HC Deb 04 May 1915 vol 71 cc1005-6

I would like to say a word about Income Tax before I pass from revenue. The only alteration we propose to make, and which we propose to submit to the House, are alterations in the Income Tax, and they are of a slight character. They are slight alterations in respect of which we gave a pledge last year to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) and hon. Members on both sides of the House in reference to insurance companies. The present method of computation of liability is unfair to the British life assurance companies against the outside companies, and it is unfair to the life assurance companies as against the composite companies. A pledge was given last year, after very considerable debate in this House, that in this Budget an attempt would be made to redress that grievance. We propose to carry out that pledge. It will involve a slight charge on the composite companies, but it will be a considerable relief to the life insurance companies, and it is perfectly fair and rendered all the more necessary owing to the very heavy percentage of the Income Tax. We also propose another alteration. There are indications that efforts are being made to circumvent the Income Tax, and especially the Super-Tax, by means of the development of the endowment policy. A really bonâ-fide endowment policy is a very valuable contribution to the life of this country, but when you have a scheme for an endowment policy for Ave years, with enormous premiums, that is not really insurance, especially when it is accompanied by circulars pointing out that when you throw in the Income Tax it is really an investment which gives you your money back with 4½ per cent. and that the ingredient which enables you to do that is the very heavy Income Tax and the Super-tax. I think we must put an end to that, and it is very much better it should be done before the thing develops further. We propose, therefore, that there should be an alteration which will discriminate between the bonâ-fide insurance, including endowment, and the mere obvious attempt to evade the Income Tax and the Super-tax. These are the only alterations.


Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to do anything in regard to officers' pay?


I think that will be a very difficult matter to deal with, and I do not want to enter upon it now. We can, however, discuss that when we get into Committee.