§ MR. SEARS (Cheltenham)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will say by whom the parochial officers who assessed the dog tax prior to 1867 were appointed; whether they were responsible to the Government or to the district commissioners of taxes; whether the tax officers said to have been over the parochial assessors were surveyors of taxes merely, appointed by the Government as a check on the work of parochial officers, or what was the relation of the tax officers to the parochial assessors; and whether surveyors of taxes now occupy the same position as formerly.
I beg also to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Board of Inland Revenue, in estimating the saving in poundage in respect of the transfer of the dog tax in 1867, took into account all the 875 facts of the case, including the reduction in the duty from 12s. to 5s.; whether the savings in 1867 of poundage, etc., of £6,500 and of £60,000 in 1869 from further transfers, were actual savings apart from the increased revenue received from the increased number of dogs brought to charge; was there any set off, and, if so, what was the nature and amount of such set off; will he say whether the grant of increased pay and allowances in 1868 was the result of a movement on the part of the officers which had been in progress some years; and whether the Board at the time connected any part of this increase with the transfer.
I beg further to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Board of Inland Revenue made a proposal in 1860 to destroy the parochial system of assessing and collecting taxes root and branch, and issued a scheme to the Commissioners of Taxes contemplating this, or whether the transfers which took place in 1869 represented the complete and final proposals of the Board; will he say by whom the Income-Tax A and B and the Inhabited House Duty in the metropolis was assessed prior to 1873 and subsequently, the amount of annual saving in poundage, if any, effected in that year; by whom the income-tax, under Schedules D and E, was collected prior to 1879 and subsequently; whether any experiment was made in 1881–2 in employing Government instead of parochial officials in any districts in England; and in what districts were experiments made, and what was the result.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (MR. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
I will deal with these three Questions together. I have nothing to add to the information which I have already given the hon. Gentleman in reply to numerous previous Questions on the same and similar subjects. I cannot allow the time and energies of the officers of a hard-worked public Department to be diverted from their real duties by pursuing researches into matters which happened from twenty-five to forty years ago, and which in my opinion have little or no bearing upon the administrative work of to-day.