HC Deb 25 April 1939 vol 346 cc993-4

Now we can return to the main question. How is the gap of £24,000,000 to be filled? In framing my proposals for raising this additional sum I have had two considerations mainly in mind. On the one hand, this is a further effort for the defence of the country to be shared by the citizens as a whole, and while the individual's money contribution must differ widely in amount it would be wrong, I think, to exempt any section entirely from contributing their share. On the other hand, while I must call both upon the direct taxpayer and the indirect taxpayer, there is one main impost which I should be very unwilling to alter this year. That is the Income Tax. The rate of Income Tax has been raised step by step in every one of the last three years. The standard rate is now at the figure of 5s. 6d., which is within 6d. of the highest point ever reached in the War. We have just been doing all we could to encourage a measure of confidence in business, and there are good grounds for expecting further business recovery if no serious setbacks occur. We ought, I am sure, to avoid any measures which would have a generally depressing effect upon industry. Even if the effect on industry of increasing the Income Tax is, as some theorists say, a matter of psychology, I think it would be unwise to take that risk at this time, and I shall not, therefore, propose an increase in the standard rate of Income Tax this year.