HC Deb 16 December 1912 vol 45 cc1092-4
54. Sir J. D. REES

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the fact that the High Court has declared to be unlawful the levy between 6th April and 7th August of this year by the deduction of the Bum of £980,000 Income Tax, when no Act of Parliament imposing that tax had yet passed, and in view of the further fact that Mr. Gibson Bowles has consequently obtained repayment from the Bank of England, and still retains, the sum of £52 10s. 8d.,a portion of that £980,000, does he propose to order repayment of the rest of that sum thus unlawfully deducted; does he propose to admonish or otherwise punish the officers of Inland Revenue who, in obedience to an unlawful order from the Commissioners of the Treasury, induced various bankers and others to make the unlawful deduction; does he propose to introduce a Bill of Indemnity for those responsible for the unlawful levies in question; and what steps does he propose to take to prevent such unlawful levies in the future?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers this question, may I ask whether the illegal practice alleged in. this question was first established seventy years ago under the Tory regime by Sir Robert Peel?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)

In reply to the first and last parts of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answers given by myself to the hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras West on the 6th November, and by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Dulwich on the 14th November. I do not propose to take the action suggested in the question with regard to the officers of the Inland Revenue Department. In reply to the other question which was asked by my hon. Friend (Mr. Swift MacNeill) the statement which he makes is strictly accurate.

Sir J. D. REES

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the question was put down for the Prime Minister in his capacity as First Lord of the Treasury and because it impugned the conduct of the Second Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if the Prime Minister is not pleased to answer is it not the case, first, that the Prime Minister has the responsibility as First Lord of the Treasury, and that the Inland Revenue Commissioners have no responsi- bility as they are bound by Statute to obey the Treasury?


That is a question of which the hon. Member ought to give notice.

Sir J. D. REES

If I put the question down, may I ask whether the Prime Minister will answer it? I advisedly put this question down to be answered by the Prime Minister as First Lord of the Treasury.


The administrative business of the Treasury is under the control of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Sir J. D. REES

May I ask whether, since the days of Sir Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister has not been First Lord of the Treasury in order that the responsibility might be on his part?


That requires some historical research.