HC Deb 01 November 1949 vol 469 cc202-4
48. Mr. Osborne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to make a report of the investigation into cases of single agricultural workers living in Government hostels who have been paying 2s. a week Income Tax instead of the 6s. a week tax paid by men with comparable wages who live at home; and how many cases are involved.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Glenvil Hall)

The liability to Income Tax in these cases is governed by the general Income Tax law under which free board and lodging which an employer undertakes to provide for a warge earner is not income for taxation purposes. I regret that I cannot say how many cases are involved.

Mr. Osborne

Could the Financial Secretary tell the House whether any steps are being taken on the remarks made in the Eleventh Report of the Select Committee on Estimates of the agricultural services where it was stated that this matter had been put before the Treasury?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I cannot add anything to what I have said already in reply to the Question.

Mr. Osborne

You do not know.

54. Mr. David Renton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that His Majesty's Inspectors of Taxes have been asking taxpayers, especially those who have cashed appreciable amounts in the Post Office Savings Bank or sold Defence Bonds, how their capital has been re-invested; and whether these inquiries by the Income Tax officials are in accordance with instructions given by him.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

As the hon. Member will appreciate, Inspectors of Taxes have to make such inquiries as are necessary to ensure that liability to tax is correctly determined. If the hon. Member will let me have particulars of the cases which he has in mind, I will be glad to look into them.

Mr. Renton

Bearing in mind the need of the Government to encourage the Savings Movement, will the right bon. Gentleman give an undertaking that people who invest in Post Office Savings Bank deposits are not discouraged from so doing by the fact that if they disinvest or decide to change their investment they may be submitted to an inquisition by the Treasury? Will he state what justification there is in the case of Savings Bank deposits for this quite unwarrantable intrusion into people's private affairs?

Hon. Members


Captain John Crowder

Is it true that the taxpayer is not bound to answer any of these questions?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

One answer to that is that neither is the Minister, but the Inland Revenue authorities must do their duty and I can say, I think, without fear of contradiction, that they do it with circumspection. However, if it is necessary, they must be able to follow through with an individual taxpayer an investment which has been changed and which, may have gone wrong.

Hon. Members

Gone wrong!

60. Sir David Robertson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why an official of the Customs and Excise called on Maxwell Bros., Ltd., an old-established Streatham company of 594, Sreatham High Road, and stated to an employee that it had been discovered that the company had a mortgage on one of its properties and that he had been sent to inquire whether the company was solvent, as any Purchase Tax due would have a prior claim.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Inquiries of this nature have to be made on occasions in order to protect the Revenue, but in this case the inquiry was unnecessary, and I regret that the mistake occurred. I should point out, however, that the only employee with whom the Customs and Excise officer discussed the matter was the company's Secretary.

Sir D. Robertson

Arising out of that reply, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this firm have never been liable at any time for Purchase Tax and that each quarter they have made the proper return certifying that that was so; and will he take immediate steps to bring an end to this unwarrantable snooping into the affairs of private firms?

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

We have been looking into this and suitable steps have now been taken to see that mistakes of this kind do not occur in future.