HC Deb 02 November 1948 vol 457 cc676-8
45. Mr. Walter Fletcher

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will review the present position whereby post-war credits are paid to men over 65 and women over 60 years of age, and arrange for these credits to be paid at an earlier date in cases of special hardship; and under what powers deduction of taxation due is made when post-war credit payments are being calculated.

54. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to the general repayment of postwar credits; an'd whether he will now consider proposals for the repayment of these credits in deserving cases, in particular those of ex-Service men.

59. Mr. Wyatt

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider releasing post-war credits to totally disabled persons.

62. Mrs. Middleton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider if it is now possible to pay to war widows the post-war credits belonging to their late husbands.

63. Mr. Ralph Morley

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will release the post-war credits of deceased husbands to widows in straightened circumstances.

65. Mr. Mulvey

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when it is proposed to introduce legislation by which young people holding Income Tax credit notes will be entitled to payment.

67. Mr. Wadsworth

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make payment of Income Tax post-war credit to men who are 60 or over on 1st January, 1948.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Stafford Cripps)

The payment of postwar credits is governed by the provisions of the Finance Acts of 1946 and 1947, which limit their release to men over 65 and women over 60, and there is no power to authorise any exception in favour of individual cases. The difficulties in the way of legislation to allow hardship as a criterion for payment have been explained to the House on more than one occasion. As regards the second part of Question 45, I assume that the hon. Member has in mind the arrangement whereby arrears of tax outstanding at the end of the year 1945–46 in P.A.Y.E. cases are set off against the post-war credit for that year. This special arrangement, which was announced by my predecessor to the House on 29th October, 1946, was necessitated by the pressure of work in tax offices, and applied to that particular year only.

Mr. W. Fletcher

In view of the large number of Questions which have been asked and which indicate the great public interest in this matter, would the Chancellor of the Exchequer see to it that between now and the next Budget some arrangement is made by which relief can be given in cases of hardship, more particularly in view of the fact that the ground that this might result in inflation no longer exists? As regards the second part of my Question, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman state the specific instrument under which this deduction was made?

Sir S. Cripps

In answer to the first part of the supplementary question, I cannot forecast what may happen in the next Budget. As regards the second part of the Question, it was made in accordance with the announcement, from which, if the hon. Member will refer to it, he will find the particulars he wishes.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not possible to introduce a regulation that would permit of payments under special conditions? Is my right hon. and learned friend aware that I have sent him notice of the case of a man lying in hospital whose wife is in very straitened circumstances and that payment of post-war credit would be of great advantage in this case?

Sir S. Cripps

No, Sir, this cannot be done by regulation.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that it is manifestly unfair that the Treasury should have been entitled to take tax from these post-war credits while the taxpayers are not entitled to surrender post-war credits to pay taxation?

Sir S. Cripps

No, Sir.

Sir W. Smithers

Why are the Government allowed to take post-war credits in payment of Income Tax when the taxpayer is behind with his payments? Why should the Government be allowed to use post-war credits for their disastrous policy, while the ordinary person, especially the ex-Service man, is not allowed to use the money?

Sir S. Cripps

The reason the deduction was made was explained in the statement I have cited.

Mr. Austin

If my right hon. and learned friend finds it impossible in the near future to consider cases of hardship on their merits, will he consider the value of reducing the age limit of those concerned by five or 10 years, to help a very large number of people who are suffering individual hardship?

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in my constituency there is a man who has been given only a few months to live and who has £28 in post-war credits, with which he can do nothing, but is suffering hardship? Is there nothing which can be done in that case?

Sir S. Cripps

Nothing can be done without legislation in such cases.

Mr. W. Fletcher

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

53. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer from when and at what rate interest will be payable on the amount of post-war credits not yet paid.

Sir S. Cripps

It is not proposed to pay interest on these credits.

Sir W. Smithers

Would not any bank or private firm be hauled before the law courts if it behaved in the way the Government have behaved in regard to post-war credits?

Sir S. Cripps

Certainly not, if there had never been any understanding that interest would be paid.