HC Deb 28 April 1938 vol 335 cc301-2
55. Sir Nicholas Grattan-Doyle

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will, when simplification of Income Tax law is embarked upon, make the year for all national bookkeeping relating to taxation, revenue, and expenditure begin on 1st January and end on 31st December instead of 1st April and 31st March or 6th April and 5th April; will he, as a step towards reducing holiday-period confusion, initiate a plan to open future Budgets in the first week in February, so that summer sessions can be closed before 1st July; and, if not, will he give the reasons for preferring the present system?

Sir J. Simon

The present dates for the commencement and termination of the national financial year and the Income Tax year have been in force for nearly a century, and to alter them as suggested by my hon. Friend would cause serious disturbance, not only in the arrangement of the financial business of this House and in the preparation of the national accounts, but also to business firms, for whose accounting periods the existing dates are, in general, convenient. I regret, therefore, that I am unable to contemplate any alteration in the present arrangements.

Sir N. Grattan-Doyle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a very considerable volume of opinion in favour of the suggestion contained in this question; and may I ask him not to close his mind to the suggestion, but to keep an open mind and give further consideration to it?

Sir J. Simon

I certainly will not close my mind on the matter, but I doubt whether there is a large volume of opinion in favour of the suggestion. Most business firms close their accounts on 31st December, and anything more inconvenient to them than that the new financial year should begin on 1st January I cannot imagine.