§ 4.0 p.m.
§ The Chairman
The first Amendment to Clause 2, page 2, line 25, like the first Amendment to Clause 1, in the name of the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), and the Amendments related to it are unduly wide, but do not quite amount to negativing the Clause. I shall, therefore, call the first Amendment on the understanding that when we reach the seven Amendments designed to make execptions, I shall take the widest of them, which stands in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), for a Division only, if that is desired. I respectfully remind the Committee that, under Standing Order No. 45, the Chairman may put forthwith the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," if he is of the opinion that the principle of the Clause has been adequately discussed.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
We are glad that you are calling the first Amendment and the consequential Amendments that go with it, Sir Charles, and I do not think my hon. Friends would object to discussing together the various Amendments which come a little later on and which are designed to make exceptions in a number of cases; but is it not rather unusual to make the condition of selection of a particular Amendment that we shall only divide on some other Amendment? I should have thought that that was rare. I do not recall ever having been confronted before with a decision of the Chairman to that effect, and I must say that we would wish to preserve our right to divide, if we think necessary, on these other Amendments.
§ The Chairman
I selected the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, because there are, I think, seven Amendments dealing with cricket, football and other sports and I thought 200 that, as there is one which covers the lot, it would be in order on the first Amendment to discuss all these different things and then have a Division on the hon. Member's wide Amendment. I thought that might be for the convenience of the Committee.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I do not think there is any difficulty about the discussion, and I quite agree that the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) is wider than some of the other Amendments, but nevertheless we feel that we must have the right to divide on these other Amendments even if they are discussed together.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I understood you to say, Sir Charles, that, although the first Amendment was, in your view, rather wide, nevertheless it did not amount to negativing the Clause, and therefore you were prepared to call it.
§ The Chairman
I was not referring to the seven Amendments at all, but to the first Amendment and those in page 2, line 26; line 28; line 32; and in page 3, lines 1, 5 and 6, in the name of the right hon. Gentleman. The seven that I referred to were those about football, which number four in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu); there is the wide Amendment in the name of hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, and there are the other two including one on cricket and one on a number of other games. I thought that if we divided on the one which covered the lot, that was an adequate selection on my part. For instance, there are three on football, and I am not prepared to say which is the one which would be most suitable for selection.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
Am I quite clear in understanding that you propose calling the Amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell); that the debate will be on the subjects raised in the various other Amendments; and that later on you are going to call the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith)?
§ The Chairman
That is the case, but before I get to the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, there is one in the name of the hon. Member for Nottingham, North-West (Mr. O'Brien) about Entertainments Duty on cinemas. I shall call that Amendment, and I shall also call the one in the name of the hon. Lady the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton) dealing with amateurs who play games. These Amendments will both be called and can be divided on if the Committee so desires before we come to the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
It is quite clear, Sir Charles, that you propose to allow a discussion on the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), as well as a Division?
§ The Chairman
Certainly, that is covered in the first group. I though the one in the name of the right hon. Member for Leeds, South, was the one which I ought to call. It is almost in the same wording as, although a little wider than, that of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
The first Amendment standing in my name is designed to reduce the tax from the middle to the lower grade and applies to sports, games and racing. You are agreed, Sir Charles, that that is a clear and distinct issue and is worthy of discussion. I do not think it can be said to amount to negativing the Clause. But the later Amendments are different. As I understand it, the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), is designed to reduce the tax in the case of games and other sports, but not racing. That is quite distinct. I quite agree that the Amendments in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu), are embraced in the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, but are quite different from the Amendments standing in my name.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
We are clear about the discussion, but I still feel a great difficulty about the matter of the Division. If you will agree, Sir Charles, perhaps we can proceed to the first Amendment and consider the matter a little later, on the understanding that we shall have a discussion on these other matters as to what is to be done about dividing. On the issues of cricket, football and so on, there is a strong feeling in the Committee. A number of my hon. Friends have a great personal interest in these matters, and it is a little hard to expect them here and now to agree that they will not divide the Committee. We do not know what answer we shall get from the Government, and we cannot make up our minds until we hear.
§ The Chairman
The hon. Members who have put down the seven Amendments to which I have referred will quite easily catch my eye.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
May I put a point to you, Sir Charles, with a view to clarifying the position? Your suggestion that we should have a discussion which would cover the whole field would be for the maximum benefit of the Committee, but, of course, in the event either of the Amendment down in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) or the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) being carried, then, of course, there would be no need to trouble the Committee with any of the specific Amendments in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu).
In the possible event of both the first and second Amendments being negatived, it would be desirable to give the Committee an opportunity, if it so wants, of dividing on the specific question of whether the duty on, for example, cricket or football or other individual games be reduced from the second category to the lowest category. Therefore, we are asking you to enable us to have a general discussion, and we wish to reserve the right, if it is found necessary, to divide on some of these specific items.
§ The Chairman
The difficulty I am in is this: the Chair is given the power to select Amendments in order to produce 203 the best debate. If we are to debate the various merits of Rugby League and Rugby Union football as compared with Association football, I ought to select all the Amendments dealing with those points. I therefore have selected the one which I think covers them all. I thought that course would meet the case. With regard to the first question of the hon. Gentleman, the reply is that if the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) is carried, all the others will be consequential, and the point he raised will not arise.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Am I to understand that you are not selecting the Amendments standing in the name of the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu)?
§ The Chairman
That is my intention. Out of that group I am selecting one that covers them all, namely, the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South.
§ Mr. I. Mikardo (Reading, South)
Some hon. Members may take the view that the tax should remain as it is in the Bill on all sports, and other hon. Members that it should be lowered on all sports. There may be a third group who, while supporting the general idea of raising the tax, think that one particular sport has a special case for consideration. If we pursue the course that you are suggesting, Sir Charles, it will be impossible for a Member taking that view to record his opinion in the Division Lobby and to vote for a higher or a lower tax on a particular sport.
§ The Chairman
That is quite true, but one can think of scores of examples of that sort, and if a Division is to be allowed on every conceivable game, there will be no end to the matter. I have come to my decision after a good deal of thought, and I hope I have done what will be best for the Committee to enable them to have a good debate.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
I beg to move, in page 2, line 25, to leave out "three," and to insert "two."
I should like also to move the Amendment in page 2, line 26, to leave out 204 "lowest," and to insert "lower," and the Amendment, in page 2, line 32, after "applicable," to insert:in the case of any entertainment which consists of or includes racing, games or other sports and.I should like to move also two further Amendments: in page 3, line 1, to leave out "third," and to insert "higher," and in page 3, line 5, at the end, to insert:and in the case of any other entertainment not falling within subsection (2).As you have appreciated, Sir Charles—
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am much obliged, Sir Charles. I should like to move also the next one, in page 3, line 6, to leave out subsection (4). For the sake of completeness, might I add one other consequential Amendment which is linked with this series? It is, in page 71, line 2, to leave out Schedule 1, and it is a consequence of the series of Amendments which I have mentioned.
As you have appreciated, Sir Charles, these Amendments are designed to secure a reduction in the proposed rate of Entertainments Duty on all sports and games. They do not in any way conflict with the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Nottingham, North-West (Mr. O'Brien), which deals with the Entertainments Duty on cinemas, an entirely different issue.
You will remember that since about 1935 we have had two differential rates of Entertainments Duty, although the actual rates have varied from time to time. Since 1935, the principle has been recognised of a reduced rate of duty for live shows such as theatres, concerts, ballets and so forth. It was my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) who, in 1946, extended the scope of the reduced rate of duty so as to cover all games and sports. He did so for two purposes, first in order to give a much-needed relief to those interested in football, cricket, boxing, athletics, tennis, swimming and so forth, to enable sports clubs to recover from the effects of the war and to improve their facilities; secondly, he made the change in the general interest of the public because it was thought that to encourage outdoor sport was a good and healthy thing to do.
205 Two years later, Sir Stafford Cripps carried the matter a stage further when he removed the Entertainments Duty on all admissions up to 1s. in respect of music halls, theatres, sports and games. Last year, when we were considering the Entertainments Duty, there was considerable agitation for a reduction of duty in the case of speedway racing. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, introducing his Budget, indicated that he had been influenced by the necessity of reducing the rate of duty on speedway racing.
We do not object to that at all or to the reduction that the right hon. Gentleman made in his Budget. What we object to is the method by which he has done it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was a little less than ingenuous with the Committee when, after announcing his intention to introduce an intermediate scale of Entertainments Duty between the highest scale, applicable to cinemas, and the lowest scale, applicable to theatres, music halls, ballets and so forth, for the benefit of speedway and other races, he said:I am afraid it means, of course, that sports, such as football and cricket, which are now on the lower scale and have been getting it for some time, will have to cost a bit more."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11 th March, 1952: Vol. 497, c. 1295.]We now find that in fact they will have to cost a great deal more. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury told us, in answer to a Question yesterday, the precise effect of the changes which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes. We find that the effect of reducing the present rate of Entertainments Duty on racing—that is, horse racing, dog racing and speedway racing—will cost the Exchequer £1.6 million in a full year, and that almost precisely the same sum, in fact £1½ million, will be the additional amount recovered by the Chancellor from cricket, football and other sports.
In other words, the Chancellor is reducing the rate of Entertainments Duty on horse racing, dog racing and speedway racing at a cost to the Revenue of approximately £1½ million a year, and is recouping almost precisely the same sum by imposing additional, extra rates of Entertainments Duty on cricket, football, tennis, swimming, boxing and athletics. We think that step is entirely unjustified. It is a retrograde step to 206 penalise such sports as football, cricket. swimming and boxing in the interests of horse racing and dog racing and speedway racing. We have no objection to the reductions made, but it is quite indefensible to pay for them by imposing these higher charges on healthy outdoor games such as cricket and football.
Particularly so is this the case when it is remembered how seriously some of these games are suffering now. In the case of football, one finds that under the proposed arrangements of the Chancellor no less than £700,000 a year will be charged on football clubs next year. The result on the public will be that the present minimum charge of 1s. 6d. will have to be increased either to 1s. 9d. or even to 2s. As the Chancellor is probably aware, there has for a long time been a rule among all clubs forming part of the Football League that they must all make the same minimum charge for admission to the lowest priced seats in the ground.
§ Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu (Huddersfield, East)
Would my hon. Friend allow me to point out that he mentioned that the charge under these proposed arrangements is £700,000. That is an extra charge. The total is £1,100,000.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend. The result, of the proposals in the Bill would be to impose on football clubs alone an extra charge of £700,000 a year.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. R. A. Butler)
May I point out, to make it quite clear, that it is not the clubs who will suffer so much because, if the hon. Gentleman looks into the figures, he will see that the clubs may make a little out of it. It is a question of what they charge the spectators.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I think the Chancellor will agree that it can be put in a way acceptable to us both if I say that the result of his proposals will be that from football clubs and from those who attend football matches there will be exacted in a full year by way of Entertainment Duty an additional revenue of £700,000. Of course, the precise effect on the clubs and on the public who attend football matches may vary. One effect of the increased rate of duty, and the increased price of admission which will flow from that, will be that gates may fall. In a number of 207 cases they certainly will fall. One thing is certain, that whereas at the moment if the public pay 1s. 6d. as the minimum price of admission to a football match, the tax is 1d. In future it will be 2½d. Therefore, it is inevitable that the price of admission will have to be raised.
In the case of cricket, the position is even more serious. As hon. Members are aware, many county cricket clubs are in serious financial straits. I do not propose to give the detailed figures of any county cricket club or football club. There are a number of hon. Members who are interested in specific clubs and have allegiance to certain localities. Perhaps I ought to have disclosed the fact that, as the Member for East Islington, I take a pardonable pride in the achievements of the Arsenal, who put up such a very gallant fight on Saturday.
Returning to cricket, some county cricket clubs during the last year or two have already had to increase their standard admission charge from 1s. 6d. to 2s., and they feel that any further increase as a result of this increased Entertainments Duty cannot be made without risking a lack of support, with the result that they will have to face increased losses. The position in regard to cricket is very serious indeed. I hope we may take it from an answer which the Chancellor gave two or three days ago to the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) that he is not unsympathetic to the special claims of cricket. And now that the Prime Minister is taking such an interest in football, I hope he will not be unsympathetic to its special claims.
I have moved this Amendment, not in the interests of any one game or sport, but in the interests of all outdoor activities, because it is deplorable that they should be penalised in this way to provide the additional revenue required by the Chancellor. The Romans subsidised public games. I am not advocating that policy, but the Chancellor is going to the other extreme of penalising sport and making it much more difficult for clubs to carry on. There is a happy mean, and that is the mean for which all the credit goes to my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland. He recognised the principle in 1946 that all outdoor games should be placed, as 208 regards Entertainments Duty, on the same rate as theatres and music-halls.
§ Colonel Sir Leonard Ropner (Barkston Ash)
On a point of order, Sir Charles. The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), as I understood him, claimed to move more than one Amendment at the opening of his speech. I hope we are clear that it would be quite out of order to move more than one Amendment at a time, even though the discussion is allowed to range over several.
§ The Chairman
Only one Amendment can be moved at a time, but this one is linked with another five or six Amendments, and the discussion covers them all.
§ Sir L. Ropner
Then I am right in supposing, Sir Charles, that you are not allowing the hon. Member for Islington, East, to move half a dozen Amendments at one time?
§ Sir Wavell Wakefield (St. Marylebone)
I want to support what was said by the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) about the grave result that this increased Entertainments Duty would have on our national games and pastimes. Like the hon. Member I speak on behalf of all games and pastimes which will be severely hit, but I shall confine my remarks to two or three of our national games. I hope to give such evidence as will convince the Chancellor of the Exchequer that our statements are founded on good cause.
At the end of March the Rugby Football Union Committee, at a meeting at which I was present, passed the following resolution and sent it to the Chancellor:The Committee of the Rugby Football Union draws the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the grave and harmful effects of the proposed increase in entertainment tax on Rugby Union Football which is a purely amateur game run entirely for the youth of the country. In view of the harmful effects it urges the Chancellor to withdraw the tax proposals.The Union's letter went on to state that there were 1,400 county unions, clubs and schools in membership with the Rugby Football Union, and, of course, there are many others as well not in membership. The letter said that except for a small staff at Twickenham adminis- 209 tration is carried out by voluntary workers. The Committee claim that the work done is a valuable national asset and is in accordance with Government policy of training youth at a vital age.
What effect will this increased Entertainments Duty have on Rugby Union football? Take the Rugby Union itself. In a normal year practically the whole of the revenue comes from two international matches. The Entertainments Duty before this Finance Bill was introduced amounted to £4,000 on each match. With this increased duty that will be doubled. That is to say, in the normal season the Rugby Union will pay £16,000 in entertainments tax.
Between the wars the Rugby Union was able to equip the ground at Twickenham and lend something like £80,000 to other clubs to help them buy their own grounds, at a nominal rate of interest. But before this Finance Bill was introduced that state of affairs had passed. Two years ago the Rugby Union increased the price of their tickets by 50 per cent.; otherwise, they would have made an operational loss. In spite of this increase in the price of tickets two years ago, the new Entertainments Duty, if it is implemented, will mean, so far as I can see, that there will be an operational loss in the normal year.
That means that the Rugby Union will have to call in the loans from their clubs. It was said some time ago that no more financial help can be given to clubs. So it will be seen that the past valuable help can no longer be given, but reserves will have to be drawn on. I suggest that that is an unhealthy and undesirable state of affairs. That is the position with regard to the national body.
May I give an example to the Committee which illustrates generally the position of most first-class Rugby Union football clubs? Take my own club, the Harlequins. For the last two or three years they have had successful playing seasons. Between the wars they were able to build up assets and buy their own ground for their reserve teams. Generally, they make a profit of a few hundred pounds in one year and a loss of a few hundred pounds in another year, owing to the incidence of home fixtures.
Last year they made a profit of £400, and this year they made a loss of £500 210 in spite of the increase in the price of admission by 50 per cent. With this new Entertainments Duty that surplus will go and losses will be increased; the club will simply not be able to carry on in the years to come. I think that illustrates the sort of position in which many other first-class Rugby Union clubs find themselves. I apologise for giving these details, but I do want to impress upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer that what we are asking him to do is based on solid fact.
Let me turn to cricket. I am privileged to have in my constituency the headquarters of the M.C.C., at Lords. What is the position of the M.C.C.? I have here, sent to me as a member of the M.C.C., the annual report. They hold their annual general meeting tomorrow. If that report is studied it will be found that in 1950 there was a loss of £2,637 and that last year there was a loss of £1,250. If the proposed new Entertainments Duty had been in force in those years, there would have been an additional £5,000 of tax to be paid, making a loss of £7,600 in 1950 and a loss of £6,250 last year.
Over the weekend the Secretary of the M.C.C., Colonel Rait Kerr, told me that if this Entertainments Duty is maintained, in the next 10 years the M.C.C. will have ceased to exist. He stressed upon me the gravity of the situation. Take the Middlesex County Cricket Club. I have here a letter from the President of that Club, and this is typical of the kind of letters which I am sure all hon. Members have had from their county cricket associations.
The letter says:Our finances are such, and for that matter all first-class county cricket clubs are much the same, that this added burden cannot be met from our present resources, with the result that we shall be forced, to avoid a very serious loss, to pass the tax on to the spectator by increasing our admission charges. I would emphasise that the attendances to our county championship matches at Lords during 1951 show a decrease of over 28 per cent. on the attendances in 1947.By increasing the admission charge, my Committee consider there is a grave risk of further reducing attendances and county cricket clubs, already labouring under financial hardships, would therefore be faced with extreme difficulties. It might well result in the Treasury receiving less revenue than it has been getting from cricket in recent years.211 I should like to stress that, because in the answer that the Financial Secretary gave me in reply to a letter which I wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer he suggested that the increase in this taxation should be passed on. I want to try to remove that misapprehension from the minds of the Treasury. It cannot be passed on without breaking up our national games and sports on the one hand and, I regret to say, giving a reduced income to the Treasury on the other.
I have here figures for the Middlesex County Cricket Club which show that instead of a surplus of £1,600 of a year or two ago, there would be a loss. I have an estimated loss this year of £100, and with the new Entertainments Duty it is estimated that that loss would be increased by another £1,520. I have also been acquainted of the position of the Glamorgan County Cricket Club, to which, no doubt, attention will be directed by other hon. Members. Here again, in the last three years, small surpluses were made, but in each case if this new Entertainments Duty had been in operation there would have been substantial losses which would have been greatly increased because the county cricket clubs benefit from overseas tours and the surplus from these overseas tours given to county cricket would have been far less.
The Secretary of the M.C.C. told me that there was less and less surplus coming from these overseas tours because of increased costs, and that with this proposed increase in the Entertainments Duty he foresaw that it might be impossible for overseas tours to take place. In the face of this evidence, which, I know, can be corroborated in all quarters of the Committee, I beg the Chancellor to revise—I do not care how—his views on the idea that this extra Entertainments Duty can be borne by our national games, sports and pastimes.
I say to him: if you want to break them up, then charge this Entertainments Duty. If you think that it is a good thing for this country to have our great national games and pastimes in a flourishing condition, then give them an opportunity to struggle on, for it is a hard enough struggle as it is now, without any additional Entertainments Duty.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
My hon. Friends the Members for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Edward Davies) and Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) have authorised me to speak on their behalf. I wish to make an appeal to the Chancellor, whom I am pleased to see sitting on the Treasury Bench. I should like him to listen to the facts and the evidence which we shall produce, and if he cannot accept the Amendment I hope that he will be good enough to consider our case. In that event he might prepare a manuscript Amendment which would enable him to go as far as he thinks he could; or he might consider some other course, because our case is a very strong one.
It is 21 years ago since I first stood for election to this House. My wife and I still live in the same house as we then did and we still move among the same people. As a result of that we claim to be as closely in touch with the people as it is possible to be. I can assure the Chancellor that there is great indignation about the imposition of this increased tax among those who are rendering such service to our country and have such a great record. For 14 years the people in this country have had full employment, they have worked night and day and have worked as never before, particularly in some industrial areas, where they have not only worked hard but fast.
As a result of that, people are more in need of relaxation today than ever. They need the sun's rays, fresh air and a change from the monotony of modern industrial production. That explains why they are more and more going on Saturday afternoons and evenings towards local sports, particularly football and cricket. The narrow-minded are constantly indulging in criticism because our people are going in ever-increasing numbers to these sport centres. That trend is understandable when one knows the daily lives of the people. They need relaxation and change from the daily monotony.
Further, industrial managements are the first to admit that this gives the people something to which to look forward and something upon which to look back. Therefore, from a production point of view, it is a good business proposition that our people should have relaxation of this character. In the great industrial areas to which some of us belong, there 213 are 20,000 and more people employed in one establishment—80,000 are employed in Trafford Park—and these are the centres of great discussion as to the merits of one team and another.
The virility which expresses itself on the football grounds on Saturday afternoons in winter and on the cricket grounds in summer finds expression in the relationships in these factories. It finds expression among those attending Association football and Rugby. I am not very interested in Rugby myself but, nevertheless, I believe in giving the facts and not speaking solely from an individual point of view. The same applies to cricket, both on county and club grounds.
If the Chancellor or anyone else in any part of the Committee is not inclined to accept my reasoning, all I ask them to do is to consult the managements. I have no doubt what the reply of the workers would be, whether they attend those sports or not. Those who do not believe me I would request only to ask the police. Go into any large industrial area and consult the police about the very good work done by these sports organisations in such areas.
I wish to avoid being provocative in this matter, but I say that this is increased taxation upon the workers of this country. First, there is the increased admission charge which will have to be made. One has only to make an analysis of the balance sheets of clubs to see the necessity for that. Second, the men and women travelling to the sports centres are already seriously concerned about the increased fares which they are having to pay. The cumulative effect of all this is very serious.
Some hon. Members who may not accept my reasoning may say, "A game in which payments of £30,000 or £35,000 can be made as the transfer fee for a single player can easily afford to pay this tax." That is an understandable argument on the face of it, but when one comes to make a close analysis of the matter criticism of that character cannot be upheld. Such a transaction happens only in a very few cases. It has created great concern in the sport itself and everything possible is being done to discourage it, but it is not an easy matter to deal with. During the season of 1948-49 transfers totalled only 547 and only a few were made at a figure of more than £10,000.
214 That it is big news for the big daily newspapers, who make so much of that kind of thing.
It is not well known that the Football Association rules fix a maximum dividend of 7½ per cent. before tax, and that all other income is used in the game. Some clubs have not paid a dividend for years. A report of P.E.P. for 1951 stated that the clubs of the Third Division have to follow a hand-to-mouth policy of struggling for existence year after year. [Interruption.] I am reminded that Port Vale are in that position.
I know many of the players engaged in football and cricket. In the main they are a very fine body of young men who are doing great service. They are as good as ever previous generations of players were. There is a tendency for those who are growing grey to say, "The younger ones are not so good as we were." In my view they are in this case better than ever and deserve the support of this Committee. Most of them are rightly concerned about their future. It is time they were given more satisfaction about the future of their relationship with others.
Instead of the Government placing an increased imposition on these games they should be considering the great service which these sports are rendering to the country. Those were the ideas of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) and the late Sir Stafford Cripps when they were responsible for our finance. I am sorry that the Chancellor has gone out of the Chamber. I am not being critical—I know his responsibilities—but I hope that a note will be taken of what I am about to say. I very much doubt whether the Chancellor realised, when he introduced his Budget, the serious increase in the tax which is involved. Could a note be taken of those words so that he could consider them?
I believe in playing the game in personal relationships, or I could go further than that. I have found in life that once one breaks confidence with other people one destroys the possibility of any future confidence. At the same time, I think I am justified in going as far as I have done. The whole tax paid in the seasons 1950 and 1951 average £400,000 in respect of Association Football alone. If this increased tax is applied it will mean 215 £1 million being paid—an increase in taxation of £600,000. Can that increase be justified? Will anyone stand at the Despatch Box and justify an increase in tax of that character?
Last season, the country's finest football team—[HON. MEMBERS: "Newcastle."]—which is now earning a large dollar income for us—[HON. MEMBERS: "What is the team?"]—Manchester United—paid £9,703. If the additional tax is imposed, they would pay £28,900. But in addition to that, as a result of having been in a great air raid in a large industrial centre—this is where the industrial centres are suffering—the total capacity of their ground is only 55,000, whereas before the war it was 75,000; and because of their success, they could now be catering for crowds of at least 100,000. This shows the seriousness of their position.
Another team—Stoke City—this season paid £5,536 in taxation. Next year, as a result of remaining in the First Division, they will pay £15,225 under the new proposals. I have a few more interesting figures. I shall not give them all, but anyone who is sufficiently interested may see the list. In 1951, Arsenal Football Club paid £16,000 in taxation.
§ Mr. Smith
I am not concerned about the odd hundreds of pounds; I want to be as quick as I can.
In the present season Arsenal paid £16,000. Next season, if the Chancellor does not withdraw his proposal, they will pay £46,000. Bolton Wanderers paid £8,000, but with the additional tax next season they will pay £22,000. Burnley paid £5,000 last season. If the extra tax is persisted in, they will next season pay £24,000. Tottenham Hotspur paid £13,000 during the past season. Next year, if the further tax is insisted upon, they will pay £45,000. If any hon. Member wants the figures for his own team, I have the list.
Let me read a letter which I have received from the Secretary of the Stoke City Football Club:No doubt you will recollect that one of the conditions made by the Chancellor of the late Government when the former concession on account of 'live entertainment' was made to football clubs, was that a reasonable proportion of the ground should be available at 216 the then current minimum admission price of 1s. 3d. so that the public got the benefit of the reduction, and this condition was faithfully observed by this club, and incidentally, we are given to understand, by all clubs.I make just that point from a long letter, because it is a very good point.
§ Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)
My hon. Friend is making a very good case for First Division clubs, but would he not agree that there is a special case to be made for Third Division clubs, by reason, for example, of their smaller attendances and smaller grounds?
§ Mr. Smith
I know that my hon. Friend is a great supporter of Millwall, and I can safely leave them in his hands, as I can leave other clubs to other Members who speak for their own areas. I hope we shall not make this a party matter, because so much is involved, and no one would be more delighted than I, Sir Charles, if all Members who can possibly do so are able to catch your eye so that we can put the matter properly before the Chancellor and the Financial Secretary with all the weight we can.
Here are two brief extracts from a letter from the Manchester United Football Club:You will no doubt agree this is a heavy burden to place on football clubs' supporters"—the burden, it will be seen, is on the supporters, the bulk of whom are the workers—the industrial workers, those who are saving this country—and management, who are playing their part.
§ Mr. Osborne
That is typical of the hon. Member. He says "all the workers" and then, as a kind of second thought, "and the management."
§ Mr. Smith
The only difference between the hon. Member and me is that I have been brought up in industry, not with a few hundred employees, but with 25,000 of them. Therefore, one is brought up to speak like that.
The letter continues:… so far as the lesser clubs are concerned, it may stop them"—that is, their supporters—supporting their clubs, with disastrous results to those concerned.This letter is from one of the most prosperous clubs—or they would be one of the most prosperous if they could get 217 a licence to rebuild their ground, as it should be rebuilt. They go on to say:You will probably recall that the Chancellor made a favourable decision in 1946"—I shall be excused, I hope, from remarking that it was a Labour Chancellor—which classed football as live entertainment, and while one of the conditions made by him when the former concession was granted was, that a reasonable proportion of all grounds should be available at the then current minimum admission price of ls. 3d., so that the public got the benefit of the reduction, and this condition was faithfully observed by all League clubs, but the withdrawal of this decision brings the new rates of tax closely approximate to those in operation in 1943.From inquiries made we are of the opinion that clubs will have to give serious consideration not only to increases in prices of admission but also to reduction in certain of the cheaper accommodation to offset any possible fall in attendances.What I have said applies equally to Old Trafford, where the cricket is held, but because I know that other of my hon. Friends will concentrate on that aspect, I shall leave it to them.
I intended to speak rather strongly, but I do not want to say one word that would create any difficulties. I have stated our case as reasonably as possible. I have confined myself to facts and figures, and I have quoted documents which have been sent to us. I hope that they will carry some weight with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and that if he cannot accept the Amendment, he will produce a manuscript Amendment of his own, so that this imposition will not be as great as is proposed.
§ Mr. Christopher Hollis (Devizes)
I join with other hon. Members in asking my right hon. Friend whether he can possibly look at this matter again. The particular Amendment to which my name and that of some of my hon. Friends is attached, in page 2, line 45, at the end, to insert—(j) a cricket match.—is concerned solely with cricket. I appreciate, however, that we are discussing a wider Amendment, and for my own part I have no kind of hostility to the cause of other games.
One of the reasons why I put down an Amendment concerned solely with cricket was because by a rare chance the case of cricket provided an opportunity for purely philosophical contemplation 218 which rarely occurs in a Finance Bill, and for this reason: The tax, as we know, comes on only on 31st August. Therefore, it is more or less a purely philosophic proposition for the moment, in this Bill and in this financial year, as regards what may be its effect on cricket.
I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has meditated on the fact that, under the Bill, almost the only cricket fixture to have to pay the cricket tax is the Kingston-upon-Thames Festival, which takes place after 31st August. However, I do not want to cover again the ground which has been covered very well by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) and by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith). I, too, have received a large number of letters, and I certainly do not want to be guilty of the vice of tedious repetition. We can take it that the case that the proposals in the Bill would deliver a very serious blow at the clubs engaged in these sports has been made out. That cannot seriously be denied.
I do not like the principle of a tax on entertainment, because it is not, as other taxes are, a tax on profit or on income. It is a tax on receipts, which seems to me a very unfair form of taxation. It was put on as a temporary tax in the 1914-18 War, when none of these first-class sports were at that moment going on, so in the first instance it was never envisaged that it should apply to things of this sort at all.
An attempt was very reasonably made to see whether a distinction could be drawn between different sorts of sports, and a distinction was drawn between what are considered live sports and what are not considered live sports. I raise no objection to the fact that those interested in speedway racing and such-like sports have now won their victory, in the sense that they have had their tax reduced. I certainly do not wish those interested in these activities anything but good fortune. Nevertheless, one of the things which I hope may emerge out of this debate is the recognition of two sorts of sports in this country, and what we have to think about is whether we can find some formula to give it legislative expression.
219 Everybody knows that there are some sports which do not form an integral part of our national life in the way in which cricket and football do. It may be that the phrase "live sport" is not a very happy phrase, and I am inclined to think that there was great force in the argument against it during the Finance Act debates last year. We must try to think whether there is a way of differentiating between sports which are a part of our national life and sports which are not. I see that the other day my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General complained that most of the British public turned to the sporting news in their daily paper before reading the political speeches. I must say it never occurred to me in the whole of my life to do anything else but that, so if that should be so I certainly belong to the great majority.
I do not claim that cricket is the only sport which is an integral part of our national life, but I do claim that it is at any rate one of the sports which nobody could deny comes into that category. A distinction which I think it fair to keep in mind is the difference between sports which form a normal part of English education and those which do not, and it would not be ungenerous to say that it would be a great calamity if any of the sports which form a normal part of English education were driven out of existence. Therefore, if my right hon. Friend can say that he will reconsider the whole of this Clause I shall be delighted. If he does not feel able to go that far, I plead that there is a special case for considering cricket, for a number of reasons.
The receipts to the Treasury from this tax upon cricket are quite trivial. About £40,000 out of £1 million came from cricket, and with this new tax £70,000 would be added—if the result of imposing it were not to frighten people away from the gates, although I think it would have that result. The amount of money the Chancellor gets out of the tax on cricket is, therefore, trivial. Indeed, it takes about three afternoons of football a year to take as much at the gate as in the whole of the first-class cricket season. There is no comparison between them. It may be argued that, if the public cares so little about cricket as all that why seek to defend it? 220 I do not think anybody would deny that, whatever the reasons, the influence of cricket is great, because of its literary appeal, and because of those who are able to make themselves national figures in a way not possible to those who take part in any other sport. It is a peculiarity of cricket that it occupies a place in our national life wholly beyond that which is reflected in the financial receipts from those who go to look at it. W. G. Grace is a national figure in a way that people in other sports are not. For that reason I think it is deserving of special consideration.
It is also deserving of special consideration for the quite other reason that its finances are dependent on the weather to a unique extent. When the increased tax was imposed in 1944 Lord Waverley, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, had the power at that time to exempt from tax any national activities which were in need of revival. The M.C.C. spokesman pleaded that cricket should be allowed to take advantage of that escape clause, but Lord Waverley replied that he was unaware that cricket was a pastime which required revival. Well, there have been eight years of test matches since then, and I do not think that anybody who examines the struggle, both financial and athletic, which English cricket is having at the moment can deny the need for revival.
County cricket, which is such an important part of our national life, is in serious and most desperate straits at the moment, quite apart from the Entertainments Duty. Doubtless, because my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Ashton) has retired from county cricket, and for other similar reasons, gates are not what they used to be. There are all sorts of other things wrong with cricket besides the entrance fees. Yet, there are only about three first-class clubs which pay their way in any sort of real sense. The rest are dependent upon their share of test match receipts—and there is reason to think that test match receipts will go down. Nor is a cricket club a profit-making concern, because such money as they can save is spent almost entirely for the purpose of trying to encourage the game among youngsters.
I ask my right hon. Friend to believe that we are face to face with a very serious situation, in which there is grave danger 221 that one of the most important of our recreational activities is being driven out of existence by a measure which will bring into the Treasury no money worth talking about, and I appeal to him to reconsider this.
Mr. J. P. W. Mallalien (Huddersfield, East)
Although the Committee is by now pretty well swamped with figures about individual sports, I am afraid that I must add a little bit to that swamping by referring to a sport not yet mentioned, the fascinating game of Rugby League football. It is a game which, unhappily, is not very well known in the South, but which is a very important game in the part of the world into which I was born. The conditions which, we have heard, apply to cricket, Rugby Union and Association football apply equally forcibly to Rugby League football, in which the gates are falling steadily, and have been for the past three years, and in which during the past season no fewer than 11 out of 24 clubs actually made a loss. With the exception of three, including my own club in Huddersfield, the whole lot will make a loss if this tax is imposed.
I wish now to deal with the general principle underlying the Entertainments Duty.
The speech of the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis)—and I always listen to him on this subject with the greatest interest—illustrated one of the difficulties we always run against when we are trying to discriminate between one kind of enjoyment and another. The hon. Member for Devizes tried to say that the demarcation line would be to choose those sports which were an integral part of our national life. But he was rash enough to give examples of sports which in his opinion were not an integral part of our national life, and he mentioned speedway. If he will come to the West Riding of Yorkshire, where of course cricket is still the predominating game, there he will find a passion for speedway which makes it, at least to a very large number of people, an integral part of their national life.
§ Mr. Hollis
I would love to come to Huddersfield with the hon. Member, but there is enough speedway in my own constituency to make it unnecessary for me to come. My point was with regard to the integral part of our educational life. 222 I have nothing against speedway, I was merely trying to make a formula.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
I do not think the hon. Member meant the educational life of the nation; all he meant was an integral part of his own life. My point is that we cannot set an absolute standard and have a proper demarcation line which has any logic or principle about it.
If we take a look at Clause 2 of the Bill, which was devised by the Chancellor himself, so far as I can see any principle in it at all, the kind of enjoyment to which he wishes to give special preference must first of all be classed as entertainment. But among the examples of entertainment given in subsection (2) is a lecture. I will admit that some lectures I have heard have been entertaining, but to imply that all lectures are entertaining is the kind of wild and woolly generalisation that I should have thought he, of all people. would have avoided.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
Certainly—for those who are sufficiently educated to understand it. Much the same kind of difficulty applies to recitations which are also mentioned. I seem to remember that the Financial Secretary at one stage of his career had a recitation that was very much admired, which was entitled, if I have it right, "Eskimo Nell." That was certainly entertaining, but the majority of recitations, I should have thought, were very far from entertaining.
The second requirement in this Clause is that the performer should be present. I see that the Chancellor includes menageries. The performers are certainly present in a menagerie—the performing bears and the rest. On what principle does he say that performing bears should get concessions, when, say, Rugby Union players do not? He also mentions circuses. That must mean not only the ordinary circus but such things as a flea circus. What possible logic is there for giving the benefit to a flea circus which he denies to county cricket?
I suspect that this antipathy to county cricket must come from continually watching Essex, though I remember Essex, of course, once had Percy Perrin, 223 J. W. H. T. Douglas and his own Parliamentary Private Secretary. Indeed, Essex on successive days once put Yorkshire out for 35 and 33 runs, respectively. I am anxious to discourage that sort of thing, but I do not think that the discouragement should include taxation. The third principle underlying the selections of the Chancellor seems to be that on the whole he wishes to encourage things done on a stage as opposed to a field. The suggestion seems to be that the things one sees on the stage are perhaps better for one culturally. I object to that kind of ruling by Whitehall.
I object very much to people who suggest special concessions for games on the ground that games are good for you physically. The only people who play games because games are good for them are those who have eaten and drunk too much. The great majority of people who watch a sport or play it do so because they enjoy it and because it is fun. Equally, I dislike the idea of saying that things done on the stage are perhaps culturally better than things done on the playing field. I would say that the experiences, in the poetical sense, which one derives from watching and playing in sports are every bit as deep and fine as the experiences which one can get from music and from the theatre. I do not believe there is any objective standard of enjoyment. It is entirely a question of what the individual gets out of the particular thing he is watching or doing. For that reason, I would say that in these matters the Government should be absolutely neutral and leave it to the individual to decide what kind of enjoyment he goes in for.
In justification of the argument that there really is no objective standard, may I quote to the Chancellor an illustration which comes from completely outside sport? Many years ago a man called Chapman made a translation of Homer. The critics of that day said the translation was no good. It failed entirely to capture the spirit of the original. As such, it received no encouragement whatsoever. But when Keats opened that translation he derived from it the experience which he epitomised in one of his loveliest sonnets. The sort of experience which Keats had on reading 224 Chapman's Homer and the experience which he projected into stout Cortez was similar to an experience I had 32 years ago, when for the first time, I saw the exquisite flow of Reggie Spooner's batting.
It is not only ordinary people like myself who find such deep delight in sport. One of the most appealing poems written by Francis Thompson was written about cricket. It was a poem which epitomised his nostalgia for the glories of Old Trafford and finished with the line:Oh my Hornby and my Barlow long ago.That lovely poem was derived from sport. On that kind of evidence one cannot say that stage shows, whether it be music or ballet or anything else, are necessarily better culturally than are the experiences and enjoyment we get on the field of sport.
So I would say to the Chancellor that in these matters the Government must be neutral. I am a great believer in the direct control of basic material things. I believe that is essential for a decent standard of life. I believe in a great deal of Government interference with the distribution of the products of industry, so that everybody can have a fair chance and a decent standard of life. But when it comes to how an individual shall use his income and how he enjoys himself, whether he digs in the garden, or watches Yorkshire—if he can get in—or Huddersfield Town—if he can bear it—what he does in his spare time is for his decision, and not a matter for the Chancellor either to encourage or discourage.
I realise that the Amendment which I am supporting does make some sort of discrimination but it is a very much wider and looser discrimination than anything contained in the Clause before us. Therefore I support it because I think it is a step in the right direction, and I hope it is a step which the Chancellor himself will be able to take.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
It is a peculiar state of affairs that, when this country is in such a grim position generally and when our Chancellor is striving with every diligence and every ingenuity to balance his books, this Committee should be spending so much time considering our sports and the impact of one taxation proposal upon them. However, it will be generally agreed that most 225 of these sports contribute indirectly, if not directly, to the general well-being of the community and that no Chancellor could dismiss them as just the decorations and trimmings of our national life.
Like so many others, I have been struck by the remarkable unanimity in the Committee about these matters. It is obvious that, whatever other things we may discuss, these matters cut completely across party lines, and it is obvious, too, that our differences here are rather whether we prefer soccer to rugby or rugby league to rugby union, and so on; we have our preferences according to games rather than politics.
In general, I support much of what has been said, but I should like for a short while to refer to two sports with which I am more fully acquainted. County cricket has been mentioned a good deal, and I want to underline what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis). The probable yield in this instance is terribly small and the position of the county cricket clubs is really bad.
Fifteen out of 17 county cricket clubs made a working loss in 1951 if we ignore receipts from Test matches. Derbyshire made a loss of £2,900, against which one could set off a share of Test match receipts amounting to £2,268. My own county, Glamorganshire, broke about even, but only achieved that result by taking into consideration their share of Test match receipts. Hampshire made a loss of £820. Kent made a loss of £1,358 based upon a working loss of £4,328. Northamptonshire made a small profit of about £600, but their membership decreased by about 200.
Even the great county of Yorkshire made a profit of only £640 after taking into consideration Test match receipts and a sum of £1,000 devoted to ground improvement funds. Nottinghamshire made a loss of £2,100, and that is a county with a great cricketing tradition and a ground set admirably in the midst of the largest city in the county; it is a county which normally showed a considerable profit in the past. Even Surrey made a profit of only £332.
It is nothing new for county cricket clubs to make such working losses and to have to rely upon their share of test match receipts to bolster up their finances, but I am sure the Committee will agree 226 that these figures show a remarkable tendency, throughout 1951 anyhow, for their financial position to deteriorate, for their incomes to decline and for their receipts, both at the gates and by membership, generally to decrease. I should like to stress what has already been said, that they are not profit-making concerns. If the Chancellor finds it impossible to assist all sports he ought at any rate to consider some assistance to those which are not profit-making.
I want to quote something concerning my own county cricket club from a letter which I have received from our captain, Wilfred Wooller. He writes:From 1921 onwards, the year Glamorgan entered the Championship, to 1939 we survived a stiff struggle against financial difficulties by the grace of a series of flag days, dances, the generosity of wealthy patrons. After 1945, Wales became more cricket-minded and, with the aid of a seating and nursery appeal and excellent support at the gates, a modest reserve has been built up for the first time in the history of the Club. We have however been faced with a steady rise in expenditure and after much consideration of the facts, my committee decided the charges for 1952 should be raised at the gate from Is. 6d. per day to 2s. and in membership by an overall increase of 5s. to 35s. for gentlemen and 30s. for ladies. We are now faced with a severe increase in Entertainments Duty. Our support comes from the workmen of the Welsh valleys and towns and it is unreasonable to ask such followers of cricket to bear any extra tax on top of the present rise.He quotes figures to show that had this proposal been in force last year Glamorganshire would not have been able to balance its budget and would have been faced with a working loss.
The other game in which I am particularly interested is rugby union. The Welsh Rugby Union—and also the English Rugby Union—is concerned with promoting a game which is, above all, for the benefit of the players. It is true that at international games and at some club games we have very large crowds but, generally speaking, even today, rugby union is still the game of the player, far more so than are other forms of football with the possible exception of amateur soccer.
The situation is explained by a letter which I received from Dr. Rocyn Jones, President of the Welsh Rugby Union. He says:At a special meeting of the general committee of the Welsh Rugby Union held at Cardiff on 1st May, 1952, it was unanimously 227 decided to draw the attention of the Chancellor to the serious effects which the new rates of Entertainments Duty, imposed by the Finance Bill of 1952, will have on this Union and its constituent clubs, and on amateur rugby in Wales in general.The Welsh Rugby Union feel very strongly that it is its duty to inform you that under the conditions obtaining before the passing of the recent Finance Bill the large majority of the Welsh clubs found it an extremely difficult task to remain financially solvent. Most of them have managed to do this only by means of dances, raffles and other methods of raising the necessary money to keep them going. All this has meant very hard work, done always in each case by the faithful few, upon whom the existence of most of our clubs depends. Apart from the Union Secretary and his assistant, the work in connection with amateur football in Wales is done everywhere voluntarily.Two years ago it became necessary for the Union to raise the prices of tickets for its international matches in order to avoid losses. The effect of the proposed tax on the Welsh Rugby Union and its 900 constituent clubs (which include schools and youth organisations) will be more than they can possibly bear, as it is felt by all concerned that further increases in charges are out of the question.5.30 p.m.
There, again, we have the spectacle of a game which is sustained on a very fine margin, a game which is non-profit making in a true sense, because the money made by the Welsh Rugby Union, as in the case of the Rugby Union and Scottish Rugby Union, is generally ploughed back for the benefit of the constituent clubs. Some of the money is also advanced to them to enable them to improve their grounds and stands and to provide cover in bad weather. Rugby Union is a game which is in a truly difficult position. It is, as I say, a non-profit making game and one to which I think the Chancellor should give really sympathetic consideration.
I shall not detain the Committee any longer except to say that although I have mentioned only two sports, I feel most sincerely, as do other hon. Members on all sides, that most of our games deserve some sustenance. They are part of our heritage and the means by which we can increase our efficiency as a productive community. I believe that they deserve all the support we can give them.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)
I am batting for Surrey this afternoon and in doing so I achieve a lifelong ambition, even though such exploits as 228 may be to my credit by the time I have finished will only have taken place on the Floor of this Chamber. The Oval Cricket ground is on the edge of my constituency and in the Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth. I promise that my innings will be a very short one, although I hope to lay about me as well as I can in the time that you, Mr. Thomas, permit me to occupy the wicket.
I have the accounts of the Surrey County Cricket Club for 1951 before me; they have just been issued to the members of the club. They show a turnover for the year of some £40,000. Out of that, the excess of income over expenditure was only £330 based on the old rate of tax which the Chancellor is now seeking to increase. If the rate is increased, the Entertainments Duty paid at the Oval will be in the neighbourhood of 115 per cent. In other words, the amount of duty will go up from £1,340 paid during 1951 to £2,900, and the tiny surplus of £330 will be transformed into a loss of over £1,200.
It is quite clear that penal taxation of this character will put out of existence not only small clubs who are not so famous as the Surrey County Cricket Club, but even old-established and hitherto financially strong clubs like the Surrey County Cricket Club. Up to the war, the rate charged for cricket was the same as for the cinema. In 1946, as has already been mentioned, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) gave some relief, but, despite that, the charges now proposed will immeasurably increase the grave difficulties experienced by all cricket clubs in making both ends meet. It is quite certain that an increased charge to the public will have to be made, and that increase will not necessarily help cricket clubs to meet their commitments because it is bound to have a deterrent effect on the game.
There is one further point I wish to make. It is well known, of course, that most cricket clubs are able to exist because of the share they receive from the proceeds of Test matches. The Surrey County Cricket Club were able to achieve the tiny surplus of £330 only after taking into account the sum of £4,700 which was their share of the Test match proceeds. If the proposed increase comes into operation the position will be aggravated by the great increase in the tax 229 on Test match receipts, and those also will go down with inevitable repercussions on the income of the county clubs. For example, the tax on a 19s. Test match seat, which is now 3s., will become 6s.
For all these reasons, I hope that the Chancellor will be disposed to make some concession to what have rightly been described in the course of this debate as the national games and pastimes of the people of this country. They include not only cricket, but many other sports to which reference has also been made. As I say, I hope the Chancellor will find it possible, on this series of Amendments at least, to make a concession which will be most acceptable in every quarter of this Committee and throughout the length and breadth of the country.
§ Mr. C. E. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I very much hope that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will consider very carefully this group of Amendments, and in company with my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) and with other hon. Members in all quarters of the Committee I want to make a plea with particular reference to cricket. I believe that the argument concerning cricket comes, broadly speaking, under two headings, first, in regard to cricket as a whole, and, secondly, in regard to county cricket in particular.
With regard to cricket as a whole, there are, perhaps, three things which ought to be said. The first is that it is one of the few remaining great games which have not yet become fully professional or commercialised. For that reason, if for no other, I think it is worthy of special attention. Secondly, I do not think anybody would deny the great contribution made towards Commonwealth relations by the interchange of the touring cricket sides between, for instance, ourselves, South Africa and Australia, and vice versa. Indeed, if the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations had no worse headaches to deal with than an occasional complaint about body-line bowling or a doubtful decision by an umpire at a Test match his task would be a great deal easier than it is today.
The third point I want to make about cricket as a whole is in relation to the longterm plan to improve the general standard of cricket in this country. As many hon. Members know, the M.C.C. have set up a youth Cricket Association, the aim 230 of which is to provide more and better cricket for the youth of the country and to fill a much felt need by promoting a coaching scheme for the whole country. Despite the serious financial position of the M.C.C., to which my hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) has referred, they have undertaken to carry the whole burden of the central organisation of this Youth Cricket Association, leaving the counties to accept financial responsibility for the scheme within their own areas.
I come now to county cricket in particular, and it is really upon county cricket that the whole edifice of first-class cricket is built. I doubt very much whether any of the county clubs will be able to pass on to the spectators the additional sums they would have to find if the new rate of Entertainments Duty is brought into operation without running great risks of driving the spectators away, because I believe all the county clubs have already raised their admission charges from 1s. 6d. to 2s. I think it is true that the public have only a certain amount of money to spend on entertainments in any given summer and that with the rise in the cost of living that sum of money, set aside for entertainment, gradually becomes less and less.
Indeed, figures of attendances at county matches during the last two or three years seem to bear that out. The figures for the County Championship matches have been in 1949, 2,100,000; 1950, 1,900,000; and in 1951, 1,800,000. I concede to the Chancellor that the summer of 1949 happened to be very fine. As hon. Members have already pointed out, and I hope the Chancellor will note it, it is the case that at least half the first-class counties only escape severe annual deficits by having a share of the Test match profits. Those profits themselves, substantial though they are, will be seriously reduced by the imposition of this duty and, therefore, the counties will have the worst of both worlds.
In 1951, the published accounts for 13 first-class cricket counties show an aggregate balance of profit of £8,200. The proposed duty, on the 1951 admission charges, would mean a reduction of approximately £28,000, leaving an aggregate loss for these counties of over £20,000. That is a very serious thing indeed because, as has been pointed out 231 by a great number of hon. Members, the county clubs are not commercial profit-making undertakings in the ordinary accepted sense of the word. They really exist only by the support of their members.
If, through financial difficulty, the first-class county clubs are unable to provide improved amenities, which both the public and the players quite rightly demand, the attendance falls off and when the attendance falls off, sooner or later, curiously enough, the standard of play is invariably affected. I suppose that happens in much the same way in our debates in the House. When the Chamber is full the general level of discussion is much higher than on those occasions when the Chamber is practically empty. Judging by their expressions many hon. Members do not agree with me.
§ Mr. I. Mikardo (Reading, South)
I hope that the hon. Member will not pursue that point or we may find Entertainments Duty levied on our proceedings.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
In so far as any contribution from me is concerned I am afraid that the Chamber would empty very rapidly and the Chancellor would lose a great deal of Entertainments Duty. But I am sure that hon. Members will agree that in the highly charged atmosphere of a crowded Chamber the arguments come much quicker off the pitch. as it were, than is the case on a quiet day, when there is only a handful of hon. Members present.
By this increase in the Entertainments Duty the Chancellor is dealing a great blow at our great national sport, which cricket can ill afford. The harm it will do is out of all proportion to the comparatively small sum of money—£70,000 in a full year—which he will recoup. If I may use the analogy, what the Chancellor is doing is to ring the county secretaries round with two short legs and a silly mid-on. He then bowls a whole series of balls off the wicket and expects them to make runs, and they hope he will change his mind.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I have risen now not with any intention of ending the debate, because I know many hon. Members in all quarters of the 232 Committee desire to speak but I hope for their indulgence to say a few words because of my great personal interest in the issue we are now debating.
The longer I live, the more firmly I come to believe that our sports and games are something of which the whole nation ought to be proud. In my lifetime they have gone round the world, with immense benefit to other nations and to our prestige. They have become our modern British arts. As has been said already by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), they have become a healthy and continuing interest to millions of our people. They have done great things for the health, physical and moral, of our nation and they could do much more.
Let the Chancellor reflect what drunkenness and juvenile delinquency costs the nation and set it against the crippling of sport which his tax might mean. Let him consider the effect on production, which again has been already mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South.
We all know that during the war Mr. Ernest Bevin took the strongest view about encouraging sport, even when we were at death grips with Hitler. It was my job to try and cut down the number of trains available for sporting events, and I always found him very vigorously on the other side, because he was convinced that it was in the interest of production to keep sports going and alive. I agree with the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) that there are sports which are part of our national life. If the Chancellor is striking a blow at them, as many of us believe, he is doing a very serious thing indeed.
I make no apology for adding certain detailed information to the many details hon. Members have given so admirably already. In fact, the general case depends on details—the detailed finances of individual clubs and sports. I want to speak of four sports, not because I care less about Rugby football, or lawn tennis, or swimming or other things, but because I think I have important and authentic information about these four, two of which have not yet been mentioned. The first is boxing.
The British did not invent boxing. It was invented by the Greeks, who also invented athletics, hockey and other things. 233 But it is an old British sport that we have pioneered in modern times. I have received from the licence holders of the Midland Boxing Board of Control an official protest about this proposed Duty. They say that, if it comes into effect, boxing in general will suffer a most demoralising setback. They say that the boxers' purses will have to be slashed severely. I am sure that the Chancellor would not wish to do anything so unsporting and mean as that.
They say also that the added burden would probably mean the closing down of over 50 per cent. of the smaller promotions, and it would have a shattering effect on the big promotions. The increase in the tax which they would have to pay on seats is really formidable. It is more than 100 per cent. As far as the higher prices are concerned, the new tax on a 10s. ticket would be 4s. 4d. and on a 3 guinea ticket it would be £1 11 s. 6d. It is quite plain that the burden on boxing would be extremely difficult to bear.
With regard to athletics, the Amateur Athletic Association would be exempt from this tax, and so would promotions designed to increase the Association's funds; but athletics, I am glad to say, is very highly decentralised. I am sure that the Government will approve of that. Much of the hard work is done through regional organisations and clubs and they are not exempt. Indeed, they will be very hardly hit. Athletics is a sport which is greatly increasing in popularity, but all the same the new tax will hit it very hard.
It will hit especially hard the British Board of Athletics, which is concerned with arranging the international matches which do so much to prepare our athletes for the Olympic Games. In 1951 the Board paid £800 in Entertainments Duty, in addition to 9s. 6d. in the £ on their profits. On the same gate figures, they would have to pay £2,000, instead of £800. That for them would be a very serious matter, and it would undoubtedly curtail the important international activities in which they are engaged. As they exist to promote friendly matches with other countries, I am sure the Chancellor would not wish that to happen.
234 I should like to say a word about soccer. I hope the Chancellor will give close attention to the figures which were quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South. Stoke City, under the old tax, paid £5,000. Under the new tax they will have to pay £15,000. Derby County—the club with the best post-war Cup record—paid £9,300 last year under the old tax, and they will have to pay £18,000 under the new tax. I was in Cardiff a week ago, and I know how much it means to the people there that Cardiff City have gone up into the First Division. Last year Cardiff City paid £6,000, but under the new tax they will have to pay £18,000. If we take the figures for London clubs, Tottenham's payment of £13,000 will go up to £45,000 and Arsenal's from £17.000 up to £47,000.
The Secretary of the Derby County Football Club tells me that already—money being rather tight—there has been a drift from the 2s. 6d. portions of the ground to what he calls the popular side—2s. and 1s. 6d. He says that the new tax will have a crippling effect on their sale of season tickets, that they will lose £4,500 on them if they sell as many season tickets as last year—and, of course, they will not sell as many as they did before. They are not a rich club, and I venture to think that the Secretary of the Derby County Club is quite right when he says that this new tax will deal them a crippling blow, and that the detrimental effects will not be confined to the professional League clubs, but will affect Association football as a whole, and all that Association football stands for in British life.
I should like to give some more details about county cricket. The gross loss made by the Derbyshire County Cricket Club over the last three years was £1,857 in 1949; £4,000 in 1950, and £2,800 in 1951. Even allowing for the Test match profits in which they shared, they made a very heavy loss. Why have they not gone out of business? It is because they raised a special fund from their members and their friends which got them over £2,000. That was a splendid effort, but anybody who has been concerned—as so many hon. Members have—with the finances of sporting clubs knows that one cannot make an appeal more than about once in every 10 years.
235 Broadly speaking, the sport must pay its way. If, under this new tax, the Derbyshire County Cricket Club have to pay at least double what they were paying before—a sum which they simply could not find—I think it will probably push their heads under water. Attendances have already declined a little and a further increase in admission prices would very seriously reduce the number of spectators. The Secretary of the Derbyshire County Cricket Club tells me officially that, in his view, and that of his Committee the tax might result in some of the county clubs, including Derbyshire, ceasing their activities altogether.
I should like to emphasise once more what was stated so well by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) about the Commonwealth importance of cricket. The M.C.C. do a splendid job. When I was at the Commonwealth Relations Office I asked the M.C.C. to try to send a team to India sooner than they planned. They said that the first possible year was 1956—the claims on them were so great—but in fact they sent a team last year. The Indians are here this year; the West Indians have been here, and no one would deny that the South African tour did an immense amount of good. Is it irrelevant to recall that the late Prime Minister of Ceylon, who did so much for the Commonwealth, was a passionately keen cricketer?
The increase in the tax on Test Match cricket will be very formidable. If the attendances remain what they were last year, the tax paid to the Chancellor will go up from £26,000 to £57,000—an increase of £31,000. I venture to say that that is a tax on Commonwealth intercourse, on Commonwealth good will and on Commonwealth enterprise in organising this kind of competitive friendly sport.
The most serious effect which this tax will have is that it will create great difficulties for the minor, smaller clubs, on which every sport depends. No one who lived his life in any sport doubts that it cannot flourish, unless it is sound at the bottom. The Chancellor will be striking a very grave blow at the general run of clubs if he imposes this tax. I hope that he will listen to the unanimous appeal which has come to him from every quarter of the Committee. Nobody has yet spoken in his favour. I hope 236 that he will listen to this appeal and withdraw this ill-conceived proposal.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
In listening to this debate, the thought that occurs to me is this. What will the Chancellor feel like if a county cricket club definitely has to shut down and go out of business because of this tax? What will be the feelings of those hon. Members who voted for this tax? I ask the Committee to remember that once a club or a sport has shut down, or is near to shutting down, it is very difficult to revive it. If the Chancellor insists on this tax, he will have some very uneasy nights, wondering what will happen to Derbyshire County Cricket Club or some other county cricket club. Even my own county of Surrey is seriously exercised by the possible effect of this new tax.
Although this has been an interesting debate, I feel that it has been on the wrong lines. I do not think we should have attempted to say that such and such a sport is particularly part of our national life. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) stood up for cricket because it was educational. If that is all one has to say for cricket, it is not much. The truth is that all taxes are repulsive, and all sports and other forms of entertainment are desirable, even performing fleas, which we heard about from the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu), and which may indeed be educational for the fleas.
My point is this. This proposal has been put in the Bill in rather a wholesale manner. I suggest that the criterion should be whether this tax will kill or severely damage any particular sport. If it will, then it is a bad tax and it should be removed from the Bill. I rose to speak in support of cricket, but enough has already been said to convince the Chancellor that the county cricket clubs are seriously worried about this matter. This is really a case of "morituri to salutamus."
I hope the Chancellor will see reason and that more hon. Members will succeed in speaking in the debate to urge the same point of view. In that case, I beg my right hon. Friend to consider how silly and how sad he will feel if county cricket clubs have to shut down as the result of his attitude to them.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
Like other hon. Members, I feel that this debate has one remarkable feature in that there is absolutely no party feeling about it. Some hon. Members are acquainted more with one particular sport and some with another, but we are not divided, as we so often are, on party lines.
I want to speak on one particular branch of sport, and I must at once declare my interest, because I represent a constituency which has a not altogether unknown football club called West Bromwich Albion.[An HON. MEMBER: "Where is it?"] If the hon. Gentleman has not heard of it, he had better get himself educated, and, in fact, I will see that he does get educated, because I will give him a free ticket to go to see them play.
I want to try to dispel the idea that, somehow or other, football is a tremendously money-making proposition, that it is in a different category from cricket and other sports, and that there are very rich clubs or very rich men who can afford to keep this great sport going. In order to do that, I must mention a few figures. The club which—I was going to say I represent—of which I am speaking, is half way down the First Division, so that it is not altogether one of the worst clubs in the country.
Last season, it made a profit of £2,160. That sounds very good, and people may say that it can afford to pay the tax, but that profit was made up, in the main, of the difference between the amount which the club received in transfer fees for players whom it transferred to other clubs and what was paid out for people transferred to it. In other words, it was made up from capital. Allowing for that, the actual net loss which the club made was £700.
Now I come to a most remarkable fact which, I think, very few hon. Members know about. It is that this club—and I think this also applies to other clubs in a similar position—pays a maximum dividend to shareholders in any one year of £24 10s.—not £10,000, not £1,000, not even £100, but £24 10s. That is not really a very large dividend, and it does not put the club in the ranks of the millionaire companies.
Over and above that, I do not think it is generally known that the directors of these clubs receive no fees whatever, 238 and, in fact, receive very few expenses. The directors of West Bromwich Albion receive expenses when they actually go with their team to a match, but they do not receive expenses when they go to watch other players in other teams to see whether they are players whom West Bromwich Albion would like to include in their team. I do not think it can be said that this is a very profitable, money-making proposition for the directors, let alone the shareholders.
This year's expenses have already increased on the average by 7 per cent., and this not only applies to this particular club, but to all similar clubs, and the increase is accounted for largely by transport, hotels and other unavoidable costs. Last year's tax amounted to £6,700, but, on the new rate which is proposed in this Bill, it would amount to £15,500, and that on a club which suffered a loss of £700.
If this proposal is carried out, then quite obviously the one thing which this club and others will have to do is to raise their entrance fees. There is nothing else they can do. The probable increase would be 20 per cent., which is quite considerable. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), has said that this proposal would hit the poor. In my constituency, which is not among the richest in the country by a very long way, the principle occupation on any Saturday afternoon in the winter is to go and watch "The Baggies" play. Something like one-third of the entire population may go to watch a football match. They are not rich people, and this tax will affect them very seriously.
It may be, in fact, that some of them will not be able to go unless they cut their expenses in other directions. I am sure that the Chancellor does not want them, for instance, to cut down expenses on their children's clothes, or sweets or toys, but it may well mean that they will have to cut down these or similar expenses or deprive themselves of the joy of going to a football match. I suggest that it is very unfair on these people to compel them to make this choice of cutting down expenses on their children or on their greatest pleasure.
I have mentioned First Division clubs, but what of the Third Division? There are many Third Division clubs which under this tax will go out of existence 239 altogether. There is nothing else they can do. At the present moment, I am informed that they are not allowed an over-draft at the bank. It seems that the banks do not allow overdrafts, at any rate for Third Division clubs; I do not know whether they allow them to Second Division clubs. If that is so, there will be only one thing left for them—to go out of existence altogether; and I cannot think that it will be a good thing for this country if a large number of similar clubs should disappear.
I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu), in asking the Chancellor how it comes about that he gives a preference to menageries over and above football clubs. It seems to me quite extraordinary that menageries, to say nothing of performing fleas, should be placed in a specially favourable category, and that football, cricket and a great many other sports are placed in a less favourable one.
I think that from what has been said today the Chancellor must realise that it is the feeling of the Committee that this is a foolish and hasty decision, and I hope that, having thought it over and having realised the feeling which exists on all sides of the Committee against it, he will see his way somehow to alter it and bring it more into line with the views of hon. Members.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
I shall have to strike the note for which I have listened in vain in our debate so far today. It astounds me that in a serious assembly like this Committee it should so far have been forgotten that what we are concerned with is something much more serious than sports. What we are concerned with is a crisis in our national financial affairs, which the Chancellor, I hope with the support of the country, will one day—and, I hope, at no far distant date—remedy. I think it astonishing that a succession of hon. Members, some of whom have always earned and merited respect, should have risen to make the sort of speeches they have delivered, and in which they seemed to deem the state of our national financial affairs of such importance that they must give place to cricket and football.
We heard the romanticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis); and he and others with acute 240 minds have seemed to overlook that the issue before us is the solvency of Britain, which the Chancellor has been driven to every extremity to repair. He has been driven even to the extremity of raising the Entertainments Duty on sports—a momentous decision that has struck the imagination even of the…flannelled fools at the wicket and the muddied oafs at the goals.
§ Mr. W. E. Padley (Ogmore)
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that this tax has been imposed, not to solve the financial problems of the country, but to give some more money to dog racing? Does he justify that?
§ Sir W. Darling
The hon. Gentleman is quite right in his observation. I deplore the fact. Even if I am alone in doing so, I deplore the relative mildness of the Chancellor's Budget. Indeed, in general, as I have said elsewhere, I had expected in toto a much more severe Budget than the one we have got. I agree with the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Padley), and if he will put down an Amendment asking for a tax on dog racing, or an increased tax on dog racing, I shall support him—even in the Lobby, if need be. I cannot understand the mentality of hon. and right hon. Gentlement who are concerned about the taxing of surgical belts and varicose veins and who are now competing in pleading for a remission of taxation of these games.
What of our sport in Scotland, Mr. Thomas—a country not dissimilar, I think, from that from which you hail with such distinction? In Scotland the Church for years past has denounced—and denounced properly—in its annual Assembly the amount of time taken up in the mere watching of games, and has deplored that such millions of hours should be consumed in the idleness of the mere watching of these kinds of sports. If that is to be deplored in times of peace, how much more should it be deplored in times of war? And we are in a time of economic war. Surely such pastimes should be discouraged in such times as these by the common sense that used to rule and ought to rule our country.
Not only the Church of Scotland and those who share its views have made these pronouncements. Let me mention the name of somebody whom hon. Gentlemen opposite used to respect, even 241 if they still do not respect him—Sir Patrick Dollan, a former Socialist Lord Provost of the City of Glasgow, and frequently a Socialist candidate, who enjoyed the support of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael). He has repeatedly told the Minister of Fuel and Power that the waste of time spent on football and other sports is a serious danger to the national economy.
Anything which will discourage these games in the interests of the national economy, I strongly support. I hope the Chancellor will not weaken in this matter, because if he does weaken on this, surely that will give me the right to go into the Lobby against him on other occasions. I want him to stand fast against this united sportsmanship—this mass uprising of empty minds which have devoted all these hours of debate to the bolstering up of the finances of doubtful cricket clubs and questionable football clubs.
I know just as much as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite of the commercial set up. I know the directors who take no fees. I know the directors who have no expenses. I am familiar with the whole set up of commerce. I suppose the directors who have no fees and who take no expenses are the kinds of directors who accord well with the Socialist doctrines of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I return to my charge, that the country is insolvent. The country is on the way to bankruptcy. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite ran away from their responsibilities, and now my right hon. Friend has to take desperate remedies which have to apply even to sport. I shall go into the Lobby in defence of the Budget.
§ Sir W. Wakefield
Will my hon. Friend explain how, by making cricket and football clubs insolvent, he is going to make the country solvent?
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Sir W. Darling
Cricket and football clubs may or may not be bankrupt, but what about the unfortunate people in the cotton industry, which is facing many difficulties, and what about the whole state of our national finances and the country's solvency? It is the Chancellor's duty to restore the national solvency, and no arguments, sentimental or critical, will dissuade me from doing my duty, which 242 is to support any measure, however disagreeable, that is likely to help to overcome the economic crisis. In seeking a solution of that crisis, nothing should stand in the way.
§ Mr. George Porter (Leeds, Central)
I am delighted at having an opportunity of entering this debate. My contribution to it has to follow the kill-joy contribution we have just had from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling). The only thing I can say to him is that, in view of what he has said, I hope he will see that at a certain emporium in Edinburgh the usual things that sportsmen buy for their games are not to be found on sale to the people.
§ Sir W. Darling
Is the hon. Gentleman entitled to make this attack on my personal activities in this fashion? I think it is deplorable. In any case, I wonder if he can give the address of the emporium he mentions?
§ Mr. Porter
In view of the individual contribution the hon. Gentleman made, I take it that anything further in that connection will give him the advertisement he has been looking for.
I want to offer one or two words about what I call real men's games, and to refer to Association and Rugby football. I have never seen anybody at those particular games asleep—a condition in which I often find people when I go to watch cricket. As for Association football, I think there is no other game that enjoys more support from the common people of this country. The team in the town which I represent has asked me to make the same sort of protest against this duty as has been made by various other hon. Members already.
Leeds United Association Football Club has a fairly reasonable history in Association football. It has had its ups and downs. Probably, if this increased duty were to be agreed to, it would have more downs than ups in its finances. I am informed that its contribution to tax would rise from the present £5,850 to £13,130. It would hardly seem a good thing to call upon the people of Leeds and other towns who are engaged in the textile industry to pay this increased duty at a time when they are facing so many difficulties in the textile industry and have so many demands made upon them.
243 I speak now especially of Rugby League football. This is a game about which people living south of the Trent know very little. We had our final a fortnight ago down here in London, and one of the local London newspapers commented upon the fact that most of the support at that game came from the north, and thought that seemed to suggest that there was not amongst southerners the amount of stamina needed for the game that there is in the north.
§ Mr. Porter
The lack of interest among southerners in this man's game means that when my duties compel me to remain in London over the weekend, I cannot find out how my team or any other team has got on until I get one of the northern papers at the House on Monday morning. There appears to be no interest south of the Trent in Rugby League football, but I hope that we shall have the support of those who are pressing the claims of other sports.
I support a Rugby League club called Liverpool City, which ever since its inception has been fighting to create in Liverpool an interest in Rugby League football. If this tax is to be imposed, that team, together with others, may well go out of existence altogether, because the smaller teams in this type of football, which, in spite of lack of immediate financial assistance, are endeavouring to build themselves up, depend to an enormous extent on other clubs playing in the League. One of the notable things about Rugby League football is that the larger clubs are prepared to support the smaller clubs with financial assistance. If this tax is imposed, this club will not only lose the income it earns itself, but will also tend to lose the financial assistance it now gets from the larger clubs, whose own funds will be depleted.
The supporters of the Liverpool City club turn up for matches every weekend, and work on Sundays and in the evenings in an endeavour to build up the club so that eventually it may be on a sound financial basis. It will be a nasty smack in the eye for the supporters of all small clubs if the work they are prepared to put in is offset by the imposition of this tax. I therefore add my support to the 244 plea which has been made, especially on behalf of Association and Rugby League football.
§ Mr. A. C. M. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
Unlike the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), I have not been fortified with instruction from any of my hon. Friends. I wish to speak on only a very narrow point; not on the question of what the tax should be but on what should be the operative date.
My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) said he thought that Kingston-upon-Thames was the only place where an important cricket match took place after 31st August. I am astonished that anyone who says he reads the sporting news before everything else should be so ignorant as not to realise that the Scarborough Festival always takes place on 3rd September. I am sure that has not been overlooked by hon. Members opposite, whom we sometimes welcome there for their annual conference. I notice that it is always a constituency with a very strong Conservative majority which is chosen for the annual conference of the party opposite. For many generations now the Scarborough Festival has been the occasion when our greatest cricketers have met their most distinguished competitors from overseas. Therefore, if it is not the only match, it is at any rate an important one which takes place after 31st August.
I understand that most arrangements for printing and selling tickets by cricket clubs are made during the winter season, and I know that the Scarborough Club had allocated seats and received considerable sums of money before the Budget was announced. They cannot now disturb those bookings, and they find that the force of the tax for 1952 over 1951 will be more than doubled. I therefore plead with the Chancellor to treat all these cricket clubs the same by postponing the date for any tax he may have to impose by a few days, so that all are treated alike.
§ Mr. W. A. Wilkins (Bristol, South)
I very much regretted the speech of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling), who I thought rather upset the harmony of our proceedings this afternoon. I found myself agreeing more with the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), who commented upon the 245 startling unity we have achieved this afternoon on the subject of sport—a unity which I welcome, and which I hope will be carried a stage further later when we may have to go into the Division Lobbies.
I have a feeling, though—I do not know whether it amounts to intuition—that the Chancellor has a more or less open mind on this. He rather gave me the impression that he was listening to our arguments, and that he was prepared to examine the points made, in order to arrive at a decision upon the views we are endeavouring to put before him. I was interested, too, in the speech of the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield), particularly when he observed that our only hope is to base our case on solid facts. After we have given some figures to the Chancellor he can only come to a decision if he has solid facts upon which to form his judgment.
I must admit that my primary interest is soccer. The only time I can really forget about people like the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South, is when I am at a soccer match; I forget everything there; it is a complete distraction from all the ordinary things of life. In Bristol there are two large soccer teams, one of which is perhaps more well known than the other. But they, together with teams throughout the country, are having a very difficult time.
I would emphasise that in urging these individual parochial matters we are arguing the case for almost every team outside the aristocrats of the Association football world, such as those that I saw on Saturday at Wembley. Almost every Second or Third Division club is in urgent need of assistance. In the case of a team which I normally support, Bristol Rovers, the incidence of this taxation, based on last year's scale, will amount to an increased tax for them of something like £5,000. We have had a very great misfortune because we are unfortunately in very close proximity to a river which has a habit of overflowing its banks and flooding our ground. Last year, we spent £9,000 in trying to remedy that, without success. This year, we have to face an expenditure of another £7,000, and we have no resources left whatsoever. Yet we must do this if we want to continue to provide this sport and entertainment.
246 Bristol City Football Club are also in difficulties. Over the last three seasons they are £37,000 in debt, and in addition they were unfortunate enough to lose their stand accommodation during the war. Some proportion of that money will be paid, but it will be nothing like the sum required to meet the total cost. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give consideration to these points.
There is one other point I want to stress so far as professional football is concerned. I think that it is exceedingly important, and it was not mentioned by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith). It is the fact that at this very moment many of our professional clubs are placing their players on the "open to transfer" list because they realise they will not be able to retain them and pay the retaining wages during the summer months. That is happening now in many clubs. They are disposing of the services of players who in the ordinary way they would retain if they thought that they were not going to be faced with this increased tax.
The aggregate of this tax for all clubs in the country based on the scales applied and the profits made on the turnover of last season was £400,000, and it will now be £700,000. [An HON. MEMBER: "More."] Yes, more. That means that the tax will be more than doubled. I am speaking for soccer alone at the moment.
My final plea, because I know that there are several hon. Members who want to speak, is on behalf of the county cricket clubs. Cricket is my second interest. I do not think that there is a greater sport, although I enjoy the excitement of football. Many of our county cricket clubs are going to be in real difficulties this summer if this tax is imposed. Although I do not want to put one sport against another, I think that we ought to remind ourselves that the county cricket clubs are often deprived of revenue because of the inclement weather. On Saturday, for example, I had the pleasure of seeing the Cup Final, which netted a gate of £39,000, while county cricket matches could not be played because of the vagaries of nature.
The county cricket club in Gloucestershire had a shock recently when it found 247 that it would have to pay £5 for 14 lb. of grass seed. That is a fantastic increase in price. These are the kind of things that our sporting organisations are up against day by day. I believe that in our appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer we are going to get some response because the feeling of the Committee is so unanimous on this subject, and I certainly hope that will be the case.
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth)
I should like, first of all, to defend my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling) during his absence from the Chamber. I agree with much that he said, although perhaps I cannot agree with the vehemence with which he said it and some of his exaggerations. I think it is important that we should remember that this tax is one small item in a large Budget which was produced in order to deal with a great emergency which both sides of the Committee agree exists. None of us denies that last year we over-spent by £500 million, and it is against that background that these proposals should be judged.
If we say that we do not like this tax, then, as responsible people, we should be able to say to the Chancellor, "We do not like this one, but take that one in its place." I have not heard one hon. Member who has suggested an alternative.
§ Mr. Osborne
During the whole of this afternoon, there has not been one alternative put forward. We are here to try to put the country's finances right, and I must defend my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South, in his contentions.
The rather narrow point which I want to put to the Chancellor was put to me a few nights ago by the directors of the Grimsby Town Football Club. They came to see me because they play their football in my Parliamentary Division. They say that the same tax is paid—either the present or future tax—whether a man watches the First Division or the Third Division matches. There is no difference in the tax, although there is a great difference in the quality of the football that is served up. I was asked to make a plea to the Chancellor on behalf of Third Division clubs, especially the northern clubs, which have smaller gates 248 than any of the other three Divisions. They suggest that if the Chancellor must raise a certain amount of money, it would obviously be fairer to put the extra bit on the wealthy clubs, like the Arsenal in the First Division, leave the Second Division clubs as they are, and give that extra bit of help to the Third Division clubs.
§ Mr. Wilkins
I would suggest a simpler way of doing it. Why should not the Chancellor take the lunatic transfer fees and bust the transfer racket for us?
§ Mr. Osborne
I am merely trying to put forward what I think is a small but serious point which has not yet been made this afternoon. Responsible directors say that clubs in the Third Division in the north have much smaller gates than any of the others. If the money is to be raised, it is only just that the wealthy First Division clubs should pay more in tax than the poorer Third Division clubs. Moreover, the people who go to see first-class football are getting better value for money than the men who go to the Third Division matches, and therefore the First Division should be prepared to pay. I ask the Financial Secretary to look at that rather technical point.
Mr. Hector McNeil (Greenock)
I should have thought, but I do not really know, that the case for which the hon. Gentleman is pleading already exists. I imagine that if he went to Highbury he would probably pay a higher admission fee and, therefore, more tax than if he went to see a Third Division match.
§ Mr. Osborne
As I understand it, if a season ticket is taken out averaging 5s. per match for the Arsenal and 5s. for Grimsby, the same amount is paid in tax. What I am saying is that one of the soundest canons of taxation should be observed in this matter, and that is that the heaviest burden should be placed on the broadest shoulders. It is reasonable to plead for the smaller Third Division clubs whose gates are so small that I am told that when they go away the 20 per cent. of the takings which they receive hardly pays the expenses of conveying the players. I hope something will be done about this.
I have two figures for those who come from the north. The proposed change in taxation would make a duty payable this year by Hartlepools United Club of 249 £3,400 instead of £985, which would put them straight into the bankruptcy court. In the case of Grimsby Town, the Entertainments Duty would be £7,300 instead of £3,553.
Nearly every hon. Member has talked about cricket and football. I believe that soccer is the finest social safety valve we have in our industrial centres, and I should prefer to go on the 2s. side rather than sit with the directors, because there one gets a much better flavour to the game.
Every hon. Member so far has said that the gravity of the position of the cricket clubs is so great that unless something is done they will go out of business. But the gravity of the position of cricket and football clubs is in no sense greater than the gravity of the nation as a whole.[An HON. MEMBER: "Which side is the hon. Member on?"] I am on the side of the Chancellor.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
Did my hon. Friend make that comment to the Grimsby Town directors?
§ Mr. Osborne
That is a fair question, and the answer is "yes." No one can accuse me of having tried to curry favour during the seven years that I have been in the House by saying things which I do not believe.
Though the clubs are in a difficult and desperate financial position, their position is no worse than the position of the nation as a whole. It is stated that we cannot afford to pay another 21d. or 3d. to go to a football match. As the nation spent £1,800 million on drink, tobacco and amusement last year, it is nonsense to say that we cannot bear an extra 3d. to go to a football match.
§ Mr. Osborne
It is nonsense. Since 1938 the internal purchasing power of sterling has dropped to one-third. I do not think the prices of admission to cricket or football matches have increased by 300 per cent. since before the war, and therefore, value for value, it is cheaper to go to a football or cricket match today than it was before the war. If I were the Chancellor, this is a fact which I should bear in mind.
If there is something to be given away, I plead hard for the Third Division northern clubs, but I would rather we all had 250 to pay more if it meant that we were helping to solve our country's financial problems.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)
We have just listened to a most impudent speech. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) began by delivering a solemn moral lecture on the finances of the nation as an introduction to a proposal which he hopes may give some particular benefit to his own constituents.
§ Mr. Stewart
If the hon. Gentleman had frankly said that he was putting forward a proposal in which his constituents were particularly interested, I should have no criticism of him. What I object to is his prefacing it with a solemn moral lecture and trying to put himself in a separate class from the rest of the Committee; and to ally himself with his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling), does nothing to strengthen his case. The suggestion that this Committee is being led on a path of wild and reckless frivolity by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), and my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South (Mr. Noel-Baker), and has to be brought back to sobriety by the hon. Members for Edinburgh, South, and Louth is ludicrous.
§ Mr. J. Hudson
Did my hon. Friend say that the Committee had to be brought back to sobriety? The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) raised the subject of the enormous expenditure on alcohol but did not suggest any taxation on that sort of thing.
§ Mr. Stewart
I do not feel competent to discuss that subject with my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), but I await with interest the work which I am told he is shortly to publish under the title of "In Place of Beer."
Apparently until the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South, was informed of it by another hon. Member, he did not realise that what is under discussion is not merely the Entertainments Duty as such but the balancing of the levels of Entertainments Duty between one form 251 of entertainment and another. When his attention was drawn to it, he made the astounding suggestion that hon. Members should put down Amendments asking for increases in tax, a most unconstitutional proposal. It is an essential part of the work of the House of Commons that we should watch with the greatest caution the attempts of the Executive to raise money, and it is most improper for hon. Members to try to curry favour with the Executive by suggesting that the House should actually propose specific increases in taxation. In past centuries people. have gone to the block for proposing that.
The hon. Member for Louth has underlined a consideration which was very much in my mind. He says that it is very easy for people to pay 2d. or 3d. more to go to a football match. I am not sure that that is so easy at present. The Chancellor made an interjection in which he said that the clubs would actually be able to make on this proposal if they acted in a certain way, but that is only on the assumption that they get the same number of spectators as before, or more.
Can we be certain that this is so? Money is not going to be easy for people who want to go to football matches. Although I do not want to imitate the example of the hon. Member for Louth and bring too much of a party note into this, we must notice that there are other provisions in the Budget which will make the cost of living difficult for a great many people.
A moderate amount spent on entertainment is properly regarded as part of the cost of living, because a moderate amount of entertainment is an essential of life. If any hon. Member doubts that, let him consider how he spends his own leisure time. I dare say that many of us do not go to see football matches as often as we would wish, although the public may say that if we can come here for nothing every day of the week we do not need quite as much of that sort of thing at the weekends as the rest of the community does.
We must realise that if the clubs do not suffer—the right hon. Gentleman seems to think that they might not—it will be yet another addition to the number of pennies here and pennies there 252 which have to be spent by quite poor people in order to live even a tolerable life. That must be one of our considerations.
In many debates we are expected to declare our interest. On this occasion the fashion appears to be to declare our affections. Mine are with the Fulham Football Club, and I must admit that after hearing the speech of the hon. Member for Louth, if I had had time to think it out, I should no doubt have addressed to the Chancellor a special plea for the reduction of duty in the case of teams which have recently been in the First Division and will not now be. The suggestion of the hon. Member for Louth means that in Fulham in the coming year the team has not only got to exercise its minds as to how it will get back into the First Division, but, if what he suggests comes about, it is going to have the gloomy reflection that if it succeeds it will have to pay a righer rate of tax. That does not seem to be particularly stimulating for the team.
§ Mr. Stewart
The hon. Member has spoken more about incentives than any other hon. Member in this Committee, and here he is supporting a proposal which would reduce football to a flat mediocrity.
The point I want to make about football is this. There has been some discussion as to where we can draw the line between one kind of sport or entertainment and another and say that one is more deserving of encouragement than the other. I would not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) that we should not attempt to draw any such line. The consideration in my mind is that radiating from the great events of the football world, such as last Saturday's event, we get a national interest that sets every little boy kicking a football as soon as he is old enough to do it. The same consideration applies to cricket. As soon as boys are able, they chalk a wicket on the wall, and I know of one little boy who was given the care of his baby brother and used the baby as a wicket.
I believe that little boys should be encouraged in this rather than that they 253 should consider how they should become the proprietors of dog racing stadiums. There is a distinction somewhere, and I know the Chancellor's difficulty is how to make that distinction—which all of us believe is there, though we should not define it in the same way—in an Act of Parliament. I do not know the answer; but although one cannot find for the purposes of an Act of Parliament the right dividing line yet we can be certain that one dividing line is worse than another, and I believe the present proposals draw a worse line than that which now exists.
I would put it to the Chancellor that if his present proposals are carried through, a dividing line will be drawn which will have an unsatisfactory effect on our national life as a whole. There are other provisions in his Budget that add to the cost of living for very many people in this country. In this Committee we may disagree how necessary it is to have them, but we ought to agree that we should think twice before imposing yet one more addition to the people's cost of living and one that effects that part of their lives where they would seek some joy, some recreation and some stimulus to help them to get on with the work of production, which, in all our economic calculations, is what we want to encourage.
§ Mr. Martin Lindsay (Solihull)
The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), who first drew attention to the serious difficulties of county cricket clubs in relation to these proposals, mentioned his special interest in the Arsenal team, which did not quite win the F.A. Cup last Saturday. I have a similar interest in the Warwickshire County Cricket Club, which won the county championship last year to the great delight of a large number of people in the Midlands.
There is no doubt that this club—I only mention it because its particular case is typical of all the others—will find itself in very serious difficulties if the Chancellor cannot see his way to modify his proposals. Last year Warwickshire had to find £1,297 in Entertainments Duty, but this figure will rise to £2,840 under the Chancellor's proposal. Last year Warwickshire lost £5,390. Yet it is a cricket club which I believe is as well 254 managed as any other in the country, and certainly no worse managed.
We have had many good speeches this afternoon, but I think that of the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) contained the key reason why county cricket clubs have a special case. I believe that the number of players and the amount of money involved bears no relation to the immense influence aroused by the clubs. Almost every boy in the country plays cricket at school and has an enthusiasm for the game which is enormously increased by following the fortunes of the cricket side in which he is interested. I remember that my interest when I was nine or ten was in the county of Kent because of the attractiveness of a well-known player, Frank Woolley, and the same applies to every boy in the country. This, I believe, is important.
My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis), in a very attractive speech, mentioned the amount of money which is involved. I have a different figure and I believe it is much less than he quoted. I believe the Chancellor's proposals would only mean bringing in an increased revenue from cricket matches of £31,000. What is that pitiable figure in relation to the sum of £4,000 million which is raised in taxation? This proposal is going to have an immensely serious effect upon these county cricket clubs and, therefore, upon the interest taken in the game throughout the length and breadth of the country.
The fact that cricket is the main topic of conversation in this land in the summer and that the clubs are maintaining an old English game, which is typical of the British way of life, is something which should be seriously considered. My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) suggested that football and cricket clubs had only to advance the price of the seats, which people can afford, to raise this extra taxation. I do not think that is so. Attendances at county cricket matches last year fell by over 10 per cent. compared with the year before. How can anyone think it is simply a matter to raise the additional duty by putting up the cost of the seats under these circumstances? I earnestly beg my right hon. Friend to look into this question once again, with special reference to the county cricket clubs.
§ Miss Elaine Burton (Coventry, South)
I shall be very brief. I am quite sure that those not sitting here are unaware that it requires a lot more stamina to sit in this atmosphere than to play any game in the world, and, in passing, I should like to see the atmosphere changed.
In support of this Amendment I should like to speak from a slightly different point of view, both from the top and from the bottom. Like the hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. M. Lindsay), I represent the county of Warwickshire, whose cricket club won the championship last year, but I have an advantage over him in that I am a Yorkshire woman so that I have the best of both cricket worlds, with all due deference to hon. Members from other parts of the country. Speaking, as it were from the bottom, my football team, Coventry City, has this season had the misfortune to descend from the Second Division to the Third Division.
§ 7.0. p.m.
§ Miss Burton
My hon. Friend would not expect me to agree with that and I shall continue to say that it was a misfortune although they have not groused about it. I might add that at the one match I went to they won 6–1, so it might be a help to them if I went again.
The Chancellor will know that there are only 17 first-class county cricket clubs, and that last year Warwickshire did win the championship. It paid Entertainments Duty of £1,297. If the new rate of duty is levied, that amount will go up to £2,840. I hope that the Chancellor, in making his case later, will explain, even if he is unable to give way, why a game of cricket should no longer be classified under the living performance section. I assure him that while some people might think that some cricket games were not correctly described as "living," the county of Warwickshire is very much a team of live performers. I do not understand how the Chancellor can say that any games are not consisting of live performers. If the players were not there it is certain that the spectators would not be there either.
Warwickshire has a reputation for playing good cricket, and it has obtained good gates. In spite of that, the club are running at a loss. Last year they 256 lost £5,396. If a county which wins the championship, plays good cricket and has had the foresight to have a professional captain—one of the first county teams in this country to do so—who has led them most admirably, what hope is there for teams further down the championship table who cannot provide that entertainment?
County cricket clubs are non-profit concerns. They offer six hours of sunshine for Is. 6d. when we have a good summer, and even if we go there and get wet as well the rain provides a sticky wicket and good entertainment. There is no doubt that the county clubs will have to put up their prices of admission if the Chancellor means to stick to his proposals.
Football clubs in the Third Division have to make a real effort to keep going. Unfortunately, the lower down in the hierarchy the club goes the more difficult it is to keep gates and players and pay their way. Last year, Coventry paid in tax about £5,000. Under the Chancellor's new suggestion they would have to pay £15,000, an increase of £10,000. That will mean increased prices, which will mean smaller attendances, and getting rid of players. I hope that the Chancellor will be able to give us some hope when he replies to this debate.
§ Mr. Edward Wakefield (Derbyshire, West)
I read in the newspapers last week that the Ministry of Works had been making experiments with a footbridge on the South Bank site of the Festival of Britain. The object of the experiments was to determine maximum load that the bridge would sustain. The bridge was subjected to a gradually increasing load until at last, with protesting creaks and groans, it collapsed
It seems to me that successive Chancellors of the Exchequer have adopted the same experimental procedure in relation to British sports and pastimes. Dog racing, horse racing and speedway racing were all subjected to an ever-increasing burden of tax until the strain became intolerable and those sports began to collapse. The strain has been eased on those particular sports, but the Treasury have not learned by experience because they are now imposing on other sports exactly the type of tax which nearly broke down the sports connected with racing.
257 I intended to make specific points relating to the Derbyshire County Cricket Club and the Derby County Football Club but the financial position of those two clubs has already been explained by the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker). In regard to the Derbyshire County Cricket Club, I want to stress one point only, and that briefly. If the additional tax, the increase of more than 100 per cent. on every admission charge, is imposed, it is inevitable that attendances will fall, and sharply. What good is that to the Chancellor? He will get less in tax, and at the end of another season, or two at the most, the county cricket club will simply have to close down and there will have been no advantage either to the Chancellor or to the sport itself.
I am very apprehensive about the consequences to the Derby County Football Club resulting from this increased duty. Individual citizens, when they are unable to make both ends meet, tend to speculate, whether through football pools, on dog racing or on the Stock Exchange. I am absolutely certain that the increased pressure on first-class football clubs will make them speculate in the buying and selling of their players. That is the least attractive and least desirable element in professional football in this country, and it would be a pity if that element were encouraged while the healthier side of football were discouraged.
I am sure that the Chancellor will have noted the almost unanimous feeling in the Committee that cricket and football are characteristic British national sports which deserve support rather than discouragement. During the Easter Recess paid a visit to the Sudan. There I saw in active operation two characteristic British institutions. One was Parliamentary democracy. In the Legislative Assembly in Khartoum I saw in action all the procedure with which we are so familiar in this House of Commons.
Only a few miles away, at Omdurman, on a sandy ground which was once the arsenal of the Mandi, I saw a football match between two teams which were the Sudanese equivalent of the Arsenal and Newcastle United. That match was watched by something like 20,000 Sudanese spectators. There was a British institution which has taken root in foreign soil and is flourishing. Both football and cricket, like Parliamentary demo- 258 cracy are characteristically British institutions. We are proud that they have been copied abroad, but their foundations are in this country. It is up to us to see that those foundations are not undermined.
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
I entirely support the last remarks of the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. E. Wakefield). I was very glad when he stressed the need to discourage the type of transfer fee in the football world that we may now begin to witness. That point was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins). Some clubs are now forced to put young players on the open transfer list. It is bad for the player as well as for the club.
Many hon. Members have spoken of their particular sport, and that is all to the good. I hope, however, that if the Chancellor gives a concession this evening he will make it not for one sport only, such as, for example, cricket. While it would be right to make a concession for that sport, I hope he will apply it to all other sports mentioned today such as boxing, Rugby Union, Association football and, of course, Rugby League.
I want to stress Rugby League because Workington, the constituency I represent, is proud of its Rugby League team. In five years we have won the Rugby League championship, and only a fortnight ago we provided a fine spectacle at Wembley when we won the Rugby League Cup against gallant opponents. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Sylvester) knows that I am referring to his team, Featherstone.
All the strictures that have been applied to Association football apply to Rugby League. I have some figures to show that if this tax goes through there will be serious financial difficulties for some clubs. Already on an average there have been falling gates. The figure up to 23rd February this year shows that the average gate per team of Rugby League was 8,460. In the previous year the gate was slightly higher at 8,887, and in the year previous to that it was 9,957.
This goes to show that many clubs are finding it extremely difficult and that already their losses are increasing. The figures for 1947 to 1948 showed that five Rugby League clubs made losses, the figure for 1948 to 1949 was four, by 259 1949 to 1950 it had increased to eight, and in 1950 to 1951 to 11. Thus, with increased running costs, and with this increased Entertainments Duty, many of the Rugby League clubs in the industrial North will face many of the same hardships as the association football clubs.
We have in my constituency a new Third Division club and, like all other clubs in the Third Division, it will face serious hardship. I have a letter from the secretary saying that under the proposed tax clubs will have to give, first, serious consideration to prices, and secondly, to a reduction in certain parts of the cheaper accommodation. That would be a serious matter. So I hope the Chancellor will reconsider the effects of his tax on Rugby League, on soccer, and on the other sports mentioned today.
I disagree profoundly with the remarks of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling). I always thought he was a Pickwickian figure who enjoyed life and liked to see people enjoy their games and pastimes. I can remember on many an occasion the hon. Member railing against the austerity of a Labour Chancellor. Yet today he is supporting the point of view of the Chancellor and the argument that because there is a serious financial and economic crisis we should increase this Entertainments Duty and therefore increase the admission prices. He must recognise that a wider view has been expressed in this Committee.
We are a nation of sportsmen. I do not want to get involved in clichés, but sport is essential to our national character. Even during the war it was important, not only for increasing the production of the industrial workers, but for our troops abroad. I know that in Italy we welcomed the opportunity to see the Eighth Army touring soccer side led by Stan Cullis; it gave the troops grand relaxation and was invaluable from the point of view of morale.
I recognise that there are abuses in regard to sport. I think there is too much commercialism and sham amateurism which is a blot upon sport in general. From the point of view of education of character, the basis is laid in our schools. Of course, that is linked up with the wider sports field. Therefore, we need our 260 sport. We have provided many ambassadors to other countries in those who have represented us at the Olympic Games, and by giving games to other countries we have helped to spread goodwill. I hope, therefore, that in his reconsideration of this matter the Chancellor will not single out one sport, but will bear in mind all those mentioned today.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, will he tell us whether he appreciates that there are other sports, which have not been mentioned in this debate, which have made no complaint because they do not depend on the gate? I am thinking of sailing, rowing, and so on.
§ Mr. I. J. Pitman (Bath)
It is difficult at this time of the evening to claim to introduce novel points, but there is a novel factor about some points which have not yet been made but which ought to be made. I am sorry I did not follow the right hon. Gentleman the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker), the sparkling Achilles, because the points I have to make are rather more appropriate to the crafty Ulysses.
Particularly I start off with a point of Income Tax, because the Committee has not appreciated that in many cases wherever a profit is made out of sport in this country—in other words, wherever there is a prosperous club—the Chancellor will be getting rather less than half of the increase in tax for which this Budget provides because there will be a reduction in the receipts of the club and, as such, a diminution of the balance on which Profits Tax and Income Tax is paid. This point emphasises clearly what we would like the Chancellor to bear in mind, namely, that it is on the clubs at the bottom that this tax will really fall. I agree wholeheartedly with the right hon. Member for Derby, South, that it is on the clubs at the bottom that the real foundations of British sport lie.
There has been a lot of constituency talk. Bath has a Rugby Football Club. There are not many hon. Members in this House who can claim that they played for many years for their constituency club and captained it. Perhaps, therefore, I may be forgiven if I quote it 261 as a club which is particularly suitable for the compassion of the Chancellor. It had its rugby grandstand bombed in the great blitz on Bath, and it cannot get a licence to build it again. Up and down the country this tax will fall most heavily on those who can least afford to bear it, and that is a very bad principle of taxation.
My next plea to the Chancellor—I might almost say my Machiavellian plea instead of my Ulyssean plea—is that he should ask the Minister of Education what she thinks about the teaching of swimming and other educational activities under the Butler Act, and to bear in mind that masters quite properly take their classes to the cricket grounds and the swimming baths and show them real performance at its highest level. I would agree with the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu), who feels deeply that there is educational fulfilment in a really sweet and lovely half volley taken smoothly and perfectly.
Why they call them visual aids I do not know, but schools go to the trouble of getting expensive equipment to show moving pictures of these sports in action. How much better it is in all cases to show the real thing as a living entity. I would ask the Chancellor to remember his great past in respect of education and not to neglect the educational aspect of spectating.
The hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart), raised a very important issue of where we were to discriminate. May I suggest two kinds of discrimination? First of all, there is the issue of whether it is a human being or an animal. A greyhound or a horse on the one side is a perfectly clear discrimination from a human being on the other. I attend Henley Regatta, and I do not think that rowing or sailing are necessarily exempt from this tax. One method of discrimination is the human versus the animal aspect, and possibly the activity of betting is another. Wembley Lions, for instance, and the other dirt track racers are no different from cyclists merely because they are mounted on mechanically-propelled vehicles instead of on vehicles which they propel themselves. There is still the same element.
That leads me to my final point. I think that where all these sports differ fundamentally from racing—whether 262 greyhound racing or horse racing—is that they constitute a social act on behalf of the community they represent. When the Bath Football Club is in action it is a band of human beings associated together in a good and lawful purpose, and they bring into the ambit of that social group the whole of a community in which they live.
The way in which Newcastle came up to London in such force and the welcome they were given when they returned home with the Cup emphasises that it is a group effort. Everybody identifies himself with his group, and I do not think that the free association of free Britons in a group for a good action is appropriate for taxation at all. If we must tax it at all, let us tax those group activities on the lowest and not the higher scale.
§ Mr. I. Mikardo (Reading, South)
I do not think the Treasury have ever been very good or understanding about sport. Perhaps that is natural. Perhaps one of the qualifications for being in the Treasury is that one should feel that life is real, life is earnest, and perhaps that is why the Treasury appear to consider that if a person spends an afternoon on a cricket ground he is frittering away his time but if he spends an evening in a stuffy theatre watching a play called "A Trolleybus named Lechery" he is having some moral uplift and, therefore, he should get in on the cheap.
I feel that there is not much hope of this lack of Governmental understanding of sport being greatly remedied by the interest recently exhibited by the Prime Minister in Association football, because I am told—I do not know with what truth—that right through the proceedings at Wembley Stadium last Saturday afternoon he insisted on calling the referee the Minister for the Co-ordination of Arsenal and Newcastle United. I am quite sure that we shall have to go on persuading the right hon. Gentleman very hard indeed if we are to soften the Treasury attitude towards sport. I am quite sure that any Treasury official who plays cricket eschews altogether the drive and the pull and confines himself entirely to the chop and the cut; and any Treasury official who referees a football match will never give a free kick, because nobody in the Treasury likes 263 giving anything free, though doubtless he will be very liberal with his penalties.
To be serious, I can well understand the sort of thought within the right hon. Gentleman's Department which precipitated the present proposals. There were his higher and trusted officials sitting around in the pre-Budget conference. They had a look at some of these games in which, on paper, a great deal of money is involved, and they said, "This is obviously an inelastic commodity. These clicking turnstiles represent an inelastic commodity. When we get 135,000 people at the Scottish cup final, when we get people nominally paying £39,000 to go to the F.A. Cup Final, and when we have stories in the papers about tickets being sold on the black market at five, six and eight times their face value, then," say these economists of the Treasury, "this is really a terrifically inelastic commodity; we can go on walloping it."
When they read in the newspapers of £35,000 being paid merely to transfer a gentleman a few miles from Nottingham to Sheffield—much more than the right hon. Gentleman could get for transferring from Saffron Walden to Reading, South, and much more than I could get for transferring from Reading, South, to Saffron Walden—they say that this is obviously a business with a great deal of money in it.
I want to add my voice to those of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who have pointed out to the Chancellor that one Cup Final does not make a winter and one Arsenal does not make a Football League. When we get away from the sphere of this very small number of very prosperous clubs who can pay large amounts of money and who deal in very large sums, and when we get down to the little provincial struggling Third Division football team, we are in a very different situation. There are these clubs running on a shoe-string, as hon. Members have pointed out, at present not allowed to borrow any money, or at least finding it very difficult to borrow money, some of them at their wits end to pay summer retaining wages, which, in all conscience, are very low indeed. There the picture is entirely different.
264 The Chancellor ought to reconsider this matter for a reason not so far given in this debate—a reason not more important than those already given, but a fresh reason. That is that I believe that by his proposals he would actually reduce and not increase his revenue. What the Chancellor is doing is to let some sports off more lightly and to make up that loss of revenue by charging other sports more. The calculations on which he has worked out that the increase from some sports will offset the decrease in the case of others are wrong, and will, in fact, lead very rapidly to diminishing returns so far as county cricket and League and Rugby football are concerned.
We should not think too much in terms of Tottenham Hotspur, who can attract a gate of 60,000 people from almost within a stone's throw, certainly within a 2d. or 3d. trolley bus ride. If I may refer to the club in my constituency as a not untypical instance, one finds the situation in which on every alternate Saturday people come into Reading from all parts of Berkshire, from half the county of Oxfordshire and a third of the county of Hampshire, to see Reading Football Club play. It is the only club in a large area.
It is very noticeable that the falling off in attendances at football matches in the last two years has been very largely accounted for by the falling off in the numbers of out-of-town people attending. I notice, for example, a sharp reduction in the number of motor coaches which have come from 10 or 15 miles away. It is understandable; the men who use them have not only an extra 3d. or 6d. to pay, but their fares have also gone up, and when they have to consider the cutting down of their marginal expenditure, that is clearly a factor much greater than obtains in a great city such as London, Birmingham, Liverpool or Glasgow.
I beg the Chancellor to disabuse himself of the idea, to which he has given expression even this afternoon, that the clubs will recoup themselves entirely from the spectator. I am sure they will not. I am sure that the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield), who, among his many distinctions, numbers the distinction of representing me in this House, was absolutely right when he 265 pointed out to the Chancellor that there would undoubtedly be a shrinkage in gates at many sports. Therefore, the Chancellor is defeating his own object. He will be reducing the amount of extra taxation on which he is relying to offset the reliefs he has given.
I beg him to consider, as he and previous Chancellors have considered in regard to liquor and tobacco, for example, whether further taxation might not reduce instead of increase the amount of revenue obtained. I beg him to consider whether the proposals which he has made do not fall into that category. It would be a great pity if we got the worst of all worlds, if poor football clubs were made to suffer, if they could not pay their players proper wages, if sports' spectators were made to suffer, and on top of all that the Chancellor got less revenue as a result. That would be a bad lookout.
I think that is a real danger with which the Chancellor is faced, and I add my voice to those of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who have begged him to reconsider his proposal.
§ Commander C. E. M. Donaldson (Roxburgh and Selkirk)
I wish to express a further opinion from Scotland. In the course of three and a half hours of debate this afternoon, I have heard only one voice from Scotland raised—that of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling). I do not propose to comment on his remarks one way or the other, but will devote myself to directing, I trust, the Chancellor's attention to one particular phase of the Amendment which we are considering, that is, in relation to Rugby Union and its associated larger and smaller teams.
My hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) and other of my hon. Friends representing Wales have spoken on behalf of the English and Welsh Rugby Unions. I should like to add my word on behalf of the Scottish Rugby Union. Scottish Members of Parliament on both sides of the Committee have undoubtedly heard from that body and have given thought to what they have heard. It may fall to me to support two of my hon. Friends in pleading with the Chancellor to consider the impact of this form of taxation on Rugby Union football.
266 In fact, I should like to extend my remarks to all amateur games. I was brought up in a belief in the amateur game. My father was a member of the original Queen's Park football team. That was an amteur team—
The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
I think the hon. and gallant Member said that he would direct his remarks to amateur sports. An Amendment dealing with them is being called later, and discussion of amateur sports is not in order on the Amendment now before the Committee.
§ Sir W. Wakefield
On a point of order. Is not my hon. and gallant Friend in order in discussing the point he has raised, whether the sport be amateur or not'? Throughout this discussion references have been made to professional and amateur sport. Surely the hon. and gallant Member is, I submit with great respect, in order in discussing amateur sport.
The hon. and gallant Member must not deal with that matter expressly because there is an Amendment on the Order Paper dealing with it which will be called later.
§ Commander Donaldson
I should like to support the remarks made by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee in relation to the smaller teams. We have had references to the well-known and popular teams and the financial return which they attract, and to which the Chancellor's attention has been drawn in proposing this additional taxation.
I wish to make a point in relation to the character-building which comes from the supporting of the smaller and less effective teams. In my constituency, in the Scottish border counties, which consider themselves to be the cradle of Scottish Rugby football, there is much concern about the application of increasing taxation and its effect on clubs in the six burghs in my constituency. They have worked hard for many years to acquire grounds and to support teams in each of those burghs. The increased tax will have an effect not only on the burghs but on the lives of the young men there who go to learn to play that form of sport.
I ask the Chancellor to consider, when he is replying to the debate, the effect 267 on the character of such young men, disregarding altogether the financial aspect. We have grown up as a nation of sportsmen, as has been argued from both sides of the Committee. I should have liked to argue another point, but you, Mr. Hopkin Morris, have ruled that I should not do so. I make my final appeal to the Chancellor to consider the character-building angle of sport in this country, and particularly the more junior clubs and associations, whether of Association or Rugby football or other forms of sport. I beg my right hon. Friend to consider his reply in the light of that appeal.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
This has been a debate very largely about sport, and if I may begin with a sporting analogy, I would say that if I were the Chancellor's second instead of his predecessor, I should certainly throw in the towel. We have had an overwhelming torrent of argument, all in one direction, all directed to convincing the right hon. Gentleman what a bad proposal this is.
I think he will realise that the speeches we have heard have not been made in any party sense whatever. They have come from all sides of the Committee and from all parts of the country. I hope very much that the right hon. Gentleman will take them seriously and think again about this Clause.
I think we have had only one dissentient from this general view. I refer to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling), and he tried to drag in to his rescue Sir Patrick Dollan. In defence of Sir Patrick Dollan, I must say that when I was in Glasgow not long ago Sir Patrick arranged for me, in company with himself, to go to an international football match, so I do not think that he can be quite so much against sport as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South.
The rest of the hon. Member's point of view seemed to me to be largely to this effect: that the country was insolvent and, therefore, the more insolvencies and bankruptcies that could be produced at home, the sooner we should become solvent. That might by some people be regarded as a fair description of the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I should not have expected somebody sitting on the benches 268 opposite to stab him in the back quite so hard.
My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) dealt very fully with the history of the tax. There is no need for me to go over it again, except to say in defence of the Treasury that I do not think they can be held responsible for anything that is wrong with the tax as it is now, or for what the Chancellor is proposing. The first breach in the principle of a single tax for entertainments was made, as my hon. Friend pointed out, way back in 1935, when special concessions were made to theatres. The second breach in the principle was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), when he put games and sports—I think, very rightly—in the same category as theatres and those other entertainments which paid the lower tax.
Last year, much attention was drawn to the difficulty of drawing a line precisely between games and sports like cricket and football and racing, whether it be horse racing, speedway racing or dog racing; and my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), explained the rather, perhaps, tenuous line of distinction which was then employed in the Treasury, whereby the lower tax was levied where, as he put it, human performance was not aided by mechanical power or the speed of animals.
This year, the Chancellor has been trying to remedy, or at any rate, to improve upon, the previous demarcation lines, but in trying to put right one alleged injustice, he has undoubtedly perpetrated another, which we regard as wholly indefensible.
Many hon. Members have spoken most powerfully in defence of the various games and sports which which the country is associated. I do not intend to spend much time on that aspect, but I draw to the right hon. Gentleman's attention the fact that this afternoon we have had, not merely people who watch sport, but some very distinguished players—for example, the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield), my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu), and my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker). All of them were extremely dis- 269 tinguished athletes. We have had only one other athlete of great distinction in the Committee who has remained silent, his lips sealed, sitting immediately behind the Chancellor, and, no doubt, feeling very frustrated indeed because, as the Chancellor's P.P.S., he is unable to speak in the debate and give voice to his feelings. We all know what those feelings must be on this occasion.
The Amendment—the first of those we are discussing—was put down by my hon. Friends and myself to bring down all the middle group in the Chancellor's proposals to the lower level of tax. I am inclined to the view that racing and mechanically-aided sports cannot be very easily distinguished from the other games and sports of which we have been speaking, and therefore I am rather inclined to share what evidently is the Government's view that they must be treated together.
There is, however, an argument the other way, which my right hon. Friend put very well last year. He said that we would think the matter over; and there was an inquiry, and so on. But, on the whole, my view is that these things probably go together. I certainly take the view that one cannot distinguish between cricket, on the one hand, and football, on the other hand. Hon. Members have spoken in favour of one game or sport and not another, and have made very powerful cases in each instance; but I do not think that one could draw that sort of distinction; and I am doubtful, from a long-term viewpoint, at any rate, whether one could draw the distinction which, I admit, existed in the previous state of the tax. On that basis, therefore, I propose to argue that the Chancellor should accept our Amendment and reduce the tax, not only on games and sports, but on racing also, to the lower level.
First, how much revenue is involved? It is perfectly natural for any Chancellor of the Exchequer to look first to this aspect and say, "Am I going to lose a great deal?" All of us, whatever we say, realise that that must be a matter of importance to him. But how much is involved? According to my calculations, if our Amendment were accepted the loss involved could not be more than about £2 million. Nobody could say that that was a very large amount of revenue to lose.
270 The Chancellor in his Budget speech did not give a very precise form of accounting in which every exact million pounds was counted. In presenting his Budget, he finally gave back in reliefs, I think, some £24 million more than he took from the public, and I did not get the impression that he was very much concerned about £1 million one way or another.
We know—at any rate, we hope and believe—that the Chancellor will make some important concessions on Purchase Tax, and I should be surprised and shocked if they do not amount to a great deal more than £2 million. That being so, I should not have thought that the argument, which he will no doubt put forward, that he cannot afford to lose £2 million, was very convincing to anybody.
§ Sir W. Wakefield
In his estimate of £2 million, has the right hon. Gentleman made allowance, in view of possible and likely decreases in "gates," for a decrease in Income Tax where losses occur instead of profits?
§ Mr. Gaitskell
No; mine is a gross figure. I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I always think it better not to make those allowances for losses in Income Tax, and so on, because they arise in so many cases. If one tried to make them, the whole thing would become complicated. I agree that there will be such losses, and, therefore, £2 million is the limit, although the actual figure may be very much less. That strengthens my case.
The real issue is this: why should the tax on games, sport and racing be higher than on theatres and all other entertainment except films? What is the basis for the new distinction which the Chancellor is drawing? My hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East and other Members have drawn attention to the ridiculous nature of the proposition.
Is there, for example, some moral difference? Is it better for people to go to theatres than to watch a cricket or football match? Obviously not, because the lower rate of tax applies not to any particular type of play or performance; it applies to every stage performance except films, and therefore of course embraces all sorts of things that could not possibly be defended on any moral grounds. For that matter, in so far as there is a cul- 271 tural argument, it is already catered for by the special provisions of the Finance Acts, under which, under certain conditions, complete freedom from Entertainments Duty is granted. That, therefore, cannot be the reason.
If, for example, one thinks of a sport like ice hockey, which happens to be played at the same place, in the same stadium where, I understand, "Puss in Boots on Ice" is also performed, there cannot be any possible reason for charging the ice hockey game more than is charged for "Puss in Boots on Ice."
I think it was Mr. Bernard Shaw who said that an Englishman only feels really moral when he is uncomfortable. There may be something in that, but it certainly cannot be used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in defence of this discrimination, because, for the most part, watching sport is not a particularly comfortable affair. The benches are very hard and one often has to sit in the open, and sometimes in the rain also. The argument of comfort cannot, therefore, be put forward.
Some hon. Members have drawn distinctions between something that is arranged for private profit and something that is non-profit making, but here also the argument falls completely. Quite obviously, from what many hon. Members have said, a great many of the clubs are not making any profits at all—they are making losses—and we all know, except in a very limited number of cases, that most sports and games are not organised for the private profit of individuals. It is simply a question of their paying their way. Then we may say, and this probably is the Treasury argument—as my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo) said—"Well the market can stand it; you can afford to increase the tax here because, after all, people will pay; it is so popular." But I think enough evidence has been produced from all sides of the Committee to show that that is an extremely flimsy argument.
I do not think it necessary to add more; I could quote the figures of football clubs in my division. I want to underline one thing which hon. Members have said. I think we are in very much less of an inflationary position at home than we were a year ago. There is a 272 tightness of money and a great danger that an increase in tax on games and sports of this kind will lead to a fall in gate money, as has been suggested by a number of hon. Members.
What else can one find to justify this distinction? I find it hard to think of anything. I suppose one could say, in trying to draw this particular line, that these sports and games are always con tests. If one asks what distinguishes them from the theatre or ballet, perhaps it is that they are teams and individuals competing with each other. If that is a distinction, it seems to me a bad excuse for a differentiation against such contests and it certainly does not come very well from any Englishman who believes in sport of this kind.
A great deal has been said about the value of sport and our national character. I hesitate to say much about that. I was extremely bad at cricket and not much better at any other game. I managed to get myself appointed on two occasions as captain of the cricket second XI, but that was on grounds of seniority in age and not on grounds of ability. Therefore, I certainly cannot in any way rank myself with the giants who have spoken this afternoon. But I do like watching these things, and I do profoundly believe that sport has been of enormous value to the development of our national character. I also think, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South, said, that the fact that sport has spread from this country to others is probably of considerable benefit to the world generally.
Earlier I referred to the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Ashton), and I appeal to him. After all, he is sitting there and can surely influence the Chancellor. Here is a man whom we know, to the great delight of the whole country, was the first to knock up a century against that famous Australian team of 1921. It seems to me a monstrous thing that he should be carrying briefs to the Chancellor to advise him how to withstand an appeal to take off a tax on cricket. I must say to the Chancellor that we shall certainly look forward, if he does not give way on this, to another —and this time a genuine—resignation from the ranks of the P.P.S.'s. I hope that the hon. Member for Chelmsford and the hon. Member for St. Marylebone —a very powerful combination between them—
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Not at all, a family appeal—I hope they will together make the Chancellor see reason in this matter. This is not really a party issue. Indeed, if the Government take our advice and drop the whole tax, they will regain some of their popularity in the country. That would be a very nice thing for them, and we offer it to them on a plate. We hope very much that they will accept our Amendment. I am bound to say that if they do not accept our Amendment, we shall press it to a Division and will welcome and expect all hon. Members who have supported us in the debate to come into the Division Lobby with us and vote down the Government.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. R. A. Butler)
The right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) did not expect my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Ashton) to take my place on this occasion, but I hope that after I have concluded my remarks—which I shall keep as short as possible—my hon. Friend will continue to live happily by my side giving me the service he does with such skill and devotion. The right hon. Member referred to my throwing in the towel. I assure him that I have no intention of doing any such thing. That is one of the articles we shall be discussing when we discuss Purchase Tax, and we had better wait for that later in the debate.
1 am very regretful that on going to the Treasury I inherited two taxes so complicated and difficult to defend as the structure of Purchase Tax and the Entertainments Duty, as bequeathed to me by my predecessors. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) spoke with such ability on behalf of Stoke City and his colleagues in it, and doubted whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer knew the effect of this proposal. I can assure him that I do know the effect and do not particularly like it.
But I thought it was my duty to put before the Committee now, as I did at the time of the Budget debate, the results of an inquiry which was started by my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Leeds, South, after very considerable pressure from the Committee and the House last year on the subject of speedway racing and the need to reduce the duty. What I have laid before the Committee now, and previously in the Budget 274 debate, is no more nor less than the result of a most careful inquiry conducted by the entirely independent Customs and Excise, who have reported direct to me. But the responsibility—
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman did not wish to mislead the Committee into thinking that he is simply reporting something which his officials put in front of him, for surely he has some views of his own and is taking responsibility for the opinions given.
§ Mr. Butler
If the right hon. Member would be less impatient and more calm in watching the "cricket match," he would know that I was going to use the word—and was actually saying it, as the Official Reporters will bear witness—that the responsibility is entirely mine, as it should be, and thus the responsibility of the Government. Nevertheless, as this inquiry was made by an independent body, a body we all respect, the position is that I have put before the Committee the report of a general inquiry into the Entertainments Duty and it is one which I thought was, on the whole, on lines which would be valuable for the consideration of the Committee.
I cannot refer to all the speeches which have been made, but I think it helpful that in this Finance Bill we are giving hon. Members—in this case 25 of them—an opportunity of representing quite clearly the constituencies for which they sit and if we go on at this pace the beautiful book of hon. Members' names and constituencies, with its pictures, will not be necessary to any of us, because we shall immediately be able to put a name to each hon. Member. I have listened as patiently as possible and with considerable interest to the debate, but I am surprised that the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker), should imagine that I am about to encourage drunkenness and juvenile delinquency by coming down so hard on sport. I can only tell him that my motives are not as evil as he imagines.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Of course not. The right hon. Gentleman's motives are all right, but what I am concerned about are the effects of the actions. Does he realise that sport is in fact much our greatest safeguard for the youth of the country against alcoholism and juvenile delinquency?
§ Mr. Butler
I think I realise that as well as the right hon. Gentleman, although, unfortunately, I am similar to the right hon. Member for Leeds, South, in that I do not practise it with as much skill as the right hon. Member for Derby, South. Nor, I hope, do I practise the other vices to which the right hon. Member has referred.
My hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) positively wished me, from this side of the Committee, uneasy nights. So it is the case That I have very few friends on this occasion. However, I do not think it is at all a bad thing for the Chancellor to be quite impersonal before the Committee and the country, and that when he has to put matters upon which he thinks the national interest should come first, he should put them in as impersonal a manner as possible. When my hon. Friend talks about uneasy nights, I can assure him that I have many subjects which give me a great deal more uneasy nights than this one. Although this is a matter of great importance and moment, it does for all of us have a certain amount of entertainment value.
§ Mr. Nicholson
I am sure my right hon. Friend will realise that the least I wish him is the peaceful sleep of an innocent mind, which I should hate to be disturbed by twinges of conscience.
§ Mr. Butler
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend, but when I make up my mind, I do not have trouble about my conscience, because my conscience has dictated the right course.
After this little interlude, I think it would be right—and I shall come to the hon. Member for Reading, South (Mr. Mikardo), and other hon. Members in the course of my remarks—for the Committee to realise that the idea that emerged from this inquiry was that there should be three rates of duty. I think it very disappointing, if the House of Commons is to be taken as the ultimate jury in matters like this, if the Minister is to take a decision from the House direct—and this has been a real House of Commons day—that no reference has been made to the improvements in the duty proposed in the Bill; and no thanks have been given, so far as I am aware, 276 by those Members representing the speedway interests, who exerted such pressure with such skill last year, and that almost the whole of the pressure should have come from the football and cricket enthusiasts, without any regard to the efforts which have generally been made within the scales to achieve some sort of compromise in that matter.
§ Mr. Malcolm McCorquodale (Epsom)
I am sure everyone would have liked to thank my right hon. Friend for the various concessions he has made on horse racing, and all that kind of thing, but I was advised on high authority that it would be out of order on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Butler
I am very glad by my remarks to have restored the balance, and to have elicited, almost by force, at least one acknowledgment that some good has been done; and I hope that you, Sir, Charles, will excuse it on this occasion.
The scales which have been suggested are the scales which are known—first, broadly, the living theatre and all that that means; secondly, all sports and games not chargeable in either the first or the third scales; and thirdly, the scale from which the major part of the duty comes and in which is chiefly the cinema. That is the general arrangement to which we have come, and it seems to me to be a much more scientific approach than the right hon. Member for Leeds, North, suggested when he spoke on 12th March and said that just to put up the tax on football and cricket and bring it down on speedway racing was not scientific.
A great deal of trouble has been taken about this and the right hon. Gentleman has accepted the very kernel of our case in the remarks he made, when he acknowledged that he sees no easy alternative to putting all sport together in one scale of Duty. That is the conclusion to which the Government have come. As it is, our proposals do involve a small extra cost to the Exchequer of about £250,000 in a normal year and it will come to as much as £500,000, in 1952-53, because the increases in duty this year have been put off hitherto until the end of the summer, whereas the benefits operate from 30th March.
It is a matter of great regret to me, among others, that the losers in this case under the plan submitted would be soccer, 277 Rugby League and Rugby Union—rugger generally—cricket, tennis and so forth, for which I personally feel a great deal more sympathy than for any form of racing, speedway or otherwise. In order to establish the constituency from which I come, and to keep in fashion with the rest of the hon. Members who have spoken, I would say that at Halstead we have a particular football problem, in that we have just established a stand. I am myself the president of the football supporters league, and I can assure the Committee that I have gained no popularity from the stand I am taking on this matter.
I now come to the hon. Member for Reading, South. If he wishes to arrange a transfer, I shall be only too glad to come to Reading, South, where I should win his seat, but he would not be able to win mine.
§ Mr. Mikardo
If the right hon. Gentleman would undertake to relieve the transaction from the betting tax, I would not mind having a small bet with him about that.
§ Mr. Butler
What have we asked the followers and supporters of these clubs to do? It is to put on, roughly, 3d. more, and certainly not more than 6d., per admission in most cases. I understand the appeal made by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), in a perfectly human manner, and by many hon. Members, in favour of production, and the appeal made by those who say that enough imposition has already been put on people. It is my business to take a human view of these things. I understand perfectly well that it does mean extra sacrifice, but at the same time it does not mean quite such a sacrifice to the clubs themselves as has been made out.
Let us examine the proposal made by the Opposition to deal with this very difficult problem. The Opposition Amendment, supported by the right hon. Member for Leeds, South, and moved by the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), would cost more than £2¼ million. I cannot be expected to join in the siren song of the right hon. Gentleman about the ability of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to share out a million pounds here and a million pounds there. He knows perfectly well that if he were 278 standing in my place and adopting, as he would have to do, a responsible tone, instead of enjoying the delightfully irresponsible atmosphere of opposition, he would shield the public money and not throw it away in the manner he suggests. The position about the Budget is that while, naturally, concessions may be made here and there, we must treat the public money with care, and I regard the cost of £2¼ million for this concession as too high.
The next mistake which I think the right hon. Gentleman makes in this Amendment is that the higher scale would become the residual scale, instead of the intermediate scale. The result would be that entertainments, if they are so-called, such as exhibitions, mannequin parades and bathing beauty contests, would come in the highest scale of all; and so the votes which the right hon. Gentleman would win from football fans he would lose from those more attractive sources. That, in my view, is not a vital consideration.
But what is a vital consideration is that the Amendment, which is supported by the right hon. Gentleman, by putting horse racing, dog racing and speedway racing in the lower grade, would give an unsolicited concession of no less than £800,000 to horse racing, dog racing and speedway racing on top of the concession which the Committee extracted last year from the Government for those very sports. They have already had over £1 million concession and it would be absolutely wrong that the Committee should support this Amendment to give an extra concession on top of what we have already given to the racing interests. For those reasons, I believe that the structure of the tax would be upset by the compromise suggested by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Is the right hon. Gentleman arguing that because he does not want to give any more money away to the horse racing people, he must make football and cricket pay more?
§ Mr. Butler
No. The right hon. Gentleman has not heard the concluding portion of my speech. I was about to 279 say, when he interrupted, what is the alternative, because I am able to think in the positive almost as well as the right hon. Gentleman.
The difficulty the Committee is up against here is how to differentiate between the various types and sorts of sport. My hon. Friend the Member for St. Marylebone has an Amendment on the Order Paper which brings out very clearly the very great difficulty of differentiating between the different types of sport. If, for example, one is simply going to move down football and cricket, one then leaves hockey, lacrosse, tennis and baseball in the higher scale. How is one to differentiate between one of these sports and another?
Can one try and lay down some, shall we say, artistic test, as I think the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu), might invent? Would one have a song in one's heart if one saw the flashing bat of Spooner, and would one put cricket in the artistic scale? I do not think the artistic test would do. Would one try the team test'? If so, one would have to put in the lower scale many other sports.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that we are discussing my Amendment also, which covers the point he is making and is worded accordingly?
§ Mr. Butler
The trouble with that is that it leaves out certain sports and does not carry them to the lower group.
§ Mr. Butler
If so, why is the hon. Member supporting his right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South. in giving an extra £800,000 to racing by this Amendment? If the hon. Member supports giving another £800,000 to racing, he will be in an inconsistency himself. What other means are there of differentiating? My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) has said that sports that are educational should be separated from others. I do not think we should ever have agreement on what sports are educational.
§ Mr. Hollis
Not exactly educational, but in point of fact play a part in education, which is a very different thing.
§ Mr. Butler
I am very doubtful whether one could say that racing took a part in education or not. I should have thought one would learn more about criticising national finance from a little experience of racing than in any other way.
Then there was the scheme put forward by the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. E. Wakefield) for which I have great sympathy, namely, that there are certain national sports such as football and cricket which are particularly associated with our national life. I must warn the Committee that if we were in a hurry to make a differentiation for these sports and leave untouched others. such as boxing and athletics to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South, drew attention, we should get into trouble for that. And if we were to make differentiations of that sort, we should rapidly upset confidence in the structure of the duty as a whole, which brings some £47 million to the Exchequer.
Therefore, in approaching this question of how we are to make differentiations, we should be very careful indeed. Let us tie up in a scientific way how the Government's plan affects these different interests. The average incidence of duty on dog and speedway racing should fall from 40 per cent. on duty-inclusive admission prices to just over 20 per cent., and in the case of horse racing from just under 50 per cent. to about 30 per cent.
The reason horse racing is a little above the others in our final plan is because of the much higher admission prices on which the duty falls. After the increase, the duty on football will represent on average about 20 per cent. of duty-inclusive admission receipts compared with about 10 per cent. at present, 17 per cent. in the period 1946-48 and well over 30 per cent. prior to 1946.
I think the best criticism of these proposals has been on the human side, but scientifically this plan the Government have put forward is not so unfair or shattering as the Committee appears to believe. Nor do I think it a particular imposition on people at the present time who go in for the pools or who are willing to spend any amount of money on smoking cigarettes, which I hope they will do to help 281 the Exchequer. I know this is an unpopular thing to say, but if Chancellors of the Exchequer are not unpopular they do not do their job properly, and I do not think it is impossible for people to be able to pay this extra sum on football if they are asked. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) has already drawn attention to the attendance at matches.
The position of cricket seems to me to be quite different. Attendances at first-class matches have been falling steadily since 1947, when the total admission numbers were over 8 million. Last year the corresponding figure was only about 31 million and this must have been partly due to the bad weather. As one hon. Member has pointed out, cricket unfortunately depends on the weather a great deal more than do most sports.
I therefore fully understand the anxiety cricket clubs feel about the increase in duty. That was one of the reasons we decided to defer until the later part of the year the introduction of the duty. There are, of course, other factors outside the duty which have a bad effect on cricket attendances. The secretary of the M.C.C. a few months ago suggested that the increasing slowness of the game was having a depressing effect on public interest. I believe that view is borne out by the relatively successful financial results achieved by some clubs who have deliberately encouraged brighter cricket and have gone out for victory, as my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Ashton) will do tonight, rather than risk a game deteriorating into a draw. I believe that brighter cricket will do far more to improve gates than higher Entertainments Duty will do to reduce them.
At the same time, I am desirous of giving what help I can without departing from the essential principles underlying the duty as it stands. Therefore, in the case of cricket, I propose first that, at the appropriate time, Clause 2 (7) should be amended so as to defer the date on which the increase in duty comes into effect from Sunday, 31st August until Saturday, 13th September. That will meet the point put by my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Spearman) and others, because it will mean that all cricket this year will be exempted from the payment of the extra duty. It will also mean that for 282 football the first Saturday of the next season, which will fall on 6th September, will not now come into the increased rate of duty. That is not a big concession to football but it is a considerable concession to cricket. It will mean that for the whole of this summer cricket will not pay this extra duty.
I want to say to the Committee that, in view of representations made to me about cricket, I undertake during this year and prior to the next Budget that we shall watch carefully the gates and the position of the cricket clubs on the old duty; and we shall have an opportunity to consider this before the next cricket season, if on close examination we find that the situation is really bad for the future of this great national game.
Now for football. As I explained to the Committee, we are in a real difficulty here because if we start accepting the view tonight that one can push football down to another scale, we shall get into trouble with all sorts of interests and sports. We shall get into trouble with the main sources of this duty and upset its structure. Therefore, I am prepared to go only so far as this: as there has been almost a remarkable unanimity in the Committee tonight, I shall do my duty by undertaking to review this aspect of the tax in the light of the evidence I can collect—evidence from clubs as to what the effect will be on their future and evidence from them on their ability or inability to pass on the taxation to their supporters. I should undertake to do that before the Report stage. I can give no specific undertaking of a definite concession, but after what I have heard I think it would have been wrong of me tonight not to undertake to look at this matter again in order to see the effect of what has been suggested.
This is the way to conduct business when there is a general feeling among Members; but I must say that I cannot advise my hon. and right hon. Friends to support the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, South, for the reasons I have given. It would be very expensive for the Revenue and, although the spirit in which it has been put forward and the speeches in support have been perfectly reasonable and constructive, I frankly do not think that it is the right way out of our difficulties.
§ Question put, "That 'three' stand part of the Clause."284
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 288; Noes, 266.287
|Division No. 115]||AYES||[8.23 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Fell, A.||Low, A. R. W.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Fisher, Nigel||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Luoas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Fletcher, Walter (Bury)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O|
|Arbuthnot, John||Fort, R.||McAdden, S. J.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Foster, John||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe)||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J M.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Maclean, Fitzroy|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Glyn, Sir Ralph||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Barber, A. P. L.||Godber, J. B.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Barrow, Sir John||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Gower, H. R.||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Graham, Sir Fergus||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Manningham-Buller, Sir R E|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Grimond, J.||Markham, Major S. F.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Marples, A. E.|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Harden, J. R. E.||Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maude, Angus|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maudling, R.|
|Birch, Nigel||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Medlicott, Brig. F.|
|Black, C. W.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Mellor, Sir John|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Bowen, E. R.||Hay, John||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Heald, Sir Lionel||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Heath, Edward||Nabarro, C. D. N.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Higgs, J. M. C.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Nutting, Anthony|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hollis, M. C.||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Odey, G. W.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Holt, A. F.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim. N.)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hope, Lord John||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Horobin, I. M.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Osborne, C|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Partridge, E.|
|Channon, H.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Hurd, A. R.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Clyde, Rt Hon. J L||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A|
|Cole, Norman||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Pitman, I J.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Jennings, R.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Profumo, J. D|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Raikes, H, V.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Johnson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Rayner, Brig R|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Kaberry, D.||Redmayne, E.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Keeling, Sir Edward||Remnant, Hon. P|
|Crouch, R. F.||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Renton, D L. M.|
|Crowder, John E. (Finchley)||Lambert, Hon. G.||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Lambton, Viscount||Roberston, Sir David|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Leather, E. H. C.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Russell, R. S.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Donner, P. W.||Lindsay, Martin||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Linstead, H N.||Sandys, Rt. Hon D.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Llewellyn, D. T.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Scott, R Donald|
|Dugdale, Maj. Rt.Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Shepherd, William|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Longden. Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Erroll, F. J||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Teeling, W.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Soames, Capt. C.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Spearman, A. C. M.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wellwood, W.|
|Speir, R. M.||Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)||Tilney, John||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Turton, R. H.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Stevens, G. P.||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Wills, G.|
|Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Vane, W. M. F.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J K.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Vosper, D. F.||York, C.|
|Storey, S.||Wade, D. W.|
|Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)||Mr. Drewe and|
|Studholme, H. G.||Walker-Smith, D. C.||Mr. Richard Thompson.|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Adams, Richard||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Keenan, W.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Kenyon, C.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Ewart, R.||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Fernyhough, E.||Kinley, J.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Fienburgh, W.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Baird, J.||Finch, H. J.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Balfour, A.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Follick, M.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Bartley, P.||Foot, M. M.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Forman, J. C.||Logan, D. G.|
|Bence, C. R.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Freeman, John (Watford)||McGovern, J.|
|Benson, G.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||McInnes, J.|
|Beswick, F.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||McLeavy, F.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Gibson, C. W.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Blackburn, F.||Glanville, James||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H|
|Blyton, W. R.||Gooch, E. G.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Boardman, H.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon.Arthur (Wakefield)||Mallalieu, J. P. W (Huddersfield, E)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Grenfell Rt. Hon, D. R.||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Brockway, A. F.||Grey, C. F.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Brook Dryden (Halifax)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mellish, R. J|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Messer, F|
|Burke, W. A.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Hamilton, W. W.||Monslow, W.|
|Callaghan, L. J.,||Hannan, W||Moody, A S.|
|Carmichael, J.||Hardy, E. A.||Morgan, Dr. H B. W|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hargreaves, A.||Morley, R|
|Champion, A. J.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hastings, S.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hayman, F. H.||Moyle, A.|
|Clunie, J.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Murray, J. D.|
|Coldrick, W.||Herbison, Miss M.||Nally, W.|
|Collick, P. H.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Cook, T. F.||Hobson, C. R.||Noel.Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Holman, P.||O'Brien, T.|
|Cove, W. G.||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Oldfield, W H.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Houghton, Douglas||Orbach, M.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Hoy, J. H.||Oswald, T.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hubbard, T. F.||Padley, W. E.|
|Daines, P.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Paget, R. T|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pannell, Charles|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Parker, J.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Paton, J|
|Deer, G.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Peart, T. F.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Janner, B.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Dodds, N. N.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Poole, C. C.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Porter, G.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Proctor, W T|
|Edelman, M.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Pryde, D J.|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Rankin, John||Sparks, J. A.||West, D. G.|
|Reeves, J.||Steele, T.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Reid, William (Camlachie)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Rhodes, H.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W|
|Richards, R.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Wigg, George|
|Robens, Rt. Hon A||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Swingler, S. T.||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Sylvester, G. O.||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Ross, William||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Williams, Rev. Llyweiyn (Abertillery)|
|Royle, C.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Schofield, S. (Barnsley)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Shackleton, E. A. A.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Thurtle, Ernest||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Timmons, J.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Short, E. W.||Tomney, F.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Shurmer, P. L. E||Turner-Samuels, M.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Woodburn, Rt. Hon A.|
|Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Usborne, H. C.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Viant, S. P.||Yates, V. F.|
|Slater. J.||Wallace, H. W.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K|
|Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Weitzman, D.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen.|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wells, William (Walsall)|
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. T. O'Brien (Nottingham, North-West)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 29, to leave out from "in," to the end of line 31, and to insert:the First Part of the First Schedule to this Act and the highest (to be known as the third scale) shall consist of the scale set out in the Second Part of the First Schedule to this Act.The question of Entertainments Duty has been discussed in this House and Committee for many years, and it might be advisable to remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as many Chancellors have been reminded in the past, that the Entertainments Duty is really a dishonest tax, because the Chancellor who first imposed it promised faithfully that it would be for the duration of the First World War. Since then, the temptation of succeeding Governments, including two previous Governments of my own party, has been to condone the financial sin committed after the 1914-18 war. It is just as well to put on record that this tax, as such, was born of and has thrived upon political dishonesty.
This Amendment seeks to do three things. First, it seeks to eliminate the duty up to 9d. on cinema seats; second, it seeks to restore the popular ls. 3d. seat; and, third, it seeks to give greater flexibility to exhibitors in their charges of admission.
The Committee is aware that the Entertainments Duty on all other forms of entertainment and sport—excluding the cinema—is free up to 1s. I shall not criticise that. As a matter of fact, the organisation which I represent took a 288 foremost part in lobbying in previous Parliaments to protect the living stage—the living theatre. We believe that an act of justice was done to the theatre, to the living stage, when Entertainments Duty was lessened for it. Indeed, the action of the Government in those days saved the living stage from threatened extinction. So I shall not use the argument of what was done for the theatre, because I think that the theatre, the living stage, should be completely free of Entertainments Duty.
As for sport, I listened to the previous debate from time to time. How the Government can justify discriminating against the cinema in favour of sport is beyond my comprehension. If sport can get away with it, all well and good, but I think the time has come when the Government should not regard the cinema industry as a sort of permanent and continual El Dorado.
We are inclined to fall into the belief, because of writers of the gossip columns in the newspapers, that the film industry is a financial paradise. That is not so. There are many hundreds, if not two or three thousands, of exhibitors, of cinema owners, who find it extremely difficult to make a living today. All those in the industry do not form a huge corporation. Indeed, there are about 3,000 exhibitors—between 2,500 and 3,000—who own only one cinema. They are the small exhibitors, who find it extremely difficult to make ends meet. When the Government think in terms of the Entertainments Duty on the cinema they must once for all cease to discriminate against the 289 cinema. This adverse discrimination against the cinema, as compared with other forms of entertainment and sport, I suggest to the Chancellor, should end.
The Government should not regard the industry any longer as a much cow. There are too many responsibilities before this industry, and, while I recognise that it is difficult for the Committee to be expert in the complicated and ramified compartments of the film industry, it can take it from me—and the Government can take it from me—speaking on behalf of the industry as a whole, that half the cinemas will find it quite impossible to manage to run their business even at a loss unless something is done, and done very quickly.
We are, therefore, asking in the Amendment that seats up to 9d.—the 9d. seat—should be free of tax. Surely it is fair, if we allow the 9d. seat at football or cricket matches, or at dog racing, and so on, to be free of tax, that cinema exhibitors should be allowed to have the 9d. seats free of tax. The people who will benefit by the 9d. seats without Entertainments Duty in cinemas are not the huge corporations at all. They will be the small exhibitors, the individual owners. They will benefit by the concession, if it is granted, on the 9d. seats.
When we had 1s. 3d. seats, there were nearly 230 million admissions a year to those seats. It was the most popular admission price it appealed to the vast masses of the workers and their families; it appealed not only to the older folk, who find in the cinema a considerable source of pleasure and relaxation, but to the young courting couples and to the middle aged. It appealed to all sections of the community, and the disappearance of the 1s. 3d. seat did a great deal of harm, not only to the cinema-going public but also to the industry. If my Amendment were accepted the 1s. 3d. seat could be re-introduced by exhibitors. Today, it is not worth their while to have the 1s. 3d. seat, because they get the same return with a 1s. seat.
I shall not weary the Financial Secretary with detailed figures, because he already has them. He knows the case and has all the facts. The Customs and Excise can give him the charts, and so on. It is not my intention to detain the Committee longer than is necessary. If I were to 290 quote chapter and verse and go into the figures I would detain the Committee for about half an hour. Our plea is that favourable consideration should be given to this Amendment so that large and small cinemas, particularly cinemas serving working-class areas, can re-introduce the popular 1s. 3d. seat.
Study of the proposed Schedule will show that exhibitors could adjust their prices of admission within a penny or two so as to give greater flexibility for certain exhibitors, especially in highly competitive areas, who may find it difficult to operate at present prices. That should be seriously considered, and the desire for flexibility is one of the main reasons why this Amendment has been tabled. If I might anticipate the reply, I think it might be argued that it would cost a lot. In his Budget speech the Chancellor said that the original proposals of the industry would cost too much. Probably the industry was too ambitious. Show business is an ambitious industry; it rests on ambition.
The Chancellor said that their proposals would cost up to £5 million or £6 million. I personally advised the powers that be in the film industry to drop it, because on our present financial state, and in the general difficulties through which we are passing, it would be difficult for any Chancellor to make a concession up to £5 million, £6 million or £7 million for one industry. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), was faced with a similar difficulty when he was Chancellor.
This Amendment, if accepted, would cost up to about £500,000. When the Chancellor thinks in terms of £400,000 or £500,000, I appeal to him to bear in mind that the idea of flexibility to exhibitors, especially small exhibitors, is worth while. In my view, it is impossible for the industry to produce a plan for greater flexibility without it costing something at the initial stage.
The Amendment is not designed to put extra money in the pockets of the exhibitors. If it were I should not have moved it. It is designed to assist the industry, and particularly the independent cinema owner, by having a flexibility of price admissions which will enable him in future to please the public of his area and to give a slight advantage to himself
291 8.45 p.m.
That can only be done by the Treasury or the Government giving some encouragement in the initial stage. The initial stage would cost about £300,000 this year and not more than £500,000 in succeeding years. For these figures of costs I quote the greatest authority on Entertainments Duty in our industry, Sir Alexander King, who is known to Members on both sides of the Committee. He has very carefully worked out the figures, and he assures me that the cost this year and next year will be £300,000 and up to £500,000 respectively.
There is one more point which I would like to make, and it is this: The highest paid worker on the trade union rate in our cinemas receives about £8 a week. There is no trade union rate for workers in cinemas over £8 a week. It may be astonishing to Members on both sides to learn that the comparatively high rate of £8 a week is enjoyed by fewer than 1,000 workers in the cinemas out of about 75,000 to 100,000 employees.
The cinemas—and this is relevant to what we are seeking to do in the Amendment—are divided into as many as 10 categories for purposes of wage payments. There are 10 classifications, and each has a separate trade union rate of its own. They descend from £8 a week to less than £4 a week for full-time employees. That is the position. I am talking about highly-competent technicians—men on whom depend the efficient and successful running of cinema performances. The highest trade union rate is £8 a week, and the lowest, for the small cinemas in the 5,000 category, is less than £4 a week.
When we come to the case of the wages paid to the non-technical male staff employed in the cinemas we have a more dismal picture. The highest rate is less than £6 a week descending to about £3 15s. for the majority. The highest rate for girls and women employed full-time is an average of £3 2s. 6d. descending to slightly over £2. These are the facts which I am giving of the 10 categories of wage payments in the cinemas.
Those who are on the higher rates are in the minority because the higher class cinemas are few and far between. It is safe to say that the all-round average of full-time trade union rates for males in 292 the cinemas is less than £5 a week, and the all-round average for full-time females is less than £2 5s. a week It may be argued that there is something wrong with the trade union itself or something wrong with the industry.
My hon. Friends on this side of the Committee remember the Questions asked in this House about 15 or 20 years ago by various hon. Members about the conditions of the cinema industry. All through, Entertainments Duty has played a very adverse part in the question of wage fixing. I am not suggesting to the Financial Secretary that it is his responsibility to adjust taxation in such a way as to provide better wage payments to employees in any industry.
I beg the Chancellor to take note of the fact—this is the reason why I mention the wage rates—that, apart from being a Member of Parliament, I am satisfied about this as a leader of the union concerned. While I should not make this admission round the negotiating table for obvious tactical reasons, honesty demands that I should make it on this Amendment. Thousands of exhibitors are paying low wages, and although they are trade union wages they are cast on a low standard because we are satisfied that the exhibitors cannot afford to pay more.
Sometimes we are tempted to believe that the film industry is the dazzling munificence that we call the West End. It is nothing of the kind. We must think of the cinema industry in terms of the villages, small towns and suburban areas which cater for ordinary people. Exhibitors would gladly pay higher trade union rates and meet the demands of my organisation if they were allowed to retain a little more of their box office income. In effect, my plea is on behalf of the workers in the industry. My plea is based on the fact that if the Amendment is accepted—it may be said that this is a selfish idea, but it is not—it will help most of the exhibitors to settle rightful demands for higher trade union rates.
I have every confidence that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider the Amendment carefully for more reasons than one. He will set against this background the fact that concessions are being made to industries which have not such a strong claim as the cinema industry has. He will also keep in mind that the cinemas are almost the sole source of 293 finance for the production of British films through the British Film Production Fund. The Amendment will aid the fund. Many exhibitors are reluctant to concede the ¾d. per seat voluntary levy to this fund, which is almost the sole source of financial backing for films with the exception of the aid given by the National Film Finance Corporation.
The Chancellor should keep in mind that if exhibitors are expected to subsidise British film production it is psychologically impossible to get hundreds of small exhibitors to give thousands of pounds per year out of their takings towards the fund if they are operating at a serious loss in their own cinemas. The fund is a very important and necessary one, and the exhibitors are the only people who are contributing to it on a voluntary basis.
By and large, we can present a very strong case for the exhibitors, for the community and for the workers in these industries. This ought not to be a party political matter but should be faced as a national issue. Dogs, horses and even football clubs do not return some of their takings for the progressive breeding of dogs, horses or footballers, but the cinemas return a substantial part of their takings for the promotion of British films and the maintenance of the British film industry.
No other section of the industry provides that amount, not even the live stage. The cinemas are the only part of the industry where the Entertainments Duty applies on that scale and something goes back out of its takings to subsidise the magnificent British film industry of which we are proud and from which we see excellent pictures from time to time. I hope that the Financial Secretary will keep these simple but very factual points in mind when considering this issue.
§ Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)
I shall not attempt to follow the hon. Member for Nottingham, North-West (Mr. O'Brien), who speaks with a much greater knowledge of this industry than I have. There is, however, one point he made which I should like to follow up and that is the effect which this Entertainments Duty is likely to have on the small class of cinema. Unless the Financial Secretary considers this is a much more positive way than has been done in 294 the past, he will inevitably lose a great deal of revenue in the future.
There are many small cinemas in small towns which have benefited from the concession which was made because they were agricultural and, therefore, qualified for it. There are others who by the purest accident of boundaries did not qualify. Those people are doing just as good work for agricultural purposes as some of those who are qualifying today, but that is not the only point.
The real point is that the small owners, whose cinemas accommodate about 500 people, have to bear a burden of something like 40 per cent. of their takings for taxation, another 40 per cent. for the cost of films, and they are left with something like 20 per cent. for wages and their profits. It has been pointed out to me that that is the reason why wages are so small in these small cinemas. I have also received evidence that the losses for the last year or two have been considerable, and these small people cannot go on as at present. If they have to close there will be unemployment and the advantage of a small cinema in a relatively small town will be taken away. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would also lose a certain amount of revenue.
I am not asking for any concession for the big groups of cinemas who can afford one or two cinemas losing here and there, but I am appealing for the small cinema proprietor who has only one or two cinemas. I would not like to use a word in this connection which might cause a lot of ill-feeling, so I shall not say anything about monopoly groups, but refer to them as larger groups. These larger groups can average up and they have a much better hope of spreading the burden of taxation in different ways. The small cinema is not only being hard hit by the existing taxes, but will be even harder hit if this duty is introduced.
I would not dream of asking from the Exchequer at this time a concession for the whole of the cinemas. I ask hon. Members to realise that if we put people out of business we shall get no tax from them, and we shall add to unemployment as well as to the difficulty of getting better wages for the people in the cinema industry. Can we not extend to the small men who may own one or two 295 businesses of this kind, especially in the smaller towns, a concession on the tax, or so widen the agricultural provisions as to help them?
If the Financial Secretary to the Treasury were to put his ingenious mind to this matter I am sure that he would find many ways in which he might do this. There is nothing that he cannot do, because he is skilful and able. I ask him to look at the matter which we are raising between now and Report stage, and try to do a thing on which our party are most keen. Let him bring in a concession for the small cinema man, who is now being driven out of existence but ought to be encouraged because of the valuable amenity he brings to the smaller towns. It is always a good thing to help small people who are struggling with difficulty against big combinations. I ask him, as a good Tory, with far more thought for the workers of this country than have the plutocrats opposite, to remember those who are struggling in this industry.
I have not been controversial in any way but I have spoken out of the great depth of feeling which exists on this side of the Committee. We know the poorer people better. I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite to support our plea for this small section of the people and those who work for them.
§ Mr. Thomas Cook (Dundee, East)
I would direct my appeal to the Financial Secretary, since I understand that he is dealing in the main with this matter. I hope that he will listen to the blandishments of his right hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams).
On the last Amendment, the Chancellor gave the figures of the incidence of this tax as 20 per cent. on dogs and 20 per cent. on football. On cinemas, it is 40 per cent., and that shows a tremendous discrimination against the cinema industry. We are not making this case out for the large cinema circuits, and I am glad that the hon. Member for Nottingham, North-West (Mr. O'Brien) referred to the dazzle of the West End. We do not get the dazzle of the West End in Dundee and places like that. If this concession were granted 90 per cent. of working-class cinemas would benefit from it. The proposal is not that we should wipe out the 296 tax on admissions up to ls. but only up to 9d.
I would urge this warning. A very serious position is developing under the Eady plan. From an estimated loss of £690,000 last year, the National Film Finance Corporation have gone over to a profit of £10,000 this year. As has been pointed out, this is a purely voluntary levy, and Sir Alexander King and his associates have fought a hard battle with the small cinema owners to continue this levy because of the losses they will face. Because we all want to see a thriving British film industry, they agreed last year to make a contribution towards our film production. I suggest they have done a first-class job in this respect, but there is a grave danger that because of the losses they are facing this may go by the board.
I urge that this issue be dealt with on a non-party basis. The cinema industry has been treated as a milch cow by successive Chancellors. The Amendment involves only £300,000 this year and £500,000 next year and it would pay dividends to introducethe 1s. 3d. seat. As it is, attendances at cinemas are tending to fall because people have less money. It is said that television is affecting the cinemas to some extent, but very many people cannot afford television so I do not think there is much validity in that argument.
In view of the discrimination in the present financial structure I urge that this small concession be granted. I was interested to hear the Chancellor say that he had examined the tax structure set up by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell). It seems that concessions have been made to speedways and dogs and horses on pressure, not on justice. I hope I am wrong, but that was the impression I had from the statement of the Chancellor. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will concede the justice of our case by accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. W. G. Bennett (Glasgow, Woodside)
I support this modest Amendment. I am sure that we can all agree that it will cost the Exchequer very little this year, if anything, if the request is granted. As the Committee knows, £10,000 has accrued as a profit, whereas we might have looked forward to a loss 297 of at least £500,000 on the production of films.
We have listened for hours today to appeals for one cricket club and one football club after another. The people who attend football matches are largely the male members of the family, whereas the bulk of the cinema patrons are female. It seems wrong that if the lady of the house visits a cinema she should contribute 6d. to the Exchequer from the price of her 1s. 6d. seat, while if the husband goes to a football match after this season he will contribute only 2½d.
In the constituency I represent we have eight cinemas in working-class districts and the highest price they want to charge is 1s. 6d. If they could provide a seat at 9d. without any tax there would be some justice. If they have a seat at 1s. 6d. with a 6d. tax, there is no justice whatever. It would help the industry to balance their accounts if the Exchequer would consider revising the tax on the seating accommodation by allowing a 1s. 3d. seat to bear a smaller tax than it does at present. The suggestion has been made that with the necessary adjustments, there would be very little loss to the Exchequer, and I think that on examination this would be found to be the case.
It appears extraordinary that the Treasury should now agree to revise and reduce the tax on dog racing and horse racing and, at the same time, increase it for football, but not consider cinema seats at all. Cinemas have for years borne far too heavy a tax, and I ask the Financial Secretary to give the matter his very earnest consideration. His decision will be very greatly appreciated if this small adjustment is made.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
When the Chancellor of the Exchequer was replying on a previous Amendment, he admitted that the cinema provided the great amount of the tax which is raised from entertainment. He went on to point out that the position about the Budget was that concessions could be made here and there. I would merely say to the Financial Secretary that I hope this is one of the occasions to which the Chancellor referred. Whether it is "here" or "there" is a matter of detail if he acquiesces in what, I am sure, is the will of the Committee.
298 We admit that if the concession suggested in the Amendment is granted, exhibitors will benefit to some extent, and in my estimation it is necessary that they should. In my constitcency, most of the cinemas charge sums varying from 7d. up to 2s. 1d. They are the small cinemas, owned either by individuals or, perhaps, by a small company. Because of their present condition, through making very little profit from year to year, the state of the cinemas, both externally and internally, is depreciating very considerably. Maintenance, so far as seating and redecoration are concerned, is very bad indeed. That in itself, for the comfort of those who go to the cinemas should be catered for, is one reason why the Financial Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will, I hope, give every consideration to the Amendment.
Furthermore, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North-West (Mr. O'Brien), pointed out, the wages position of employees is another matter which must cause grave concern. We want to maintain reasonable conditions for cinema employees, for a great variety of reasons. They are employed in an atmosphere that in many cases is not always of the best. They are in darkness all the time or, at best, in an artificial light, and because of this their conditions must be looked after very carefully. The same thing applies to wages. I hope, therefore, that exhibitors, if any benefit accrues to them from the Amendment, which, I hope, the hon. Gentleman will accept, will see to it that the wages and conditions of employees are very carefully looked after.
We claim that the public ought to benefit and I think particularly of the public in my division, where the ls. 3d. seat is now lacking for reasons which my hon. Friend detailed and which are appreciated in every part of the Committee. If this charge is established, as it could be established if the Amendment were accepted, then benefit would accrue to the public.
Of course, we realise that the Chancellor would lose. I have indicated those who would gain. We accept the fact that the Chancellor would lose. The amount he would lose in the part of the year which lies before us is small—£291,000—and, in a full year, £500,000. But, when 299 we consider that the cinema contributes no less than £40 million in tax every year to the Chancellor, I submit that £500,000 returned to the industry is not a very serious loss to the Exchequer.
There is a feeling that there is discrimination against the industry, and horse racing, dog racing and the speedway have been trotted out. We make no objection to the fact that there have been concessions given to those sports but whether those concessions are of much benefit to horse breeding or not is very doubtful. We are told that we have to keep up the quality of our horses and keep up the breed, but, in spite of that, millionaire Frenchmen like M. Boussac come here and carry away all the main events. I have been told, but do not pass this on as sound information, "Keep your eye on Boussac for the Derby." If anyone takes that advice and it does not come off, I wash my hands of responsibility.
We do object to the discrimination which is being shown. We have no objection to the consideration given to these other sports, but we feel that while they are entitled to it there ought not at the same time to be discrimination against the cinema industry. I know that the Chancellor may say that, as a result of last year's concession of ¾d. to the exhibitors when the 1s. 10d. seat was raised to 2s. 1d., they were well treated, but I want him to look at the effect of that concession. In 1950-51 there were 355 million 1s. 10d. tickets sold, but up to March this year, on the 2s. 1d. seat, which was formerly the 1s. 10d. seat, only 257 million tickets have been sold and, as a result of that concession, the loss has been 98 million tickets during the year in which it has operated. That is a loss to the Chancellor, and I suggest that he might recapture some of that if he listened to us tonight and supported our Amendment.
There is a final word I wish to put on behalf of the exhibitors. We are agreed, I hope, that the cinema performs other useful functions. It is a ready and willing medium for every type of appeal and announcement. I believe that the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend will pay tribute tonight, as does the whole Committee, to the great work the cinema does in advertising National Savings, 300 which the hon. Gentleman himself wishes to encourage. Surely this is one small way in which he could show his appreciation of the work which they do on his behalf.
Those of us who patronise the cinemas know that they make appeals for Civil Defence. Through them millions of people learn about rationing—[Interruption.]—oh, yes, there is no doubt about these things. People learn the dates on which ration books have to be collected, and so on. These things are all made readily and easily available through the cinema, when possibly they might pass the scrutiny of many people if we relied solely on the daily Press.
We can agree that the cinema is doing not only entertaining but useful work, and in view of all the arguments put up, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will indicate that he is prepared, if not to accept this Amendment, at least to consider this matter before the Report stage is reached.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)
I hope that the hon. Member for Nottingham, North-West (Mr. O'Brien), will acquit me of any discourtesy if, before I come to his speech in moving the Amendment, I deal with one or two points raised in subsequent speeches.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) raised an issue which is not perhaps in a very great degree affected by this Amendment, but which is, of course, one of very substantial importance, the position of the smaller cinemas. In our present tax provision there is no existing concession for the small cinema as such. There has sometimes been a little confusion between the position of the small cinema wherever located and the position of the small cinema in a rural area, for which a special concession was made in the Finance Act of 1948 by the late Sir Stafford Cripps. That was designed, not for the particular purpose of benefiting the cinema or its proprietor, but with the idea of securing that in a scattered rural area encouragement should be given to the provision of entertainment.
The difficulty of dealing with the small cinema as such is accentuated by the fact that during the recent review of the Entertainments Duty which was referred 301 to by the Chancellor on the previous Amendment, no evidence was submitted that the small cinema as such was in a particularly bad position. I say, therefore, to my right hon. Friend that we will gladly consider any material submitted on that general point, but at the moment there is nothing before us to suggest that the smaller cinemas scattered over the country are in such a position as to call for any particular and special treatment. But, as I have said, in certain circumstances which are not covered by existing concessions, if any material can be submitted on this point the fullest consideration will be given to it.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Cook), said—and I think this rather follows from what I have said in reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Torquay—that he was not arguing the case for the large circuits but for the small independent cinemas. The difficulty is that the Amendment now before the Committee would benefit alike the large circuits and the small cinemas. Therefore, the Committee have to deal with this on the basis that what is proposed by the hon. Member for Nottingham, North-West, is a general provision affecting the structure of the duty over the industry as a whole.
While dealing with the hon. Member for Dundee, East, perhaps I might correct a small misapprehension on his part when he indicated that, generally speaking, cinema audiences were falling. The latest evidence is to the contrary. During the last quarter of 1951, the last quarter for which there are statistics, the number of dutiable admissions to cinemas was actually one million more than for the corresponding quarter of 1950. While I do not put any great weight on that, so far as it goes it indicates that perhaps the hon. Member was going a little far when he said there was a falling off in audiences.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
I am much obliged. The difference between us is small. The increase is not very much.
302 I want to congratulate the hon. Member for Nottingham, North-West, for overcoming the difficulties he had initially with the rules of order, because I think the Committee will regard it as satisfactory that the problem of this great and important industry should be discussed on the Floor of this Chamber. The hon. Member, with his very great experience of this industry, has put forward detailed proposals not only in the form of the Amendment which we are now discussing but in the form of the Schedule attached to it for an alternative structure for this duty. He advocated it on the grounds, among other things, that in his view it would give greater flexibility in the pricing of seats. I must concede at once that that is a desirable state of affairs if it can be properly attained. But the real difficulty is that whatever merits these proposals may have they amount, as the hon. Member himself stated, to a system under which there would be an appreciable loss of revenue.
I think the hon. Member put the figure at £500,000. My advice is that the loss involved would be substantially larger—something like £2 million a year. That, obviously, would be a very serious matter, because anything like £2 million of revenue in the present economic circumstances of the country is obviously a thing to which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has to give very serious consideration.
My right hon. Friend has made it clear, and I think the hon. Member is aware of this, that he is prepared, has been prepared, and will be prepared to consider any proposals which may be put to him for adjusting the structure of this duty which will not involve an appreciable loss to the Revenue. But I am afraid that the proposals of the hon. Member do not come into that category because they would involve an appreciable loss.
I think that the difference between the figure which the hon. Gentleman gave and the figure which I have just given arises from the fact that the hon. Gentleman has assumed—and something he said in his speech confirmed that assumption—that there would be a substantial increase in the number of seats in the 1s. 3d. category—some of which had been raised from the 1s. category—and that is how he arrived at his 303 calculation that the loss to the Revenue would be about £½ million. Here we are in the realm of speculation, because we do not and we cannot know what charges would be made in the case of individual cinemas.
There is, however, one factor which perhaps throws a little light on that matter. Under the hon. Gentleman's proposals, if the duty were adjusted as he wishes, of the extra 3d. to be obtained by raising the charge of a seat from 1s. to 1s. 3d. the Exchequer would get 2d. and the exhibitor 1d. In those circumstances it appears at least doubtful whether any large number of exhibitors would, in fact, make that alteration in charge and, unless they did so, I think the hon. Gentleman would probably not dispute that his estimate of the amount of loss involved would prove to be too small.
As the hon. Gentleman said, these matters have been discussed at considerable length during the last few months. We are as anxious as he is to arrive at a solution which, while paying due respect to the needs of the Exchequer, does suit the needs and the general wishes of the industry so far as the structure of the duty is concerned. All industries would like reductions in taxation, of course—indeed, that feeling is not always confined to industries. It is sometimes felt by individuals.
But so far as the structure and the effect on the prices of seats is concerned, my right hon. Friend's undertaking to give full consideration to any detailed proposals which do not involve an appreciable loss to the Revenue still stands. I think that that undertaking does meet the point raised, certainly by one hon. Member opposite, whether we were still prepared to consider alternative schemes. With the greatest good will in the world to this industry, however—and Her Majesty's Government's good will to this industry has been shown very substantially in other directions—it really is not possible for my right hon. Friend to accept the loss to the Revenue which is involved in these particular proposals.
It would be very difficult for my right hon. Friend to accept such a loss, quite 304 apart from the general economic position of the country, in view of the receipts of this industry during the last few years. It may interest the Committee to know that the gross box office receipts from dutiable admissions rose from £99.7 million in 1949-50 to £101.1 million in 1950-51 and £106.7 million in 1951-52. At the same time, the net amount remaining after duty had been paid rose from £62.9 million in the first year to £65.8 million in the last of the three years.
Therefore, whatever may be felt by the industry as to the weight of taxation—and I willingly concede that all industries feel the burden of taxation—it does appear that the system has operated to prevent an increase neither in the gross nor in the net box office receipts of this industry and, with regret, my right hon. Friend really cannot accept the loss to the Revenue which would be involved.
I am sure that the Committee is indebted for the very reasonable exposition on this subject from the Financial Secretary, but he has left us in some doubt. No one disputes his proposition that the receipts of the industry have shown some buoyancy, but the Financial Secretary will not disagree that even such a buoyant commodity as beer reaches a stage at which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to say, "I cannot overload it any further." It may very well be that the buoyancy of cinema receipts has reached this stage—I cannot think what the scientific term would be to indicate the limit of its floatability.
What the Financial Secretary said was that his right hon. Friend would consider any scheme which does not involve an appreciable diminution in his revenue. That is quite understandable, but what is difficult for the Committee to understand is what exactly is meant, in arithmetical terms, by "appreciable." The Committee will have noticed that there is a very great difference between the calculations made by my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North-West (Mr. O'Brien), who presented his case so reasonably and with such a mass of documentation, and the calculations offered by the Financial Secretary. My hon. Friend says the figure will be £500,000 in a full year; the Financial Secretary says £2 million.
305 The Financial Secretary will not think me doubting his sincerity in the least if I suggest to the Committee that his figures probably should be doubted a little. My reasoning is this. As I understand, predictions were made last year as to what the revenue would be in terms of the revised Schedule, and what the gains to the Treasury and the exhibitors would be. The only people who do not lose were, of course, the production side, because I am sure the Financial Secretary is right in saying that the actual number of seat payments did not drop.
I am told that the calculation last year was that, on the revised Schedule, the gain for the Treasury would be about £6,500,000. I am told that, in effect, the gain on the figures available—a full year's figures are not available—will run out at about £3,750,000. I am told that I can speak with a little more certainty about the exhibitors. It was calculated that the gain there would be a little more than £2,500,000, but I am sure that the gain for the exhibitors will run out at just a little above £1,500,000. If the basis of the calculations for last year is as trustworthy as the basis of the calculations of the Financial Secretary in his observation that this would cost £2 million, the Committee must swing round to the calculation offered by my hon. Friend, but I confess that not one of us is in a position to argue with any great emphasis upon this point.
There is, of course, a great deal of difference between £500,000 and £2 million. If the Financial Secretary said that £500,000 was what he meant by an appreciable loss of revenue—or thereabouts—I would feel that I was entitled to say to my hon. Friends that they should not press the Amendment but should permit the conversations to go on on the terms which the Chancellor has offered. I would not try to tie anybody down to an exact figure, but if £500,000 is what the hon. Gentleman was thinking about then he is talking in terms comparable with those offered by my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment.
I do not want to go over the ground which has been very moderately traversed by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee, but I would say a word to the Financial Secretary. Considerations on both sides of the Committee have shown that primarily the thinking has 306 been with the small exhibitor. I think the Financial Secretary is quite right to say that no one has offered precise figures as to how the small exhibitor has fared in this way. That is a legitimate complaint, and if I or my hon. Friends and the industry are to prove the case, then they must offer precise figures on that subject; and, no doubt, they will.
I have seen some figures which persuade me that the average gain per week—I do not mean the average profit, but the average gain per week—on this year's takings, on the figures I have already quoted, as compared with last year's, will work out at somewhere between £6 and £7 per week. If that is the average figure for the country it is very plain to the Committee that the figure of the average gains in the current year per week for the small exhibitor, who, I think, is shown to be the primary concern of the Committee, will be very low indeed, and a strong case must, therefore, be made out. But we should wait for the detailed figures.
Finally, I would say that we are all concerned, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North-West, has said, for the production side of this industry. That is something that outruns the normal commercial concerns. If these gloomy predictions about the failure or the near failure of the small exhibitor—the exhibitor who has 500 or 400 seats and fewer—are at all well founded, then everyone in the Committee must be concerned about the Eady Plan and the production levy. It would be no consolation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he saved £500,000 for the Revenue by adhering to his present principles and forfeited a substantial amount in terms of receipts from seats. I wonder if he would press the Financial Secretary to say whether he does really mean that this scheme—or a scheme—with around £300,000 or £400,000 or £500,000 loss to the Chancellor, and with the flexibility which, he admits, is highly desirable in the industry, would be acceptable? I am sure that, if he were to give this explanation, he would find that my hon. Friends, who are eminently reasonable, would not want to press their Amendment.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
In reply to what the right hon. Gentleman has said in his very reasonable and helpful speech, I would say that I do not want, for 307 reasons that the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate. I am sure, fully, to appear to prejudge, or to be tied to any rigid figure in, the discussions which, I hope, will continue; but I would not dissent from the right hon. Gentleman's idea of the size of the problem on the Revenue side.
I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman very fairly said about the small exhibitors. As I told the Committee when I spoke a few moments ago, we have not had during the course of the very prolonged review which has taken place their particular difficulties supported by either detailed evidence or statistics, but I think that what I said earlier as to my right hon. Friend's attitude to the whole problem covers this, and if particulars, evidence, statistics, documents are submitted, they will be given just the same degree of careful consideration which my right hon. Friend has already promised for the problems of the industry as a whole.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
The Financial Secretary has, I think, fairly met the case which was laid before the Treasury, but perhaps he might be a little more exact about the degree he means by "no appreciable loss." It was suggested that perhaps £500,000 might be the figure; and the Financial Secretary came a little below that. I am sure he does not wish to be too narrow in his interpretation of "no appreciable loss" on not merely a revenue of some £30 million or £40 million—and this is rather important—but on the levy which is being paid into the revenues of British film production. I am more interested in the problem from that point of view.
I have been interested in this for a long time, ever since, with Sir John Grierson, we embarked on the original film policy which led to the production of British documentaries. The whole quota system would inevitably break down if there is an inadequate production of first-class British films, and it is in these tentative and experimental lines that progress towards first-class British films is made.
Some of the revenue figures may be affected by the fact that there is this extra £3 million being found, which does 308 relieve the Treasury, because it relieves the Film Finance Corporation of large sums which it has been finding and would have to continue to find if some alternative source of revenue were not opened up. The levy is paid by good will, and it is important that good will should be maintained. As long as this can be left as a voluntary levy paid by the consent of the exhibitors, we are on very much sounder ground than if an attempt is made to raise this money in some compulsory form.
Let us consider this, not merely as a problem of taxation but as a problem of good will by which a levy is raised from film-goers by way of the exhibitors, and used for the purposes which we all desire, which is essential if we are to have a sound British film producing industry, producing better and better films. We all sympathise with the complaint of technicians in the film industry that they do not receive an adequate amount of work. Unless we are able to produce the ideas upon which the technicians can work all our legislative compulsion will be in vain. I am sure it is most satisfactory for all concerned if we succeed along the lines of voluntary co-operation.
I therefore hope that the Chancellor and the Financial Secretary will pay special attention to that aspect in considering the conversations which, I understand are to take place. I am sure that it is not impossible to produce a flexible scheme which will enable the desires of the exhibitors to be met at a relatively small sum. But it will require much good will on both sides, and it is for that reason that I have ventured to make this plea.
§ Mr. O'Brien
I have had a word with my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil), and I have listened very carefully to the reply of the Financial Secretary. I thank him for at least his sympathetic understanding of the case, although sympathy by itself is not a very powerful medium of persuasion. If I understood him rightly, while he could not commit himself—and I understand that fully—to a figure of £500,000 or any other figure, he said he was prepared to consider further representations between now and the Report stage.
If the industry could produce a scheme which would not cost the Treasury an unreasonable sum of money, would the 309 Chancellor be prepared to consider it? The Financial Secretary astonished me when he mentioned that the Amendment which I moved would cost about £2 million. If nothing else has come out of this debate, it is very important that we on our side should look into that point. I also ask the Financial Secretary to look into it. His advice probably comes from more accurate sources than mine, but if it comes from his Department all I can say is that the Department has calculated on the most pessimistic basis. I do not accept the figure of £2 million, and I went into this matter very carefully before allowing myself to be convinced by a certain figure.
If I understand the Financial Secretary rightly, he is willing to consider the matter again and to receive further representations from us on the whole of the problem—and it is one which affects not only the small but the large exhibitors and is inherent in the whole structure of the cinema tax. I accept his view that if the small exhibitors can produce certain facts and figures. so much the better.
I assure the Financial Secretary that while it is true that the tax operates mostly against the small exhibitors, some of the large concerns, which may on the surface appear to be prosperous, have lost millions of pounds in the production of films, so all is not well with the industry. If I can interpret what he said as an assurance that he will continue to receive representations from the industry on this matter, and that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be reasonable so far as figures are concerned, and bearing in mind that there will be a Report stage during which we can have another look at this matter, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
If I am in order and if the Amendment has not yet been withdrawn, I need only say to the hon. Gentleman that I have already, on behalf of my right hon. Friend, made it clear that we will gladly consider, in the spirit of what the hon. Gentleman has said, any detailed scheme or proposals that those responsible for this industry care to submit to us.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.310
§ Miss Burton
I beg to move, in page 2. line 32, after "applicable," to insertto any game played by amateurs and.This Amendment deals specifically with the question of amateur sport. My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), who will speak in support of the Amendment, has played football both for the Corinthians and the English Universities, and I therefore do not propose to trespass upon his preserves with regard to that section of amateur sport.
I am hoping tonight that, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been able to offer some concessions in respect of football and cricket, he will look with a benign eye on this particular section of sport which can, I think, be separated from the others by the definition of amateur players. I think that anyone with any knowledge of amateur sport knows that the receipts, if any, which come from amateur games of any description are used mostly for training people and for educational purposes. In addition, I should like to make the further point that in amateur games most of the officials are voluntary workers. I am sure that many hon. Members who are interested in one form of amateur sport or another know of people who give up all their spare time to the running of amateur games and get no money for it. They also get all the kicks and very little of the praise.
The more I have gone into the subject of the Amendment, the more I wish that we had asked the Chancellor whether amateur games could have complete exemption from Entertainments Duty. It is only right to say that in the various inquiries that I have made I have met nothing but praise for the attitude of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise in these matters. I want to ask the Chancellor whether it will be possible for the Treasury and the Customs and Excise authorities to work out a formula by which recognised amateur bodies doing a good deal of coaching and educational work could pay the tax only at the lowest rate.
I do not know whether the Chancellor can tell us how much money is collected in Entertainments Duty on amateur sports. None of the associations which I have asked was able to give the figure, and it may well be that it is not collected separately, but it must be a very small 311 amount. Knowing the tidy mind of the Chancellor, I think he will agree that we should have some definite arrangement about this. There are many anomalies.
I wish to deal with some sports which hon. Members will not be covering, and all of them are sports which I have played all my life, so I am not speaking from hearsay. I want first to deal with the question of the Amateur Athletic Association. I expect the Chancellor knows as well as I do that in 1948 the A.A.A. were formed into a company limited by guarantee. They made an application for complete exemption from Entertainments Duty and that was granted.
We now have the anomalous position that meetings run by the A.A.A. are exempt from Entertainments Duty but meetings run by their affiliated organisations, the county or area A.A.A.'s, are not exempt. It seemed to me, from the inquiries that I made, that the Treasury's argument might be that the county and area associations had not the legal status of a company which the parent body had and were, therefore, not bound quite so rigorously as to how they should spend any proceeds from their meetings. Being a company limited by guarantee, the A.A.A. must spend their money as laid down in the objects of the company.
Another anomaly is that international matches run by the British Board—which consists of the A.A.A.s of England, which includes Wales, of Northern Ireland and of Scotland—are equally not exempt. I put it to the Chancellor that the position requires tidying up, and tidying up in the right way; they should all be exempt or should all pay at the first rate, and not the other way round. It is a curious position that the A.A.A. themselves are exempt, whereas the county and area associations and the British Board are not.
I should like to know whether the Chancellor feels that the Women's All-England Netball Association have found a way round this difficult problem. It usually seems to fall to the lot of women, whether in sport or any other category, to be pioneers in this country. The All-England Netball Association, whose permission I have to quote this example, found themselves in the position of a great many amateur bodies; they had very little 312 money, and it was impossible to pay the Entertainments Duty at the old rate, much less the new. Knowing this, the Customs and Excise authorities—I have stressed their very helpful attitude—suggested to the All-England Netball Association that they should add two clauses to their constitution. I should like to quote these two clauses because they are important. They are:
All funds or other property of the Association shall not be paid or distributed among members of the Association, but shall be applied towards the furtherance of the Association's object or for any charitable purpose.In the event of dissolution, the funds remaining will be devoted to other organisations whose objects are similar to that of the Association or to other purposes approved by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.On including those two clauses in their constitution, the All-England Netball Association found themselves in the position of being exempt.
I want to move on from that to the All-England Women's Hockey Association and to tell the Chancellor very proudly that this is a game that British women play better than any other women in the world. [HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to have such wholehearted approval from hon. Members, but that is quite true. That is a game in which we have led the world, and we still lead the world. I think the Chancellor would agree that British prestige demands that this game should be fostered and our standards maintained.
The All-England Women's Hockey Association rely almost entirely on "gates" for their income. They have, in addition, a small income derived from the affiliation of clubs. I ought to tell the Chancellor, or the Minister of State for Economic Affairs, if he is going to reply, that for the year ending 5th March, 1951, the income of the Association was only £2,832. That does not leave a very great margin.
I should like to stress that a great deal of this money goes on educational work for the training of people and the development of the game. If we were to look at a normal year's work of this Association, we should find that these are not extreme figures but normal ones; we should find that approximately 70 tournaments are held of which more than half are for schools only. A large part of the money is used for schools and young 313 people. The coaching for schools and clubs is arranged by the counties and no fee is charged. All of it comes from this small amount of income. The coaching of umpires is arranged by the counties. Anyone interested in sport knows that there have to be good umpires if a game is to be well played. This coaching scheme in hockey has been extended right down to the schools. Finally, an educational hockey film is sent round for which no charge is made.
The Chancellor will agree that from the small income of £2,832 it would be quite impossible to pay the new duty which is suggested. It would cripple the game. Last year, when the English Reserves played the Netherlands over here, a charge of 1s. was made for admission to the ground and a further 1s. was charged for the privilege of sitting down in the ground. The hockey people had to pay on the 2s. and not on the additional ls. This greatly detracted from their revenue.
We now come to the Women's Cricket Association. I do not know that I would be rash enough to say that the English women lead the world in cricket, but a good many of the women could show a good many of the men one or two useful things in cricket. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to have this wholehearted support from hon. Members, and I hope the Chancellor will join in afterwards. In a normal year the Women's Cricket Association manage to make ends meet. It is a pioneering task which they have undertaken. Last year we reached a new high level when we were allowed to play the Australian women on some of the famous grounds in London. If this increased duty is demanded from this Association, it will be quite impossible for the game to be developed as it should be.
My last example is the Women's Amateur Athletic Association. They are in a category of getting no help at all. The men's A.A.A. have had some relief, but the women's have had none at all. We are faced with the position that in the world of amateur sport the men's A.A.A. get exemption, while the county and area authorities and the Board do not. Hockey, cricket and the Women's Athletic Association are not exempt at all. When the Chancellor gave those concessions earlier I listened very hard, and I hope I was not wrong in understanding that he 314 gave a considerable concession to cricket and some concession to football. I am raising this point only because the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) raised the question of Rugby Union, which is an amateur game.
I ask the Chancellor to look at the points I have raised and to agree that the development of amateur sport in this country and the training of our young people merits that all amateur games should be included in the first category.
§ The Chairman
Perhaps it might be for the convenience of the Committee if we discussed with this Amendment that which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black), in page 3, line 11, at the end, to insert:Provided that in the case of an amateur entertainment (as hereinafter defined) which consists of or includes games or other sports the rate of Entertainments Duty applied by the second scale shall be reduced by fifty per cent.When the time comes, if the hon. Gentleman wants a Division, it can no doubt be arranged.
§ Mr. Cyril W. Black (Wimbledon)
I am very glad to have an opportunity of taking part in this debate on Entertainments Duty as applied to amateur sport, and I agree that it is convenient to include in the discussion my Amendment, because it has considerable similarity with the one that has been moved.
I think it is proper that I should declare an interest in this matter, in that I happen to be a vice-president of the Wimbledon Football Club, one of the leading amateur football clubs in the British Isles. I am somewhat embarrassed in this matter. In my constituency I have the Wimbledon Football Club on one site and the Wimbledon Speedway Club adjoining. Last year I put down an Amendment to secure relief for the speedway track. On that occasion it was not successful, but some concession has been granted this year. Having played some part in securing a measure of justice for one of the two main sports carried on in my constituency, I have the difficulty now about the Wimbledon Football Club, which is greatly penalised by the new proposals.
There is a very good case for differentiating between professional sport and amateur sport in regard to Entertainments Duty. It is right that that 315 differentiation should be made. The suggestion has been made that there should be a different rate for football between professional clubs in the First, Second, or Third Divisions, but that is a proposal which does not appeal to me very strongly. There is a very good case, however, for differentiating between professional clubs, where there is a strong commercial interest, and amateur clubs where that commercial element does not exist, at any rate to anything like the same extent.
I have no great inclination to shed many tears on behalf of the professional clubs which can afford to pay transfer fees of £10,000 or £20,000 or £30,000 for a single player. Clubs which are in the financial position to make payments of that magnitude for a player can probably well afford to bear any increased Entertainments Duty to which they may be subject. But the amateur clubs are in an entirely different category. It is right in principle that there should be some differentiation between the two types of clubs in the rate of Entertainments Duty they are required to pay.
Not only do I suggest that it is right in principle but, as a matter of expediency, the case is a good and strong one. There are at least two reasons for that. The first is that it is definitely in the interests of the country that the amateur spirit in sport should not only be preserved but should be encouraged. One of the things from which the country suffers today is an excessive degree of professionalism in all forms of sport. In my judgment it would be a wise move for any Government so to adjust its fiscal policy as to give encouragement to the amateur game and the amateur spirit in sport as distinct from the professional and the commercial game.
The second point is that there is a real danger, if the increased Entertainments Duty is insisted upon in the case of the amateur clubs, that many of them will be forced out of business. If that is the result of the increased duty then the Treasury will be in the position of suffering and not of benefiting from the imposition of the increased duty as far as the amateur clubs are concerned. So my submission is that, as a matter of principle and as a matter of expediency, there is a strong case for making a concession to 316 the amateur clubs in some form or another as far as the rate of Entertainments Duty is concerned.
My final point to the Chancellor is that the cost of the concession could, in any case, only be infinitesimal. I do not know whether we are to be given any estimate of what would be involved, but I am certain that whereas the concession would have practically no effect upon our budgetary position, it might mean the difference between the continued existence or extinction of some of the amateur clubs.
I have gone into this matter from the standpoint of the money that would be involved in the case of the amateur club in my own constituency. I find that the increased rate of duty would involve the Wimbledon club in about £250 a year. That may not sound a large amount. It is infinitesimal as far as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is concerned. Yet it makes a tremendous difference to an amateur club, as I am certain hon. Members will agree who have had any experience of amateur sport.
May I make the further point that if the concession were granted and the rate of Entertainments Duty were halved. about half the concession would be recouped by the Treasury by way of Income Tax. Amateur football clubs are liable for Income Tax on any small profits they make, and therefore, if the profit is increased, no matter by how small an amount, as a result of a diminution in the Entertainments Duty from what is proposed, half of that diminution comes back to the Treasury in the form of Income Tax. I think I have said enough to make the point that the concession would cost the Chancellor of the Exchequer practically nothing, but that it is a concession that would be a powerful encouragement to amateur sports generally.
The Chancellor has been good enough to indicate today a sympathetic attitude to some of the submissions made to him. I have always found it a very good rule in business, when one is involved in a complicated negotiation in which a number of points are outstanding, to make concessions, after a certain show of resistance, on all the concessions where there is very little involved in terms of £ s. d., but to take a very firm stand 317 indeed on a few important items where a lot of money is involved.
I suggest that what has been generally found to be a very good rule in the business world, is not a bad rule as far as my right hon. Friend is concerned. Here is a merely infinitesimal concession for which we are asking, and I commend it to my right hon. Friend with every confidence.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
I am happy to support the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton).
About 8 o'clock, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking, I thought that perhaps we would be wasting our time to speak upon an Amendment of this nature. Towards the end of his speech, however, the right hon. Gentleman became a little more accommodating and human, and I thought that, after all, we should not waste our time when we reached this subject at about 10 o'clock.
Let me say at once how much I dissociate myself from my own Member, the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black), in his comparison of amateurs and professionals. I may be mistaken about what he said, but I have played both amateur and professional Soccer and I assure the hon. Member that there is no difference in sportsmanship on the field, and in comradeship off the field, between the two. I disliked his constant use of the word "business" in connection with professional Association football.
§ Mr. Black
The hon. Member is imputing to me statements that I never made. What I said was that the professional clubs had a large commercial element in their business, and that that was evidenced by their being able to pay huge transfer fees for players. I was not condemning the practice, but I said that from the viewpoint of taxation they were in an entirely different category from the amateur clubs. I was not condemning one and encouraging the other, but was merely pointing out that one was much more highly commercialised.
§ Mr. Johnson
Perhaps I misunderstood the hon. Member, who now, I believe, like myself, says that the atmosphere in professional sport is as good as, if not sometimes better than, in many branches of amateur sport, as many of us know.
318 My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South, spoke on behalf of the ladies' games—hockey and the like. I want to make a plea not only for my own game, which is the national game—Association football—but for all the games that we play.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) spoke about the value of sport in connection with teams touring the Commonwealth. Like many other Members, I have been on a Commonwealth Parliamentary delegation of good will overseas, and I have also been in a football touring side. If we send out more sporting teams, particularly in football, to places like West Africa, we gain as much good will as we get in sending out the more orthodox delegations that we often send from the House of Commons to the Commonwealth. [An HON. MEMBER: "We should get more good will."] I should not like to argue that, nor to argue about body-line bowling in connection with Australia. It is an interesting thing that we subsidise activities of the British Council overseas when I think we might with interest send overseas many amateur sporting teams.
§ The Minister of State for Economic Affairs (Sir Arthur Salter)
Is the hon. Member addressing his argument to sports, whether professional or amateur, or to this Amendment which deals with amateur sport?
§ Mr. Johnson
I am speaking in connection with amateur sport and I say it is rather anomalous that we almost lavishly subsidise the British Council overseas, whatever its merits, yet in this Bill we are taxing somewhat viciously a sport, and I think we might send an amateur team overseas.
The hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Sir W. Wakefield) spoke of Rugby and I represent the town from which that game got its name, but soccer is my first love. It is one of the few sports which has conquered the whole world—I had better qualify that and say the non-American world—and it has even conquered beyond the so-called Iron Curtain.
I wish to reinforce the appeal made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South in reference to small clubs. They are the lifeblood of this sport and are amateur in the true sense of the term. Many of the players have to change behind the hedge, but without many of 319 these teams clubs such as the Arsenal and the Spurs would not be able to live, as these smaller clubs feed them. Although we had no success earlier in the evening, I hope that we shall have some success in pleading for the smaller amateur clubs which give new blood to the big clubs which get headlines in the daily Press.
I wish to comment on the speech of one whom I would term a gloom-monger, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling). His speech depressed me, but I wish to assure him quite sincerely that we are not a nation of watchers of games. The Football Association has more than one million amateur players signed on form B, and that is more than the number of those who watch.
§ Sir W. Darling
The hon. Member can make my speech better than I can, but I did not say we were a nation of watchers of games. I said that a poet once described us as:… flannelled fools at the wicket or the muddied oafs at the goals.
§ Mr. Johnson
I could comment about a famous goal-keeper on the other side of the Committee, and for the benefit of the hon. Member I say again that there are more people today who play games in amateur football than who watch professional clubs play week by week. That is a commentary on many of those who speak about the welfare State sapping our backbone and the like. While speaking of the welfare State, I may point out that there are many hon. Members opposite who say that people would do less if they were paid more for the job, but in amateur sport we have literally millions who slave in the interests of their teams. Their job is fearfully difficult without heavier taxation.
The hon. Member for Wimbledon spoke about his club and there are good clubs in the Isthmian League. Wimbledon is not perhaps the best, but I believe that on these figures they will have to pay something like £250 more in Entertainments Duty and that is a heavy load to have to pay from the annual balance sheet. It would be possible to quote statistics in connection with all these sports, and amateur games will have a heavy load to bear in the coming winter.
320 I make no differentiation between different sports. There is the case of the Amateur Athletic Association events. We have had immense difficulty in getting sufficient finance to send a team to Helsinki and we have had to appeal for donations in order to send them. In the Rugby Union they are all amateurs, and we should not forget that in the Rugby League there are many amateur players as well as professionals. They will need help this winter if this tax is imposed.
We speak of boxing as a manly sport. I think that if we had more amateur boxing clubs, and gave them more help, or if there were less taxation imposed upon them, we should perhaps have less juvenile delinquency. I am sufficiently old-fashioned to think that the old type of boys' club is a very much better thing than the more modern type of youth club, and I should like to see many more old fashioned boys' clubs. Amateur boxing clubs will be penalised.
What will the Chancellor get from this new tax? Will it be sufficient to compensate for the goodwill he will lose and for the loss to amateur sport? Is it worthwhile when we think of the millions of amateur sportsmen and of their families and those people who follow them? Is it worthwhile having a tax of this kind? I do not think it is, and I am happy to support the Amendment.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Morecambe and Lonsdale)
In the rural districts of England there are a great many people who cannot enjoy the amenities and amusements of the towns. There are many villages in which the local game is enjoyed by most and is one of the attractions of the countryside. As the clubs which organise these games provide no profit for anybody, but everything is done for the love of the game, they should be encouraged. I therefore support the suggestion that those games and sports, arranged by amateurs, where no one gets any profit or fee out of them. should be free of tax.
There are two analogous entertainments in the countryside which may come in, directly or by implication, the hound trail and amateur theatricals. Both of these are entertainments of particular value in remote rural districts. Anyone who is familiar with a constituency like mine, with its many scattered villages, will realise the importance of 321 these amenities and amusements. There cannot be much revenue in them, but there is great pleasure, and I hope the Chancellor will make that concession.
§ Sir W. Wakefield
I suppose one of the greatest spectacles in this country, or indeed in the world, is the Boat Race. Rowing is an amateur sport and does not attract much revenue, but it may be of interest to the Committee to know that it would have been impossible for university rowing to take place had it not been for the funds available from Rugby football played both at Cambridge University and at Oxford University. Surplus funds from that amateur game have greatly helped the amateur sport of rowing, and, therefore, in this proposed tax we are not only going to hit the amateur game of rugby football, but also the amateur sport of rowing as well.
I strongly support what was said about the Football Association by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Johnson). I spoke to Sir Stanley Rous, the secretary of the Football Association, at tea after the Cup Final on Saturday, and he said, "I do hope M.P.s will stress the fact that Association football is not really composed of a few big League clubs. It is true that they attract the money and the tax, but what I am so deeply concerned about is the effect of the Entertainments Duty on thousands of amateur clubs up and down the country, with their million players or so." He also said to me, "I do not quite know what the effect of this Entertainments Duty will be, but it certainly will be very serious"
It is these clubs on which hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have laid so much stress. It is a matter of a hundred or two one way or the other whether they make a profit or a loss, and that small amount cannot make one iota of difference to the solvency of this country, while it makes all the difference to these amateur clubs, whether they be Association, Rugby Union or Rugby League, and there are many junior clubs in the Rugby League which play 13 a side and whose players receive no payment.
These are the clubs that ought to be considered, and I do urge that this country is more likely to remain solvent and come through its difficulties if 322 encouragement is given to these clubs, if the young men working in our factories and fields are helped in their sport and enabled to play their games, and not find it such an uneven struggle to keep their clubs solvent, when the hundred or two they make is taken away in extra taxation.
I want to conclude by stressing the importance of overseas tours by amateurs. Two years ago, when the British touring side visited his country, the Prime Minister of New Zealand said that that team were the finest ambassadors which the United Kingdom could ever have sent to the shores of New Zealand. That amateur side included 13 Welshmen, was captained by a grand man from Southern Ireland and also included Scotsmen and Englishmen as well. He said it did a great deal of good, and I am quite sure that, if more amateur teams could tour the Dominions and Colonies than is now possible, there would be a resulting advantage in good relationships, which it is the desire of both sides of this Committee to promote throughout the Commonwealth.
§ Sir A. Salter
We are dealing with a limited Amendment, or, perhaps I should say, with two rather similar but limited proposals. We have had a debate which has ranged over a very wide sphere, and has covered requests for much wider concessions, and we must consider this particular proposal in the perspective of the debate which has preceded this discussion.
First of all, we have had the case put for placing in the lower scale racing and games. Then, we had a proposal for placing in the lower scale, not racing, but all sports. Now, we have a proposal for putting in that class one section only, namely, the amateur section of sport. I think everyone will regard the speeches we have heard as having been moderate, reasonable, persuasive and very interesting.
I would refer first to the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton), who moved the Amendment. She asked what was the magnitude of the sum involved. I can give no precise answer, because I cannot give an exact definition of what would be covered by "amateur" in the sense that the Amendment uses it. By and large the total would be about £200,000. It is 323 not the magnitude of the sum we have in mind but certain other difficulties which give cause for thought.
The hon. Lady referred to the case of a club which had been able to get exemption, and she generously acknowledged the help that the authorities gave her and those working with her in securing that. She will consider, in regard to some of the other cases she mentioned, that possibly some of them might similarly qualify for exemption if they are sponsored by the A.A.A. and have the educational element to which she referred.
As regards some of the other cases she mentioned—for instance ladies' cricket—an answer has been given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. The general proposal is that cricket as a whole will not pay the increased duty this season and the Chancellor has promised to give careful consideration to the subject before the season of next year with a view to dealing with it in the next Finance Bill.
Our difficulty is that we do not think that the definition of amateurism in this Amendment is adequate or suitable by itself to decide what should go into one class or another. In saying that let me point out at once that I have the greatest possible sympathy with those hon. Members who have emphasised the importance of the amateur element in our sport. I would go so far as to say that so far if a particular sport is being considered for relief or preferential treatment of any kind the fact that it is largely amateur will be a relevant factor in that consideration.
But when one comes to ask the question whether a sport, which on other grounds would be in the intermediate scale, should be moved to the lowest scale solely because it is a game that is amateur one runs into great difficulties. I would like to mention some. First of all, I am not sure whether the Amendment means that a sport should be exempted because it is amateur, or whether a particular contest or a match on a particular day, should be in the lower class because it is regarded as amateur.
Putting that aside, I would like the Committee to consider the great anomalies and difficulties in the definition of amateur in different sports. In tennis one ceases to be an amateur if one plays 324 with a professional in the same game. It is not so in cricket. In the case of rowing, I believe, one becomes a professional if one sells any of the equipment of that sport. In rowing, in fact, the definition went further than that. I remember when I was at Oxford, a regrettably long time ago, it required a special meeting of the authorities of the University Boat Club to consider whether I should be allowed to row. Not that I was disqualified by anything affecting me personally, but because my father was a partner in a firm which made rowing craft. It was decided in my favour, and doubtless that question would not be raised.
§ Sir A. Salter
I regret to say that the days to which I refer when I was an undergraduate were a long time before 1937, so I think the matter was decided many years before then.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black) has suggested a definition of "amateur," but that definition is different from that which is adopted in, I think, any sport. If we adopted his definition we should have for every sport, first of all the definition of "amateur" framed by the authorities governing that sport, and secondly a separate Treasury "amateur," which would be a very confusing state of affairs. For all those reasons, I cannot believe that this is a suitable criterion by itself.
Let me mention some of the other difficulties which would arise. Suppose a completely amateur university football team plays a professional team. Is that an amateur or a professional contest? I do not know. The difficulties of that kind are innumerable, and whatever may be the solution of what is a very difficult problem—which is amply illustrated by the debates today which have covered one sport after another—the problem will not be solved by attempting to apply this criterion in determining that sport otherwise in the intermediate scale should be put into the lower scale.
§ Sir W. Wakefield
Would it not be possible for the definition of an amateur to be that of the Olympic Association, for example? They have a pretty clear definition of what is an amateur. Perhaps that definition could be used.
§ Sir A. Salter
Even if there were an adequate definition, I do not think that would meet the main case put by so many hon. Members, who have produced arguments which have related to the smaller clubs, some of which may have financial difficulties, rather than to the mere question of the amateur status.
For all those reasons, while many of the difficulties and hardships put before us are affected by some of the proposals made by my right hon. Friend, we do not think that this criterion would be a suitable one for putting sports into the lowest class, and I am therefore unable to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I think that my hon. Friends the Members for Coventry, South (Miss Burton), and Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) are to be congratulated on raising this matter, and upon the extremely able and knowledgeable speeches they made in support of the Amendment. I am bound to say that I found the right hon. Gentleman's reply extremely disappointing, and very unconvincing. We all know the difficulties of precise definitions, and I do not think it is reasonable, when we consider all the facilities that the Treasury have at their disposal, to expect us to be able to produce straight away a watertight definition. There may be difficulties of that kind, but I find it very hard to accept that it is impossible to define the term "amateur."
If we take the right hon. Gentleman at his word, if it is impossible in any Act of Parliament to define the word properly, that only shows how utterly unsatisfactory the whole of this Clause is. If we accept the right hon. Gentleman's view, it means that the Chancellor is insisting on taxing women's netball more heavily than the music-hall. Now what on earth is the justification for that? Can the Chancellor or the Minister of State give any reason why a heavier tax should be imposed on these amateur games, whether played by women or men, than on music-hall shows? I cannot see that there is any argument for that. I will not pursue that matter further because I might be getting rather wide of the Amendment.
§ The Chancellor told us on the previous Amendment that he would, as I understood it, think over the whole question of how football was to be treated. I was not quite sure whether he meant football only, or all those sports and games. I very much hope that he meant all sports and games, including those mentioned in this particular debate; perhaps the right hon. Gentleman, in order to expedite the proceedings, could give the Committee an assurance on this?
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
My observations had particular regard to football, but it is impossible to consider football without having regard to other sports and games.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that explanation, because my hon. Friends will have the opportunity, if they so desire, to raise the matter again on Report. If this particular Amendment had stood on its own, I should have advised my hon. Friends to press it to a Division; but I understand that we are to have the opportunity of dividing on the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith). That is a wider Amendment, which largely covers the other in the name of the hon. Member for Coventry, South, and, in the circumstances perhaps she will feel that, since she will have the opportunity to raise the subject on Report, despite the unsatisfactory nature of the reply tonight, she will not press her Amendment to a Division.
§ Miss Burton
Despite the unsatisfactory reply, I hope those bodies which have no exemption will take note of those which have, and I will not, in the circumstances, press my Amendment, but beg to ask leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed: In page 2, line 32, after "applicable," insert:
in the case of any entertainment which consists of games or other sports and."—[Mr. Ellis Smith.]
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 249; Noes, 270.329
|Division No. 116.]||AYES||[10.48 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Awbery, S. S||Bence, C. R.|
|Adams, Richard||Bacon, Miss Alice||Benn, Wedgwood|
|Albu, A. H.||Baird, J.||Benson, G.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Balfour, A.||Beswick, F.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Bing, G. H. C.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hayman, F. H.||Peart, T. F.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Boardman, H||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Poole, C. C.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Herbison, Miss M.||Porter, G.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hobson, C. R.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Holman, P.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Brown, Rl. Hon. George (Belper)||Houghton, Douglas||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Burke, W. A.||Hoy, J. H.||Rankin, John|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Reeves, J.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Reid, William (Camlachie)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Rhodes, H.|
|Carmichael, J.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Richards, R.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Champion, A. J.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Janner, B||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Clunie, J.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Ross, William|
|Cocks, F. S.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Royle, C.|
|Coldrick, W.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)|
|Collick, P. H.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Cook, T. F.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Shawoross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Short, E. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Crosland, C. A. R||Keenan, w.||Slater, J.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Kenyon, C.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Darling, George (Hillsberough)||King, Dr. H. M.||Snow, J. W.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Davies, Harold (Leak)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Sparks, J. A.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Steele, T.|
|Deer, G.||Lewis, Arthur||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lindgren, G. S.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Logan, D. G.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||McGhee, H. G.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon E|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||McGovern, J.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mclnnes, J.||Sylvester, G 0.|
|Edelman, M.||McLeavy, F.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, David (Aberdare;|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Ewart, R.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mallalieu, J P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Timmons, J|
|Field W. J.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Tomney, F.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Manuel, A. C.||Turner-Samuels, M|
|finch, H. J.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Mayhew, C. P.||Usborne, H C|
|Follick, M.||Mellish, R. J||Wallace, H. W|
|Foot, M. M.||Mikardo, Ian||Weitzman, D.|
|Forman, J. C||Mitchison, G. R||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Monslow, W.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Moody, A. S.||West, D. G.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Morley, R||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Gibson C W||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Glanville, James||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Moyle, A.||Wigg, George|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mulley, F. W.||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Murray, J. D.||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)|
|Greenwood. Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Grey, C F.||O'Brien, T.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, W. R (Droylsden)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Orbach, M.||Williams, W. T (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Oswald, T.||Wilson, Rt. Hon Harold (Huyton)|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Padley, W. E||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Paget, R. T.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon A|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Pannell, Charles||Wyatt, W. L|
|Hannan, W.||Pargiter, G. A.||Yates, V. F|
|Hargreaves, A.||Parker, J.||Younger, Rt. Hon K|
|Hastings, S.||Paton, J.|
|Pearson, A||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Bowden and Mr. Wilkins.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Baldwin, A. E.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Banks, Col. C|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Barber, A. P. L.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe)||Barlow, Sir John|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Baker, P. A. D.||Baxter, A. B.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Baldock, Ll.-Cmdr. J. M||Beach, Maj. Hicks|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Heald, Sir Lionel||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Bennett, F M. (Reading, N)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Osborne, C.|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Higgs, J. M. C.||Partridge, E.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Perkins, W. R. D|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Bevins, J, R. (Toxteth)||Hirst Geoffrey||Peyton, J. W. W|
|Birch, Nigel||Holland-Martin, C. J||Pilkington, Capt. R A|
|Bishop, F, P||Hollis, M. C.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Black, C. W||Holt, A. F||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hope, Lord John||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hopkinson, Henry||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O L|
|Bowen, E. R.||Horobin, I. M.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Rayner, Brig R|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Hudson, W R. A. (Hull, N.)||Redmayne, M.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.||Remnant. Hon. P.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H||Hurd, A. R.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Hutchison, Lt.-Com Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Robertson, Sir David|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G T||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E E.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Butcher, H. W.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Russell, R. S.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Kaberry, D.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Keeling, Sir Edward||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Lambert, Hon. G.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Channon, H.||Lambton, Viscount||Scott, R. Donald|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Shepherd, William|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Leather, E. H. C.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Cole, Norman||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Colegate, W. A.||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lindsay, Martin||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Linstead, H. N.||Snadden, W. McN|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Spearman, A. C M.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Speir, R. M|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Lookwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Crouch, R. F.||Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Crowder, John E. (Finchley)||Low, A. R. W.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Storey, S.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. MoA.||McKibbin, A. J.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Donner, P. W.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Summers, G. S.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Maclean, Fitzroy||Sutoliffe, H.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||MacLeod, lain (Enfield, W.)||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Drayson, G. B.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Drewe, C.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Teeling, W.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W)|
|Erroll, F. J.||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E||Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Fell, A.||Markham, Major S. F.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C N|
|Fisher, Nigel||Marples, A. E.||Tilney, John|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)||Turton, R. H.|
|Fort, R.||Maude, Angus||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Maudling, R.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Maydon, Lt -Comdr. S. L. C.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Medlicott, Brig. F||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H||Mellon Sir John||Wakefteld, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Godber, J. B.||Molson, A. H. E.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Gomnte-Duncan, Col. A.||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Gower, H. R.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|Graham Sir Fergus||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Grimond, J.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Wellwood, W.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Nicholls, Harmar||While, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Hare, Hon. J. H||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Nugent, G. R. H||Wills, G.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Nutting, Anthony||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Oakshott, H. D.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Odey, G. W.||York, C.|
|Hay, John||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Heath and Mr. Vosper.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.331
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
I put myself in order by moving this Motion, Sir Charles, so that we may hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his intentions are this evening.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I think, in the atmosphere which has prevailed, that we have made satisfactory progress on a difficult Clause. I should like to pay tribute to the part played, not only by right hon. Gentleman and hon. Gentlemen opposite, but by hon. Gentlemen on this side of the Committee. The position is that there is practically nothing controversial in Clauses 3, 4 and 5, and, I think, it would be reasonable that we should get these Clauses.
I should like, if there is an opportunity, to make a start on Clause 6, which I fully realise involves much more discussion than Clauses 3, 4 and 5. I would not ask the Committee to sit later than is convenient for the normal means of transport, which is about 11.30 p.m. If that is agreeable, I should like, for certain, to get Clauses 3, 4 and 5, and to make a start on Clause 6.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.