HC Deb 05 June 1930 vol 239 cc2522-3

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


Here is a Clause the meaning of which took me the best part of half a day to understand. It says: The proviso to paragraph (1) of Rule 11 of the Rules applicable to Cases I and II of Schedule D shall, in relation to cases where the change occurs after the fifth day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty, have effect as if for the words 'three months after the change took place' there were substituted the words 'twelve months after the change took place.' What does all that mean. It took me half a day to find out what it meant. I found I had to go back to the Act of 1926 to which there is no reference in the margin of the Bill. I found that Section 32 of the Finance Act, 1926, referred to a rule in an earlier enactment. The rule referred to in Clause 15 here enacts that if after the fifth day of April, 1928, a change occurs in a partnership by reason of certain circumstances, notice must be given within three months after the change. By this Clause it is evident that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has seen the difficulty of the taxpayer, and instead of three months has said there shall be an extension to 12 months for the notice. There is a further injustice which, I suggest, should now be remedied. The Chancellor has admitted that there is an injustice against the subject in only allowing three months for notice, and has extended it to 12 months. Certain representations have been made to me by a body which represents a great number of firms in this country—the Association of British Chambers of Commerce—that there is another injustice, and that it could be got over in this way. I suggest that the tax payable shall in future be put on the following basis. I accept the concession made in the Clause, but a further concession could be made. I suggest that the basis should be as though the business had been discontinued at the date of the change, and a new business set up. The Clause meets this suggestion as far as current assessments are concerned, I agree, but it should include cases where changes have occurred since the date laid down since the Act of 1926, namely, since 5th April, 1928. I think it should be so amended and that the Chancellor should give the matter his consideration so that if business alterations have taken place since 1928 the Clause should apply as from that date. I should like to hear what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to say on the point.


Will the Chancellor, when he is considering the point my hon. Friend has raised, consider whether he cannot abolish this legislation by reference, which makes it so extremely difficult to follow, and whether, before the Report stage, he will have the Clause re-drafted to make it perfectly clear, instead of having to refer to previous Acts.


I am afraid I cannot promise between now and Report to solve a problem which has baffled every legislator, I suppose, from the time legislation was first instituted, and that is to abolish legislation by reference. The point here is a very simple one. It involves nothing more than extending the option from three months to twelve.


I do not think we can ask more than that on a Clause which is definitely a concession to the taxpayer. It would, I think, cost nothing to the Revenue to consider a more detailed application of the concession. That, I understand, will be done.