HC Deb 21 June 1921 vol 143 cc1327-8

The exemption from Income Tax granted by Section sixteen of the Finance Act, 1919, in respect of income from wounds and disability pensions shall be extended to the income from pensions granted to widows of members of the naval, military, or air forces of the Crown.—[Mr. Trevelyan Thomson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

As the Committee will be aware, the Finance Act exempts from Income Tax pensions granted to ex-service men for disability or for wounds, and the Amendment I propose to move is that the same concession should be granted to the widows of ex-service men who are granted pensions for similar reasons. It seems to me that if it was sound in 1919 that these pensions should be exempt from Income Tax, it is equally sound that pensions for war obligations granted to the widows of ex-service men should also be exempt. I do not know whether the times in 1919 were more sympathetic than the times to-day. I do not want to labour the question at this early hour of the morning, but I do submit that logically what is good for war obligation to the man is equally good as war obligation to the woman. The Government in resisting previous Amendments have said they were sympathetic in many cases, but the sum involved was large, and therefore they had to harden their hearts. In others the sum involved was small but the principle was not sound. I submit that this small Clause of mine does not conflict with either of the objections. The amount at stake must indeed be very small and the principle, which is great, is, I submit, sound. Therefore I do hope, seeing that the amount involved is only small, the Government might show that they have not lost all sympathy and kindness of heart and make this very small concession as a war obligation to the widows of those who have fallen in the late War.


I am sorry I cannot accept the proposal my hon. Friend has made. The analogy of the man who receives a wound and who gets compensation with that of the widow who is receiving a pension is not at all convincing or complete. In the one case you have something analogous to the Workmen's Compensation Act; in the other case you have what is a pure pension. The inequity of the proposal could be illustrated as follows: The greater benefit would go to the person who deserves it less. Take the case of two widows, one of whom is not liable to Income Tax at all. She gets nothing in compensation or in addition. Take the other widow who is liable to Income Tax, she is the only person who gets the concession.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and negatived.