HC Deb 05 February 1941 vol 368 cc983-6
Sir K. Wood

I beg to move, in page 19, line 34, after "tax," to insert: (including enactments relating to the assessment and collection of tax in the case of incapacitated persons, deceased persons and persons not resident in the United Kingdom and in the case of property under the direction and control of a receiver appointed by the court). This Amendment is to make it clear that the regulations may provide for the collection of instalments of contributions from guardians of persons under an incapacity, or from personal representatives of deceased persons or of persons resident outside the United Kingdom.

Sir Adam Maitland (Faversham)

This does not, of course, involve any personal liability for such representatives, but only a liability to the extent to which they are representatives?

Sir K. Wood

That is so.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In line 36, at the end, insert: () Any appeal to the Special Commissioners under this Part of this Act shall be brought and heard in accordance with the provisions of regulations made by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue under this Section.

In page 20, line 5, leave out from "Commissioners," to the end of the Subsection.—[Sir K. Wood.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Sir Frank Sanderson (Ealing)

On a point of Order. Is it not your intention, Colonel Clifton Brown, to call the Amendment which stands in my name, which sets forth a point of very great importance?

The Deputy-Chairman

Certainly not. We discussed that matter on an Amendment yesterday; and, therefore, the hon. Member's Amendment has not been selected.

Major Milner

This very innocent-looking Clause is extremely important. It imports into the operation of this Act all the powers which the Treasury and the Income Tax Commissioners have, in order to obtain payment of contributions from the persons concerned. I was shown yesterday a demand from the Commissioners of Inland Revenue for £11,000 or £12,000 which has been made upon perhaps 200 or 300 occupants of flats in one big block. Presumably, the owners of the property had been unable to pay the Income Tax on that property, and the Commissioners were, therefore, demanding the payment of rent to them, instead of to the owners of the property, from each of the 200 or 300 occupants of the flats in these premises. That is one example of the very many powers which we are authorising the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to operate by Subsection (2) of Clause 26. Regulations may be made to apply, with modifications, to any of the enactments relating to the assessment and collection of Income Tax and provide for the assessment and collection of these contributions. It is a very wide power indeed, and I merely call the attention of the Committee to it because it reinforces a good deal of what has been said as to the necessity, wherever possible, of obtaining contributions from mortgagees. All cases where these enactments are brought into operation will be cases in which the owner of the property is, himself, unable to make the contribution. If those contributions could be obtained in whole or in part from mortgagees in appropriate cases, it would be much less likely that these enactments would have to be brought into force. I do not doubt that they are necessary in the last resort, but I hope that there will not be many occasions on which they will have to be used, as they give the widest possible powers to the Treasury in this matter. This is one of the things which should be kept in mind.

Mr. Silkin

I would like to draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to Sub-section (3) under which, as my hon. Friend said, very wide powers are given to the Commissioners to go to all sorts of people and get information. The right hon. Gentleman moved an Amendment to that Clause which he described as a drafting Amendment. The Committee, which is working at great pressure, let it go, but is it really a drafting Amendment? At the end of Sub-section (3) there is a provision for pains and penalties in case this information is not given, and we know exactly where we are. Under the Income Tax Acts a person suffers the penalties which are laid down if the information is not given. I should think that that is something more than drafting.

Captain Crookshank

It is merely a drafting Amendment in this sense, that line 5 of Sub-section (3) applies as to default and so on to Income Tax penalties, whereas if the hon. Member goes on further he will see that Sub-sections (4) and (5) give what ought to be the penalties. The right hon. Gentleman wished to take it out in reference to Income Tax penalties and to leave mistakes or omissions to be dealt with, or punished, if that is the right word, by the provisions in Sub-sections (4) and (5), which are much less than the Income Tax penalties, which may run up to three times the tax.

Sir K. Wood

Perhaps I ought to have said really that it was an Amendment to correct a drafting error.

Earl Winterton

Is it contemplated that these regulations shall be published in the official gazette, or will they be made known to persons affected under the Bill?

Sir K. Wood

They will follow the ordinary procedure adopted by the Commissioners and will be made known in the usual way. I would like to make one observation on the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend. He was very ingenious in bringing in the point about reinforcing the question about mortgagees. I have noted that. The only observation that I wish to make is that, provided the Commissioners act reasonably, as they have always done, and as I believe they will do, I shall have all the necessary powers. The Committee will realise that, where a contribution has failed to be obtained, the burden is to be shared by all of us. Therefore, one does not want people to escape, and they ought not to escape, and that is why they should be asked in this way.

Mr. Denman (Leeds, Central)

I take it that these regulations have not to be laid before Parliament in the same way as regulations made by the Treasury?

Sir K. Wood

No, Sir.

Mr. Denman

Is not the power given to the Commissioners really rather wide? They are given the power in such regulations to apply with modifications any of the enactments regarding the assessment of Income Tax. Does not that give them the opportunity of varying the law of assessment in rather an excessive way?

Sir K. Wood

I do not think so. All that will be meant is that they will have the same power.

Earl Winterton

I am sorry to press this point, but I hope that in view of that and in the interests of a large proportion of small property owners, some special care will be taken to make known these regulations.

Sir K. Wood


Major Milner

Will the penalties for failing to comply be the same as those under the Income Tax Acts or will they be limited to the £50 set out in Subsection (4)? Prima facie I should think that the penalties under the Income Tax Acts would therefore be extremely severe and might amount to many hundreds of pounds in regard to contributions involving only a very few pounds.

Sir K. Wood

We have made an endeavour to meet that.

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clause 27 ordered to stand part of the Bill.