HC Deb 10 November 1949 vol 469 cc1402-4
71. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions payments have been made to informers whose information has led to the detection or prevention of offences against the Exchange Control Act.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

None, Sir.

Mr. Blackburn

While congratulating my right hon. Friend on that answer, might I ask him whether he is aware that the system of making payments to informers conflicts with our sense of fair play, and that people of this kind are generally despised? Therefore, will my right hon. Friend overrule the previous written reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and indicate that he has no intention of paying any sum to informers?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I am afraid that in other directions—in the case of Customs and Excise, for example—this practice goes back for very many years; but I will, of course, call the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend to the wish now expressed by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Stanley

Does the right hon. Gentleman feel that the possibility of a reward may have some effect upon the veracity of the evidence upon which he will have to rely?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

As I have said, no payment has been made in this instance. Where moneys have been paid for information in other cases the information has been very closely checked before any reward was paid.

Mr. H. Strauss

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that it is not the intention of the Government to pay children for informing against their parents in accordance with the practice of totalitarian countries?

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Can my right hon. Friend say what is the extent to which breaches of the Exchange Control Act occur which it is intended to restrict by this method, and can he say whether there are other departments of the law besides this one, in which the police use informers?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I indicated that under certain earlier Acts, Customs and Excise have power to pay for evidence, if they think that proper. There is a limit of £50. Above that figure Treasury sanction has to be given. I am afraid that I could not give any more information than that.

74. Mr. Marples

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much money has been paid out of the Exchequer as reward to persons who have given information relative to income tax evasion from the beginning of this Parliament.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

In the period mentioned the sums paid to informers by the Board of Inland Revenue amounted in all to £438.

Mr. Marples

Now that rewards to informers are a permanent and essential feature of the policy of the Socialist Government, is the Minister satisfied that he is getting good value for money for this class of work and, in this connection, will he consult the Soviet authorities who reward their informers in Buchenwald only with cigarettes and not with money?

Mr. Nally

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it has been the practice for many years for commercial organisations, including, to my knowledge, insurance companies and one or two large engineering firms, to pay money to informers who inform the proprietors of those organisations of offences committed in those places or against clients of the insurance companies concerned.

Mr. Mikardo

Is my right hon. Friend aware, and will he confirm, that these payments were not begun by the present Government but by previous Governments, so that it would be much better if hon. Members directed their condemnation, not at the informer, but at the people who are guilty of black market offences in currency?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I thought I made it quite clear in reply to an earlier question that this practice has been going on for many years. It is at least 60 years old.

Mr. Fernyhough

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many rich people in this country pay accountants a very great deal of money in order to help them to evade their proper Income Tax.

Mr. Awbery

Is it the policy of the Opposition to protect people who evade the law?

Mr. Mott-Radelyffe

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether any sum paid to a common informer would be regarded for the purposes of Income Tax as earned income?

Mr. Dumpleton

Is it not clear that the practice was begun and has been continued by the Conservative Party?

Mr. Stanley

Is the right hon. Gentleman thoroughly satisfied with the support given by his own supporters to this practice of the common informer?