Pop Goes The Weasel
TTaken from the production file (catalogue reference: INF 6/1333)
Speakers: George Merrit (GM) and Hubert Leslie (HB)
GM: Fourteen shillings they take, fourteen shillings. It's robbery.
HL: Insulting behaviour! Wasting paper and throwing litter in the park.
GM: So what!
HL: Income tax, eh!
GM: Yes, that’s right, the harder you work, the more you pay.
HL: Aye; it can seem like that, but you earn more too, remember.
GM: Yes I earn it, but who gets it?
HL: Man, your ignorance is phenomenal! Do you mean to tell me that you’ve been paying your taxes all these years and never bothered to find out how your money was spent.
GM: Chancellor of the Exchequer, eh?
HL: Not yet.
GM: All right. I'll buy it.
HL: You and me - you and me and the rest of us are going to have to pay to the Government this year in taxes, three thousand million pounds.
GM: And where does that lot go?
HL: All comes back to the nation that’s us - in one form or another ultimately.
GM: It’ll be a frosty Friday before that ever happens.
HL: Here, let me make it simple.
GM: The old Victoria Park Lancers.
HL: Let’s take a pound - a pound that's paid in taxes by folks like you and me - and I’ll show you how it’s spent. Now there are three main divisions - peace, the National Debt, and war. Now 7/9d out of our pound goes to peace; 3/3d out of our pound goes to the National Debt, and that leaves 9/- for the purposes of war.
GM: What! All that lot for War?
HL: The cost of the war didn’t end on VJ night. We’re still paying for it. Man! We spent an awful lot of money those five years.
HL: One fighter - five thousand pounds. One twenty-five pound shell - two pounds, ten shillings. Two pounds ten shillings, five pounds, seven pounds ten, ten pounds!
HL: On and on, until we were spending half a million pounds an hour, nine thousand, seven hundred and twenty pounds every minute. A hundred and sixty-two pounds a second. For five long years until Victory!
HL: And so you see we’re still paying four hundred million towards the cost of the war; that's 2/9d out of our pound. To the victor, the spoils of victory - aye, and the responsibilities of peace. Armed forces have to be maintained in Germany and the Far East. The Middle East - a key strategic centre - must be securely held. Our Empire commitments are still spread half across the world.
HL: That cost's money. Lots of it. Six and threepence.
GM: Six and threepence to keep the peace?
HL: Aye, to keep, the peace.
GM: And what about this three and threepence?
HL: That’s for the National Debt. It’s not to repay the National Debt, it's a kind of interest paid on loans to the Government - och, it’s mainly for the last two wars. I'm bound to say I don't fully understand it myself.
GM: You surprise me!
HL: And now, now for the things of peace - the things the whole world wants ’health, homes - aye, and learning forbye! And we don’t only want them as planes in the sky but brought down into everyday reality.
Take health, our children’s health must be safeguarded from the earliest years, hence our welfare centres; where baby can be watched and tended, and there are not enough of these nor of clinics, nor of any such places.
This year, fourpence out of a pound comes back to us through our health services. Aye, and in the smiling faces of our children. I am sure you will agree we can’t afford to stunt our children's minds.
And too many of us have memories of schools like these. We know that these are no places for our youngsters. They are going, as fast as we can afford to remove them. New schools are building . There is the drive for new teachers. We’ve raised the school-leaving age. New ideas are being put into practice.
Is one and tuppence out of our pound too much to spend on our children’s education on their future?
A hundred years ago the industrial revolution covered our land with cheap houses for cheap labour. Even to rebuild them was a big enough undertaking.
This year a policy of building decent ordinary houses is costing sixty million pounds. We’re using sixpence in our pound to solve the problem of how to live happily with mother-in-law - aye, a wee bitty away from her.
These are the more familiar social services. One and tuppence for education, sixpence for housing, fourpence for health.
There's another biggish item - what we might call a sort of Jock-of-all Trades - that's to keep down the rates in poorer districts, and Government training schemes, the roads, the courts of justice - aye, the whole rick-ma-tick from the judges, policemen and the hangmen - and indirectly, me!
GM: What about me? Don’t I get a cut?
HL: Are you a family man with bairns?
GM: Yes, two.
HL: Don't you got the family allowances?
GM: Fat lot I get. The old woman collars the lot.
HL: Well, there you are. A cash payment made over the counter every week, and the same with old-age pensions. These deserving causes run away with another one and seven pence. And last but not least is the two and fourpence that goes towards the food subsidies. Think of them when you present your ration books. In many countries the cost of food has risen. Then equal distribution has broken down and the basic rations have disappeared into the black market. In Britain we pay 2/4d out of a pound to help keep prices steady and give everyone fair shares. And if you were a housewife, you’d know, that you're getting back as much as 12/6d a week from the food subsidies.
GM: You seem to have spent all the countrys money except this ’ere elevenpence.
HL: You must understand I’ve only given you a very rough estimate. I think we’d better call that "petty cash". So that’s how we spend a pound paid in taxation during the present year.
GM: Blimey! What a memory!
HL: Oh, I've made a kind of study of it, you know. But since you mention it, I’ll have the tuppence for your chair.