HC Deb 30 September 1931 vol 257 cc450-75

The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence)—in page 5, line 34, at the end, to insert the words Provided that the provisions of section eight of the Finance Act, 1931, shall not apply in the case of any person whose assessment has been increased as the result of the operation of this sub-section and the income tax for which such person may he liable shall be payable in two equal instalments in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (2) of section one hundred and fifty-seven of the Income Tax Act, 1918, as originally enacted."— is both out of place and out of order.

8.0 p.m.


May I suggest that this Amendment could be called, for this reason. The effect of Clause 7 is to impose certain new burdens. Am I not entitled to ask that these burdens shall not be subject to the provisions of the previous Act of this year, because that Act makes these burdens very much more grievous than they otherwise would be. I submit that I am entitled to suggest that these new burdens should not be imposed in these unequal proportions.


The hon. Gentleman is perfectly entitled to bring that forward as an argument why the Committee should not pass this Clause, but the Clause is governed by a financial Resolution in Ways and Means, which limits it to such Amendments as are consequential on any variations that may be made in the reliefs. The Amendment is not consequential on the variations, but is an Amendment in the Income Tax law as laid down in the Finance Act of this year and this is far beyond the scope of the Financial Resolution.

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


When the Budget Resolution dealing with allowances was introduced a fortnight ago, we appealed to the Financial Secretary, who was in charge of the Resolution, to withdraw the scale of variations proposed and to replace them by a scale more in consonance with the general ideas of taxation that prevail in the country so that the burden of the tax should be more or less consonant with the power to bear it. Unfortunately, the Financial Secretary refused to amend the scale, and nothing is now left but to oppose the Clause. I do so on the ground that the various new burdens placed upon Income Tax payers by the alteration in the rate of allowances are indefensible if we judge by the test of ability to pay. I am not going to discuss the question of equality of sacrifice. I frankly do not know what that phrase means. But I know that equality of sacrifice cannot mean the placing of larger burdens upon smaller incomes. I am not going to discuss whether, for example, an increased burden of £21 on an income of £500 a year is a greater or a less burden than a tax of £2,700 on an income of £50,000. It is practically impossible to compare those two figures, because they are incommensurables. One cannot argue about it without having any definite basis upon which to compare the relative sacrifices. Furthermore, the Chancellor can always make the reply, when one urges an increase of taxation upon higher incomes, that we may be approaching the point where an increase in tax may lead to diminishing returns. Whether we have reached that point or not I do not know. No one can say except the Board of Inland Revenue, and they can only make an estimate. I am going to base my case against this Clause in such a way that the Chancellor will not he able to use that argument. I am going to compare like with like.

The main gravamen of my charge is that the differentiation between the married and the single person has been reduced by these variations in allowances, whereas it ought to have been very materially increased. Take one item alone. Take an increased burden of £36, that falls upon a married man with three children when his income is at the rate of £800 a year. If you turn to a single man, you have to go down the scale until you come to an income of £1,600 before there is the same increase of burden. That is to say that the Chancellor, by his variation of these allowances, has put a similar burden on a married man with three children with £800 a year and a single man, without any encumbrances, with an income of £1,600. It may be said that the man who has £1,600 a year paid more tax to begin with than the married man with £800. That is true, but what was the tax under the last Budget on a single man with £1,600? It was £250. It still left him £1,350 to live on. A single man with £1,350 to live on after he has paid his tax can afford to bear a larger burden than a married man with three children with £800 a year. As a matter of fact, over and above the income of £700 a year the increased burden placed by the revision of the allowances on married men with children is in every case higher than the burden placed upon single men with similar incomes. These increased burdens, not relative but actual, which are put upon the married man are utterly and completely unjustified when compared with the burdens placed on a single man.

The position of the married man, and particularly the married man with children, is that already a, very large portion of the income is mortgaged well in advance, and mortgaged to expenses that he cannot reduce. The head of a family has to have a very much larger house, to start with, than a single man. He cannot live in a couple of rooms in comfort, as a single man can. A very large number, probably 70 or 80 per cent., of married men who are obtaining the benefit of children's allowances have been compelled to buy their houses and to mortgage them, and they are faced with such expenses as mortgage interest and amortisation charges. Another heavy item is life insurance. A single man has no responsibilities and no dependants and no need to insure his life. A married man with children is compelled to do so. Life insurance, particularly to a man with £800 or £1,000 a year, who is maintaining a certain position and who wishes to secure, at any rate, a competence for his wife and children, is a very heavy item in his expenditure. Here, again, I speak feelingly.

Anyone who has children knows what schooling costs. The cost of rearing a family is going up steadily, because parents are more and more realising the importance of first-class schooling and first-class health. They have far more doctors' and dentists' bills than they had. Children are becoming a greater and greater expense year by year, and it is an expense that the married man with children cannot suddenly contract. If he does, he is not merely curtailing his own comfort, but is curtailing something that is essential for the welfare of his children. A married man obviously has a far smaller margin out of which to pay the tax than a single man. It is impossible to say how much a married man spends solely on himself and how much on his family, but, if we say the average decent married man spends three-quarters of his income on his family and the other quarter on himself, we are probably understating the amount that he spends on the family. A single man has none of these burdens. He is an infinitely more taxable person. Sitting behind the Chancellor there are a large number of agricultural experts. When they want milk, do they go to a cow that has a calf, or do they go to a cow whose calf has been taken away? If the Chancellor of the Exchequer wants mulch cows, let him go to those which are not suckling calves.

I will take the case of a single man. Frankly, no matter what range of income you take, the taxation which he pays is not serious, and the recent burden that has been placed upon him by the Finance Bill is negligible. Take a single man with £400 a year. After the last Budget of the Chancellor he was left with £380, out of which he is now asked to pay another £13—not a heavy burden. A single man with £1,000 a year after the April Budget was left with £875, and he is now asked to pay a further £27 10s. A single man with £2,000 a year, after paying taxation already imposed, has £1,688 left, and the burden to be placed on that sum is £46. A single man with £10,000 a year has, after all taxation, £6,500 left and out of that he is now asked to pay £384. To go to the largest figure that is given in the precious White Paper which has been issued, a single man with an income of £100,000 a year is left, after taxation, with £44,400, out of which he is now asked to pay £5,700. Compare the position of single persons with incomes I have given and the taxation which they pay with similarly placed persons who are married and responsible for children. There is really no comparison at all.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer may say that if he increased the taxation of the Super-tax payer, wholesale evasion would set in, and that the premium placed upon evasion would be so high that not even the skill of the Inland Revenue would be able to prevent wholesale evasion. What is the simplest and most common method of evading the high effects of aggregation? The settlement of an income upon the children. I know of cases where that has been done. It is a very common method and one which the Inland Revenue cannot meet. Probably there is more evasion—if I may use that phrase—of Super-tax by settlement of incomes upon children than by any other method. Obviously, we have not yet reached the point where high taxation is diminishing returns; otherwise, the Chancellor would not have increased taxation, because his object is revenue and not diminished returns. I pointed out earlier that the most fruitful source of evasion of taxation—the settlement of income upon children, who will be the natural recipients eventually—is entirely closed to single men. Not only has the single man far leas incentive to avoid taxation, because obviously the general demands upon him are far less and he can afford more easily to meet increased taxation, but the simple and obvious means of evasion which the married man adopts are not there for him. The result is that the single man stands to be shot at, and, frankly, I have no objection to shooting at him. He can stand a good deal more taxation than he is standing, because a married man who is saddled with practically the same taxation, has an infinitely greater burden to bear.

We have now had placed before us a second Finance Bill in a year, due to a great crisis. Never was there a better opportunity for introducing a very drastic change along the lines which I have suggested for the taxation of those who are single and those who are childless. The childless married person can bear more taxation, and when I say childless, I mean childless, and not merely persons with children above the age limit. You have an opportunity to introduce a very drastic change in our method of allowances and placing burdens where they can far better be borne than can the burdens that have been imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am sorry that he has not taken advantage of the opportunity. Instead of adjusting the burden and realising that among the childless couples and single persons there is a source of income which can be tapped more easily and with less hardship than in the case of the married person, he has taken practically the opposite line. He has increased the burden that falls upon the already overburdened married person, and for that reason I shall strongly oppose the Clause.


I thought of laying before the Committee some of the calculations that have been so admirably put forward by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson), but he has dealt with the detailed financial effects of the diminution in family allowances and rebates to children that I will not trouble the Committee by repeating anything he has said. I will confine myself to saying how completely I am in agreement with him. The whole of this Bill—and I think that the same may be said of the Economy Bill which received its Third Reading last night—falls with special severity upon parents, and upon parents of the middle-class. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer were not supported by the cohorts of the Conservative party, we might have imagined that his proposals in this Finance Bill were inspired by an almost Russian detestation of the petit bourgeoise, for the proposals of the Bill will hit with very great severity especially the families of the middle-class who are engaged in commercial and professonal occupations.

The man with an income of between £400 and £1,000 a year, who pays Income Tax at the standard rate and has hitherto reduced the standard rebate on account of his children and dependants, seems to bear the heavy share of the burden of this Bill, and to be the greatest scapegoat in regard to the economies to be effected, with the possible exception of the unemployed man. Many of the professional men who are parents and who belong to the middle ranges of income are connected with those occupations which are going to be heavily hit by the cuts in the Economy Bill—teachers, civil servants, and Army and Navy officers, All of them are hit by direct cuts in income under the Economy Bill, and they are just the people who will feel most heavily this decrease in the rebates that they have hitherto enjoyed on account of being parents.

These people find it hardest to readjust their standard of living to meet these heavy inroads upon their income. Many of them experience the sheer impossibility of renting a house to-day. The well-to-do artisan can usually rent a house which is subsidised fairly substantially out of the rates, and is owned by the municipality. The rich can buy their own houses, but the middle-classes, the professional business man, generally has to buy his house on mortgage and to meet his instalments. He enjoys no advantage from the system of free education in this country. He has heavy school fees to pay for his children, and now, with less than three weeks' warning, he is asked to bear these heavy direct cuts in his income under the Economy Bill, followed by the blow of the decreases in the rebates for his wife, children and other dependants.

I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer could have seen his way to increase the rebates for children rather than to decrease them. I do not suppose that he or any other hon. Member has found much time during the last few days to listen to the discussions that have been going on in the British Association. In the discussions on the subject of population we have heard the eugenists lamenting over the great fall in the British birthrate among the intelligentsia, and our steadily increasing differential birthrate, which remains heavy among the submerged tenth. The fall in the birthrate has come upon the middle and professional classes until the rate is far below that of any other country in Europe, except Denmark. We are suffering from a very low birthrate and not only are we taking no steps to put the birthrate right among the educated classes but we are apparently doing everything we can to give it a further push. This excessively low birthrate among the educated classes increases the differentiation of the birthrate as between the different classes. The professional men who have a high standard for their children are finding themselves more and more unable to indulge in the luxury of parentage.

I deeply deplore this particular feature in the Finance Bill. I do wish that in this respect we could have followed the lines that have been adopted in continental countries. It is a curious fact that France and Belgium during the last two years, when they were beginning to feel severe economic pressure, which reached them almost last in Europe, took steps to deal with this matter. During the past year in France steps were taken, although the Bill is not yet through, and in Belgium a Bill passed last year, to compel the employers to pay allowances in respect of children, because they recognised that a time of economy, when it is necessary to make every penny go as far as possible, and to restrict expenditure very severely, was just the time when the burden of these economies would fall heavily upon those who had families to keep, and they realised that that involved a real danger to the future of the race. I deplore this particular feature in the Budget, and if the matter is pressed to a Division I shall vote against a reduction in the rebates.


Comments have been made on the inadequate increases of taxation in regard to the higher incomes. We are now confronted with a reversal of policy so far as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is concerned. Up to now it has been generally recognised that married people with children should have more generous allowances than single people. We find, however, that the reverse procedure has been followed in this Bill. The hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) has called attention to the matter. I will take an income of £1,500 a year. A single man with such an income will have to pay an extra tax of £33 10s., whereas a married man with no children will have to pay an extra tax of £41 5s. A married man with one child will pay £42 5s., and a married man with three children £44 15s., which means an excess tax over the single man of £11 5s. These are the net figures in the Budget, but the proportion holds good if we take the figures that are given in the White Paper. If we take the computation given in the final column of the White Paper and compare it with the computation that I have made, the result is the same. The married man with three children has not only to pay a proportionate increase, but he has to find £11 5s. for occupying that position. Such an imposition requires some defence and it will be interesting to hear what the representative of the Government has to say about the increased charge upon the married man, seeing that it is so much greater than the tax upon the single people.

I should like to know if the explanation that was given by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury applies to this as well as to the preceding Clause. We were told that it was wrong to calculate increases as between the tax paid now and the tax that will be paid when this Bill becomes law. We are told that we should take as our basis the first Budget that was brought in by the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). We were told by the Financial Secretary that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not only a capable Chancellor but that he was something in the nature of a prophet; that he foresaw all that is happening now when he took his seat on those benches in 1930. We have been told that the crisis began then, that the emergency began then, and that the taxes levied then were in preparation for the present crisis.

I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman also foresaw the alteration that he was going to make in the allowances, because when we look at the allowances between the years 1929–30 and 1930–31 we find that they have been increased, and consequently the taxes upon the lower middle classes have practically been retained at the same level. It was reduced by a very small sum in regard to one class of income—there was an addition of 6d. in the Income Tax, but the actual money contribution paid by the people receiving that income was reduced. If the present crisis could have been foreseen then, some contribution could have been made at that period, but no contribution was made. The Chancellor of the Exchequer boasted at that time, and was cheered by the party with whom he was then associated, because it was in accordance with the principles which he had always professed and which we had professed, that the taxation imposed on the lower middle-classes was already severe enough and that the bulk of the taxation should be imposed on those much more fortunate. That was the principle in the Budget of last April, and if all these things were foreseen, if the emergency really began then, why was it that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was simply content to give a warning? If it was not foreseen then the argument of the Financial Secretary is beside the point.

One defence made by the Financial Secretary has much more validity. It was the most honest and straightforward defence that has yet been made for these proposals. The hon. and gallant Member attributed to me a belief that wealthy people could have their taxation increased indefinitely without any prejudicial results. I never made any such statement, nor did I use any argument which would convey that impression. The argument put forward in defence of these proposals roughly was that the limit of taxation was being reached by wealthy people and, therefore, some other people would have to pay much more. That is a straight- forward Conservative argument which we can appreciate. The Government ought to say: "This is not the time for equality of sacrifice; we have taxed the rich enough, we have reached the limit there, and, therefore, the sacrifice that has to be made in the future will not be in proportion to means at all. We are going to reverse the process and lower the exemption limit until everybody is paying Income Tax at a much higher level than now." That is the implication of the argument used by the Financial Secretary and I congratulate him on having let the cat out of the bag and stated clearly what is the policy of the party.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir WILLIAM ALLEN

I only want to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer one or two questions. We have often heard the phrases "equality of sacrifice" and "capacity to pay" during these Debates, and I want to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer a question in reference to the inequality of sacrifice as between a single person and a married person. I have some figures here which seem to me to show an inequality in the sacrifice as between these two persons. A single person with an income of £300 per year is liable to an increase in the tax payable of 52 per cent. Take the case of a married person with £300 a year, the increase he has to pay is 350 per cent. That seems to me a most extraordinary condition of affairs. The married person who is less capable of paying is being asked to pay 350 per cent. more, as compared with a single person, who is only asked to pay an increase of 52 per cent. Take the case of a single person with an income of £600 per year. His increase is 44 per cent. while a married person with an income of £600 per year is asked to pay an increase of 100 per cent. Surely there is something inequitable about this, and I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give us a satisfactory explanation or take means to secure a greater equality of sacrifice.


The hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) and those who have followed him, including the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh (Sir W. Allen), have made out, it seems to me, an unanswerable case that the proposals as they stand are not fair. It is not reasonable that smaller people should have to bear such a greater proportional burden than larger people, and it is not fair that a married man, with all the responsibilities which parentage involves, should have to bear a greater burden in proportion than a single man. But I am not sanguine enough to suppose that these arguments, however powerful, will give us a majority in the Division Lobby in our opposition to this Clause, and I do not rise, therefore, mainly for the purpose of supporting these arguments, because they need no reinforcement; they stand unchallenged. The case I desire to plead is one which I believe will move even the stony hearts of right hon. Members opposite. The Committee will remember that last April the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced a provision into the Finance Act of this year altering the proportion of instalments to be paid on the let January and the 1st of July for certain classes of Income Tax payers. Whereas the proportion had hitherto been on the percentage of 50 and 50 it was changed to a percentage proportion of 75 and 25, or from half and half to three-quarters and one-quarter respectively.

That alteration aroused considerable opposition among the ranks of hon. Members who now sit opposite. They are not here at the moment, or at least only one or two are present, and they may perhaps give their votes to reverse the attitude they took a few months ago. We on this side were supporting this proposal. The Chancellor of the Exchequer apparently sees something humorous in that, and I would remind him that the conditions then were totally different from what they are now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not then imposing any additional Income Tax, and the burden that was being inflicted by the change that was proposed was in lieu of any addition to the Income Tax. They were asked to bear this burden in order to save themselves from the much greater burden of an increase in the standard rate of the tax. Taking all that into account and the size of the tax, we felt then, and I supported it, that it was not an unfair proposition to make. But now the whole situation is completely changed, because on all these people in the lower range of Income Tax, and particularly on the married couples with children, there has been imposed an enormous additional burden.

In view of these facts, I ask that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should reconsider the alteration in the percentage of instalments. Let me draw attention to what are the actual increases which the taxpayers of this class will be called upon to meet next January. I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh (Sir W. Allen) will realise that this is a very considerable reinforcement of the argument that he very properly put before the Committee. Take the case of a married couple with an investment income of £600 a year and with three children. Before this Bill was brought in that couple had to pay a total tax of £21 10s. a year. The payment was made in half-yearly instalments of a little under £11 each. The effect of the Chancellor's proposals last April was that instead of paying next January and next July instalments of £11 each, they will pay about £15 10s. in January and about £5 10s. in July. That was a hardship but not a very serious hardship.

But what is the position to-day? This couple will have its Income Tax put up from £21 10s. to no less than £58. What is to be the effect on the instalments? Hitherto those instalments have been a little under £11 each. Under this Bill the married couple are to be asked to find next January no less than three-quarters of £58, that is to say £44. So they are suddenly to be confronted with a demand for an instalment increased by no less than £33. No hon. Member can look upon that as a reasonable thing to suggest. The case is very similar if we take a man and wife and three children, with an earned income of £800. Whereas before they had to pay £32, they now have to pay £68. And whereas the instalment would be £16 each, now it is to he £50 in January, or an increase of no less than £34. I put it to the Chancellor that here is something which ought to be dealt with. There is a case for some adjustment, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us what that adjustment is to be. We have had already some indication in the Press that though there is not to be any change in the law, the first instalment need not be all paid in January, but may be spread over January, February and March. If that is all the relief that the Chancellor is going to promise to-night to this class of people, I say here and now that in my view it is totally inadequate.


The hon. Member has been quite in order hitherto in referring to the hardship of these people having to pay such a large proportion in one instalment, but I should not be in order if I allowed the Chancellor of the Exchequer to deal with the question of making an alteration in the law. We are dealing with the law as it stands, and there is no Financial Resolution which allows that state of law to be altered by this Bill.


I shall be sorry if you rule it out of order for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reply. I hope you will allow the Financial Secretary to make some statement, possibly briefly, in order that the Committee may know what is certainly very important. The situation is simply this: We are complaining of the very severe burden which this Clause of the Bill imposes. It is not unreasonable to say that the burden will be very much increased by reason of the provision in the previous Finance Act of this year. I hope you may find yourself able to allow the Chancellor to explain how far the provision imposed in this Bill will necessitate heavy burdens next January. I have practically finished what I wanted to say. I feel that, great as are the burdens imposed in this Clause, even if we had not carried Section 8 of the Act of this year, these burdens will be still more severe in consequence of this provision, and I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he cannot see his way to modify the burdens as a whole, will at least be able to afford some relief in the method of their imposition.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Philip Snowden)

The most remarkable feature of this Debate has been the observable absence of the right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), whose name stands at the head of the Amendment. I expected that upon this Clause at any rate I should receive his enthusiastic support, because in the Clause I have adopted a recommendation which he made in the official organ of the Labour party a few weeks ago—a recommendation which he said would be accepted by nine-tenths of the Labour party. Apparently, the right hon. Gentleman has concluded that absence is the better part of valour. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment said that the gravamen of his complaint was that married men and married men with children were unfairly dealt with in comparison with single men. The hon. Member almost conveyed the impression that he was waging a vendetta against the single man who would not fulfil his social obligations.

We have had a lot of figures given of the percentage increase in the tax to be paid by the single man and the increase in the tax to be paid by the married man. These comparisons are altogether fallacious. For instance, suppose that a single man is paying £50 a year now. Assume that this man who is paying £50 a year has his tax increased to £100 a year. That is an increase of 100 per cent. Assume that a person who is paying £1 per year in taxation has his tax raised to £3 per year. That is an increase of 200 per cent. He only pays £3 a year, but his increase is described as an increase of 200 per cent., whereas in the case of the man whose payment has been increased by only 100 per cent. the actual amount of the increase is £50. That illustrates the fallacy which runs through all the arguments employed by the Opposition during this discussion. The sole reason why there is a plausible case for alleging that there is unfair discrimination against the married man as compared with the single man is because the married man hitherto has been most generously treated in comparison with the single man. I have been very much interested at the concern shown by hon. Members opposite for the man with an income of £1,000 to £1,500 a year. They have assumed the custodianship of the interests of the people with incomes within that range, but I have heard scarcely a word in the course of the Debate about the people with incomes of from £250 to £300 or even £500 a year.

Take one or two illustrations, making comparisons not of percentages of increases but of the actual figures of increases. I shall take the case of a single man with a certain income and compare him with the married couple whose income is of the same amount. Take the case of the married man with, say, three children, which is the case mentioned particularly by the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment. At the present time the married man with three children who has an income of £400 a year does not pay a single penny of taxation. He is now going to pay £5. I do not know what is the percentage of an increase of £5 upon nothing. The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) had a distinguished mathematical career in the university and probably he would be able to give us the percentage of an increase from nothing to £5. At any rate, that again shows the fallacy running through all the illustrations given on the other side in the course of the Debate. Is an imposition of £5 upon a man with an income of £400 a year unjust or not? If such a man has been a non-smoker and a tee-totaller he has not been contributing anything, except perhaps through the Sugar Duty to the taxation of the country.


Will you give him a rebate if he takes to smoking and drinking?

9.0 p.m.


That is purely voluntary and an act of choice on his part, but in the case of the Income Tax there is no choice in the matter. Then take the single man with an earned income of £500 a year. At the present time he is paying £32 2s. 6d. as compared with the married man with three children and with the same income who at the present time is paying £3 3s. 4d. I think it is because of the generous way in which the married man has been treated in the past and the way in which he has been let off the payment of any taxation at all up to a comparatively large income, which has made possible the plausible but altogether unfair contrast drawn between the increases in the two eases. It should be remembered that the term "single man" in this case includes "single woman." It is the single person not the single man whose case we have to consider although the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment always spoke of the "single man." He is entirely wrong when he assumes that all single men have no responsibilities. A great many single men live with and support their parents and where they have to take lodging or apartments their expenses are not altogether out of proportion to the expenses of the married man.

There is another consideration. I suppose that most single men are contemplating marriage, and I imagine that in that case they are making provision by saving for their marriage—at any rate, it is their duty to do so. The hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) ought to have been aware of that. I admit that she did not stress the comparison between single persons and married persons to the extent to which the hon. Member for West Leicester did so, but I would remind her that there must be tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of single women in employment in this country living away from their own homes who have to bear heavy expenses as well as maintain themselves. Therefore, it is quite unfair to suggest that single persons have no responsibilities beyond paying their own personal expenses.


Will the right hon. Gentleman permit me to point out this difference between the single man and the single woman? The single woman gets an income based on her needs as a single woman, but the single man claims and usually gets a rate of salary or wages based on the assumption that he is a married man with a family to keep.


I know of course that that is a bee in the hon. Member's bonnet, and I know her advocacy of all-round family allowances. I think I have now touched all the points raised in this discussion, but there is one point which I think has never been mentioned in the Opposition speeches to which I should like to refer, and that is the increase in the amount of the earned income allowance which I am making in this Budget.


The biggest benefit to the highest income.


We give the benefit just where it is needed, and, if the hon. Member, who has shown his ignorance of this question on many occasions in the course of this Debate, will acquaint himself with the facts he will find that when we get to a certain point in incomes the effect of all allowances disappears. I believe that I mentioned in my Budget speech that the allowances are very much higher than those recommended by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Edinburgh about 11 years ago. He was a member of the Royal Commission on Income Tax. The Royal Commission recommended an allowance of £36 for the first child and £27 for each subsequent child. These allowances at the present time are almost double those that were recommended by the Royal Commission, and the Royal Commission also said that they did not regard those figures of allowances, which were fixed at that rate because of the high cost of living at that time, as final, but recommended that if there were a substantial change in regard to that matter, those allowances should be reconsidered. But the allowances now proposed are still nearly double those recommended by the Royal Commission of 11 years ago. So much for the point of this Amendment. You ruled, Sir Dennis, that I should not be in order in replying to any points with regard to the instalment plan of paying Income Tax which would involve legislation, but should I be in order in making a statement in regard to administrative changes?


Certainly. I allowed the hon. Member who raised this point to refer to the hardship which he was suggesting to the Committee, and I said that it would be perfectly proper for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to deal with it in so far as it was not a question actually involving legislation.


What I shall have to say on this matter will not involve legislation. My hon. and gallant Friend the Financial Secretary intimated the other day that we had under consideration some measure by which we might be able to mitigate to a certain extent the undoubted hardship that will be felt under the changes in respect of the Finance Bill in the early part of next year, by which, instead of paying the first half of the Income Tax in January and the second in July, three-quarters must be paid in January and the remaining quarter in July. There is some measure of force in the point that was put by the hon. Member opposite, that the increased burden which was imposed by the increase in the Income Tax has rather altered the position, and I am prepared to meet it as far as I am able to do so. Of course, the imposition of this increased Income Tax has come rather late in the year. If it had been imposed in the first half of the year the Income Tax payer would have had nearly 12 months in which to make preparations to pay the tax. It will be remembered that I estimated in April that the alteration in the instalment plan of paying Income Tax would bring in about £10,000,000. The increase that I am now proposing will, of course, make that sum very much bigger, and the balancing of the Budget depends on my getting in the whole of this revenue before the end of the financial year.

The hon. Member who spoke last said that he would not regard merely administrative concessions as being adequate to meet what he described as the hardship of these cases. I am not prepared to do anything by legislation, but I am quite willing to do something to meet cases of exceptional hardship. I propose that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue should issue special instructions to the collectors of taxes for dealing with cases of special hardship. This will not be a general and universal concession, but each case will have to be governed by the facts and circumstances of the individual instance, and no hard-and-fast line can be drawn.

There are two other points that I want to make so that there can be no possible misunderstanding on this matter, but before mentioning those two points, may I say this: I have had a great many letters from people who make the suggestion that the Income Tax might be paid, say, by means of postage stamps, so that, in anticipation of the payment of the Income Tax at the end of the financial year, a person should have prepared for that payment and should then be able to hand in his card in payment of the tax. I do not think that is either a practicable or wise course to adopt. There are other means by which the Income Tax payer can make preparation. There is no reason, for instance, why if he wants to be prepared by weekly or monthly savings he should not put them in the Post Office, where in the meantime they will be earning money, and they can be drawn out almost without notice when the Income Tax payment becomes due; or, if he has a banking account, he can place a sum from time to time in his bank on deposit account.

In regard to those two points that I wanted to make, the first is that, al- though in any case of hardship consideration will be shown, it must be clearly understood that the three-quarters instalment must be paid well before the end of the financial year, and the second point—this does not affect only the class with whom I have been dealing, but affects the Income Tax-payers generally—is that we ought to realise, especially at a time like this, the importance of the prompt payment of the tax wherever possible. The tax is due on the 1st January, and it is of the utmost importance to the Exchequer that it should be collected as early as possible after that date, and I want to take advantage of this opportunity of appealing to all taxpayers, whether they are companies or individuals, whether they are large taxpayers or small taxpayers, to help the Exchequer by making the utmost effort to pay their Income Tax as soon as may be practicable. It is very important—indeed, it is quite a necessity—that we must balance this year's accounts, and I am confident that I can rely upon the great body of Income Tax and Surtax payers to give this degree of help in achieving that very desirable end.


The Chancellor has dealt with earned incomes. Take the case of a widow with a slender income. Bow is that case to be dealt with supposing the income is paid half-yearly, and the first instalment is paid in January? 1s the 5s. in the £ to be deducted at the source?


Certainly, if it is investment income it will be deducted at the source. The hon. Member has probably in mind the question whether she will pay 4s. 6d. or 5s. Under the arrangements in the Bill companies by whom the income will be paid will, where necessary, adjust the tax so that she will have paid at 5s. for the whole year.


From what the Chancellor has just said, it appears that only individual cases of hardship will be dealt with by the collectors. Can associations put forward cases showing that large numbers of their members will be hard hit? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider that?


I do not see how a case can be made out by an association of members, as it could not be aware of the particular circumstances of individual cases.


In the case of the two half-yearly payments to a woman receiving an annuity, the tax is deducted at source. Will the first instalment of the annuity have deducted from it three-quarters of the tax and the second instalment a quarter, or will it be deducted equally each half year?


The hon. Gentleman evidently does not understand it. The three-quarters will only be paid where there is a direct assessment of the individual.


I want to follow the point made by the hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Marley), In the case of the teachers, for instance, they are suffering a substantial reduction of income unexpectedly between now and the 1st January, and a very large number, especially of the younger teachers, will be paying Income Tax for the first time quite unexpectedly owing to the alteration in the allowances. Would it not be possible to make it quite plain that persons, such as those who out of three months' reduced income will have to find a tax which they did not expect to have to pay at all, should be regarded as a class which might come within the statement that has been made by the right hon. Gentleman? Are we to understand, if that be so, that the assessment of what is a hard case is to be left to the collector, and that he is to decide whether Mr. A or Mr. B is a hard case? Exactly what guidance is to be given to the collector as to the way in which these cases are to be dealt with?

The right hon. Gentleman has quite rightly made an appeal to all taxpayers to pay by the 31st March—[HON. MEMBERS: "The 1st January."] He certainly made an appeal to them to pay as promptly as possible, but I gather that he desires to get the whole of this tax, hard case or not, within the financial year, but that he recognises that there are some people, undefined at the moment, who will find it difficult, if not impossible, to make the payment on the 1st January. If he could give these people an idea that if they met their obligations before the end of the financial year clemency would be extended to them, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would find that they would be in a better spirit to meet his appeal than they would be if they are left in doubt as to whether the collector will regard them as hard cases.


It will be quite impracticable to extend the concession to a class. In the class which the hon. Member has mentioned, there may be a large number of cases, and no doubt there are, who will be able to pay the three-

quarters of the tax in January. Instructions will be sent out before the 1st January to all collectors in regard to this matter, and I think that we may trust the collectors to interpret their work in a generous spirit. They are people who in a great majority of cases have some local knowledge, and are acquainted with the cases of the individual taxpayers.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 262; Noes, 189.

Division No. 507.] AYES. [9.22 p.m.
Acland-Troyt, Lieut.-Colonel Cranborne, Viscount Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M. Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Harbord, A.
Albery, Irving James Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hartington, Marquess of
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Allen, Sir J. Sandoman (Liverp'l., W.) Cunliffs-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Dalkeith, Earl of Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
Aske, Sir Robert Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller
Astor, Maj. Hon. John J. (Kent, Dover) Davies, Dr. Vernon Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Atholl, Duchess of Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Hore-Belisha, Leslie
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Dawson, Sir Philip Hurd, Percy A.
Balniel, Lord Denman, Hon. R. D. Hurst, Sir Gerald B.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Inskip, Sir Thomas
Beaumont, M. W. Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Iveagn, Countess of
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Duckworth, G. A. V. Jones, Llewellyn-, F.
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Dudgeon, Major C. R. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)
Berry, Sir George Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Eden, Captain Anthony Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Edge, Sir William Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)
Boothby, R. J. G. Edmondson, Major A. J. Kindersley, Major G. M.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Elliot, Major Walter E. Knight, Holford
Boyce, Leslie England, Colonel A. Knox, Sir Alfred
Bracken, B. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.) Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)
Briscoe, Richard George Everard, W. Lindsay Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
Broadbent, Colonel J. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Ferguson, Sir John Law, Sir Alfred (Derby. High Peak)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Fielden, E. B. Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Fison, F. G. Clavering Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest
Buchan, John Foot, Isaac Llewellin, Major J. J.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Ford, Sir P. J. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Long, Major Hon. Eric
Butler, R. A. Galbraith, J. F. W. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Lymington, Viscount
Caine, Hall-, Derwent George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)
Campbell, E. T. George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)
Carver, Major W. H. Gillett, George M. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
Cattle Stewart, Earl of Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Glassey, A. E. Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Glyn, Major R. G. C. Macquisten, F. A.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.) Gower, Sir Robert Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Makins, Brigadier-General E.
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Granville, E. Margesson, Captain H. D.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Marjoribanks, Edward
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Gray, Milner Markham, S. F.
Chapman, Sir S. Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Mason, Colonel Glyn K,
Christie, J. A. Greene, W. P. Crawford Merriman, Sir F. Boyd
Clydesdale, Marquess of Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Millar, J. D.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Gunston, Captain D. W. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Colman, N. C. D. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Colville, Major D. J. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Conway, Sir W. Martin Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Muirhead, A. J.
Carper, A. Duff Hammersley, S. S. Nall-Cain, A. R. N.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hanbury, C. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Newton, sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury) Suetar, Rear-Admiral M. F.
O'Connor, T. J. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J, H. (Derby)
Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen) Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. sir W.
Oman, Sir Charles William C. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Sandeman, Sir H. Stewart Todd, Capt. A. J.
Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D. Train, J.
Penny, sir George Savery, S. S. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Scott James Turton, Robert Hugh
Perkins, W, R. D. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Power, Sir John Cecil Simms, Major-General J. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Pownall, Sir Assheton Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington) Warrender, sir Victor
Purbrick, R. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Pybus, Percy John Skelton, A. N. Wayland, Sir William A.
Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam) Wells, Sydney R.
Ramsbotham, H. Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.) White, H. G.
Rawson, Sir Cooper Smith-Carington, Neville W. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Reid, David D. (County Down) Smithers, Waldron Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Remer, John R. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Rentoul, Sir Gervals S. Somerset, Thomas Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Womersley, W. J.
Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Southby, Commander A. R. J. Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford) Spender-Clay, Colonel H. Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Stanley, Lord (Fylde) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Rosbotham, D. S. T. Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Ross, Ronald D. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. Stuart. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Captain Austin Hudson and Viscount
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Groves, Thomas E. March, S.
Adamson, w. M. (Staff., Cannock) Grundy, Thomas W. Marcus, M.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Marley, J.
Alpass, J. H. Hall, G. K. (Merthyr Tydvil) Mathers, George
Ammon, Charles George Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Maxton, James
Arnott, John Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Messer, Fred
Attlee, Clement Richard Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Middleton, G.
Ayles, Walter Hardie, David (Rutherglen) Mills, J. E.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hardie, G. D. (Springburn) Montague, Frederick
Barnes, Alfred John Hastings, Dr. Somerville Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Barr, James Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Morley, Ralph
Batey, Joseph Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)
Benson, G. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Mort, D. L.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Muggeridge, H. T.
Bromfield, William Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Murnin, Hugh
Bromley, J. Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Naylor, T. E.
Brooke, W. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Noel Baker, P. J.
Brothers, M. Hoffman, P. C. Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire) Hopkin, Daniel Oldfield, J. R.
Buchanan, G. Horrabin, J. F. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Burgess, F. G. Jenkins, Sir William Palin, John Henry
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland) John, William (Rhondda, West) Paling, Wilfrid
Cape, Thomas Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Palmer, E. T.
Carter, w. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Charleton, H. C. Kelly, W. T. Perry, S. F.
Clarke, J. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Cluse, W. S. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Phillips, Dr. Marion
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Kinley, J. Pole, Major D. G.
Compton, Joseph Kirkwood, D. Potte, John S.
Cove, William G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Price, M. P.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Quibell, D. J. K.
Daggar, George Law, Albert (Bolton) Rathbone, Eleanor
Dallas, George Law, A. (Rosendale) Raynes, W. R.
Dalton, Hugh Lawrence, Susan Richards, R.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawson, John James Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Ede, James Chuter Leach, W. Ritson, J.
Edmunds, J. E. Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Romeril, H. G.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Egan, W. H. Leonard, W. Sanders, W. S.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Lewis, T. (Southampton) Sawyer, G. F.
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.) Lloyd, C. Ellis Scrymgeour, E.
Gibbins, Joseph Logan, David Gilbert Scurr, John
Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley) Longbottom, A. W. Sexton, Sir James
Gill, T. H. McElwee, A. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Gossling, A. G. McEntee, V. L. Shield, George William
Gould, F. McKinlay, A. Shillaker, J. F.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) MacLaren, Andrew Shinwell, E.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne). MacNeill-Weir, L. Simmons, C. J.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Manning E. L. Sinkinson, George
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Mansfield, W. Sitch, Charles H.
Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe) Tinker, John Joseph Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Smith, Frank (Nuneaton) Tout, W. J. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Snowden, Thomas (Accrington) Townend, A. E. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Stamford, Thomas W. Turner, Sir Ben Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Stephen, Campbell Vaughan, David Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Strachey, E. J. St. Loe Viant, S. P. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Strauss, G. R. Walkden, A. G. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Sullivan, J. Walker, J. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Sutton, J. E. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline) Wise, E. F.
Thorns, W. (West Ham, Plaistow) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Thurtle, Ernest Wellock, Wilfred TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Tillett, Ben Welsh, James (Paisley) Mr. Hayes and Mr. William Whiteley.

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clause 9 (Notice of variation of assessment, etc.) ordered to stand part of the Bill.