§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I desire to ask your guidance, Sir, on a point of procedure. It will be within your recollection that on Thursday last, in answer to a question, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, repudiated all responsibility with regard to the proceedings of collectors of Income Tax, and to-day the same right hon. Gentleman has given answers which at least do not make the position plain. I would, therefore, ask you whether, in view of these facts, and especially in view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman, in answering questions on the matter, does not accept full responsibility, it would be more appropriate to address the questions to some other member of the Government? At the same time, I would ask whether your attention has been called to the provisions of the Tax and Revenue Act, 1880, Section 13, and of the Inland Revenue Act, 1890, which appear to provide that the collectors of Income Tax shall follow the directions of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, and that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue shall follow the directions of the Treasury?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
As the hon. Member was good enough to tell me that he wished to ask this question, I have had the matter looked into. It is somewhat complicated, but I think I am correct in saying this:—First of all, the Land Tax Commissioners are appointed by this House; the Land Tax Commissioners appoint the Income Tax Commissioners; and the Income Tax Commissioners appoint the Collectors of Income Tax. Therefore, in a sense, they are independent of any Government Department. Then comes in the Section to which the hon. Member refers—Section 13 of the Statute of 43 and 44 Victoria—which says, "the Collectors of Income Tax are required to follow the instructions of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue." Therefore, if the collectors of Income Tax are following the instructions of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, the Commissioners of Inland Revenue—in other words, the Treasury—are responsible; but if the Collectors of Income Tax act in the exercise of their statutory authority apart from the instructions of the Inland Revenue Department, there is no Minister in this House who would be responsible.