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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 5. May, 7, 1947

Another Instalment of British Socialism — —Our London Correspondent

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Another Instalment of British Socialism

Our London Correspondent

Spring has come at last. After the rigours of winter and a disappointingly wet, cold Easter, we have been enjoying calm, cloudless days, transforming the spirits of the people and the appearance of the country side. With astonishing, rapidity trees have budded and put forth leaves.

With Spring came the Budget, which met with a very mixed reception. The tobacco tax is certainly a heavy blow. Cigarettes at ¾ for twenty, tobacco at 4/- an ounce, are indeed luxuries which many can scarcely afford. The "Daily Worker," and left wing Labour generally, have condemned it roundly as denying to the masses what has become almost a necessity, whilst leaving it for the rich people who can pay. It is doubtful whether it will effectively reduce consumption, which makes it merely a heavy ungraded tax (it produced one-eighth of total revenue last year). Yet the fact is that consumption must be reduced somehow (since we are not "allowed" to discriminate against America) and all schemes for rationing face the very real problem of the great variety and individual demand, with the consequent certainty of an enormous black market, either in cigarettes or coupons.

The new taxes on bonus issues and distributed profits have naturally been condemned by the Tories, on the usual basis of tirades about robbing the widows and orphans (i.e., of stockbrokers), ruinous State expenditure (i.e., on social services), and reducing incentives (i.e., of profit margins of fifty per cent, common in recent balance sheets). The real criticism also applies to the concessions and income tax allowances, in that they hardly go far enough. But the Budget is balanced and by orthodox standards it is a moderate one, but it is hardly a revolutionary socialist one (which no one expected). In fact, the only criticism that W. J. Brown, M.P., in his unconsciously humorous polemic in the "Evening Standard." could level against it was that it was neither too easy (which he would have liked personally) nor too austere.

The case of the civil servants who were dismissed or refused transfer, apparently at the secret instructions of M.I.5, a branch of military intelligence, is extremely disturbing. No public case has been brought against them, and their sole crime seems to consist in their being Communists. Such police State methods are deplorable, particularly in the English public service, whose record of fairness and openness is long, honourable and unique. The Civil Servants' Union is taking the matter up (it has been widely featured in the newspapers) and it is to be hoped that they will expose and eliminate this danger to civil liberties.