§ "The arrangements for collecting the Motor Tax through the various county council boards shall be discontinued, and in future the tax shall be collected by the officers of Inland Revenue."—[Mr. Coote.]
§ Clause brought up, and read the first time.
§ Mr. COOTE
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."
In some cases where county councils can do the work and where secretaries are energetic and conscientious the Motor Tax is honestly collected. But in many parts of the country, in existing circumstances, there is no inducement to collect the tax, and there are many inducements to shrink from putting the law into force against those who do not pay, so that great hardships accrue in many cases owing to the non-collection of this tax. It would be much better if the tax were collected by the Inland Revenue or some responsible authority. There is at present no oversight by any competent authority to check the work of the county councils generally, and if the collection were in the hands of the Inland Revenue great gain would accrue to the Treasury.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The hon. Member has raised a very interesting subject, but there are considerable difficulties in accepting the proposal. The change was made in 1909, when the local authorities were asked to collect these duties. The change was referred to in the Budget Statement of the 7h May, 1908. The Prime Minister, who was then introducing his last Budget, then said—I quote from the "Parliamentary Debates":The pension officer will be an Excise officer—he was dealing then with old age pensions—for they are the class of man best fitted for this kind of work, and we hope to come to an arrangement with the local authorities by which in consideration of our handing to them the collection and enjoyment of what are called the establishment licences, which it is now part of the duty of the Excise officers to collect, making a fair contribution, of course, out of State funds for the expense so cast upon them, these Excise officers will be set free during the necessary part of their time for the purpose of pension duty.Since then the Excise officers have been saddled with the work of dealing with Arm# separation allowance claims, and this moment is a very inopportune one for revising an arrangement which was come to in order that we might release Excise officers for pension work. The pension 940 work remains as big as ever, and they have also the separation allowances to deal with. In Ireland there were no duties on motor cars until 1910, and therefore they are newer to the work there than the local authorities in England and Scotland. But they have improved their machinery and become very efficient tax gatherers. The tax increased from £16,567 in 1912 to £36,764 in 1915. At a time when the local authorities in Ireland have become so proficient in the work, and they are doing it with such benefit, I think that it would be a great pity to take away the work from them, and I suggest therefore that the Clause be not accepted.
§ Question put, and negatived.