HC Deb 22 May 1905 vol 146 cc960-1
MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to a case in Islington in which the Inland Revenue authorities seek to impose a fine of 2s. 6d. on an individual against whom it was alleged he had not taken out his dog licence sufficiently early; under what statute are the collectors authorised to levy such fines, and into what fund are they paid; and whether, in view of the fact that such proceedings are liable to abuse, he can see his way to put a stop, to them.


The case is one of a kind very common under the practice of the Board, whereby, in. virtue of the powers conferred by Section 35 (1) of the Inland Revenue Regulation Act, 1890, offenders in the matter of dog licences are offered the opportunity of paying a small fine as an alternative to appearing before the police magistrate. It is always open to an offender to elect this latter alternative, but, out of many thousands annually, the cases in which such election is made are relatively few. It may be inferred from this that the option of paying a fine is regarded as a privilege rather than as a hardship. The fines are paid into the Local Taxation Account. In the particular case to which the hon. Member has drawn my attention, the licence was not taken out until March 9th, after the detection had been made. If, in such circumstances, the offence were wholly condoned, I am afraid that very few licences would be taken until the authorities had detected the default.


Does the regulation apply to the Inland Revenue in Ireland?


Dog licences in Ireland are on altogether a different footing.


What is the total amount realised by these fines? Is the amount of each fine fixed by a particular officer? Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that the practice is open to abuse?


I cannot tell the amount without notice. The amount is fixed in each case by the Inland Revenue Department. The person from whom a fine is claimed has the alternative of a prosecution if he thinks that it is fixed arbitrarily and too high and he can go before the magistrates. But the fine obviously is a lesser penalty than the law imposes.