, plus that extra amount which is at the moment avoided by those adults who can wear children's clothing, could be used selectively by those who need it.
I propose to keep my contribution short as I want to leave a generous amount of time for the Minister of State to tell us that he does not intend to tell us anything. I say to my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary—and I do not use the word "friend" in any meaningless sense, since we have been friends for at least 15 years—that his speech was an insult to the House. I am well aware that there has never been a Government that had a greater contempt for the House of Commons than the present Government—which is well exemplified by the First Lord of the Treasury—but I cannot think of anything feebler than to come to the House of Commons with this constitutional piffle that they cannot, without a betrayal of Budget secrets, answer a perfectly straightforward motion that asks the House to consider that VAT should not apply to children's clothing, when they themselves in their own measure took power to zero-rate anything at any time they chose.
Since I am sure that the Minister of State intends to put exactly the same feeble argument and does not intend to discuss the merits of the issue, I repeat what I said. The attitude of the Government in this debate on a Supply Day has been an insult to the Opposition and to the House. The Government have no argument on this case.
Several hon. Members on the Government side have said "Wait until we get the Munro Report on children's shoes" They have had it. I am not sure, because we are not privy to the Government's secrets—and, given the nature of some of them, we would not want to be—how long they have had it, but it cannot be less than two months. There is nothing complicated at all in it. Of course the job has been done properly and the matter has been set out well, but the idea that the collective wisdom of the Chancellor, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the Minister of State, Treasury, plus the Permanent Secretary, could not have arrived at a decision by this time is nonsense. What they have done is to sit on it.
As for those Tories who served on last year's Committee on the Finance Bill, I told them that if they accepted any pledges on this issue by the Government they would be cheated out of them, and they now realise the validity of what I said. The Government have got the report on children's shoes and they could have acted on it at any time. They simply have not chosen to do so.
Some hon. Members opposite, including the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford) and to some extent the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder), made it clear that they did not agree with the Government's point of view. But many hon. Members opposite are encouraging themselves with the thought that, come the Budget, the Government will make the concession. I hope that that is so. I hope that when they make the concession, if they do, in the Budget, they will then explain to the House why the arguments that swayed them on 6th March could not have swayed them at any other point since last year. In fact, what has occurred is simply a quite unnecessary delay. Somebody said that an unnecessary fuss was being made. The Opposition are making a fuss because of an unnecessary delay.
May I take one or two points which have arisen in the debate. I should like to have made some remarks about the Financial Secretary's contribution to the discussion on children's clothing, but since there was none I have to rely on the remarks of his hon. Friends who made some sort of a defence. I enjoyed the contribution of the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. Fidler) which I sum up as "Vote Tory and hand on your clothes from kid to kid to kid. Vote Tory for reach-me-downs." The hon. Member has a rather strange idea of what happens amongst young people these days if, as he says, clothes are handed from elder children to younger children without the slightest resentment. That was never so even in my day, and I have the strongest feeling that if the hon. Gentleman applies that rule to his own children and grandchildren he has a few surprises coming to him.
I want to deal with the extraordinary argument which was particularly favoured by the hon. Lady the Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) that we ought to be careful not to do anything which is not medically approved. I must say that if we followed that general rule in life it would be an exceedingly boring existence. The hon. Lady was worried that the hon. Member for Norwich, South, who speaks with great humanity and sense on this issue and happens to be a medical practitioner, may allow somebody to wear a shoe free of tax which has not been medically approved. The sum involved is so trivial that the hon. Lady can free herself of worry. Of course one prefers children to wear medically-approved shoes, but one certainly prefers them to wear shoes which fit and do not carry VAT. Let us not pick at nits too much.
Then I want to take up the whole issue raised by several hon. Members opposite about family income supplement. Since I do not wish to cut the Minister of State short of the time that he needs to explain these matters to the House, I will make this my last point. I have been fair in singling out the three exceptions on the benches opposite, and I am certain that there are other hon. Members opposite who share their view, although that fact may not be reflected in their votes. I wish it would be. However, I hope they will reflect it in their representations. All that the present Government want these days is secret representations—no more listening to the House of Commons. My advice to those hon. Members opposite is "Sneak round to the Whips Office and put it in a plain envelope; slip it through, and maybe the Treasury will listen to you."
Every problem that arises on taxation or income is going to be solved by assistance to the poorer families, according to the Government. It is not. I have seen hon. Members opposite spend the family income supplement about 10 times over for every single item that comes up. Whenever an increase in taxation is brought up, whenever some increase in wages is denied, hon. Members opposite say that there is always the family income supplement that can be used. I do not think so. The take-up rate is appallingly low, and the Government know it. The general measures to relieve poverty, although welcome, by no means cover the whole issue. They certainly do not cover the people who also deserve consideration—people on average earnings with a family of significant size. These people are dealt with in the motion.
That the merits of the Opposition's case are unanswerable is proved by the fact that the Government have as yet essayed no answer. I give the Minister of State three minutes to tell us something other than the fact that he is draped in a yashmak, held in purdah and unable to say anything until his colleague the Chancellor rises to his feet on 6th March. If he gives some indication that the view then will be favourable, the House may forgive him. If he does not, I suggest to my hon. Friends that we should divide in support of the Opposition's motion.
The Government amendment recognises—and I quote—that the
Chancellor of the Exchequer will give full consideration to all representations made in respect of any aspect of taxation.".
That is precisely what we are engaged in doing. We are open to any representations from hon. Members and from others throughout the country. At the same time, it must be perfectly obvious to all my hon. Friends that a specific matter of the kind referred to in the Opposition motion cannot be decided in isolation three weeks before a Budget. The Opposition motion is not a Budget representation. It invites the House to come to a decision on one single issue
less than three weeks before my right hon. Friend's Budget statement and, as such, it will be seen for what it is—an obvious political gimmick and one to which no Opposition has descended since the war.
There is, therefore, nothing more that I can say other than to invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the Government amendment and in this way
|Division No. 55.]||AYES||[7.0 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Emery, Peter||Jessel, Toby|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Eyre, Reginald||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Farr, John||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Astor, John||Fell, Anthony||Jopling, Michael|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fidler, Michael||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Kilfedder, James|
|Batsford, Brian||Fookes, Miss Janet||Kimball, Marcus|
|Bell, Ronald||Fortescue, Tim||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torduay)||Foster, Sir John||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Fox, Marcus||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Benyon, W.||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Kitson, Timothy|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Fry, Peter||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Biffen, John||Gardner, Edward||Knox, David|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gibson-Watt, David||Lambton, Lord|
|Blaker, Peter||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Lamont, Norman|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Lane, David|
|Body, Richard||Glyn, Dr. Alan||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Boscawen, Hn. Robert||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Goodhart, Philip||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Bowden, Andrew||Goodhew, Victor||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'field)|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Gorst, John||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Bray, Ronald||Gower, Raymond||Longden, Sir Gilbert|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Loveridge, John|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Gray, Hamish||Luce, R. N.|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Green, Alan||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Bruce Gardyne, J.||Grieve, Percy|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)||Grylls, Michael||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Buck, Antony||Gurden, Harold||McMaster, Stanley|
|Burden, F. A.||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Maddan, Martin|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Madel, David|
|Channon, Paul||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Maginnis, John E.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest|
|Churchill, W. S.||Haselhurst, Alan||Marten, Nell|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Hastings, Stephen||Mather, Carol|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Havers, Sir Michael||Maude, Angus|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hawkins, Paul||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Cooke, Robert||Hay, John||Mawby, Ray|
|Coombs, Derk||Hayhoe, Barney||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Cordle, John||Heseltine, Michael||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Hicks, Robert||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Cormack, Patrick||Higgins, Terence L.||Mitchell, Lt. Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)|
|Costain, A. P.||Hiley, Joseph||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Crouch David||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Holland, Philip||Moate, Roger|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knurstord)||Holt, Miss Mary||Molyneaux, James|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hordern, Peter||Money, Ernle|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Hornby, Richard||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Dean, Paul||Hornsby-Smith, Rt.Hn. Dame Patricia||Monro, Hector|
|Dixon, Piers||Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Howell, David (Guildford)||More, Jasper|
|Drayson, G. B.||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Hunt, John||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Dykes, Hugh||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Morrison, Charles|
|Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Iremonger, T. L.||Mudd, David|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Murton, Oscar|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||James, David||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Neave, Airey||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Temple, John M.|
|Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth|
|Nott, John||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.|
|Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Rost, Peter||Tilney, John|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Royle, Anthony||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Osborn, John||Russell, Sir Ronald||Trew, Peter|
|Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)||Scott, Nicholas||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Shelton, William (Clapham)||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Parkinson, Cecil||Shersby, Michael||Waddington, David|
|Peel, Sir John||Simeons, Charles||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Percival, Ian||Sinclair, Sir George||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Skeet, T. H. H.||Wall, Patrick|
|Pike, Miss Mervyn||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Walters, Dennis|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Soref, Harold||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Pounder, Rafton||Speed, Keith||Warren, Kenneth|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Spence, John||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Sproat, Iain||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Proudfoot, William||Stainton, Keith||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Stanbrook, Ivor||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Quennell, Miss J. M.||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Raison, Timothy||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Stokes, John||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Redmond, Robert||Sutcliffe, John||Worsley, Marcus|
|Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Tapsell, Peter||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Rees, Peter (Dover)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)||Mr. Walter Clegg and|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Tebbit, Norman||Mr. Bernard Weatherill.|
|Abse, Leo||Dalyell, Tam||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)|
|Albu, Austen||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Allan, Scholefield||Davidson, Arthur||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hamling, William|
|Ashley, Jack||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Hardy, Peter|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Harper, Joseph|
|Barnes, Michael||Deakins, Eric||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Hattersley, Roy|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Delargy, Hugh||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis|
|Baxter, William||Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Beaney, Alan||Dempsey, James||Hilton, W. S.|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Dormand, J. D.||Hooson, Emlyn|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Horam, John|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Bishop, E. S.||Driberg, Tom||Huckfield, Leslie|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Duffy, A. E. P.||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Dunn, James A.||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Booth, Albert||Dunnett, Jack||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Bradley, Tom||Eadle, Alex||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Edelman, Maurice||Hunter, Adam|
|Brown, Boh ([...]tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Janner, Greville|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Ellis, Tom||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Buchan, Norman||English, Michael||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Evans, Fred||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Ewing, Harry||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Cant, R. B.||Faulds, Andrew||John, Brynmor|
|Carmichael, Neil||Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B' ham, Ladywood)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Foley, Maurice||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Foot, Michael||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)|
|Coleman Donald||Ford, Ben||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Concannon, J. D.||Forrester, John||Kelley, Richard|
|Conlan, Bernard||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Kerr, Russell|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Freeson, Reginald||Kinnock, Neil|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Lamborn, Harry|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Garrett, W. E.||Lamond, James|
|Cronin, John||Gilbert, Dr. John||Latham, Arthur|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Lawson, George|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Gourlay, Harry||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Leonard, Dick|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Ogden, Eric||Silverman, Julius|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||O'Halloran, Michael||Skinner, Dennis|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||O'Malley, Brian||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Oram, Bert||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Orbach, Maurice||Spearing, Nigel|
|Loughlin, Charles||Orme, Stanley||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Oswald, Thomas||Stallard, A. W.|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||Steel, David|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Padley, Walter||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|McBride, Neil||Paget, R. T.||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|McCartney, Hugh||Palmer, Arthur||Strang, Gavin|
|McElhone, Frank||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|McGuire, Michael||Pardoe, John||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Mackenzie, Gregor||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Mackie, John||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Pavitt, Laurie||Thorpe, Rt. Hn Jeremy|
|Maclennan, Robert||Perry, Ernest G.||Tinn, James|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.||Tomney, Frank|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Prescott, John||Tope, Graham|
|Mabon, Simon (Bootle)||Price, William (Rugby)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Probert, Arthur||Varley, Eric G.|
|Marks, Kenneth||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Marquand, David||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Marsden, F.||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Richard, Ivor||Wallace, George|
|Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Watkins, David|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Weitzman, David|
|Meacher, Michael||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n&R'dnor)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Mendelson, John||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Millan, Bruce||Roper, John||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Miller, Dr. M. S.||Rose, Paul B.||Whitlock, William|
|Milne, Edward||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Rowlands, Ted||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Mitchell, R.C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Sandelson, Neville||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Molloy, William||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Morgan. Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)||Woof, Robert|
|Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Murray, Ronald King||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Oakes, Gordon||Sillars, James||Mr. John Golding and|
|Mr. Tom Pendry.|
|Division No. 56.]||AYES||[7.13 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Buck, Antony||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Burden, F. A.||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Emery, Peter|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Carlisle, Mark||Eyre, Reginald|
|Astor, John||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Fair, John|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Cary, Sir Robert||Fell, Anthony|
|Awdry, Daniel||Channon, Paul||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Chichester-Clark, R.||Fidler, Michael|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Churchill, W. S.||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)|
|Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord||Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)|
|Batstord, Brian||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Bell, Ronald||Cockeram, Eric||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Cooke, Robert||Fortescue, Tim|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Coombs, Derek||Foster, Sir John|
|Benyon, W.||Cooper, A. E.||Fox, Marcus|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Cordle, John||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)|
|Biffen, John||Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick||Fry, Peter|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Cormack, Patrick||Gardner, Edward|
|Blaker, Peter||Costain, A. P.||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Crouch, David||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Body, Richard||Crowder, F. P.||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)|
|Boscawen, Hn. Robert||Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Glyn, Dr. Alan|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Bowden, Andrew||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Goodhart, Philip|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Dean, Paul||Goodhew, Victor|
|Bray, Ronald||Dixon, Piers||Gorst, John|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Gower, Raymond|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Drayson, G. B.||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Gray, Hamish|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Dykes, Hugh||Green, Alan|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Grieve, Percy|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Grylls, Michael||Macmillan, Rt.Hn. Maurice (Farnham)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Gurden, Harold||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Rost, Peter|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Maddan, Martin||Royle, Anthony|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Madel, David||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Maginnis, John E.||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Scott, Nicholas|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Marten, Neil||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mather, Carol||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Maude, Angus||Shersby, Michael|
|Hastings, Stephen||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Simeons, Charles|
|Havers, Michael||Mawby, Ray||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Hawkins, Paul||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Hay, John||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Soref, Harold|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Miscampbell, Norman||Speed, Keith|
|Heseltine, Michael||Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)||Spence, John|
|Hicks, Robert||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Sproat, Iain|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Moate, Roger||Stainton, Keith|
|Hiley, Joseph||Molyneaux, James||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Money, Ernie||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Holland, Philip||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Holt, Miss Mary||Monro, Hector||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Hordern, Peter||Montgomery, Fergus||Stokes, John|
|Hornby, Richard||More, Jasper||Sutcliffe, John|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Morrison, Charles||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Mudd, David||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Hunt, John||Murton, Oscar||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Tebbit, Norman|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Neave, Airey||Temple, John M.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|James, David||Nott, John||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Onslow, Cranley||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Jessel, Toby||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Tilney, John|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Osborn, John||Trew, Peter|
|Jopling, Michael||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Parkinson, Cecil||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Peel, Sir John||Waddington, David|
|Kilfedder, James||Percival, Ian||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wall, Patrick|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Pink, R. Bonner||Walters, Dennis|
|Kinsey, J. R.||Pounder, Rafton||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Kitson, Timothy||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Knight, Mrs. Jill||Prior, Rt. Hon. J. M. L.|
|Knox, David||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Lambton, Lord||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Lamont, Norman||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Lane, David||Raison, Timothy||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Le Marchant, Spencer||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Redmond, Robert||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Rees, Peter (Dover)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Longden, Sir Gilbert||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Loveridge, John||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Younger, Hn. George|
|Luce, R. N.||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Ridsdale, Julian||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|MacArthur, Ian||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Mr. Walter Clegg and|
|McCrindle, R. A.||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)||Mr. Bernard Weatherill.|
|McMaster, Stanley||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Abse, Leo||Bishop, E. S.||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara|
|Albu, Austen||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Clark, David (Colne Valley)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Booth, Albert||Cohen, Stanley|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Bradley, Tom||Coleman, Donald|
|Ashley, Jack||Broughton, Sir Alfred||Concannon, J. D.|
|Atkinson, Norman||Brown, Robert C. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne,W.)||Conlan, Bernard|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda|
|Barnes, Michael||Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Buchan, Norman||Crawshaw, Richard|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Cronin, John|
|Baxter, William||Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Beaney, Alan||Cant, R. B.||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Carmichael, Neil||Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W)|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Dalyell, Tam|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||John, Brynmor||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Davidson, Arthur||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on Hull, W.)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Pendry, Tom|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Prescott, John|
|Deakins, Eric||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Kaufman, Gerald||Probert, Arthur|
|Delargy, Hugh||Kelley, Richard||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Kerr, Russell||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Dempsey, James||Kinnock, Neil||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Dormand, J. D.||Lamborn, Harry||Richard, Ivor|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Lamond, James||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Latham, Arthur||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Driberg, Tom||Lawson, George||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Leadbitter, Ted||Roberick, Caerwyn E. (Brc'n&R'dnor)|
|Dunn, James A.||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Leonard, Dick||Roper, John|
|Eadie, Alex||Lestor, Miss Joan||Rose, Paul B.|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lipton, Marcus||Sandelson, Neville|
|Ellis, Tom||Lomas, Kenneth||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|English, Michael||Loughlin, Charles||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Evans, Fred||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Ewing, Harry||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||McBride, Neil||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)||McCartney, Hugh||Sillars, James|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||McElhone, Frank||Silverman, Julius|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McGuire, Michael||Skinner, Dennis|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mackenzie, Gregor||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Foley, Maurice||Mackie, John||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Foot, Michael||Mackintosh, John P.||Spearing, Nigel|
|Ford, Ben||Maclennan, Robert||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Forrester, John||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Stallard, A. W.|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Steel, David|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Marks, Kenneth||Strang, Gavin|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||Marquand, David||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Marsden, F.||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Gourlay, Harry||Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Mayhew, Christopher||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Meacher, Michael||Tinn, James|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Tomney, Frank|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mendelson, John||Tope, Graham|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Millan, Bruce||Tuck, Raphael|
|Hamling, William||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Milne, Edward||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Hardy, Peter||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Molloy, William||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Hattersley, Roy||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Wallace, George|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Watkins, David|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Weitzman, David|
|Hilton, W. S.||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Murray, Ronald King||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Horam, John||Oakes, Gordon||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Ogden, Eric||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Huckfield, Leslie||O'Halloran, Michael||Whitlock, William|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||O'Malley, Brian||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Oram, Bert||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Orbach, Maurice||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Orme, Stanley||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Hunter, Adam||Oswald, Thomas||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth. Sutton)||Wilson. Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Padley, Walter||Woof, Robert|
|Janner, Greville||Paget, R. T.|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Palmer, Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Mr. John Golding and|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Pardoe, John||Mr. Joseph Harper.|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|