HC Deb 18 December 1947 vol 445 cc1871-2
60. Sir Jahn Mellor

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that Radiomobile Limited paid to His Majesty's Commissioners of Customs and Excise, in accordance with their ruling dated 14th August, 1946, sums received as Purchase Tax on car radios before 1st April, 1947; that, although such goods did not become liable to Purchase Tax until after 10th August, 1947, a refund has been refused by the Commissioners, because payment was made under mistake of law; and what action he proposes to take.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

The answer "None," Sir.

Sir J. Mellor

Will the right hon. Gentleman say on what moral justification this money is retained, as it was paid over because of a mistaken ruling by the Excise Department, and will he say how the Government can properly retain this money, which the company is claiming on behalf of its customers?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

There has been only one case of this kind. The Government are entitled to retain money received in this way and it would be quite impossible now—going back to 1940—for customers to have this tax refunded to them.

Sir J. Mellor

I asked the right hon. Gentleman on what moral justification the Government were keeping the money, which amounts to £12,000? Is it not sheer, rank dishonesty?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Well, Mr. Speaker, at the Treasury we deal with finance and not with morals.

Hon. Members


Mr. H. Strauss

When a Government Department makes a mistake of this kind, is the citizen's belief that they know what they are talking about, a mistake of fact or a mistake of law?

Mr. Speaker

We are getting rather hypothetical over this.

Earl Winterton

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to make it clear when he says, "We at the Treasury rely on law and not upon morals,"—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—whether he is speaking for himself, or the Treasury?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I think the noble Lord has rather twisted what I really meant as a humorous aside.

Sir J. Mellor

In view of the cynical nature of the Government reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.