§ 62. Mr. CURRIE
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to a representation recently made to the Ministry of Munitions to the effect that a commission agent in London holding a contract with manufacturers entitling him to a commission on ordinary London orders had received, or was about to receive, between £5,000 and* £10,000 of commission in respect of Admiralty orders for war purposes; whether 1667 in this case it is immat [...] he principals whether this com[...]paid or not, they being a contr[...]shment; whether any power[...]vested in either the Treasury or the Ministry of Munitions to limit the extent to which the taxpayer can be accidentally saddled with commissions of this kind on goods bought with public money for the public service in connection with the War; whether these principals are liable for both munitions levy and Excess Duty; whether the agent is under liability for Excess Duty in respect of this windfall; and, if not, on what ground such exemption is granted?
§ Dr. ADDISON
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. The Ministry of Munitions became aware in November last of a case of the kind indicated in the question. Under Rule 4 of the Munitions (Limitation of Profits) Rules, 1915, only proper expenses are allowed for the purpose of calculating excess profits, and the owners of the controlled establishment in question were warned that it was very doubtful if such a payment as that referred to would be allowed. I may add that contracts made by the Ministry of Munitions now include a stringent provision requiring the disclosure of any commissions proposed to be paid in connection with contracts or subcontracts on pain of cancellation of the contract. Under the Finance Bill, controlled establishments will, in effect, be liable for the munitions levy or Excess Profits Duty, whichever is the greater. As to the last part of the question, I am informed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that under Section 39 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, an excess profit received by an agent in the circumstances suggested would be chargeable with Excess Profits Duty.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Is there any truth in the statement that the Government are being sued in this matter?