HC Deb 03 December 1906 vol 166 c559

To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that repayment claims for return of overpaid income-tax are dealt with by the unestablished clerks in the offices of the surveyors of taxes, and that when a surveyor of taxes is on leave all details of income-tax, including special assessments, are accessible to an unestablished clerk as his deputy; and whether, seeing that within the past five years clerks in surveyors' offices have been convicted of fraud in connection with repayment claims, and that business men object to confidential details as to their business and income being in the hands of clerks who are not Government officials but mere employees of the surveyors of taxes, he proposes to take any action in the matter.

(Answered by Mr. Asquith.) The routine work connected with most repayment claims is performed for surveyors by their clerks. But where the amount of an assessment under Schedule D. is in question the case is dealt with by the surveyor himself. In the seventy-nine most important districts the assistant surveyor is in charge during the absence of the surveyor. In forty-one of the remainder charge is taken by another surveyor of taxes having an office in the same building as the absent surveyor. In the remaining districts the surveyor of a neighbouring district takes charge. All special assessments and confidential papers are, by the instructions, to be kept under lock and key, and access to them should not be open to a clerk even in the absence of the surveyor. Only one instance of fraud by a clerk in a surveyor's office in connection with repayment claims has occurred within the last five years, and that did not touch assessments under Schedule D. Surveyors' clerks are required to make a declaration of secrecy.

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