HC Deb 08 May 1907 vol 174 cc206-7

To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he is aware of the partial or total freedom from assessment to income-tax of limited liability, joint stock, Civil Service, Army and Navy, and co-operative societies; whether he will adopt the scheme as submitted by the Central Agency, Traders Defence Associations, for the assessment of Income Tax of these bodies, seeing that the Income Tax Committee admitted that, if put into operation, it would bring in about two millions sterling annually to the Treasury; and whether, in the event of his not adopting the scheme, he will appoint a Committee of the House of Commons to inquire fully into this matter.

(Answered by Mr. Asquith.) Societies like the Civil Service and the Army and Navy Stores, and other limited liability and joint stock co-operative societies (so-called), are directly assessed to income-tax on their profits just like other trading companies. The exemption from direct assessment is confined to industrial co-operative societies registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act. This was very fully considered by the late Lord Ritchie's Committee in 1905 (see paragraphs 130–140 of their Report [Cd. 2575]), and they came to the conclusion that no case was made out for altering the law. I see no reason for any further inquiry. The scheme of the Central Agency of the Traders Defence Associations was for the imposition of a special tax, assessed on a different basis from the income-tax, upon these associations. I am not aware that this drastic suggestion has received support from anyone except from its own authors.