HC Deb 15 July 1924 vol 176 cc312-4

Section thirty-two of the Finance Act, 1921 (which provides for exemption of superannuation funds from Income Tax), shall have effect as though at the end of paragraph (b) in Sub-section (3) of that Section there were added the words "or, in case of death, for their widows or children."—[Mr. Romeril.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


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

I brought this Amendment forward on the Committee stage, and I was disappointed that it was not accepted. I am very anxious that consideration should be given to this question, and I was hopeful that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might have reconsidered the point and have decided to accept it. I recognise that he has made considerable concessions, and I am not desirous in any way of embarrassing him in his Budget, which I look upon with very great- satisfaction. I should, however, like some satisfactory assurance from him with regard to this Amendment for next year. He said something in a general way about this and certain other things.


He may be on this side next year.


Whatever happens, and whoever may be the right hon. Gentleman's successor in such an event as that suggested, I have no doubt that continuity will prevail, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will pay attention to anything that has been said this year. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues may not be on the other side next year. I have confidence in anything that may be acid by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer on this occasion, and I hope he will he able to give some satisfactory statement on this matter. I do not wish to embarrass him, and I shall be satisfied if he can give me any such assurance.


I beg to second the Motion.


I am very much obliged to my hon. Friend for the tone and manner of his speech. This is one of those things which appeal to the sympathies of everybody, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer is compelled to harden his heart against appeals based simply on the ground of sympathy, and which involve very considerable financial sacrifice. The new Clause would cost a very considerable sum of money. When we discussed this matter in Committee, I pointed out that the income on the superannuation side of these benefit societies was already exempt from the payment of tax, and I also said that the cost of the acceptance of this Amendment would be about £250,000 a year. Since then I have, heard from more than one quarter very considerable surprise expressed at the magnitude of that figure, and my attention has been called to a statement that was submitted by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to the Royal Commission on Income Tax, in which it was stated that they estimated that the exemption from Income Tax of the incomes of superannuation societies would involve a cost to the revenue of about £100,000 a year.

Quite naturally, my critics have said that if the cost of that concession, affecting a very large number of societies, with very large incomes, would cost only £100,000 a year, there surely must be some mistake in estimating the cost of this further concession at £250,000. The officials of the Inland Revenue are extremely able officials but even they are not altogether infallible, and it has turned -out that the estimate which they made in regard to the cost of the exemption from income Tax of the incomes of the superannuation branches of these Societies at £100,000 it year has been, I will not say grossly, but certainly very largely exceeded. The cast is now £750,000 a year. This new Clause is estimated to cost £250,000 a year. I have made quite a number of concessions all of which will cost money, and there are one or two Amendments still on the Paper waiting to be discussed which I shall have very great pleasure in accepting. I think the House will not expect me to make this concession. However, in satisfaction to my hon. Friend I will say that I expect the present Government will be in office next year. Certainly if its tenure of office is commensurate with its record of work a long term of life lies before it. My hon. Friend will remember that I said in the Committee stage that there was quite a number of grievances in connection with the Income Tax, many of which would not involve very large sums of money, but that if they were removed the aggregate sum involved would be very considerable, and it might be desirable for some Chancellor of Exchequer who had a few millions to spare at some time in future to overhaul the minor provisions of Income Tax and give relief where, experience showed it to be desirable.


Is that a pledge?


No, it is not, but if the time come—and I hope it will be very soon—when that matter will be considered, that is one of the things to which attention should be given; and, without giving a definite promise, I can assure my hon. Friend that, when we are preparing the Budget next year, if we are in a position to make concessions, I shall not overlook the point raised in the Amendment now before the House.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.