HC Deb 17 June 1925 vol 185 cc621-9

Section twenty of the Finance Act, 1920 (in so far as it provides for deductions from assessable income in respect of widowed mothers), as amended by Section twenty-one of the Finance Act, 1924, shall have effect as if for the words "sixty pounds "there were substituted the words "eighty pounds."—[Major Crawfurd.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


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

In order to keep to the spirit of the agreement which has been made, I shall be very brief. The Clause, in a word, proposes to extend from £60 to £80 the deduction for the purpose of assessing income in respect of widowed mothers. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have both, at different times this afternoon, explained our system of taxation. Already it is characterised by large exceptions, both in the case of classes and in the case of individuals, and I submit there could be no better case for extending that principle than the one which I am now proposing. I realise, of course, that there is a very ready answer to me or to any other hon. Member upon this side of the House who proposes such a Clause. The ready answer is that, on a previous occasion last year, a similar Clause was voted against by both the Labour party and the Liberal party. But one cannot help remembering that on that occasion last year the Finance Bill provided for very large remissions of taxation which would, at any rate, go a long way towards helping the class of people on whose behalf this new Clause is now being moved. Therefore I think that the argument used against this Clause loses its validity. This particular Clause has been drawn, not as a demon- stration—because, if that had been the object, we could very simply have increased the figure largely—but with the express purpose of making it acceptable to the Government. Although it would ill become any hon. Member of this House to indulge in threats, I might draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the fact that the diminishing majority of his Government—as shown in the last few Divisions—makes it important, I think, that there should be some concession to the opinion expressed on this side of the Committee.

During the course of the Budget Debates the colleague of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and particularly this afternoon, has been subjected to a certain degree of criticism directed to the particular method which he has chosen to distribute the bounty that has arisen out of the surplus. We already have had a very large expansion of what on a previous occasion I ventured to call a new form of the dole system. There have been unexpected doles to manufacturers this afternoon, and in the early hours of yesterday morning we had a new proposal for doles to landlords. I do suggest that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleague might do something to limit their growing unpopularity by paying a little attention to a class of people struggling and very largely helpless. There is some danger of the colleague of the right hon. Gentleman—not so much himself—being drowned in a sea of obloquy. What I am doing at the moment is to throw him out a life-line.

The proposal that is contained in this Clause will have such a small effect on the revenue on the Exchequer that it cannot disturb seriously even the very delicately balanced poise of the financial edifice built up in the last three weeks. The appeal that I have made, roughly, here is for a class of people who, perhaps, above all others, are entitled to and need the alleviation and help. The request that we are making is a very modest and a very humane one, and one which could be accepted quite easily by the Government without disturbing the balance of the Budget. If they accept it, it will redound to their credit and will go a long way towards supplying them and their supporters in the country with material to answer the criticisms which which have been levelled at them from these benches this afternoon.


In supporting very briefly the new Clause put forward by my hon. and gallant Friend I do so because I feel sure that the class for whom we speak appeals to the sympathies of all Members. On a previous occasion when the matter was before the House a concession was made, and I trust that, having begun, it will be followed this year by a further concession, so that real justice may be done to a class who are more deserving probably than any other in the country. Consider the case of the widowed mother with a family to bring up. Surely there is no better case in which some concession might be made. The total amount involved will not be large, and will not upset the balance of the Budget, about which we have heard. Earlier this afternoon the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to deplete that balance by £500,000. If that is not going to upset the finance of his Budget, then I am sure this small concession for which we ask will not militate against the financial stability of his proposals. There is so little done directly for those who are in greatest need. The indirect taxpayer gets very little assistance. On the other hand, the Super-tax payer gets considerable largesse, and concessions have been made to landlords and others. Surely, in view of that liberal distribution to those who have, some small concession might be made to those who have not? When the breadwinner has been taken away, the widow is at a very great disadvantage, and it does not seem right, in view of the fact that she often has to bring up a family, that the second partner in the household should be less regarded than the wife from a concession point of view. The married man and his wife rank at £225, whereas the single man only gets £180. We are asking for this £80. We are quite satisfied that the Government in their reply will express their sympathy with our claim. I hope, however, that that sympathy will be translated into something more tangible in view of the concession made to the Super-tax payers and the landlord class. I trust that this evening we may have some concession made to those whose needs are great.


The lesson, I think, to be learned from the remarks that have just been made is, that those who support the Government are bound to show a greater responsibility in these matters than those who are in the position of critics. Of course, all our sympathies are engaged in an Amendment of this kind. The trouble, however, is that it is not really a balancing of the Budget, but a balancing of one claim as between another. These varying claims, put forward on behalf of various classes of taxpayers, for which we must all feel great sympathy and respect, were examined into by the Royal Commission on Income Tax. They did not see fit to recommend any increase in the allowance of the amount for the widowed mother, which then stood at £45. Since then an increase has taken place to £60, but that increase was made in definite relation to another class of dependents' claims, namely, the widowers' housekeepers. These two classes have always been dealt with on the same footing, the widower with a housekeeper and the man with a widowed mother, and I would urge upon the Committee the danger of upsetting the balance in these claims. It is so easy for any of us to raise sympathy by stressing the needs of one particular class, but that is not the way to get a reasonable adjustment between varying claims, and the Government have felt that the relief which it has been possible to give to the small Income Tax payer should be distributed over the widest possible area. We have accepted that view in the remissions we have made, and we do not think it is possible to single out one of these many other claims for preferential treatment.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say what, in the opinion of the Treasury, the remission which is now asked for would actually cost?


I think this remission, if it stood alone, would cost about £30,000, but it could not stand alone; it must be related to other claims. It would have to be related to the case of the widower with a housekeeper, where though I have not got the exact figure, the remission would be more costly. We

feel that these remissions must be kept in the same relation as was laid down by the Royal Commission.


I should like to observe that we have just voted £500,000 to the landlord class of the country, and now the hon. Gentleman refuses this slight remission, which he admits would cost only £30,000. This is an indication of the tenour and the tone of the whole Budget.


May I remind the hon. Member that we have not voted any remission of taxation; we have merely voted for the retention of the existing scale in that case; whereas, for the class of taxpayers to whom the hon. Member is evidently referring, we have made a very large remission of taxation, over £7,000,000.


What I wanted to point out was, that we are saving £500,000 on taxation proposals as originally submitted to the House, and that there is a distinct difference between the treatment of this fortunate class and these unfortunate widows, and to say that that is indicative of the whole tenour of the Budget, and that I raise my voice in protest against it.

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

The Committee proceeded to a Division.

Mr. R. MORRISON (seated and covered): On a point of Order, Captain FitzRoy. I wish to ask whether the Division, which has just taken place, has been taken in a regular fashion, inasmuch, as you announced the hon. and gallant Member for Montrose (Sir Robert Hutchison) as one of the Tellers for the Ayes, whereas there appears in the hon. and gallant Member's place as a Teller the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson)?


Unfortunately, the hon. and gallant Member whom I originally nominated was not present, and I nominated another Teller at the time.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 154; Noes, 232.

Division No. 167.] AYES. [8.30 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Ammon, Charles George Barker. G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)
Adamson, w. M. (Staff., Cannock) Attlee, Clement Richard Barnes, A.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Barr, J.
Batey, Joseph Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Scrymgeour, E.
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Hirst, G. H. Scurr, John
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Sexton, James
Broad, F. A. Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Bromfield, William Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Bromley, J. John, William (Rhondda, West) Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Buchanan, G. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Sitch, Charles H.
Cape, Thomas Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Clowes, S. Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Slivertown) Smillie, Robert
Cluse, W. S. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Compton, Joseph Kennedy, T. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Connolly, M. Kenyon, Barnet Snell, Harry
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Kirkwood, D. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Crawfurd, H. E. Lansbury, George Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)
Dalton, Hugh Lawson, John James Stamford, T. W.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lindley, F. W. Stephen, Campbell
Day, Colonel Harry Livingstone, A. M. Sutton, J. E.
Duckworth, John Lowth, T. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Duncan, C. Lunn, William Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Dunnico, H. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Thurtle, E.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Mackinder, W. Tinker, John Joseph
Edwards, John H. (Accrington) MacLaren, Andrew Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
England, Colonel A. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Varley, Frank B.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) March, S. Viant, S. P.
Fenby, T. D. Maxton, James Wallhead, Richard C.
Forrest, W. Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley) Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Gibbins, Joseph Mond, Rt. Ron. Sir Alfred Warne, G. H.
Gillett, George M. Montague, Frederick Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Gosling, Harry Morris, R. H. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Murnin, H. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Greenall, T. Naylor, T. E. Welsh, J. C.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Oliver, George Harold Westwood J.
Grenfell, D. H. (Glamorgan) Owen, Major G. Whiteley, W.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Palin, John Henry Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Groves, T. Paling, W. Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Grundy, T. W. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Pethick-Lawrence, F W. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.) Ponsonby, Arthur Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Potts, John S. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Rees, Sir Beddoe Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Windsor, Walter
Hardie, George D. Riley, Ben Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Harris, Percy A. Ritson, J.
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Hastings, Sir Patrick Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland) Sir Godfrey Collins and Mr. Trevelyan Thomson.
Hayday, Arthur Rose, Frank H.
Hayes, John Henry Saklatvala, Shapurji
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Burman, J. B. Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Butler, Sir Geoffrey Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)
Ainsworth, Major Charles Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Campbell, E. T. Dean, Arthur Wellesley
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Cassels, J. D. Dixey, A. C.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.) Drewe, C.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Eden, Captain Anthony
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Chapman, Sir S. Edmondson, Major A. J.
Atkinson, C. Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Elliot, Captain Walter E.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Chilcott, Sir Warden Ellis, R. G.
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Christie, J. A. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Everard, W. Lindsay
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Clarry, Reginald George Fanshawe, Commander G. D.
Berry, Sir George Clayton, G. C. Fermoy, Lord
Betterton, Henry B. Cobb, Sir Cyril Finburgh, S.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Fleming, D. P.
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Ford, P. J.
Blades, Sir George Rowland Conway, Sir W. Martin Foxcroft, Captain C. T.
Boothby, R. J. G. Cope, Major William Fraser, Captain Ian
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Couper, J. B. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Courtauld, Major J. S. Galbraith, J. F. W.
Brass, Captain W. Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L. Ganzoni, Sir John
Brassey, Sir Leonard Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn. N.) Gee, Captain R.
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham
Briscoe, Richard George Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
Brittain, Sir Harry Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro) Glyn, Major R. G. C.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert Goff, Sir Park
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y) Curtis-Bennett, Sir Henry Gower, Sir Robert
Buckingham, Sir H. Curzon, Captain Viscount Grace, John
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Dalkeith, Earl of Greene, W. P. Crawford
Bullock, Captain M. Dalziel, Sir Davison Grotrian, H. Brent
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Macmillan Captain H. Sandon, Lord
Gunston, Captain D. W. Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Hammersley, S. S. MacRobert, Alexander M. Shaw, Lt. Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)
Hanbury, C. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wlits, Westb'y)
Harland, A. Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Shepperson, E. W.
Harrison, G. J. C. Margesson, Captain D. Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Hartington, Marquess of Merriman, F. B. Skelton, A. N.
Haslam, Henry C. Meyer, Sir Frank Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Hawke, John Anthony Milne, J. S. Wardlaw- Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle) Moles, Thomas Sprot, Sir Alexander
Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F.(Will'sden, E.)
Henn, Sir Sydney H. Moreing, Captain A. H. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G.(Westm'eland)
Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Storry, Deans, R.
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Morrison-Bell, Sir Arther Clive Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone) Murchison, C. K. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph Styles, Captain H. Walter
Holland, Sir Arthur Nelson, Sir Frank Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Hopkins, J. W. W. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Howard, Captain Hon. Donald Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Tinne, J. A.
Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n) Oakley, T. Turton, Edmund Russborough
Hume, Sir G. H. O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Huntingfield, Lord Oman, Sir Charles William C. Waddington, R.
Hurst, Gerald B. Penny, Frederick George Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Iliffe, Sir Edward M. Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Pleiou, D. P. Watts, Dr. T.
Jacob, A. E. Pilcher, G. Wells, S. R.
Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Pilditch, Sir Philip White, Lieut.-Colonel Q. Dairymple
Kennedy, A. R. (Preston). Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Kidd, J. (Linlithgow) Radford, E. A. Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Kindersley, Major Guy M. Ramsden, E. Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
King, Captain Henry Douglas Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Lamb, J. Q. Rawson, Alfred Cooper Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington) Wise, Sir Fredric
Little, Dr. E. Graham Reid, D. D. (County Down) Womersley, W. J.
Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Remer, J. R. Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W.R., Ripon)
Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Rentoul, G. S. Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Loder, J. de V. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford) Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Lumley, L. R. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Lynn, Sir Robert J. Salmon, Major I.
Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Captain Douglas Hacking and
McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Sandeman, A. Stewart Lord Stanley.
Macintyre, Ian Sanders, Sir Robert A.

May I ask you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, whether your announcement about the change in the Tellers was made to the Committee, and whether there were any hon. Members present when you made the announcement?


I made it to the Committee, and there were a number of hon. Members present.