§ Sir FRANK MEYER
I beg to move. "in page 25, line 37, after the word 'amount,' to insert the words 'for the following year.'"
It would be for the convenience of the House, and would certainly tend to 345 shorten the proceedings if I might be permitted, in dealing with this Amendment, to speak generally on the series of Amendments to this Clause and to Clause 41 which stand in my name, and then I need not speak on any of the other Amendments. The object of these Amendments, which are correlated, is to call attention to what is the result of these 'Clauses, which deal with what was Super-tax and what is to be in the future Sur-tax. When the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to these changes in the course of his speech introducing the Budget, he indicated to the House that their object was solely one of simplification. I have read through his speech with great care and I cannot find anywhere any indication that this simplification was likely to impose a new burden upon the taxpayer. I do not want to quote him in, extenso, but I would like to quote this sentence:This assignment of Super-tax to a different year does not affect either the basis on which it is assessed, the rate at which it is charged, or the date at which it falls due for payment.Anybody listening to that speech might well consider that no new burden was likely to be placed upon the taxpayer. On the contrary things were to be simplified for him. He was to make less returns, but the net result of the amount he would have to pay would be the same.
As a result, however, of these Clauses, 37 and 41, a new burden is placed upon the taxpayer. I shall put it in this way. As the law stands at present, if I were to be so unfortunate as to die to-morrow—I take my own case rather than anybody else's case lest anyone is superstitious—my executors would have to pay Super-tax for the proportion of the year from 6th April to 20th July, based on my income for the year ending on the 5th April last year. After these Clauses have been passed and have come into effect, which I gather will not be until the year after next, if I were to die on the corresponding date, my executors would have to pay Super-tax for the whole of the preceding year. I think that is so and, if the Chancellor can prove I am wrong, I will only be too pleased not to press my Amendments. I think that is the effect of these Clauses, and it does definitely add a new burden to the taxpayer, something in the nature 346 of bringing everything forward a year. It only takes effect after death, it is true, and therefore it is more in the nature of increasing the death duties than the Supertax. That is a fact that should be very widely and generally known, and for that reason I have put down this series of Amendments, which would have the effect, if accepted, that the changes in simplification of Super-tax would not add an extra Death Duty. In the words of the final Amendment which stands in my name and the names of other hon. Members, it would provide that,In the case of the death of an individual liable to Sur-tax during any financial year for which Sur-tax is charged a part only of the year's Sur-tax shall be payable-proportionate to that part of the financial year which has elapsed up to the date of the death of the individual.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Ronald McNeill)
I am not quite sure from the speech of the hon. Member whether he is anxious to oppose altogether the principle which is embodied in Clause 37 and the other Clause which he is seeking to amend, or whether he does not quite appreciate the effect that would be brought about if these proposed Amendments were accepted. Clause 37 provides for a new basis of taxation, under which the Super-tax as we have hitherto understood it ceases to exist, and the Income Tax and a new Sur-tax are to form one tax upon the same basis. That is a process of simplfication which I think is very much desired in the country, and I have always understood that it was desired by this House. I do not know whether my hon. Friend objects to that principle or not. It is quite clear that if this Amendment and the other Amendments standing in his name were to be accepted they would frustrate that attempt entirely.
This particular Amendment by which he wishes to insert the words "for the following year," would cut at the very root of the proposal, by which the new Sur-tax is to be merely a final instalment of Income Tax for a given year. The other Amendments which are really consequential upon that, I do not refer to, because they would have the same effect. I do not know whether I need refer to the other Amendment to which my hon. 347 Friend has alluded, because I do not suppose he can move it unless he succeeds in carrying this one. In those circumstances I do not think it is necessary for me to anticipate the reply that could be given. They are all part of one system, the effect of which would be to destroy the simplification which we have in view, and against that, I feel certain the House would desire to support the Government.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir F. MEYER
I do not desire to move the two following Amendments—in page 26, line 17, to leave out the words "for that year," and in line 18, after the word "income" to insert the words "for that year."