§ 63. Lieut. - Commander FLETCHER
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the bankruptcy of Mr. C. M. Johnstone, whose Income Tax arrears, accumulated over a period of 10 years, amount to £16,000, and whose assets are stated to amount to £16;and how much of the arrears of £16,000 the Inland Revenue authorities expect to recover?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to my reply of 27th February, to which I can only add that in addition to the assets the current earnings of a bankrupt may be applied to the satisfaction of the bankruptcy debt.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
If the existing machinery for the collection of Income Tax is so faulty as to permit such arrears to accumulate, is the Chancellor of the Exchequer prepared to introduce legislation to amend that machinery?
No, Sir. I do not consider that the existing machinery is faulty. I have given some personal examination to this question, and I find that in the years 1932–34 inclusive, the amount which had to be written off as irrecoverable, in consequence of bank- 1562 ruptcy or liquidation, amounted to less than ½ per cent. Of the total amount which was due for tax.
§ Mr. PALING
Is it not a fact that when the small man goes a clay or two over his limit he is threatened with prosecution; and how could this man go 10 years and accumulate £16,000 without being pulled up?
It is impossible to give particulars of what happened in this case, but I have gone very carefully into it, and I am satisfied that the Inland Revenue Department did all that they possibly could to collect the money.
§ Mr. PALING
If that be so, does it not indicate that there should be a tightening-up of the law in order to be able to get at these people?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this case has given a great deal of uneasiness to a large number of people, who feel that certain privileges have been applied here which would not be applied to poor people who have lapsed; and in view of that, would the right hon. Gentleman not go into the whole question again in order to allay the feeling that there is difference of treatment between comfortable people and poor folk?
I am very ranch obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I am quite aware that there is this feeling, but I think it is founded upon misapprehension. Cases of this kind are very few in number. They arise out of special circumstances that do not generally arise in the case of the smaller people to whom the hon. Member referred. I have myself given special consideration to this particular case, and I am satisfied that there is no distinction made between rich and poor.