HC Deb 22 June 1925 vol 185 cc1172-80

In charging, whether under Schedule D the profits or gains accruing from any trade, profession, employment, or vocation, or under Schedule E the salary, fees, wages, or profits accruing from any office of employment, any person the amount of whose earned income, as estimated in accordance with the Income Tax Acts, shall not exceed five hundred pounds, such deduction may be allowed as the Commissioners, having jurisdiction in the matter, may consider just and reasonable as representing the expenses of travelling between the residence of the taxpayer and his place of business, provided that no such deduction shall exceed the sum of twenty pounds.—[Captain Garro-Jones.]


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

This is not a Clause which I would have preferred to other Clauses to which my name is also attached, but that does not mean that I am at all dubious as to the merits of this Clause. I am encouraged to hope that we may have some concession from the Treasury, for two or three reasons. The first is that, so far as time is concerned, this Debate is getting on pretty rapidly. We are already about three-quarters of an hour ahead of the programme. I do not propose to absorb that gain in time, but I hope it will encourage the Financial Secretary to give us some concession. I have observed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is very ready to meet the pressing claims of people like large owners of agricultural land and silk manufacturers, but I have not noticed hitherto that he has shown any tendency to make any concession to the small taxpayer who has no powerful trade union or employers' organisation to support him. I am aware that the Financial Secretary probably has in his hand the stock Treasury answer to this Amendment, but I hope that that will not prevent him from giving consideration to the Amendment. This is an appeal on behalf of a large number of people who may briefly be described as straphangers and other victims of the Southern Railway. I am not wedded to the exact wording of the Amendment It seeks to exempt from taxation the amount paid in travelling expenses by people, possessing incomes of less than £500 a year, who pay a sum not exceeding £20 for travelling expenses. I shall not object if the Financial Secretary wishes to increase the amount of exemption or to increase the limit of travelling expenses, but I hope that he will make some concession.

The first argument in favour of the Clause is undoubtedly that it encourages people to live outside the crowded urban districts. If it is proper to grant relief of Income Tax for people who pay insurance premiums, it is surely desirable to make concessions to people who promote their health by living in the rural areas. They live in those areas, not merely for health or luxury, but because they are compelled to do so, the housing accommodation within easy reach of London being totally inadequate to meet the demand. I will give the Financial Secretary very briefly the charges for season tickets for people who wish to live outside London. A season ticket to Eastbourne, third class, costs £32 10s. a year. My Clause would not give a man full benefit for living at Eastbourne. It would give him the benefit only of a 20 miles radius, about as far as Caterham, the season ticket for which costs £20 per annum. In the new scale for season tickets proposed by the railway companies, the 20 miles radius season ticket is to cost £21 10s., third class; £18 10s., third class, within a 15 miles radius; and £14, third class, within a 10 miles radius. Those charges express approximately the extent to which the Financial Secretary would have to grant relief.

The chief argument used against this Clause last year by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer was that the Royal Commission on Income Tax had opposed this relief on the ground that it trenched on the question of rent and rates. I hope that that argument will not prove conclusive with the present Chancellor, because the principle has already been conceded in other directions. A doctor has his travelling expenses allowed, a barrister gets allowance for his chambers and his clerk and the renewal of books, and ministers and other professional men get allowances for studies and other parts of a house which would otherwise be chargeable to Income Tax. Travelling expenses are paid to people who can afford to travel in taxi-cabs. For instance, journalists can get an allowance for travelling about London in taxi-cabs, in carrying out their duties, if they make a special claim. It is an equitable claim. I certainly think that the hundreds of thousands who come up to London every day in the tubes and trains ought to be allowed relief for their travelling expenses. I have been amazed to see these people often spending two hours or an hour-and-a-half of every working day in travelling up and down, to and from their work They get no pay for that time. On the contrary, they are contributing to the dividends of the Underground and other railway companies. I hope that the Financial Secretary will examine the proposal with an impartial eye.


I wish to support the new Clause. The name of the Financial Secretary has always been associated with housing reform. Both he and his family have been great advocates of improved housing of the people. Our great towns are getting too large. They are spreading out over such immense areas that great numbers of the population are out of contact with rural life. Every housing reformer has come to the conclusion that the right path to take in housing progress is to limit our big cities and to induce people to live in the country. Unfortunately that entails expense. A railway season ticket is often a big tax on the family budget. The heavy charge entailed for railway travelling prevents many people from going out to the country estates which are being developed by municipalities. Here is an opportunity for the Government and the Chancellor to give a little encouragement to people to live out in the country, and away from the crowded centres of population, which in the end must have a considerable effect on the health of the nation.


The proposal to give this allowance for travelling expenses is a much more costly matter than the Mover and Seconder seem to imagine. It would involve us in a loss of £800,000 in a full year. It is not merely on that ground, however, that I ask the House to reject the new Clause, but also because we believe it would bring about an unequal and unfair differentiation between one class of taxpayers and another, on quite haphazard and accidental grounds. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Second Reading of the New Clause referred to the recommendation of the Royal Commission with disapproval, but I am afraid in spite of that fact I must again tell the House what that recommendation was. The Royal Commission on Income Tax, expressed the following view: Travelling expenses incurred by a taxpayer in going from his place of residence to his business should not, in our view, be allowed. The question of travelling expenses is one which reacts on other private expenses, such as the expenditure for rent and rates. It is more truly an expenditure or disposal of income than an expense essentially necessary to earn the income. We are of opinion that a general allowance for travelling expenses would result in very grave inequity. I think if the hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) considers the matter a little further, he will see that his argument as regards housing is not conclusive. As he knows well from his experience of dealing with housing in London, certain people have to live in crowded areas where rents are high because of the conditions of their employment. It would not be fair that such people should get no remission in spite of their high rents, whereas people who pay lower rents should because of the necessity for daily travel between their work and homes receive this advantage. Railway travelling and rent work in so closely together that to give this remission merely on chance, and to leave untouched people who are compelled to pay high rents in crowded areas would cause a great and real grievance.


The people who live in crowded areas do not pay Income Tax.


Yes, some of them do. The hon. and gallant Member has limited his proposal to people whose incomes are up to £500 a year, and I think he will find that quite a number of such people are compelled to live close to the place where they work. Reference has also been made to the case of doctors. The hon. and gallant Member is not perhaps aware of the rules under which doctors and the other professional people whom he mentioned get this exemption. They get it because their travelling is wholly necessarily and exclusively incurred in the performance of their duties. A doctor would not get allowance for travelling from his consulting room down to the country on a season ticket. Once you get away from that rule, you are liable to get into great difficulty. Apart from these considerations an injustice would, I think, arise under a proposal which would limit a remission of Income Tax to those who are in enjoyment of an earned income of not more than £500. It would mean that many rich people who have investments, and who perhaps earn an income of £200 a year, out of a couple of directorships of companies, would get the remission, while other people who are dependent upon an earned income which is just over £500 would be deprived of the advantage. For those reasons I think the Clause would be very uneven in its operation and I cannot advise the House to accept it.


On both of the grounds on which the right hon. Gentleman rejects this New Clause, I could make out a good case for many workmen in this country. The right hon. Gentleman bases his objection to the New Clause firstly on the ground that those who are living in the country pay less rent and less rates than those living in the towns. What about the men who have to go from the towns to the country to work, and who pay high rents in the towns in addition to the cost of travelling? In the whole of the mining area the case is absolutely the reverse to that put by the right hon. Gentleman. Men who work in the country districts have to live in the towns

because there is little or no housing accommodation in the country. Nor does the other objection raised by the right hon. Gentleman apply to men in this position. There is no necessity for them to go to the country except to go to their work. Thousands of miners have to travel in this way at the present time, and the cost to them now is 200 per cent. higher than it was in pre-War times.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 117; Noes, 298.

Division No. 194.] AYES. [6.53 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Harris, Percy A. Scrymgeour, E.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hayday, Arthur Sexton, James
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Hayes, John Henry Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Ammon, Charles George Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Attlee, Clement Richard Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hirst, G. H. Smillie, Robert
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Barnes, A. Hore-Belisha, Leslie Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Batey, Joseph Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith) Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Snell, Harry
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. John, William (Rhondda, West) Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
Broad, F. A. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Stamford, T. W.
Bromley, J. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Stephen, Campbell
Charleton, H. C. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Button, J. E.
Cluse, W. S. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Taylor, R. A.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Kelly, W. T. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Connolly, M. Kennedy, T. Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)
Dalton, Hugh Kenyon, Barnet Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Day, Colonel Harry Lansbury, George Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Dennison, R. Lawson, John James Thurtle, E.
Duncan, C. Livingstone, A. M. Tinker, John Joseph
Dunnico, H. Lowth, T. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Edwards, John H. (Accrington) Lunn, William Viant, S. P.
England, Colonel A. Mackinder, W. Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) MacLaren, Andrew Warne, G. H.
Forrest, W. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd March, S. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Gillett, George M. Maxton, James Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Gosling, Harry Montague, Frederick Westwood, J.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Morris, R. H. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Greenall, T. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Whiteley, W.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Naylor, T. E. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Palin, John Henry Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Groves, T. Paling, W. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Grundy, T. W. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Windsor, Walter
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wright, W.
Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.) Ponsonby, Arthur Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Potts, John S.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Hardie, George D. Saklatvala, Shapurji Sir Robert Hutchison and Captain
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Bennett, A. J. Broun-Lindsay, Major H.
Albery, Irving James Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish- Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Berry, Sir George Buckingham, Sir H.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Betterton, Henry B. Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Bullock, Captain M.
Astor, Viscountess Blades, Sir George Rowland Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan
Atholl, Duchess of Blundell, F. N. Burman, J. B.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart Burton, Colonel H. W.
Balniel, Lord Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Butler, Sir Geoffrey
Banks, Reginald Mitchell Boyd-Carpenter, Major A. Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Brass, Captain W. Caine, Gordon Hall
Barnett, Major Richard Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Campbell, E. T.
Beamish, Captain T. P. H. Briscoe, Richard George Cautley, Sir Henry S.
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Brittain, Sir Harry Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Brocklebank, C. E. R. Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle) Penny, Frederick George
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Henn, Sir Sydney H. Perring, William George
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.) Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A. Pilcher, G.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Pilditch, Sir Philip
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Herbert, S. (York, N. R-, Scar. & Wh'by) Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Christie, J. A. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Preston, William
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Price, Major C. W. M.
Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel
Clarry, Reginald George Homan, C. W. J. Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)
Clayton, G. C. Hopkins, J. W. W. Reid, D. D. (County Down)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Remnant, Sir James
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K. Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N. Rentoul, G. S.
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., N.) Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Conway, Sir W. Martin Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n) Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)
Cooper, A. Duff Hume, Sir G. H. Ropner, Major L.
Cope, Major William Hurst, Gerald B. Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L. Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.) Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim) Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Sandeman, A. Stewart
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Jacob, A. E. Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Sanderson, Sir Frank
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Jephcott, A. R. Sandon, Lord
Crook, C. W. Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William Savery, S. S.
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Kidd, J. (Linlithgow) Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)
Curzon, Captain Viscount Kindersley, Major Guy M. Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Dalkeith, Earl of King, Captain Henry Douglas Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Dalziel, Sir Davison Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd) Lamb, J. Q. Skelton, A. N.
Davidson, Major-General Sir John H. Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovi') Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Dawson, Sir Philip Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Smithers, Waldron
Dean, Arthur Wellesley Little, Dr. E. Graham Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Spender Clay, Colonel H.
Doyle, Sir N. Grattan Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Sprot, Sir Alexander
Drewe, C. Loder, J. de V. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Eden, Captain Anthony Looker, Herbert William Stanley, Col. Hon. G.F. (Will'sden, E.)
Edmondson, Major A. J. Lougher, L. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Elliot, Captain Walter E. Lowe, Sir Francis William Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Ellis, R. G. Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Storry Deans, R.
Elveden, Viscount Lumley, L. R. Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith MacAndrew, Charles Glen Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Everard, W. Lindsay McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Fairfax, Captain J. G. Macintyre, I. Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Falle, Sir Bertram G. McLean, Major A. Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Fanshawe, Commander G. D. MacMillan, Captain H. Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Croydon, S.)
Fermoy, Lord Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Tinne, J. A.
Fielden, E. B. MacRobert, Alexander M. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Finburgh, S. Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel- Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Fleming, D. P. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Turton, Edmund Russborough
Ford, P. J. Malone, Major P. B. Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Forestier-Walker, L. Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Waddington, R.
Foster, Sir Harry S. Margesson, Captain D. Wallace, Captain D. E.
Foxcroft, Captain C. T. Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K. Warrender, Sir Victor
Ganzoni, Sir John Meller, R. J. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Gates, Percy Merriman, F. B. Wells, S. R.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Meyer, Sir Frank White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple
Goff, Sir Park Mitchell. Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Gower, Sir Robert Moles, Thomas Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Grant, J. A. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Winby, Colonel L. P.
Greene, W. P. Crawford Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Grotrian, H. Brent Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Wise, Sir Fredric
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.) Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Wolmer, Viscount
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Murchison, C. K. Womersley, W. J.
Gunston, Captain D. W. Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Nelson, Sir Frank Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W.R., Ripon)
Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Nicholson, O. (Westminster) Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).
Harland, A. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.) Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Harrison, G. J. C. Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Nuttall, Ellis Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Oakley, T.
Haslam, Henry C. O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hawke, John Anthony O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh Colonel Gibbs and Major Sir Harry
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Barnston.
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Pennefather, Sir John