HC Deb 01 October 1909 vol 11 cc1607-11

The profits of a married woman living with her husband shall, notwithstanding anything contained in Section forty-five of the Income Tax Act, 1842, not be deemed the profits of her husband, neither shall he be chargeable therewith, but every married woman shall be chargeable to Income Tax in respect of her separate property in all respects as though she were a femme sole.

I do not want to waste time on this, but I should just like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his heart has been softened in this case. It is a very hard one indeed that if a man lives with a woman who happens to be his wife they should be in a worse position than if she was not his wife. The short effect of this Section of the Income Tax Act is a penalty upon marriage. There seems to be a new mind in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I hope he will reconsider this with a view of remedying the grievance. It surely is a monstrous injustice that you should tax a married couple on their joint incomes, but it has been so often argued in this House that I shall not take up any more time.


This is a very old grievance that comes up every year—indeed, it is a hardy annual—but it is rather a serious alteration of the general law for me to contemplate, and I think it would mean a serious diminution of the revenue, because there are many cases in which, if it is passed, exemptions may be claimed. In many cases the income is brought up to £700 by taking the two. I do not think, however, that there is any real hardship, as the provision does not apply to any people who cannot afford a contribution to the Income Tax; and, after all, these married people do live together, as they ought to do, and they have a joint duty in regard to the expenses of the household. Therefore, I do not think there is a real case of hardship, and the grievance is a sentimental one. As they live together the expenses of the wife are considerably less, and she has an income of her own. I think when we make an alteration of the general law it ought to be in cases of real hardship and suffering, and not in cases of this kind. I do not think there is any claim which would justify me in making the Amendment.


I am not going to argue the general question. I have not any sympathy with anybody who marries a woman with money, but there is a question which I wish to ask. Certain abatements were given to persons living abroad, and who happened to be there in the service of the country, and to others. I have a letter in regard to a missionary abroad who really has little or no money, but his wife, who is with him, has under £160 a year, and I have been asked whether, in that case, an abatement will be allowed. The lady is carrying out what the Chancellor of the Exchequer says she ought to do, and is with her husband. She is not a missionary, she is not the person who comes under the exemption, but between them they would, as there is a common fund.


In that case, I understand the lady has accompanied her husband in his capacity as a missionary. I should think a case of that kind should come within the exception which I promised to insert. I will consider it.


I understand the right hon. Gentleman's reason for not accepting the Clause was that it would cost too much money to the State. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman has changed from the good example he set the House yesterday, when he said the question which the Committee should consider was whether or not the tax was just, and not whether or not it would cost the State money. I was lost in admiration at the excellent sentiment which he gave vent to yesterday. Now I find all these good instincts have left him, and he has reverted to his own bad self again.


I do not admit the grievance.


The rest of the Committee, I think, do. I will put this case. The right hon. Gentleman says if husband and wife are living together their joint income goes to the household expenses. A brother and sister live together, both enjoying incomes of their own. They pool their incomes, and they go to the household expenses in exactly the same way as a husband and wife, but their incomes are not aggregated together for the purpose of Income Tax, though, of course, the house is equally dear to them as to the husband and wife. But there is another point where a grievance comes in. For the purpose of Death Duties husband and wife are not taken as being one, but as being two. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. If the husband and wife are to be taken as being one person for the purpose of Income Tax they must be treated as one person for the Death Duties. That seems to be absolutely unanswerable.

Question put, "That this Clause be now read a second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 46; Noes, 119.

Division No. 752.] AYES. [3.10 p.m.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Gretton, John Parkes, Ebenezer
Balcarres, Lord Guinness, Hon. R. (Haggerston) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.) Guinness, Hon. W. E. (B. S. Edmunds) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Banner, John S. Harmood- Haddock, George B. Remnant, James Farquharson
Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.) Hamilton, Marquess of Renwick, George
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M. Harris, Frederick Leverton Salter, Arthur Clavell
Carlile, E. Hildred Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Snowden, P.
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Hunt, Rowland Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxford Univ.)
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Kimber, Sir Henry Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Craik, Sir Henry King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull) Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)
Dalrymple, Viscount Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. Watt, Henry A.
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott Lonsdale, John Brownlee Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Faber, George Denison (York) Lowe, Sir Francis William Younger, George
Fell, Arthur M'Arthur, Charles
Fletcher, J. S. Morrison-Bell, Captain TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Hills and Sir F. Banbury.
Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham) Nicholson, Wm G. (Petersfield)
Goulding, Edward Alfred
Ainsworth, John Stirling Compton-Rickett, Sir J. Gibb, James (Harrow)
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Glendinning, R. G.
Armitage, R. Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford
Ashton, Thomas Gair Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Gulland, John W.
Barnes, G. N. Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)
Beale, W. P. Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)
Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.) Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)
Rowerman, C. W. Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall) Hart-Davies, T.
Branch, James Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Essex, R. W. Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Esslemont, George Birnie Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.
Byles, William Pollard Evans, Sir Samuel T. Hedges, A. Paget
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Everett, R. Lacey Helme, Norval Watson
Clough, William Ferens, T. R. Henderson, Arthur (Durham)
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Higham, John Sharp
Hobart, Sir Robert Morse, L. L. Sherwell, Arthur James
Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.) Sioan, Thomas Henry
Hodge, John Nicholls, George Stanger, H. Y.
Horniman, Emslie John Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster) Steadman, W. C.
Illingworth, Percy H. Nuttall, Harry Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Parker, James (Halifax) Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Jardine, Sir J. Paulton, James Mellor Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton.)
Jones, Leif (Appleby) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Thorne, William (West Ham)
Kekewich, Sir George Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Thornton, Percy M.
Lamont, Norman Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.) Toulmin, George
Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester) Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Lehmann, R. C. Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.) Vivian, Henry
Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Wadsworth, J.
Lewis, John Herbert Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Waterlow, D. S.
Macpherson, J. T. Roe, Sir Thomas White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)
M'Callum, John M. Rogers, F. E. Newman White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)
Maddison, Frederick Rose, Sir Charles Day Whitehead, Rowland
Markham, Arthur Basil Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) Williamson, Sir A.
Marnham, F. J. Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Massie, J. Seddon, J.
Mond, A. Seely, Colonel TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Mr. Fuller.
Mooney, J. J. Shackleton, David James

Mr. WALTER GUINNESS moved to insert the following:—