HC Deb 02 May 1889 vol 335 cc990-1
MR. PICTON (Leicester)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention had been called to a memorial addressed by the Leicester Temperance and General Permanent Building Society in January last to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, whether he was aware that while 95 per cent of the members of this society were in humble circumstances, and not liable to income tax, the Board of Inland Revenue insisted on either charging the tax, in order to return it, or on making the society collect the tax from the 5 per cent of members who were liable; whether he had considered the amount of trouble and expense, and friction that must be caused in either case to a society promotive of thrift among the poor; and whether, in view of his statement in the analogous case of co-operative stores that "when the shareholders in any such stores are notoriously all, or almost all, persons of an income less than £150, it would not only not be a gain, but would be a positive loss to the revenue to levy a tax, nearly all of which has to be returned," he would cause the memorial of the Leicester Society to be reconsidered with a view to a more favourable answer than had yet been received.


My attention has been called to the memorial in question, and I accept the statement of the hon. Member that 95 per cent of the members of the Leicester Building Society to which he refers are not liable to income tax. It is just to meet cases of this kind, and to avoid the trouble, expense, and friction to which the hon. Member refers, that an arrangement has been proposed by the Inland Revenue to avoid the cumbrous process of collection and repayment of duties in such cases. This arrangement, which has been accepted by a number of building societies, has been declined by the one in question, but I cannot help hoping that its refusal may be reconsidered. The case of co-operative stores is not analogous, but in many respects different from that of building societies. But in either case it is the constant object of the Inland Revenue to avoid the necessity of collecting duties which have to be returned.


May I hope that the answer I have referred to will be reconsidered, that there is a possibility of a more favourable answer being given to the memorial?


I do not know whether the hon. Member has seen the proposal of the Inland Revenue Department which has been accepted by other Building Societies, but I hope this particular Society will see its way to come to an arrangement with the Inland Revenue to avoid the friction which he and I deplore.