HC Deb 28 June 1938 vol 337 cc1778-85

Section nineteen of the Finance Act, 5920 (which, as amended by Section twenty-two of the Finance Act, 1924, and Section eight of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1931, makes provision for a deduction in respect of relative or other person taking charge of widowers' or widows' children or acting as housekeeper), shall be extended so as to apply to a person resident with an unmarried person in the capacity of housekeeper, and in the said Section the expressions "widower" and "widow" shall be deemed to include, respectively, a husband living apart from his wife and a wife living apart from her husband.—[Mr. G. Griffiths.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

6.20 p.m.

Mr. George Griffiths

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

We are very desirous that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should give the same consideration to this Clause as he has promised to give to the Clause put forward by the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) which has just been under discussion. In this case we feel that there is a real hardship upon certain people, and we want to remove that hardship. The Clause says that Section 19 of the Finance Act, 1920, shall be extended to a person resident with an unmarried person in the capacity of housekeeper, and in the said Section the expressions "widower" and "widow" shall be deemed to include, respectively, a husband living apart from his wife and a wife living apart from her husband. I see the hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Alan Herbert) in his seat. We have been told by the Press that the operation of the new Act dealign with divorce will mean that there will be more husbands and wives not living with each other, and they may require somebody to look after their children. The meaning of this new Clause is that if a man living apart from his wife has got a housekeeper he shall be regarded, as far as this question of Income Tax relief is concerned, as in the same position as a man whose wife is living with him, or as a widower who has a widow or spinster living in the house to look after the home and the children. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see the force of this request. There is no doubt that people in this position have a grievance. A man has a housekeeper to look after the children but cannot get any relief from taxation in respect of that housekeeper. I shall not waste any more time in addressing the Committee, but I hope that someone else who will help me out in this matter may bring persuasive powers to bear on the Chancellor of the Exchequer in order to melt his hard heart, so that instead of shaking his head he will say, "I give in."

6.24 p.m.

Captain Wallace

I dare say the Committee will have realised that it is not possible for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to adopt the same attitude to this new Clause as he did, to the general satisfaction of the Committee, to the last Clause.

Mr. G. Griffiths

It is only a little matter.

Captain Wallace

It is not so little as the hon. Member thinks. This is a proposal to extend the housekeeper allowance of £50 in two directions, first to unmarried persons and, secondly, to husbands and wives living apart. Under the Finance Act of 1920 the housekeeper allowance was confined to a widow or a widower with young children and to an unmarried person maintaining a widowed mother or other female relative to look after his young brothers or sisters. This was in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Income Tax of 1920. Each year following the grant of this housekeeper allowance demands were made in this House and outside it to have that allowance extended to widowers and widows without children, but those demands were unsuccessful until the year 1924, when the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was a Member of the party opposite, decided to extend the allowance, increased from £45 to £60, to cases where there were no young children.

That change, which was effected by Section 22 of the Finance Act, 1924, has, perhaps not unnaturally, opened the door to further demands of the kind which the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. G. Griffiths) is now making, namely, that the allowance should be available also to an unmarried person or to a husband and wife living apart. I think the Committee will appreciate that if we once go beyond the present position there is no logical stopping-place whatever, and that in this form of relief the admission of one claim only serves as a stepping stone to another. The case of a widower or a widow without children can to some extent be distinguished from that of the unmarried person on sentimental grounds—and sometimes we do pay attention in this House to sentimental grounds. I have not the slightest doubt that individual cases of hardship could be adduced by hon. Members in all parts of the Committee in support of this particular concession, but I must remind the Committee that the personal allowances which Income Tax payers enjoy cannot be extended so as to cover all individual cases of hardship. These allowances purport to be allowances for the general body of taxpayers, and they must be judged by reference to the general case and not by reference to the particular individual case.

Actually, there is perhaps less reason for making this particular concession this year than there has ever been before because, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor pointed out in dealign with the last new Clause, the smaller Income Tax payers this year, 2,000,000 people out of the 3,500,000 liable to Income Tax, are protected in this Finance Bill from the liability to increased direct taxation which will fail upon all the rest. Therefore, so far as these smaller incomes are concerned, and it is about them that the Mover of the Clause has been thinking, any extension of the personal allowances, such as would be the result of accepting this Clause, would have the effect of actually reducing the amount of taxation paid by many direct taxpayers this year as compared with last year. One may

wish to see, on general grounds of amiability and sentiment, liability to taxation reduced for everybody, but I do not think that on reflection the Committee will feel that there is a strong case, in a year when we have been obliged, with general consent, to place considerably increased burdens upon taxpayers as a whole, for selecting one particular class, and saying that it is not merely to retain the status quo, as 2,000,000 out of 3,500,000 Income Tax payers will do, but is actually to pay less this year than last year.

Sir P. Hannon

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman tell the Committee what would be the loss to the Exchequer in the finances of this year, if the proposed new Clause were accepted?

Captain Wallace

I regret to say that it is not possible to give a precise estimate of the amount. I am advised that it would be considerable. Whatever the amount would be, it does not affect the general argument which I addressed to the Committee.

Sir P. Hannon

It would be a substantial amount?

Captain Wallace

Yes, Sir.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes, 142; Noes, 220.

Division No. 253.] AYES. [6.31 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Edwards, Sir C..(Bedwellty) Johnston, Rt. Mon. T.
Adams, D. M. (poplar, S.) Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Jones, A. C. (Shipley)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'Isbr.) Frankel, D. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Gallacher, W. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)
Banfield, J. W. Gardner, B. W. Kelly, W. T.
Barnes, A. J. Gibson, R. (Greenock) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.
Batey, J. Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Kirby, B. V.
Bellenger, F. J. Green, W. H. (Deptford) Kirkwood, D.
Bonn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.
Benson, G. Grenfell, D. R. Lathan, G.
Bevan, A. Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddi'sbro, W.) Leach, W.
Broad, F. A. Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Leonard, W.
Bromfield, W. Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Leslie, J. R.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Graves, T. E. Logan, D. G.
Buchanan, G. Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Lunn, W.
Burke, W. A. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) McEntee, V. La T.
Casselis, T. Hall, J. H. (Whiteehapel) MoGhee, H. G.
Chater, D. Hardie, Agnes Maclean, N.
Cluse, W. S. Harris, Sir P. A. MacNeill Weir, L.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Mender, G. le M.
Cocks, F. S. Hayday, A. Marklew, E.
Collindridge, F. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Marshall, F.
Cove, W. G. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Maxton, J.
Dagger, G. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Milner, Major J.
Dalton, H. Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Montague, F.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Hills, A. (Pontefract) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)
Davies, R. (Westhoughton) Holdsworth, H. Muff, G.
Day, H. Hopkin, D. Owen, Major G.
Dobbie, W. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Palign, W.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Parker, J.
Ede, J. C. John, W. Parkinson. J. A.
Pearson, A. Simpson, F. B. Walker, J.
Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's) Watkins, F. C.
Poole, C. C. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe) Watson, W. McL.
Pritt, D. N. Smith, E. (Stoke) Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Richards, R. (Wrexham) Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees-(K'ly) Welsh, J. C.
Ridley, G. Smith, T. (Normanton) Westwood, J.
Riley, B. Sorensen, R. W. White, H. Graham
Ritson, J. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght.n-le-SP' ng) Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.) Stokes, R. R. Wilkinson, Ellen
Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.) Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens) Summerskill, Dr. Edith Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Rothschild, J. A. de Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth) Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey) Thorne, W. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Sanders, W. S. Tinker, J. J. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Seely, Sir H. M. Tomlinson, G. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Sexton, T. M. Viant, S. P.
Silkin, L. Walkden, A. G. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr Charleton and Mr. Mathers.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Eastwood, J. F. Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Edge, Sir W. Manningham-Buller, Sir M.
Albery, Sir Irving Edmondson, Major Sir J. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Ellis, Sir G. Markham, S. F.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Elmley, Viscount Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (So'h Univ's) Emmott, C. E. G. C. Maxwell, Hon. S. A.
Apsley, Lord Emrys-Evans, P. V. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Aske, Sir R. W. Errington, E. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Mills, Sir F. (Layton, E.)
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Fildes, Sir H. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Baillie, Sir A. W. M. Fox, Sir G. W. G. Moreing, A. C.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Furness, S. N. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Fyfe, D. P. M. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Gledhill, G. Munro, P.
Beechman, N. A. Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Bernays, R. H. Crofton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Birchen, Sir J. D. Gridley, Sir A. B. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Bird, Sir R. B. Grimston, R. V. Peaks, O.
Blair, Sir R. Hambro, A. V. Peat, C. U.
Bossom, A. C. Hannah, I. C. Perkins, W. R. D.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Peters, Dr. S. J.
Brass, Sir W. Harbord, A. Petherick, M.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Picklhorn, K. W. M.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Pilkington, R.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Hepworth, J. Radford, E. A.
Bull, B. B. Higgs, W. F. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Bullock, Capt. M. Holmes, J. S. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Carver, Major W. H. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Rayner, Major R. H.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Hopkinson, A. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Horsbrugh, Florence Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Romer, J. R.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Hume, Sir G. H. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Chorlton, A. E. L. Hunloke, H. P. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Christie, J. A. Hunter, T. Ropner, Colonel L.
Clarry. Sir Reginald Hurd, Sir P. A. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Hutchinson, G. C. Rowlands, G.
Colfox, Major W. P. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Colville, Rt. Hon. John James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Russell, Sir Alexander
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Keeling, E. H. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Mantras) Salmon, Sir I.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs) Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R. Salt, E. W.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Lamb, Sir J. Q. Sandeman, Sir N. S.
Cranborne, Viscount Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Latham, Sir P. Scott, Lord William
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Salley, H. R.
Cross, R. H. Leech, Sir J. W. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Crossley, A. C. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Crowder, J. F. E. Levy, T. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A
Culverwell, C. T. Liddell, W. S. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)
Davidson, Viscountess I. Ode, Sir E. Graham- Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Davison, Sir W. H. Loftus, P. C. Smith, Sir Louis (Hallam)
De la Bère, R. Lyons, A. M. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Denville, Alfred Mebane, W. (Huddersfield) Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Draws, C. MacDonald, Sir [...] (Inverness) Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'Id)
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. McKie, J. H. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Duggan, H. J. Maclay, Hon. J. P. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Duncan, J. A. L. Maitland, A. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton (N'thw'h)
Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Walker-Smith, Sir J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Tacker, Sir R. I. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan Wise, A. R.
Tate, Mavis C. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Withers, Sir J. J.
Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend) Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.) Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Thomson, Sir J. D. W. Warrender, Sir V. Wragg, H.
Thorneycroft, G. E. P. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Titchfield, Marquess of Wells, Sir Sydney TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Touche, G. C. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham) Major Herbert and Major Harvie
Tree, A. R. L. F. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin) Watt.
Turton, R. H. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.