THE TAX GATHERER
,tom the folly of the autumn Budget to the trivialities of the Finance Bill. On Tuesday arone our legislators spent almost seven hours discussing some of the amendments to the new purchase taxes, particularly those on household goods. A great deal of solemn nonsense was talked about christening hats, dustbins, interval timers, hand wringers and so on. Perhaps it does not much matter that members amuse themselves in this, way. But it does matter that the purchase tax wastes the time of thousands in offices, in shops and in industry, to say nothing of the work that goes on inside the Customs and Excise as they try to draw up the necessary schedules. Imagine the time spent in defining babies' gloves in contrast to children's gloves, and then trying—unsuccessfully-i–to distinguish the size of a child's glove from one for a small man or woman. How many hours were similarly wasted on `the broom and brush question,' which the Chancellor pompously described as `among the most complex and difficult which we have today'? Before widening the scope of this bad tax in such a ludicrous way, even a Tory Government might have chosen to try to cut its spending instead. Unfortunately Mr. Butler is not only claiming credit for broadening the purchase tax, but he has hinted that it is with us for ever. He boasted that it will soon bring in four hundred million pounds from the public—almost enough to pay for the various subsidies handed out to the public by other government departments. One looks forward to the day when we have a Chancellor who is not content to be a mere tax gatherer but who will hammer out a consistent fiscal and economic policy.