HC Deb 23 July 1919 vol 118 cc1415-25

(l) An individual who claims and proves in the manner prescribed in the Income Tax Acts—

  1. (a) that his total income from all sources for the year of assessment, estimated in accordance with the provisions of those Acts, although exceeding one hundred and thirty pounds dots not exceed eight hundred pounds; and
  2. (b) that he is unmarried and has living with him either his mother (being a widow or living apart from her husband), or some other female relative, maintained by him at his own expense, for the purpose of having the charge and care of any brother or sister of his, being a child in respect of whom relief is given under Section twelve of the Income Tax Act, 1918; and
  3. (c) that no other individual is entitled to relief from Income Tax in respect of the same person under this Section, and that neither he nor any other individual is entitled to relief in respect of the same person under Section twelve or Section thirteen of the Income Tax Act, 1918, or if any other individual is entitled to any such relief that the other individual has relinquished his claim thereto;
shall be entitled in respect of his mother or such female relative to relief from tax upon fifty pounds.

(2) The relief conferred in respect of children by Section twelve of the Income Tax Act, shall be extended—

  1. (a) so as to include relief in respect of any child over the age of sixteen and under the age of eighteen at the commencement of the year of assessment who is proved to be receiving full-time instruction at any university, college, school, or other educational establishment; and
  2. (b) so as to provide relief in respect of one child from tax upon forty pounds and in respect of any child in excess of one from tax upon twenty-five pounds:
and that Section and Section thirteen of that Act and this Section shall have effect accordingly:

Provided that in cases of doubt as to the application of paragraph (a) of this Sub-section it shall be competent for the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, on the request of the Income Tax Commissioners concerned, to consult the Board of Education.

In the application of this Sub-section to Scotland and Ireland, the Scottish Education Department and the Lord-Lieutnant, respectively, shall be substituted for the Board of Education.

(3) All claims under this Section shall be made and proved in accordance with Section twenty-eight or (in Ireland) Section two hundred and two of the Income Tax Act, 1918.—[Mr. Chamberlain.]

Brought up, and read the first time.

The CHANCELLOR Of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

I beg to-move, That the Clause be read a second time. It is introduced to carry out promises I made in the Committee stage of the Bill to give relief in respect of children to the mother—to give the same relief as the father would have got; to raise the age of j relief for children in full-time attendance on education; and to raise the amount I allowed in respect of the first child in respect of whom any relief is given from £25 to £40. That is all that the Clause does, j and it is all in pursuance of my promises. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Adamson) has handed me a manuscript Amendment asking mo to raise the age limit for school children from eighteen to twenty-one—the present age is sixteen. I was proposing to raise it to eighteen. He asks for it to be raised to twenty-one. That is a proposal which was pressed with great unanimity in the Committee stage by the Scottish Members. I have considered the matter carefully since, and, on the whole, I feel that the best course I can pursue is to take out the upward age limit altogether. After all, the object of this is to make our taxation system coincide with our education system, and we are anxious that these young people should pursue their education to the utmost point at which they can derive value from it. Under these circumstances, although the. Scottish case would be met by the age of twenty-one, not all cases would be met by that. age, and I am prepared, when this Clause is under discussion, to strike out the words "and under the age of eighteen," which will leave it without a limit of age.


I am very glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has seen his way to amend his new Clause in the manner he has indicated. I put down the manuscript Amendment in order to give effect to the general idea that was expressed in the Committee discussion, but the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman has promised to give us is even better than mine, and I want to express my thanks to him for so handsomely meeting the point to which ho promised to give further consideration between the Committee stage and the Report stage. I have some other points to bring forward, and I have not yet had sufficient time to see whether the right hon. Gentleman's new proposals will give effect to them.


I think that the best place to raise the other points referred to by the right hon. Gentleman will be on an Amendment which I shall be prepared to move to one of the Clauses later on, and which will embody what he has put down in the Amendment of which he speaks. I think that it would not properly come into this Clause.

Amendment made: In Subjection (2, a), leave out the words "and under the age of eighteen."—[Mr. Chamberlain]


May I raise the question whether there is any doubt as to the moaning of the word "child"? Will that mean the offspring of the parents, or a person under twenty -one? It is a matter of construction.


We have cut out the age limit.


The words are: "any child over the age of sixteen." Would that cover a person over twenty-one? Would such a, person be regarded as a "child"?


The Revenue authorities will so interpret it, and it is the obvious meaning of the Act.


I beg to move, in Subsection (2, b), to leave out the word "one" ["relief in respect of one child"], and insert instead thereof the word "each."

It is not necessary for me to detain the House long, because the arguments in favour of giving relief to persons with small incomes have been advanced by myself and others in previous Debates. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made certain concessions in this regard, and has increased the abatement in respect of the first child from £25 to £40. The effect of this Amendment will be to give an abatement of £40 not only for the first child, but for every other child below sixteen. Personally, I should prefer that he should go even further. There is a new Clause down on the Paper making the abatement for every child £50. But the right hon. Gentleman refused that last week, and so I am afraid there is no hope of his accepting it now. I hope, however, that ho may accept this more modest proposal. I submit that there is no adequate reason for making the abatement on the first child £40 and then making the abatement for the remaining children under sixteen at the reduced rate of £25. After all, the man with a, large family deserves well of the State, and these abatements for children ought really, I think, to be on an ascending scale, and not on a descending scale. The differentiation, regarded from a broad point of view, is in the wrong direction. The position comes to this: If two men have the same income, and one has a wife and one child while the other has a. wife and two or three children, obviously the second man has a bigger charge against his income than the first man; but although ho has a bigger charge ho really has a relatively smaller abatement. I submit that that is wrong. I do not think that the amount of revenue which would be lost to the State by the acceptance of this Amendment would be very great, and even if it were fairly considerable my opinion is that it would pay the State well, because it would be a real help to family life and child life.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I think the House will recognise that I have acted in a sympathetic spirit in considering the representations which have been made to me in this matter. I hope I shall not be expected to go further, at any rate at the present time. The concession of £40 in respect of the first child was a concession which I offered in the Committee stage as a final concession, and I expressed the hope that it would be treated as such. One does express hopes which are often disappointed, but at the same time we do hope, with some confidence, that Amendments, though they may be raised in spite of our expressing those hopes, will not be persisted in in the same manner as if we had made no concession at all. I must-confess my inability to go further at the present time. I think I have made a very considerable advance, and I think there is justification for the distinction between the first and the other children. It is recognised in several other ways. It is recognised, for instance, in the separation allowances which we pay to soldiers, and it is habitually recognised by the Poor Law authorities in the payments which they make for the maintenance of boarded-out children or children in respect of whom they give relief. The ground for it is that as you add to the number in the household you do not proportionately increase the housekeeping expenses. That, of course, is true only within certain limits, but within reasonable limits it has a very real foundation, and it was on that ground that I invited the House to make this distinction, and to take it as the final settlement, at any rate for this year. Of course, in these matters there is no such thing as a final settlement, but for this year I suggest this differentiation of allowance between the first and other children.


Those of us who are supporting this further Amendment do not wish for a moment to let it be understood that we do not recognise what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done in the way of concessions. We gratefully acknowledge what he has done right through the whole progress of the Bill. Bui we do not agree that the arguments and analogies which the Chancellor has used in regard to this particular matter have very great force. The Chancellor based his alteration on the analogy of the separation allowances paid to soldiers and sailors. I think he knows something about those allowances. One great reason why those allowances were never satisfactory—and they are not satisfactory even yet— was that in the lowest stages they did not even provide sufficient for the physical efficiency of the children concerned. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the descending scale of household expenses. As a matter of fact, under the separation allowances, it was worse for every mother with many children, because the more children she had the less sum she got for each and the leas able she was to maintain her family. I can assure my right hon. Friend that that is so. If the child. was an infant, the separation allowance for the youngest was not sufficient to buy the amount of milk required to maintain that infant throughout the one week. That was the real tragedy about the separation allowances. On that ground, therefore, there is no reason why my right hon. Friend should refuse this. There is one very great ground, and it is really the best ground of all, why he should accept it, and that is that after the War, and after our experience of the War, this country not only wants children but wants healthy children. Under our present existing economic and social circumstances those children cannot be reared adequately, and cannot be given the benefit of those things which they ought to enjoy, if their parents' incomes go to any considerable extent in Income Tax. Really, what we are asking the Chancellor to do is to make it more possible to have a larger number of children, and of healthier children at that, than there are at the present time. I do not see for a single moment why he should not give way. I believe the only reason, after all, that does influence him in making a concession is the old-fashioned one— How much is it going to cost? I should have thought that in refusing to accept this Amendment ho might at any rate have informed us how much it would cost.


A million.


The right hon. Gentleman says that this concession would only cost a million. If that is so, docs not he think it would be very well worth his while to contribute a million to the health of the community? We are setting up new Departments, including a Ministry of Health, which will cost the community much more than a million in stores and light and machinery and other things, which will not become effective for many years, whereas if he gives this million he is making a contribution at once. If he is correct, and I am sure he is, in the figure which he gives, why not round off the concessions he has been giving? I am not making this request in any way because we want to score any success over this, but I do honestly think that, if a million is all that is involved in the concession, the Chancellor of the Exchequer could easily round off what is. after all, a very fine contribution by giving way on this further Amendment. He does not like to be incomplete, and if it is only a question of £1,000,000, why spoil his own concessions—why go down in the history of Chancellors of the Exchequer as the man who spoilt the ship for a pennyworth of paint, because that is what it really amounts to? You are spoiling one of the best contributions over made in response to pressure from the House by not going all the way. I very respectfully ask Him, in view of what I have said, and if not in view of what I have said in view of what he has said himself, to take his courage in both hands and say, "Very well, we will make this concession absolutely complete in the same year in which we made the first concession."


In supporting the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone, I should like to join in thanking the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the valuable concession he has made in allowing an abatement of £40 in respect of the first member of the family. I believe that it will be a concession of great value to some of the more poorly-paid professional and other people of Scotland. The rise in prices tells very heavily upon a large number of families who are the least vocal people in the country and are not so ready to complain, and this rise in prices and the difficulty of living in these times will make it a very serious question for parents to say whether their children, for instance, are to have a holiday this year. Even in that one respect this is a matter which deserves a. little more generous consideration on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has mentioned that it will cost £1,000,000, but I think it will be £1,000,000 well lost. Of course, I can understand the right hon. Gentleman saying that, if we go on like this, the whole Budget might go to vanishing point; but there is no danger of that. Seeing that the cost is only £1,000,000, and in view of the circumstances in which the lower middle classes find themselves at the present time, and in the interests of the health of the rising generation, I think that this is a concession of such value that it would, in the long run, repay the country.

Another matter that would be a very serious burden in families of the kind to which I have referred is that of the education of children. I admit the value of the concession already made, but the same problem will arise in many families with regard to whether they can send their children to a certain school, college or university. Throughout Scotland people of very small incomes send their children to various training colleges and to the universities—they are a somewhat-different class of people from those who send their children to similar institutions in England. The problem for them in years to come is whether they can send their children to these colleges and give them the education which before the War they intended for them. With this rise in prices it is very difficult for many parents, who otherwise would have sent their children to a college or university, to decide to send them there now, so the Chancellor of the Exchequer might indulge his generosity a little further and grant this concession.


I was sorry to hear from some parts of the House expressions to the effect that this would cost "only £1,000,000." We will never have economy in this House if we look upon £1,000,000 as such a small thing, and one danger which I see in my hon. Friend's pressing the Chancellor is this, he has given a valuable concession. I was one of the Scottish Members who wished that the age limit should be raised to twenty-one, so as to allow children to attend the university. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has met us very well in that respect. He has also met us in regard to the £40 for the first child. I do not think it wise to press him further. It will mean this, that if undue advantage is taken of these concessions, in future you will find the Chancellor presenting a heart of stone to all appeals to his sympathy, and if one concession is to be used as the jumping-off ground for another, there is no end to them. Do not let us run away with the idea that, because there is only £1,000,000 involved in this, it is not a matter of consequence. We are entering upon a period of carelessness with regard to expenditure, and one of the most alarming symptoms in this House is to treat £1,000,000 as not of much account.


Perhaps the hon. Gentleman opposite was labouring under a misapprehension. The "first child" does not mean only the eldest child, but it means the first child in respect of an allowance in any given year.


I understand that.

Lieut.-Commander KEN WORTHY

There was one very powerful argument in the speech of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh which appealed to me. This concession will make the extra money available for the care b the younger children, so that the amount will be saved over and over again in the health of the community. Otherwise, more money will

have to be spent on the expenses of Ministers of Health, sanatoria, Poor Law hospitals, and all the rest of it. The best asset of the country is its people, and the improvement of their health is the finest investment you can make.

Question put, "That the word 'one' stand part of the Clause." The House divided: Ayes, 230; Noes, 66.

Division No. 78.] AYES. [4.38 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark) Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-
Amsworth, Captain C. Eyres-Monsell, Commander Mallaby-Deeley, Harry
Archdale, Edward M. Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)
Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf Farquharson, Major A. C. Marriott, John Arthur R.
Atkey, A. R. Fell, Sir Arthur Meysey-Thompson, Lt.-Col. E. C.
Bagrey, Captain E. A. FitzRoy, Capt Hon. Edward A. Middlebrook, Sir William
Baird, John Lawrence Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Mitchell, William Lane-
Baldwin, Stanley Forestier-Walker, L. Molson, Major John Elsdale
Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.) Fraser, Major Sir Keith Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz
Barnston, Major Harry Gange, E. S. Moreing, Captain Algernon H.
Beck, Arthur Cecil Ganzoni, Captain F. C. Morison, T. B. (Inverness)
Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Gardiner, J. (Perth) Morrison, H. (Salisbury)
Bellairs, Com. Carlyon W. Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.
Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John Mount, William Arthur
Bonn, Com. Ian Hamilton (Greenwich) Glyn, Major R. Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)
Bennett, T. J. Gould, J. C. Murray, Major C. D. (Edinburgh, S.)
Bentinck, Lt.-Col. Lord H. Cavendish- Grant, James Augustus Murray, Hon. G. (St. Rollox)
Betterton, H. B. Gray, Major E. Neal, Arthur
Bigland, Alfred Green, J. F. (Leicester) Nelson, R. F. W. R.
Bird, Alfred Greenwood, Col. Sir Hamar Newman, Major J. (Finchley, Mddx.)
Blair, Major Reginald Greig, Colonel James William Nicholl, Com. Sir Edward
Blake, Sir Francis Douglas Gretton, Colonel John Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)
Berwick, Major G. O. Griggs, Sir Peter Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)
Bowles, Col. H. F. Gritten, W. G. Howard Nield, Sir Herbert
Bowyer, Captain G. W. E. Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hon. W. E. (B. St. E.) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Hacking, Captain D. H. Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)
Brassey, H. L. C. Hailwood, A. Parker, James
Bresse, Major C. E. Hallas, E. Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike
Brittain, Sir Harry E. Hambro, Angus Valdemar Perkins, Walter Frank
Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham) Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds.) Pinkham, Lieut.-Col. Charles
Bruton, Sir J. Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.) Pratt, John William
Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H. Henderson, Major V. L. Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.
Buckley, Lt.-Col. A. Hennessy, Major G. Purchase, H. G.
Bull, Right Hon. Sir William James Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.) Raeburn, Sir William
Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil) Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Burn, Colonel C. R. (Torquay) Higham, C. F. (Islington, S.) Ratcliffe, Henry Butler
Butcher, Sir J. G. Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F. Remer, J. B.
Campbell, J. G. D. Hills, Major J. W. (Durham) Remnant, Col. Sir J. Farquharson
Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton) Hinds, John Renwick, G.
Carr, W. T. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G. Roberts, Rt. Hon. George H. (Norwich)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh (Oxford U.) Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Roberts, Sir s. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.) Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Mldlothian) Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood) Hopkins, J. W. W. Robinson, T. (Stretford, Lancs.)
Cheyne, Sir William Watson Horne, Sir Robert (Hillhead) Rodger, A. K.
Child, Brig.-General Sir Hill Howard, Major S. G. Roundell, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Hughes, Spencer Leigh Rowlands, James
Clough, R. Jodrell, N. P. Royds, Lt.-Col. Edmund
Coats, Sir Stuart Johnstone, J. Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K. Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen) Seager, Sir William
Colvin, Brigadier-General R. B. Joynson-Hicks, William Seely, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. John
Conway, Sir W. Martin Kelly, Major Fred (Rotherham) Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)
Coote, William (Tyrone, S.) Kidd. James Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Cory, Sir James Herbert (Cardiff Knight, Capt. E. A. Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander
Courthope, Major George Loyd Law, A. J. (Rochdale) Stanier, Captain Sir Beville
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish University) Law, Right Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow) Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.) Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales) Stanton, Charles Butt
Craik, Right Hon, Sir Henry Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.) Stephenson, Colonel H. K.
Curzon, Commander Viscount Lister, Sir R. Ashton Stevens, Marshall
Dalziel, Sir Davison (Brixton) Lloyd, George Butler Stewart, Gershom
Davidson, Major-Gen. Sir John H, Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Sturrock, J. Leng-
Davies, Sir D. S. (Denbigh) Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Hunt'don) Surtees, Brig.-General H. C.
Davies, T. (Cirencester) Lorden, John William Sutherland, Sir William
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington) Loseby, Captain C. E. Sykes, Col. Sir A. J. (Knutslord)
Dewhurst, Lieut.-Com. H. Lowther, Col. Claude (Lancs., Lons.) Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)
Dockrell, Sir M. M'Donald, Dr. E. F. p. (Wallasey) Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)
Doyle, N. Grattan M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.) Terrell, G. (Chippenham, Wilts)
Duncannon, Viscount McMicking, Major Gilbert Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)
Du Pre, Colonel W. B. Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Tickler, Thomas George
Townley, Maximilan G. Whitla, Sir William Wilson, Col. M. (Richmond, Yorks.)
Tryon, Major George Clement Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P. Wood, Major Hon. E. (Ripon)
Waddington, R. Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, W.)
Walton, J. (York, Don Valley) Williams, Lieut.-Com. C. (Tavistock) Woolcock, W. J. U.
Ward-Jackson, Major C. Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury) Yate, Colonel Charles Edward
Ward, Colonel L. (Kingston-upon-Hull) Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.) Younger, Sir George
Wardle, George J, Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud
Warren, Sir Alfred H. Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Capt.
Watson, Captain John Bertrand Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Hold'ness) Guest and Colonel Sanders.
Wheler, Colonel Granville C. H. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Hancock, John George Royce, William Stapleton
Barton, Sir William (Oldham) Hayday, A. Short, A. (Wednesbury)
Benn, Capt. W. (Leith) Hayward, Major Evan Sitch, C. H.
Brace, Rt. Hon. William Hirst, G. H. Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)
Briant, F. Hodye, Rt. Hon. John Spencer, George A.
Brown, J. (Ayr and Bute) Hogge, J. M. Swan, J. E. C.
Cape, Tom Holmes, J. S. Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)
Carter, W. (Mansfield) Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Casey, T. W. Kenyon, Barnet Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E)
Clynes, Right Hon. John R. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Tootill, Robert
Crooks, Rt. Hon. William Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Walsh, S. (Ince, Lancs.)
Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln) Morris, Richard Waterson, A. E.
Davison, J. E. (Smethwick) Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles) Wignall, James
Edwards, c. (Bedwellty) O'Grady, James Williams, A. (Conset, Durham)
Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon) Onions, Alfred Williams, J. (Gower, Glam.)
Edwards, J. H. (Glam., Neath) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Galbraith, Samuel Parry, Major Thomas Henry Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Glanville, Harold James Raffan, Peter Wilson Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Rendall, Athehtan Young, Robert (Newton, Lancs.)
Graham, W. (Edinburgh) Richards, Rt. Hon. Thomas Young, William (Perth and Kinross)
Griffiths, T. (Pontypool) Richardson, R. (Houghton)
Grundy, T. W. Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Guest, J. (Hemsworth, York) Rose, Frank H. Arnold and Major Entwistle.

Question put, and agreed to.

Proposed Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.