HC Deb 24 June 1920 vol 130 cc2372-3

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the recent decision of the Government not to propose a capital levy on Wartime increase of wealth, the Government will reconsider its policy of maintaining a Land Valuation Department; and, if not, if he will state on what grounds the expenditure required for this purpose is justified?


By far the larger portion of the staff engaged on Land Valuation Duties under the Finance Act, 1909–10, was abolished some years ago. But the Land Valuation Department has important duties to perform wholly unconnected both with the Land Values Duties and with any capital levy. Whether the staff now maintained is more than is required for the efficient discharge of these duties is a question which the Select Committee of this House on National Expenditure has consented to examine at the request of the Board of Inland Revenue and myself.


Will the right hon. Gentleman state what are the duties of the Land Valuation Department?


That is a repetition of a question put to me about a month or six weeks ago. I then had a long Memorandum prepared, explaining the duties of the Department, but I would not spend the time of the House reading the Memorandum at Question time. I announced that I would ask the Select Committee on National Expenditure to investigate the work to be done and the staff employed. That they are doing, and I ask my hon. Friend to await the Report of that Committee to this House. I chose that Committee as an independent Committee in order that Members of the House should not be asked to accept the mere ipse dixit of the Government. It will be laid before the House, and published with the evidence taken before the Committee.


In view of the fact that the House has not yet come to a decision as to whether the Land Values Duties are to be continued or others take their place, is not the reference to the Select Committee premature?


I think not.


Is it fair to the Prime Minister that his strenuous work of ten years ago should be scrapped in this manner?

Forward to