HC Deb 06 April 1908 vol 187 cc890-1

To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether collectors of Income-tax, Schedule A, and of house duty, have uncontrolled discretion to levy distraints for the nonpayment of these taxes; whether such collectors are practically independent of the control of the surveyors of their districts; and, if so, will he consider the advisability of issuing such regulations as will bring the collectors under the effective control of the surveyors, with the view of avoiding unnecessary levies of distraint on poor people such as at present occasionally occur.

(Answered by Mr. Asquith.) Collectors of taxes are not independent officials, but are responsible for the manner in which they perform their duties to the District Commissioners of taxes, to whom any complaints as to their conduct should be addressed. The only authority exercised by surveyors over collectors of taxes is the indirect one of reporting any complaint as to the conduct of any collector to the District Commissioners, who are required to summon a meeting for the consideration of the matter and to take whatever measures may be thought necessary. The collectors are expressly enjoined and required by the Commissioners' warrants to distrain in cases where payment of taxes is not made on duo demand, and the surveyor can only intervene where there is an objection to a charge on some specific ground rendering necessary an appeal to the District Commissioners. In view of the necessity for maintaining the independence of the District Commissioners, it is not desirable that their executive officers should be placed under the control of the officials of the Board of Inland Revenue. I am not aware of the existence of "unnecessary levies of distraint on poor people," but any case of the kind would be a proper occasion for complaint to the Commissioners, who have full power to deal with it.