HC Deb 16 December 1948 vol 459 cc1380-2
55. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in connection with the special contribution for Income Tax, he is aware that numbers of those who are liable had not received their demands by 1st September and will be unable to avail themselves of any discount for which they would be eligible by prepayment; and if he will consider making a concession to meet these cases and expedite the presentation of these still outstanding demands.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Anyone liable to the special contribution can estimate what his liability will be and can make a payment in advance; he will be entitled to the proper discount calculated from the date of payment whether or not he has then had a notice of assessment.

Mr. De la Bère

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is not so easy to estimate? Surely it is possible to get out these estimates in time so as to let every one know precisely where they stand? Is it not possible to follow the advice of the Lord President of the Council and wake up the Treasury on this matter?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

The facts do not bear out what the hon. Member says. Out of £27½ million which has been received, over £23½ million represents payment before any assessment was sent.

Mr. Oliver Stanley

When does the right hon. Gentleman think that these assessments will be sent out, in view of the fact that from 1st January there will be a penalty upon anyone who does not pay, although I gather that only 20 per cent. of the assessments have been despatched?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

The Inland Revenue are doing their best. I understand that the assessments are now going out at a much more rapid rate than was possible a month or two ago.

Mr. Wilson Harris

Is it not the case that the more the Inland Revenue default in their duty of sending out these demands, the more they will secure in the shape of 2 per cent. interest? Is not that quite an intolerable and inequitable arrangement?

Captain Crowder

Why is delay taking place not only in sending out assessments, but in getting the figures agreed? It is a very complicated Finance Act and the right hon. Gentleman's own staff is not adequate to deal with it. Would he not reconsider the charge of 2 per cent.?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

The Inland Revenue are doing their best. I think that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are making much more of this than the facts warrant. When my right hon. and learned Friend introduced this matter in his Budget he invited those who were liable, to make a payment in advance of assessment. It was then realised that it would not be too easy and would take time, and a very reasonable request was made that those who were liable—they know roughly what their liability is—should send in what would be due.

Mr. Stanley

Is it not a fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer appealed to people to take advantage of the provision by which they could pay early and get a discount? Did he ever point out to the House of Commons, when discussing this matter, that at the time when they became legally liable, under penalty, only one-fifth of the people who were liable would know what they had to pay?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

My right hon. and learned Friend appealed to those who were liable, to pay in advance of assessment, and as an inducement it was indicated by him that a discount would be allowed on such payment.

Mr. Nally

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the hon. Member who raises this question with him, borrowed a very good lead pencil from me four weeks ago, and I am still waiting for it to be returned?

Sir Ralph Glyn

Was any consideration given to those cases where trustees reside abroad and are unable to agree to this contribution being paid until they get the assessment from His Majesty's Government?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

That is a matter of detail for the Inland Revenue to be consulted upon directly. We have realised that difficulties arise on the grounds mentioned by the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) as well as on others.