56. Lieut.-Colonel LAMBERT WARD
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that notices have been served in Hull and district of the new valuations under Schedule A, showing increases as high as 100 per cent., without the valuer having made any inspection of the properties concerned, and that in consequence the inspector of taxes is 2152 overwhelmed by notices of appeal; and does he intend to issue any instruction in the matter?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The re-assessment is being carried out in Hull and district on the same legal basis as in the remainder of the country. In the great majority of cases the assessment is governed by the rent actually paid. No special difficulties in that neighbourhood have come to my notice. If, however, my hon. and gallant Friend has any particular cases in mind to which he would care to draw my attention, I will gladly have them looked into.
§ Mr. MARDY JONES
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the practice of these officers sending out these papers to the tenants is causing a great deal of inconvenience to the owners, who cannot get notice of it until the 21 days' notice has expired?
§ 58. Mr. BECKER
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, owing to the high assessments which have been, and are being made on house property and to the widespread indignation manifest amongst the middle classes, house-owners, and occupiers, he can recommend that payment of Income Tax on this new assessment shall be postponed for 12 months so that the whole question of assessment may be reviewed?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I think that any indignation which may exist on this matter is due to a misapprehension of the position. The primary object of the new valuation which has been made under authority of Parliament given last year is to secure that persons in receipt of income from land and house property should pay Income Tax by reference to their actual income from that source, and no longer by reference to an out-of-date and inadequate valuation made in 1910. In fairness to the rest of the taxpayers of the country I cannot agree to postpone its operation.
§ Mr. CAIRNS
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the cases I am referring to, hundreds and thousands of workmen have had their assessments put up by 50 or 60 per cent., and they cannot pay?
§ Mr. J. JONES
Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared now to appoint a Committee to inquire into the whole 2153 question of taxation, and the abolition of this indirect form of taxation on the people?
§ 64. Sir HARRY BRITTAIN
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the new assessments proposed to be levied on the leaseholders of Greater London will impose a serious burden upon an already heavily taxed section of the community; and whether he will very carefully reconsider this matter before allowing it to be put into force?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The revaluation of property for Income Tax purposes, which is to come into force for the current year 19E3–24 is being undertaken in accordance with the decision reached by Parliament last year and, as my hon. Friend will remember, embodied in Section 32 of the Finance Act, 1922. Its primary object, as I have explained to another hon. Member, is to secure that persons in receipt of income from land and house property shall pay Income Tax by reference to their actual income from that source, and no longer by reference to an out-of-date and inadequate valuation made in 1910. I am not clear on what ground my hon. Friend suggests that the leaseholders of Greater London are especially affected in this matter, but if he would care to put down a further question I will deal with it.
§ Sir H. BRITTAIN
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of having the hearing of these assessments in public?
§ Mr. TURNER
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some people who did not put up the rents when the Rent Restrictions Act was put into operation, have received an increased assessment due to the operation of the Clause mentioned; and can he say whether they will be entitled to have exemption from the increase because they did not sweat the public by increasing the rents?
§ Mr. MacLAREN
In arriving at the value for the purpose of assessment, is the value of certain heriditaments taken into account, whether they are let or not, on the basis of what they would let for year by year although the owner may not be receiving the rents?
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Will consideration be given to local assessments by people who know the local circumstances and not by people at the central office in London?
§ 65. Sir H. BRITTAIN
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the case of the proposed new assessments upon house property in Greater London, he will make it a condition that the onus of proof of the suggested additional value of the properties shall rest upon the authorities which are imposing that tax?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The law governing this matter is precisely the same as has governed previous re-assessments under Income Tax, Schedule A, for a long period of years. It is also in all essentials the same as that which governs Income Tax assessments in respect of all other classes of income. I see no ground for accepting my hon. Friend's suggestion. He will see from other replies which I have given on this subject that ample provision is made to enable any person to appeal against the assessment of the annual value of his property, if he is dissatisfied therewith.
§ Mr. LINFIELD
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the conditions are not the same as in former years?
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Inhabited House Duty to be charged under the new assessment is to be on the same limits of £20 fixed in 1808, or whether, in view of the changed values, he will cause a higher minimum to be fixed?
§ 70. Mr. LAMBERT
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon what data the Income Tax authorities have so largely increased the assessments under Schedule A; whether, having regard to the fact that values are fluctuating considerably, he will postpone increases until values become stable and proper valuations can be made; and when the House can have an opportunity of expressing an opinion on the action of the authorities?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The re-assessment records the annual value of properties and this annual value in the great mass of the cases is simply the rent paid. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Guildford on the 3rd May; I am sending the hon. Member a copy of that reply and of the reply given on the same day to a question standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Surrey. This matter can no doubt be discussed in the course of the Debates on the Finance Bill.
73. Colonel NEWMAN
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the magnitude and importance of the work, the Government have determined to set up a Committee of Inquiry before proceeding further with the quinquennial reassessment of houses and land for the purposes of Income Tax; and is he aware that the work of dealing with possible appeals will have largely to be undertaken by gentlemen who are unpaid and have many other calls on their time?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
The present re-assessment does not differ in any material particular from any of its numerous predecessors since 1842. It is true that there has been a great alteration of rent levels but in the great mass of cases the re-assessment merely records the rent actually paid. I see no reason to set up a Committee of Inquiry, and I anticipate that, as on previous occasions, the great bulk of the objections will be settled without any personal appeal to the 2156 local Commissioners who act, as my hon. and gallant Friend rightly says, in an honorary capacity.
How can a local Commissioner, who happens to be a working coachbuilder, find time for the hearing of these thousands of appeals?