HC Deb 01 March 1921 vol 138 cc1604-6
63. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether nearly 15,000 workmen, chiefly colliers, in South Wales were summoned for non-payment of Income Tax during last year; whether one defaulter earned wages which in the aggregate amounted to £1,000 a year; whether £700 to £800 were common earnings; whether all arrears of Income Tax in South Wales have now been recovered; and, if not, in how many cases does the tax remain unpaid?


The number of manual wage-earners in South Wales who were, during the calendar year 1920, summoned for non-payment of Income Tax, was approximately 52,500, and of these about 35,000 were colliers. It cannot be traced that any one of these taxpayers was earning as much as £1,000 a year, and while in a number of cases colliers were in receipt of earnings amounting to £700 or £800 a year, the general average of their earnings was much below those figures. There are in South Wales, as in other parts of the country, a number of cases in which there are arrears of Income Tax due from manual wage-earners, and the collection of tax in these cases is proceeding in the manner provided by law.


In view of the difficulty of working men paying large sums quarterly or annually, has the right hon. Gentleman considered the advisability of collecting the tax from their wages weekly through the employers?


Yes, that was, I think, the original proposal of my predecessor, Mr. McKenna, when the tax was first applied to manual wage earners. It met with strong opposition from both the workmen and the employers. It was examined by the Royal Commission on Income Tax and they said it would be inexpedient to adopt that system until there had been a sensible change of opinion among those affected.

Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it is nearly time, seeing that miners in South Wales earn £700 and £800 a year, to increase the wages of poor Members who have to depend on this House for the miserable £400 they receive?


Is it not a fact that only a small number of miners earned £700 and £800 because they would not work more than three or four days a week?


Does not the right hon. Gentleman see the advisability of having these forms printed in a language people can understand—printed in the Welsh language?


I do not think the failure to pay arises from that, as the hon. Member knows from the correspondence I have had with hon. Members representing Wales. I would gladly have the forms printed also in Welsh if administratively I could carry it out, but the pressure on the Inland Revenue officials at present is so great that I cannot add to their difficulties.


Is it not a fact that the major part of the House all last year were urging the miners to produce a good deal more coal? In the name of common sense why are they growling now because they are earning more?


I hope you and the House will excuse me from taking further part in the Debate.

64. Mr. ATKEY

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether provision will be made in the forthcoming Revenue Bill to give effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Income Tax as regards an increase in the present statutory allowance of 16⅔ per cent, for repairs in respect of small dwelling-houses, such recommendations being under Section 4 (c) of the Report, that for a period of five years an allowance of one-fourth should be made for houses not exceeding £20 in annual value, and one-fifth for houses not exceeding £40 in annual value?


I cannot undertake to include in the Revenue Bill, which I hope to introduce at an early date, proposals to deal with the particular matter to which my hon. Friend refers, or with the other recommendations of the Royal Commission on the subject of repairs to property. I would, however, remind my hon. Friend that under the provisions of Rule 8 of No. V in Schedule A of the Income Tax Act, 1918, as amended by Section 19 of the Finance Act, 1919, the property owners now question can obtain relief, from Income Tax in respect of the whole of any excess of the actual cost of repairs, on the average of the five preceding years, over the statutory allowance of one-sixth of the assessed annual value of the property.