HC Deb 11 June 1934 vol 290 cc1421-7

Section nineteen of the Finance Act, 1920, as amended by section twenty-two of the Finance Act, 1924 (which makes provision for a deduction in respect of relatives taking charge of widowers' or widows' children, and in respect of a person acting as housekeeper to a widower or widow), shall be extended so as to apply to a person resident with an unmarried person in the capacity of housekeeper.—[Mr. Lunn.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

6.56 p.m.


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

At one time, I believe, the only exemption that was given was in the, case of a wife, but in 1920 we provided that a relative living with a widower or widow, and in charge of children, should have the same exemption. In 1924 we extended that so as to provide that exemption should be provided in the case of any person acting as housekeeper for a widower or widow even though there were no children. Now I am moving that this allowance should be provided in the case of a housekeeper to an unmarried man or woman. In my opinion the best housekeeper is a good wife. I have no doubt on that point as far as I am concerned, but the hon. Gentleman himself may disagree with me. He is one of the persons for whom I am seeking to provide. He has not taken a wife yet. Whether he has a housekeeper or not, I do not know. I hope he has, and a good one, and I hope he will be able to say he is prepared to make this concession because he has a good housekeeper. He is not alone. I do not say that there are large numbers of cases—I do not think there are—but we all know cases of young men or women who have lived all their lives with their parents, who have now passed away. They have always had a home. They have never been in lodgings, and they prefer to continue in the home that they have known all their lives.

I want to ask the hon. Gentleman what will be the cost of applying the Clause and, more than that, I want him to say that the Government will give this exemption and grant this small extension of the principle to persons who happen to be housekeepers to single men or women. There are large numbers of young men and young women in all kinds of occupations, not necessarily black-coated occupations, who have a housekeeper and do not feel inclined, or do not feel they ought, to get married. They may have good reasons for not getting married, but I do not know what they are. I hope that the Chancellor or the Financial Secretary will grant this extension of the principle, the cost of which will, I think, be very small.

7.1 p.m.


I have not often the pleasure of supporting a Motion from the opposite side of the House, but I do so with all sincerity in the present instance. The law with regard to this allowance is quite indefensible. The present position is that some people who employ a housekeeper may claim the allowance and others may not, and the test is, not whether they require an allowance, but whether in the past they have been married and have since become either a widow or a widower. That seems a most absurd test to apply. These allowances under the Income Tax law ought to apply to people who are in a particular position of hardship. I have two cases from my own knowledge which will show the absurdity of the present law. One case is that of a batchelor aged 82, who enjoys an income of some £750 a year. He employs a housekeeper but is not entitled to housekeeper's allowance. The other case is that of a widow whose income is well over £10,000 a year. She employs a housekeeper and, because she is a widow, she is entitled to an allowance of £50. Does not that set forth the absurdity of this present system of tax?

I was less ambitious than the hon. Gentleman opposite, because, in the Clause that I have set down, I only proposed that these allowances should be given to batehelors who had at the commencement of the year of assessment reached the age of 65 years or upwards, or to bachelors or spinsters who were infirm. I only draw attention to that Clause in case the Chancellor says that he is not able to go the whole hog; if so, I hope that he will consider my Clause if he is not able to accept the Clause of my hon. Friend opposite.

I should like to read two sentences from a letter which I received last week. I do not know the lady at all. She says: I am 75 years of age and have a very limited income. I live alone, and need care and attention. I cannot afford to pay a suitable person to live with me, my small income being taxed to the hilt. I sincerely hope that your proposal to enable poor spinsters like myself to be put in the same position as rich widows will be crowned with success. Life to unmarried women such as I am is cruelly hard, and there are many others who suffer in the same way. I have given the case of the rich widow with £10,000 a year who gets an allowance of £50, and here is the case of a poor spinster who describes her condition as "terribly hard." I hope that these instances will wring compassion from the Chancellor, and that if he is unable to reconcile the allowance with common-sense he will at any rate agree to the Clause which I have suggested, if he is not able to accept the Clause moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite.

7.5 p.m.


I am very grateful for the sage and parental advice given me by the hon. Gentleman who moved this Clause. To accept it would, of course, be a violation of those canons which my right hon. Friend is observing and intends to continue to observe in the distribution of any surplus; that those who made sacrifies in 1931 are to have the first claim upon any money that is available. I think the Committee will appreciate that. The present position with regard to these allowances is that they are given to a widow or widower with or without children, and to an unmarried person maintaining a widowed mother or other female relative to look after his young brothers or sisters. The Committee will therefore see that the principle of the housekeeper's allowance is the maintenance of an old home. The hon. Gentleman seeks to do away with this principle and to abolish the present restrictions. He would therefore make it possible for anyone, whether a young man or the old gentleman whose circumstances have just been described to us, to maintain a female person to look after him in his flat or house, as the case may be.

I am sure that the Committee will see that it would be difficult to introduce a principle such as that into the Income Tax code. It does not seem to me that it would be fair to give a man an allowance for the purpose of having a female person to look after him and to deny that same allowance to a man who lives in his club or a hotel or makes other arrangements for having his worldly comforts attended to. It does not seem to me—and I am sure that the Committee will concur—to be a right or proper thing to accept a Clause such as this. I should like to point out to the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) that this Clause is in different terms from his own. His Clause, which appears later on the Order Paper, is far more restrictive: there the man has to be infirm or aged. That seems to me to be in quite a different sphere from that proposal in the Clause which we are now discussing, and which I hope I have convinced the Committee that it could not be proper to accept.


I understand that my Clause is not going to be called. Would the Chancellor accept a Clause with those restrictions? I am sure that my hon. Friend opposite, in view of what you have said, would agree to accept the Clause that is down in my name.


I hoped that I had the concurrence of my hon. Friend when I opened my remarks with a recollection of the canons on which the Chancellor was proceeding in the distribution of any surplus which might be available. I said that any money that was available had to go first of all to those who had made sacrifices. Therefore, quite apart from the merits; of my hon. Friend's Clause, I am sure he will appreciate that it cannot be accepted.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 62; Noes, 273.

Division No. 278.] AYES. [7.10 p.m.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Granfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Maxton, James
Attlee, Clement Richard Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'. W.) Nathan, Major H. L.
Banfield, John William Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding) Rathbone, Eleanor
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Rea, Walter Russell
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Groves, Thomas E. Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cape, Thomas Grundy, Thomas W. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness)
Cove, William G. Hamilton. Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd) Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Harris, Sir Percy Thorne, William James
Curry, A. C. Janner, Barnett Tinker, John Joseph
Daggar, George Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) West, F. R.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Kirkwood, David Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Davison, Sir William Henry Lawson, John James Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Edwards, Charles Leonard, William Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick Williams, Thomas (York. Don Valley)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Logan, David Gilbert Wilmot, John
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Lunn, William Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) McEntee, Valentine L.
Gardner, Benjamin Walter McGovern, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Mr. John and Mr. C. Macdonald.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Mainwaring, William Henry
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Cross, R. H.
Albery, Irving James Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.
Alexander, Sir William Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd) Burghley, Lord Dawson, Sir Philip
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Denman, Hon. R. D.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Burnett, John George Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Burton, Colonel Henry Walter Dickie, John P.
Apsley, Lord Butt, Sir Alfred Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert
Aske, Sir Robert William Cadogan, Hon. Edward Drewe, Cedric
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Duckworth, George A. V.
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Cassels, James Dale Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester City) Dunglass, Lord
Balniel, Lord Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Eales, John Frederick
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Edmondson, Major Sir James
Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston) Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring) Elmley, Viscount
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Clarke, Frank Emmott, Charles E. G. C.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Clarry, Reginald George Emrys-Evans, P. V.
Belt, Sir Alfred L. Clayton, Sir Christopher Essenhigh, Reginald Clare
Bernays, Robert Cobb, Sir Cyril Fleming, Edward Lascelles
Bilndell, James Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Fox, Sir Gifford
Borodale, Viscount Colfox, Major William Philip Fraser, Captain Sir Ian
Bossom, A. C. Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Fremantle, Sir Francis
Boulton, W W. Cook, Thomas A. Galbraith, James Francis Wallace
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Cooke, Douglas Ganzonl, Sir John
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Cooper, A. Duff Gillett, Sir George Masterman
Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Copeland, Ida Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Gluckstein, Louis Halle
Brass, Captain Sir William Cranborne, Viscount Goodman, Colonel Albort W.
Broadbent, Colonel John Crooke, J. Smedley Gower, Sir Robert
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Crookshank, Col, C. de Windt (Bootle) Graves, Marjorie
Greene, William P. C McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Salt, Edward W.
Grimston, R. V. Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Maltland, Adam Savery, Samuel Servington
Gunston, Captain D. W. Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest Selley, Harry R.
Guy, J. C. Morrison Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Hales, Harold K. Marsden, Commander Arthur Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Martin, Thomas B. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Skelton, Archibald Noel
Hartington, Marquess of Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Hartland, George A. Meller, Sir Richard James Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)
Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Smithers, Sir Waldron
Head lam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Mitchell, Harold (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Somerset, Thomas
Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Somervell, Sir Donald
Henderson, Sir Vivian L, (Cheimsford) Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Moreing, Adrian C. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Morgan, Robert H. Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Hore-Bellsha, Leslie Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Spens, William Patrick
Hornby, Frank Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Horsbrugh, Florence Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties) Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland)
Kowitt, Dr. Alfred B. Morrison, William Shepherd Stones, James
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Munro, Patrick Storey, Samuel
Hume, Sir George Hopwood Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald Stourton, Hon. John J.
Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Strauss, Edward A.
Hurst, Sir Gerald B. O'Donovan, Dr. William James Strickland, Captain W. F.
Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.) Patrick, Colin M. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.
James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Peake, Captain Osbert Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Pearson, William G. Summersby, Charles H.
Ker, J. Campbell Penny, Sir George Sutcliffe, Harold
Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Petherick, M. Tate, Mavis Constance
Kerr, Hamilton W. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)
Kimball, Lawrence Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston) Thompson, Sir Luke
Knox, Sir Alfred Pike, Cecil F. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Potter, John Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Latham, Sir Herbert Paul Pownall, Sir Assheton Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Law, Sir Alfred Pybus, Sir Percy John Train, John
Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.) Radford, E. A. Tree, Ronald
Lees-Jones, John Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Turton, Robert Hugh
Levy, Thomas Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Liddall, Walter S. Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Lindsay. Noel Ker Ramsbotham, Herwaid Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.
Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Rankin, Robert Warrender, Sir victor A. G.
Llewellin, Major John J. Rawson, Sir Cooper Wayland, Sir William A.
Lloyd, Geoffrey Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.
Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley) Held, David D. (County Down) Wells, Sydney Richard
Loder, Captain J. de Vere Reid, James S. C. (Stirling) Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Loftus, Pierce C. Reid, William Allan (Derby) Whyte, Jardine Bell
Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Remer, John R. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Rickards, George William Windsor Cilve, Lieut.-Colonel George
Mabane, William Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Wise, Alfred R.
MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Ropner, Colonel L. Withers, Sir John James
McCorquodale, M. S. Rosbotham, Sir Thomas Womersley, Sir Walter
MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Worthington. Dr. John V.
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Runge, Norah Cecil TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
McKeag, William Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy) Sir Frederick Thomson and Lieut.
McKie, John Hamilton Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tslde) Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.
McLean, Major Sir Alan Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)

The next Amendment which I select is the one in the name of the hon. Member for East Lewisham (Sir A. Pownall) at the bottom of page 1363 of the Amendment Paper.