HC Deb 24 July 1924 vol 176 cc1505-7

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that many Members object to availing themselves of free railway vouchers; that such vouchers are only issued upon application by Members; that failing such application no charge is made against the public Exchequer by the railway companies; and that nevertheless the Inland Revenue Department is refusing to allow such Members to deduct travelling expenses from their Parliamentary salaries for purposes of Income Tax; and whether he will issue instructions to the Inland Revenue Department that in such cases travelling expenses may properly be deducted?


Under Rule 9 of the Rules of Schedule E in the Income Tax Act, 1918, a Seduction may be claimed in respect of travelling expenses neces- sarily incurred and defrayed out of the emoluments of an office in the performance of the duties thereof. Following the issue of railway vouchers, a Member is not now necessarily obliged to incur and defray out of his emoluments the cost of travelling between his constituency and Westminster, and the Income Tax allowance is, therefore, no longer legally admissible.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that, as the result of this ruling, a charge is being made against the public Exchequer which otherwise would not be necessary, and that public funds would be relieved of that burden?


I am afraid I do not understand that question.


Is it not a fact that if a Member asks for a ticket and gets it, it costs £30, and the Treasury loses £30, but if, instead of asking for a ticket, he asks for a rebate of his Income Tax on the £30, the Government is money in pocket?


That might be so, but it does not alter the point of the question, which is that the Member of Parliament is no longer compelled to return his expenses of travelling between here and his constituency, and if he does not take advantage of the voucher, he cannot claim under this Section.


Surely if he wishes, to save the money of the public, he is; entitled to some amount of sympathy?

Lieut.-Colonel LAMBERT WARD

Is it not possible for a Member of Parliament to travel between his home and Westminster, or between his home and his constituency, in pursuance of his Parliamentary duties?


I think that matter was discussed when the question was under consideration, and it was decided that the free travelling would not be' available between his home and Westminster unless his home was in his constituency.

Lieut.-Colonel L. WARD

That applies to free travelling. Surely he is entitled to deduct, as legitimate expenditure, travelling expenses incurred between his home and his constituency or between his home and Westminster?


Surely it is not so. That matter was raised during the discussion on the Finance Bill, and it was pointed out that he was only permitted to deduct for Income Tax purposes travelling expenses between his place of business and his constituency. His constituency is regarded as a place of business, and Westminster is also regarded as a place of business, and that comes under the exemption provided under the Act. His home is not a place of business.


Has the right hon. Gentleman any information to show how many Members have refused to avail themselves of these passes, and what the saving to the Exchequer is?

Viscount WOLMER

If a Member does not care to avail himself of a voucher, is not he necessarily compelled to incur the expense of buying a season ticket?