(1) If the claimant proves that he is a widower and that for the year of assessment
a person being a female relative of his or of his deceased wife is resident with him for the purpose of having the charge and care of any child of his, he shall, subject as hereinafter provided, be entitled to a deduction of forty-five pounds in respect of that female relative:
§ (2) In this Section the expression "child" means a child in respect of whom a deduction is allowed under this Part of this Act.
§ (3) This Section shall apply to a claimant being a widow as it applies to a claimant being a widower, with the substitution of "her deceased husband" for "his deceased wife".
§ The CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment to this Clause in the name of the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Wedgwood) (in Sub-section (1), after the word "a" ["he is a widower"], insert the words "widow or") is not necessary. It is dealt with under Sub-section (3).
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the word "widower" ["he is a widower"], and to insert instead thereof the words "householder with no wife living with him"
The Clause provides that where a claimant is a widower and has someone resident with him, a female relative of his or of his deceased wife, for the purpose of looking after his children, he shall be entitled to an allowance of £45 per annum. My suggestion is that there is at least a fair number of cases where a man may not be in the strict position of a widower, but may require this protection just as urgently as any widower. Such a case would occur where a man, having married, has separated from his wife and is maintaining his wife elsewhere, or who, perhaps, has been deserted by his wife. It may be argued that a man would be entitled to the concessions which are 1526 afforded to married men under the ordinary structure of the Income Tax law, but we have seen earlier in the Debate this afternoon that there is considerable doubt, not only on the point of interpretation of the law in that matter, but more particularly on the point of departmental practice.
I am sure that these words go much further than the Mover of the Amendment wishes them to go. I have not been able to find any restrictive words which would deal with the cases he has in mind. He thinks of a man who has a wife living, and that wife has deserted him. But suppose he is a man who has driven his wife out of the house, and that the woman he employs as his housekeeper, and for whom he demands the allowance, is the cause of the scandal. I do not see how we can guard against that. I shall be glad to consider any further suggestion from the hon. Gentleman of a more restrictive kind and which will not perhaps be open to such grave objections as those I have mentioned.
§ Sir H. NIELD
I have given notice of an Amendment later on in the Clause, which I think would probably go a long way to meet the case, as it would restrict the concession to a man who was left a widower with children, and it would effect, I think, a good deal of the purpose of the Mover of the Amendment. It deals with the case of a man who has no female relations or a relation of his deceased wife who could come in and take charge of the children. There is the case which arises where upon the death of the wife allegations are made against the husband of neglect which makes it impossible for the wife's relatives to come in and look after the children. The man may have no female relative and he gets the assistance of some person to perform the functions of house-keeper.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
We do not want to subsidise a case of the sort to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, where the man might have taken up with another woman, but can the right hon. Gentleman not give us some sort of hope about this Amendment? I think the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) wishes to help a case where a man, through no fault of his own has made a bad match, and is legally separated from his wife, who max 1527 be a drunkard or a lunatic. I take it that the relief is not so much sought for the man as for the children, and we want to encourage the man to look after the children. Would it not be possible to substitute the particular case of the man who has a judicial separation? There are many cases of separation, particularly amongst the poorer classes, and in many of which it is not the man's fault, and in which it is most desirable that the children should be well looked after.
I do not think I can go any further now than the offer I made to the hon. Gentleman for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), that if he submits some more restrictive form of words I shall be glad to consider them.
If there is time between now and Report, I will do my best. There is another condition I want to make. I do not want to give two allowances to a man, one in respect of a wife and another in respect of a woman discharging the wife's household duties. I shall be glad to favourably consider a more restrictive form of words from the hon. Member.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
On that understanding, which I have no hesitation in accepting, I ask leave to withdraw.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sir F. HALL
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words, "being a female relative of his or his deceased wife."
In the case of a widower who has no relative whom he can get to look after his children, surely he should get the benefit if he has to appoint some house-keeper who is not a relative. I cannot see why the Bill has been drawn as it is. The man has lost his wife, and if he has got young children it is very necessary in the interests of the country that they should be well brought up. He has got the expense of appointing somebody to look after them. Under those circumstances I cannot conceive why there should be a difference in the amount of allowance simply and solely because the man appoints someone who is not a relative. I have had a great many letters with regard to this matter pointing out 1528 the hardships which will be suffered if the Clause is left as it is.
The case which my hon. Friend has put before the House is a familiar one and has been before the House on many previous occasions. He puts it as the case of a man, a widower with children, who has no female relative. A man might have a sister or any other female relative, but if he chose not to take any of them but to get in some other woman, then under my hon. Friend's proposal he would equally get the allowance. The objection is really of the same character as the objection I made to the Amendment which has just been discussed. When this proposal was made when the Leader of the House was Chancellor of the Exchequer he pointed out that if he accepted the proposal it might be that very undesirable things would occur. He asked the House not to accept an Amendment of this character and the House supported him. Since that discussion the matter came before the Royal Commission, and I quote from their Report:The following suggestions have been made in connection with the wife allowance and allowance for husband. (3) The allowance in respect of a housekeeper shall be extended to the case of a housekeeper who is not a relative of the taxpayer or his deceased wife.On that suggestion the Royal Commission report:With regard to this suggestion the reasons that prompted the original limitation of the housekeeper allowance to persons who were relatives of the taxpayer either by birth or marriage, and reasons which were examined in the House of Commons when the allowance was first made in 1918, still hold good, and are sufficient to warrant us in not recommending any change in that system.It is not possible to provide for every conceivable case of hardship, but striking a balance between good and evil, I think we should not encourage an undesirable state of things which would be encouraged, not intentionally, but in fact by the proposal of my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I have an Amendment on the Paper to the same effect. On the previous Amendment the right hon. Gentleman expressed his desire to meet the hon. Member (Mr. Graham) in some way if that were possible. I would suggest that he should also consider whether he could not meet this point in 1529 some way and that we should be in a position to submit the case to him.
I will gladly consider any proposal which the hon. Gentleman can put forward and which will guard against the evil I have stated, but I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh will find it easy to frame such a proposal in the case he put forward, and I am quite certain that my hon. Friend (Mr. Thorne) when he gets to work on it will find it more difficult in the case now before the House. If the grounds on which I resist it are cut from under my feet, I shall be very glad to meet the hon. Member on the point.
I regret the decision of the Chancellor. I think he attaches altogether too much weight to the effect of this provision in inculcating an undesirable state of public morals. I think he over-estimates the danger and evil which would result from accepting this Amendment. After all, the concession is not limited to those widowers who have their own relations living. It is also extended to those who have their wife's relations, and surely the occurrences to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred are just as likely to take place with the wife's relations as with complete strangers in blood. I therefore think he has set before us rather a false distinction. After all, these wife's relations, even the deceased wife's sisters, are now marriageable and presumably also just as liable to the objections which the right hon. Gentleman has advanced as any other female looking after the children. Surely it is specially hard on those widowers who are left without female relatives that they should not have this concession, because they are the very people who will be put to the heaviest expense. Those who have got female relations will probably not have to pay them for looking after the children, because natural affection will come in in many cases and induce the female relatives to take over the charge of the children without payment. There is undoubtedly a great sense of grievance owing to this limitation, and I still hope this matter will be pressed by those who have had the difficulty brought to their notice.
§ Sir H. NIELD
I yield to no man in this Committee in my desire to put down any illicit intercourse between the sexes, 1530 but I say that there are words capable of being introduced into this Clause for protection in the hard case of the widower who can get no remedy from the Government. Is it likely that, for the sake of a dole of £40 or £45 a year, a man would injure his own character, assuming him to have been a right living man up to that time? It seems to me that if my right hon. Friend is going to make any concession to the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), who is boldly taking up the line that those under separation orders shall be included, then surely he can deal with the smaller and more restricted case of the widower without female relatives. I am quite willing to suggest that words might be introduced which shall require a man to satisfy the authorities that he cannot get a remedy.
Will my hon. Friend frame words of that kind and put them down for consideration on Report?
The effect of the Chancellor's attitude on this question is undoubtedly to penalise many men, and I believe the possible contingencies mentioned by him would be the exception, and therefore the majority of people who would be so circumstanced would be penalised because occasionally undesirable things occur. I do not think that is a fair principle of legislation for this Committee to adopt, and it looks as if the right hon. Gentleman is penalising a deserving section of the population because of the possibility of a black sheep occurring among them now and then.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
Might I suggest to the hon. and gallant Member (Sir F. Hall) that the Amendment should be withdrawn, because otherwise he cannot expect to get the consideration which the right hon. Gentleman has said he will give to the previous Amendment. I sympathise entirely with the Amendment. I had a case sent to me a short time ago where a widower had no female relative, and I am certain it was a genuine case which ought to be met. I therefore hope the Amendment will be withdrawn.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I intervene to make a proposal which might meet the difficulty. The two Amendments which we have been discussing cover really one 1531 point, and I want on that head to say that it is quite true that the Royal Commission recommended that no change should be made, but that was mainly on the ground that the matter had been recently investigated, and they did not feel called upon, nor, indeed, had they time, to make fresh and prolonged inquiries. In the same Report, however, we made a number of suggestions with reference to allowances for expenses. I am willing to admit now that it will be a very difficult task for me to frame better words than those which are on the Order Paper. They appear there after anxious consideration, as the best words we could produce, and I do not think we on these Benches can improve very much on them, but I want to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it might be possible to meet this case by an allowance for expenses which fall upon a worker in the execution of his duty. There are difficulties under that head, and I am no friend of departmental rules, but I think it should be possible to include in the Bill something by way of working expenses, and to add some departmental rule which would safeguard the abuse that is contained in a wide and loose Amendment on this point.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
The case which many of us have in mind on this Amendment is a case of real hardship, that of a man whose wife dies, leaving young children, and the man has to go out to work and finds it therefore an absolute necessity that he should have a housekeeper to look after the children and keep his home together. My right hon. Friend proposes to make provision solely in the case where a man has a female relative to look after the children, but there are many cases where a man has no female relative, and is there any reason why he should be deprived of the allowance which is made in the case of the man who has a female relative? I gather that the Chancellor is willing to consider on Report an Amendment which shall meet that case. I do not think it is necessary to argue the moral question, which has been already answered by several hon. Members. If there is a moral question involved, it is just as much involved in the case of the female relative of the wife as in the case of the person who is not a female relative. I put that aside as a totally irrelevant consideration, and I hope the Chancellor 1532 will give us an assurance that before the Report Stage he will introduce words to meet this undoubtedly hard case.
Sir F. HALL
On the understanding that my right hon. Friend will introduce words to meet the case in question, I will ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
The hon. Member must not carry my pledge further than the spoken words in the Committee, but I am ready to consider the case. I have great sympathy with the objects which the hon. Member wishes to achieve. I admit that it is arguable whether you should refuse the allowance for fear that in certain cases it might encourage practices which we do not want to encourage. Hitherto, the House has not taken that view, and I do not know what opposition might develop if I accepted it now, but, at any rate, the proposal which I make to my hon. Friend is that we should try, as in the case of the previous Amendment, whether we can find protecting words that would enable us to meet the hard case my hon. Friend has in view while eliminating the dangers I have mentioned.
Sir F. HALL
I am sure my right hon. Friend will realise that I did not in any way wish to put his pledge higher than he intended. Under the circumstances, and with the statement made by my right hon. Friend, I wish to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir J. REMNANT
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "child of his" and to insert instead thereof the word "dependent."
If this Amendment be accepted, it will remove the chance of an undoubted hardship. Unfortunately, at the present moment there are, in consequence of the War, many children of soldiers who have fallen during the War, and who would be included if my Amendment were agreed to, but who would otherwise be left out. It cannot be a very large additional charge on the country, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will agree to it.
The Clause provides for the case of a widower who has resident with him a female relative for the purpose of looking after his children, or of a widow in like case, and my hon. Friend's proposal is that this deduction 1533 should be granted where a female relative is looking after any dependant and not merely a child. The Clause follows specifically the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
All these Clauses are, as I said, in substance a concession. I might have continued the existing practice, and accepted from hon. Members the proposals which the Commission has recommended, but, instead of waiting for them to press these concessions, I have put them in the Bill. My reward is that each one is regarded as a jumping-off place for further demands. I do beg my hon. Friend not to press this. I admit there is no exact logical line to be drawn between that which is in the Bill and that which is out. But, having regard to the amount of deductions, amounting to £18,000,000, which we are allowing in a time of great financial stress, I would beg my hon. Friend not to press me to go further than I have gone.
§ Sir J. REMNANT
Has the right hon. Gentleman considered that particular point of the children of soldiers or sailors who have fallen during the War?
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I have listened to the appeal which has been addressed to the Committee by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I cannot help feeling that these Amendments, moved one after the other, place not only the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but every Member of the Committee in a very great difficulty. There is not one of these Amendments with which one does not profoundly sympathise, and with which one would not be disposed to agree and to vote for, but, after all, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has explained his proceedings. He has taken the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Income Tax, and he has, at an expense of £18,000,000, inserted those recommendations in the Bill. I submit that is a straightforward course for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have taken, and, in my humble judgment, it entitles him to the support of the Members of the Committee. I personally should have liked to vote in favour of this Amendment, as I should have liked to vote in favour of every Amendment which has been moved in a 1534 similar direction, but I am not going to do so. I think the appeal which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made is a very substantial appeal, which ought to go home to the mind of every Member of this Committee. We all know we are bombarded by letters from our constituents. We all know it is very much easier to vote for these Amendments than oppose them. But, after the appeal which has been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I, at any rate, feel I have no course but to support him.
§ Sir J. REMNANT
Like every other hon. Member, I am not deaf to appeals in the spirit in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has just made his appeal. I confess one is under a great difficulty. I would not have moved this Amendment unless it had been a fact that a very considerable number of people in this country feel very strongly on the subject. It is very difficult to move Amendments when you know very well those to whom you are making appeals feel as keenly and strongly as one does oneself. I do not want to be unreasonable at all. I rely upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as we all do, to stretch a point, as far as he possibly can, but one does not wish to stretch his financial strength to the breaking point by unreasonable Amendments. Under the circumstances, I will ask to be allowed to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
had an Amendment on the Paper in Sub-section (1) after the word "his" ["any child of his"] to insert the words "and having in fact such charge or care."
It may be advisable to prevent the abuse of the deduction, and to prevent it being used, not for the benefit of children, but for an immoral relationship. I do not press the Amendment, but, in view of the possibility to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, and the possibility of a deceased wife's relations being subject to this danger, it might be, perhaps, worth inserting it.
I do not think the Amendment adds anything to the 1535 effect of the Bill as it stands. I do not know that there is any objection to that, except the objection which there always is to surplusage.
had an Amendment on the Paper, in Sub-section (1) after the word "shall," ["he shall, subject as hereinafter provided"] to leave out the words to the end of the Clause, and to insert instead thereof the words "for the purpose of abatement be treated as a married person."
§ Mr. WATERSON
I beg to move in Sub-section (1) to leave out the word "forty-five" ["forty-five pounds"] and to insert thereof the word "seventy-five."
It is obvious to all Members of the Committee that the cost of living and various other things has risen to such an extent that the working classes whose children this will greatly affect, though, in fact, the parents of all children feel a hardship now, that, under the extreme circumstances in which we are living, this Amendment should be made. I hope, at any rate, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will favourably consider this, and make some concession on these lines.
§ Captain ELLIOT
The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Captain Coote) was intended to raise this very point, namely, that the amount of deduction should be the same under this Clause as is awarded in the case of a wife, on the general ground that, as it is a relief for the general expenses for the good of the children, which is the good of the country, the burden would be no less in this case than in the case of a wife. I have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
I am afraid I cannot accept this Amendment. The grounds which have been put forward could be put forward for the extension of every allowance under the Bill. I think there is a clear distinction between the widower who employs a housekeeper and a married couple, for if she has an income of her own it would not be aggregated; whereas, in the case of a married couple, they are taxed on the aggregate 1536 income. I think that is a good reason for the distinction.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I beg to move in Sub-section (1, a) to leave out the words "unless the claimant proves," and to insert instead thereof the words. "if it is proved."
In order to get the £45 the applicant has to prove that nobody else is getting the benefit of this £45. I do not see how he is ever going to prove that. In order to get the allowance the claimant has to prove that no other individual is entitled to a deduction in respect of the same female relative. How on earth is he going to prove that? I do not understand this provision. Surely we ought to throw the onus the other way, and say, "If it is proved" that somebody else is getting a like deduction.
A man gets a female relative to take charge of his children. He is the person most likely to know whether anybody else is accustomed to receive an allowance in respect of that female relative. To ask the Inland Revenue authorities to prove to the contrary is to ask an impossibility. If the Inland Revenue authorities have reason to believe that somebody else is getting a deduction in respect of the female relative, they have to put the claimant to the proof.
§ Mr. LOCKER-LAMPSON
One does not like to see put in an Act of Parliament a provision which will never be carried out. I beg to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The CHAIRMAN
All the Amendments following on this Clause have been discussed on previous Amendments, until we come to the last one, in the name of the hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Holmes).
§ Clause 19 (Deduction in Respect of Widowed Mother, etc.) ordered to stand part of the Bill.