§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)
I beg to move, in page 16, line 9, at the end, to insert:(4) In paragraph (b)of subsection (3) of section two hundred and twelve of the said Act (which relates to relief in respect of children undergoing training) for the reference to thirteen pounds there shall be substituted a reference to twenty-six pounds.This Amendment fulfils the hope which I expressed in the course of the Committee stage in answer to an Amendment by my hon. Friend the Member for Garston (Mr. Raikes). We had a long discussion during the Committee stage with regard to the amount which an apprentice and an articled clerk and those undergoing training in a trade or profession, without attending a full-time educational establishment, should be allowed to earn without their parents losing the child allowance.
Under the law as it has stood since 1938 the amount was £13 a year, not taking into account any amount paid to the child by way of a refund of premium. I said on the Committee stage that it 1341 might be possible, and we hoped it would be possible, to make some adjustments to the figure of £13 without departing from the principle which has been in existence since 1938—the principle of distinguishing between those in full-time educational establishments and those who, to some extent, are embarking upon their careers and earning their living.
I said that a departure from that principle must, we felt, await the report of the Royal Commission. This Amendment gives effect to the hope which I expressed on the Committee stage by increasing from £13 to £26 the amount an apprentice can earn without his parents losing the child allowance.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out "twenty-six," and to insert "eighty-five."
I hope that the Chancellor will not be offended if I say that while relieving an injustice, his proposed Amendment perpetuates an injustice. The hon. and learned Gentleman suggested a moment ago that any departure from the principle embodied in the change in the law in 1938 should await the report of the Royal Commission. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not await the report of the Royal Commission before introducing an entirely new tax on profits, one of the matters referred to the Royal Commission. He has proposed to the House substantial changes in the incidence of the Profits Tax without awaiting the report of the Royal Commission.
The truth of the matter is that the right hon. Gentleman awaits the report of the Royal Commission when he does not want to be bothered about doing anything before the Royal Commission reports, but when he is impelled or desires to do anything before the Royal Commission reports, he regards himself as perfectly free not only to do things but to do revolutionary things about direct taxation.
Why is the proposed £26 in the Amendment not enough? What the Chancellor has done is what I feared he would do, and that is to regard 1938 as his base line and ask himself what has happened since 1938 to justify a change in the limit of earnings of an apprentice or a trainee for the purpose of the child allowance. He has, no doubt, said to himself, "If we 1342 double the 1938 limit it will be about right. "What criteria has he taken in arriving at that amount of £26?
Although we have not been told—and I regret that the extreme brevity of the speech of the Solicitor-General threw little light on what was in the mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman—the Chancellor may have had in mind the rise in the level of wages since 1938, and he might have said to himself, "Well, wages have risen about 100 per cent., so if we increase the limit of earnings of an apprentice by 100 per cent. that will be about right." Or he may have taken the relationship between the amount of the child allowance in 1938, which was £60, and the amount of the child allowance proposed in the Bill, which is £85, and said, "Well, if I double the £13 that will be ample measure in making a change based upon that criterion."
I submit that the base line of 1938 was wrong. The discrimination then shown against the trainee and apprentice was, in my judgment, indefensible. I am fully aware that in 1938 an Amendment was moved by a late and distinguished Member of this House, Mr. Tinker, who was then the hon. Member for Leigh. On the Report stage of the Finance Bill in 1938 Sir John Simon, as he then was, the then Chancellor, on 11th July embodied in the Bill an Amendment which substantially reflected the purpose of the then hon. Member for Leigh, and £13 was the amount proposed by Mr. Tinker and the amount accepted by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I doubt, however, whether Mr. Tinker could have realised how unfair that figure was and how unfair the doubling of the figure now is to the parents who put their boys and girls to train for a trade, vocation or profession. There is certainly one thing that Mr. Tinker could not have known, and that was the decision in the High Court in the case of Miles v. Morrow, which put an entirely different complexion upon the concession given in 1938.
In 1938, the £13 limit on earnings of an apprentice was to exclude any moneys returned to the child by way of return of premium. Although that was not included in the £13, the decision in the case of Miles v. Morrow held that payment by way of return of premium had to be included in the overriding limit of income 1343 of the child for the purpose of the provisions of the 1920 Act. Therefore, anomalies immediately arise which, I am sure, were not foreseen at the time when the Amendment was agreed to in 1938.
What is the real criticism of the proposed Amendment to the Bill now, and what is the criticism of the principle which the hon. and learned Gentleman does not wish to disturb in advance of the report of the Royal Commission? It is that he wishes to retain the inferior status of the trainee and of the apprentice as compared with the child who is receiving further education. That is the real criticism.
Educational grants do not count as part of the income of a child who remains at school or goes to the university after the age of 16. It does not matter what amount it is: an educational grant or bursary is not reckoned as income of the child for the purpose of computing the maximum income which the child is permitted to have in its own right while qualifying for the full child allowance.
A university undergraduate getting a substantial grant can take up work during the vacation and, provided he does not earn more than £85 in the whole year, his parents will get the full child allowance. The apprentice who earns more than £26 a year is, under the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment, out; and even if he earns less than £26, but his income by way of return of premium together with the earnings of less than £26 together exceed £85, the parents will get no allowance at all.
I will give the hon. and learned Gentleman a few examples of the absurdity of the present position. A father has a child at the university who holds a scholarship worth £250 a year. The child also has further income from a settlement from his grandfather of £84 a year. The father is entitled to the child allowance in full for that child.
Look at another case. A father has apprenticed his child, and has paid a premium of £200 for a two-year course. The child receives by way of wages, apart from return of premium, say, £27 a year, and the child also receives by way of return of premium £60 a year. Although the £60 return of premium does not count as part of the 1344 £26 limit on earnings it counts as part of the total income the child can have for the purpose of child allowance, and so, in his case, since his earnings plus return of premium amount to £87, his parents will get no allowance at all.
Let us take another case. A father has apprenticed his child, and the father has paid £110 premium for a two-year course, and the child receives a salary or wages or emoluments—call them what you will—of £27, and in addition he gets by way of return of premium £55 for each of the two years. The father is not entitled to the child allowance because the emoluments are over £26, and he does not get the child allowance even though the total income of the child is only £82.
Take another case of a father who apprentices his child, who pays no premium, but whose child receives by way of wages, say, £30 a year only. The parent of that child is barred from receiving child allowance. Who is going to say that there is any equity or fairness as compared with the first example—of the child who is an undergraduate with £84 of private income and an educational grant of £250 a year, and whose father can have the full child allowance? How does that compare with the case of an apprentice whose total earnings and income, with no premium paid, amount to £30 a year? It is assumed in his case that it costs his parents nothing to maintain him, and, therefore, no child allowance is granted to him.
I say—and I apologise for taking up a disproportionate amount of the time of the House, certainly in contrast to the amount taken by the hon. and learned Gentleman in moving the proposed Amendment—that the present arrangements discriminate against technological education. The parents of an apprentice should be put on the same footing as the parents of a student, and I say that it is unjust, in my view, that even the return of premiums should be reckoned for any purpose in accounting for the income of the child in relation to child allowance. Why should money paid by the parent in relation to the training of the child be regarded as the income of that child?
For all these reasons I hope that we may be told that there will be some re-consideration of this matter. Might I, at the same time, also ask that the 1345 hon. and learned Gentleman should not say that he is awaiting the report of a Royal Commission while anomalies are staring him in the face?
Only yesterday we considered a proposed change recommended thirty-two years ago; that was a recommendation of a Royal Commission, but the right hon. Gentleman was not prepared to advise the House to accept it even now. He preferred to wait for further evidence. We were told that we had to wait for the bigger change; but tonight, there is a proposed change which we are told is too big, and that we must await the smaller changes. I ask that we shall not delay in this way.
§ Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)
I beg to second the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.
I was rather astonished by the speech of the Solicitor-General because he indicated that during the Committee stage of the Bill we had a somewhat lengthy discussion. But, in fact, the discussion then was exceedingly short, due entirely to the Chancellor himself, who intervened to shorten the debate by indicating that he would give this matter serious consideration. He was extremely sympathetic to the views which had been expressed, but now we find that the consideration which has been given has been very scant indeed.
We have had no indication as to the exact basis upon which the Government have determined the figure of £26. We on this side of the House feel that this is an intolerable anomaly so far as Income Tax allowances are concerned. Furthermore, no explanation has been given as to why the training of the apprentice should be treated differently from the educating of all other children, under or over 16 years of age. Those over 16, attending an educational establishment, or college, or university, find that their parents are getting tax allowances of £85.
Take the case of the aspiring young solicitor who may go to a university to qualify for his LL.B.; the parents in that case get the £85 allowance. But the young apprentice, or the boy or girl who articles himself or herself to a solicitor finds that he can earn only £13 without his parents losing the child allowance. The £13 would hardly pay the National 1346 Insurance contributions of that young person; and yet one has to consider all the travelling expenses and fees which are involved in a case of that kind.
The consideration which we were promised does not seem to have been given, or, if it has, then it is unworthy of the Chancellor. I appeal to the Chancellor to give serious thought to this Amendment to the proposed Amendment, and I hope that his consideration will be favourable.
§ Mr. Victor Raikes (Liverpool, Garston)
I have always taken the view that half a loaf is better than no bread. I venture to intervene in this discussion since I did, at an earlier stage, move the original Amendment. I hold the view that there is a very strong argument for not differentiating between the parent of a trainee and the parent of a child at college, or something of that sort.
At the same time, when I listened to the passion and vigour of the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) it occurred to me that last year, when this point was raised from these benches and received from the Government of the day very favourable consideration, absolutely nothing was done. When we hear about all these horrible anomalies which, year after year, are never looked at, it seems to come very ill from hon. Gentlemen opposite to speak with quite the passion that they have spoken. At any rate, we have done twice as much as the last Government.
When the Royal Commission consider this matter I think they will find that the case for equality between apprenticeships and full-scale education is unanswerable in the long run. At this stage I am prepared to welcome the Chancellor's Amendment, and to thank him for having taken this matter a step further than the party opposite ever did in the six years during which they were in office.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
The Solicitor-General, in moving the Amendment, said that the Government could not go further than this £26 because this principle had remained inviolate and they could not do anything about it until they had the report of the Royal Commission. That is complete nonsense. What really annoys us is that failure to accept the Amendment to the proposed Amendment moved by my hon. Friend 1347 the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) is a denial of the principle that the young person who is an apprentice or a full-time trainee should receive equal treatment with the young person who is in receipt of full-time education at a university, school or college, or any other educational establishment.
We are not asking as much for the trainee or apprentice as is allowed in the case of the young person who is in full-time attendance at an educational establishment, because, as the hon. Member for Sowerby has said, the young person at an educational establishment may well be in receipt of a bursary or some other form of educational endowment. That educational endowment is not included or calculated as part of that young person's income, although it may be £100, £200 or £300 a year.
In addition to that sum that young person may have an income, either earned or unearned, of £85 a year, and yet his father will still be entitled to the child allowance under Income Tax law. The parent of that young child is manifestly treated rather generously. If one takes the young person's bursary or educational endowment and adds it to his income, earned or unearned, he may have £300 or £400 a year, and yet the father gets Income Tax relief; but the father of the young person who happens to be in training for some most useful job in the economic life of this country and who earns more than £26 a year is denied this relief.
Surely it would only be equitable to permit the parents of that young person to get Income Tax relief, provided that young person earned not more than £85 a year. Why should we wait for the report of the Royal Commission? I would have thought that the case is unanswerable. Young persons being trained in industry, or in the professions, who receive incomes of £20, £30, or £50 a year ought to be treated as children for the purpose of computing their parents' entitlement to relief. I hope that the House will decide, on this last opportunity this year to consider this matter, that a young person being trained for industry, or for a profession, outside an educational establishment, can be treated in the same way as a young person attending an educational establishment.
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) complained of the brevity of the speech with which I moved the Amendment to which there has since been a proposed Amendment moved. I cannot make the same complaint about his speech. It seemed to bear some resemblance to one made with equal force and vigour during the Committee stage, though not in the previous six years. I am a little surprised to hear the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) express such keen annoyance about the existence of this discrepancy, which his Government—of which he was a Member—allowed to exist for the last six years.
I am also a little surprised that the hon. Member for Sowerby should say that the Chancellor has done what he feared he would do. I think I made clear, during the Committee stage, what it was that the Government hoped to be able to do on Report. Although the hon. Member may think it is not enough, it is certainly an improvement. I do not think anyone can dispute that.
Arguments have been put with great force on both sides for the abolition of what appears to many to be an anomaly. The late Government having set up a Royal Commission, there is something to be said for awaiting its conclusions on this problem before making a departure from the principle which has existed, rightly or wrongly, since 1938. In moving this Amendment, we have sought to carry out precisely what was said in the course of the Committee stage.
I said then, and I say again, that we feel that a departure from that principle must await the report of the Royal Commission. I think it is not only a question of whether the figure should be £13, £26, or £85 in relation to apprentices which will fall for consideration by the Royal Commission. That is what we said on the Committee stage. That is what I must say again, although I realise that it will not satisfy all hon. Members. They have, I think, made their arguments in support of abolition of the distinction very clear, and I am sure that the Royal Commission will pay regard to what they have said.
We have proposed this improvement—that is, the Amendment which I have moved—and the proposed Amendment 1349 moved by the hon. Member for Sowerby merely revives the discussion we had in the Committee stage on exactly the same point. I suggest to him that there is something to be said, even if he is not entirely satisfied for acceptance on this occasion of half a loaf.
§ Mr. Ede
The trouble is that this is not half a loaf. The gusto with which the hon. Member for Garston (Mr. Raikes) announced that he was prepared to accept half a loaf wears rather thin when one remembers that this is rather less than one-third of a loaf, and I never heard anyone express a desire for that.
§ Mr. Ede
I will come to that point in a minute. I have sat on the opposite side of the House for six years hearing the continual complaint that we were bringing in too much legislation and initiating too many changes in the law of the country. Yet now if we carry on the good work that we should have done had we still been on the other side of the House it is held to be quite wrong and almost criminal for us to suggest that when we left office the whole world had not been made completely satisfactory to everybody.
I made a short speech during the Committee stage, and I suppose that if I adopted tonight an argument different from the one I then used, that would be used by the Solicitor-General to say, "See how these people shift their ground. On Committee stage they dealt with the relation between practical and academic education but now they come forward with some fresh argument. They cannot be right on both occasions, and quite probaby they are wrong on both occasions." It is not good enough. We raised this very important point of general principle on the Committee stage.
§ Mr. Ede
We raised it a little higher. If two people raise a heap of any kind surely both are entitled to some credit for it. I do not mind saying that the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Angus (Captain Duncan), supported by the hon. Member for Garston, was the one which was called. We also had an Amendment 1350 on the Order Paper, but one was taken and the other left. That is in accordance with sound Scriptural precedent, and we do not complain about it.
I want to impress on the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the really full working out of the Education Act, 1944, can never be achieved while there is this astounding distinction between the child who is being educated for the practical arts and the child who is receiving an academic education. I repeat what I said on the Committee stage—I hope this will not unduly annoy the Solicitor-General—that when we think of the very high wages that can be earned today by a boy or girl leaving school and going into a blind alley occupation we must do everything we can to persuade the parent of the child of practical parts that it is a good thing which will be recognised by the State at once if, instead of allowing the child to drift into a highly paid blind alley occupation, he apprentices the child to one of the skilled trades on which the solution to all the economic difficulties that now confront this country depends.
It may be that instead of doing some of the other things within the Income Tax law during our period of office we might have dealt with this matter. Well, this is one of the opportunities left to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. This is one of the skeletons in the cupboard, one on the candelabra.
We shall have no objection if they put on this skeleton the flesh and blood which will prove that this country does desire to recognise the part that is played by persons with practical gifts, and to recognise also the sacrifices made by parents who apprentice their children rather than fall into the temptation of letting them earn high wages in blind alley occupations which very often unfit them for more skilled occupations later in life.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
I went to a university, and if I had ever been apprenticed it was, like the Solicitor-General, as an apprentice in the profession of law. We were both, at one time or another, technically apprenticed to the Benchers of an Inn of Court—of whom he is now one. It is off the point to say somebody else might have done what is now asked, and that because the Opposition did not do it when they had the chance nothing is to be done now. 1351 Surely it is our business—perhaps it is the particular privilege of back benchers occasionally—when we come to the Finance Bill to say that this matter is so obviously wrong that it ought to be remedied at the first opportunity. It is no defence to say that someone else failed to remedy it.
I am getting very tired of the constant sheltering behind this Royal Commission. Yesterday we pointed out to the Financial Secretary and the Solicitor-General that there was a completely archaic, ridiculous bunch of anomalies as regards the qualifications of general commissions, and the defence was that they could not remove that monstrosity because they must await the report of the Royal Commission. Surely there are moments when we might look at the merits of the matter and not simply take refuge behind the alleged misdoings of the Opposition or the statement that a Royal Commission is one day to produce a report.
The substance of the matter is that £26 is obviously quite inadequate. It is certainly not going to cover quite a lot of cases—I was going to say most—in the engineering trade. If that is so, it is not a question of whether the Government are giving a loaf or half a loaf; it is a question whether they are giving enough to serve any useful purpose. What is the use of putting in a limit about a premium if, in fact, it will not cover the great majority of the premiums?
§ The Solicitor-General
The hon. and learned Gentleman will understand that under the Clause the amount returned by way of premium is not taken into account in assessing the £26.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I fully understand that, because I read the Clause before speaking. I was just going on to point out that in the kind of case I had in mind—the kind of case that really matters in relation to the argument I am going to submit—it does not by any means follow that any premium is paid at all. I am informed, I think tightly, that there are a very great many cases in this country where no premium is paid and, in general, the practice of paying premiums on an apprenticeship is disappearing. I am glad to hear my hon. Friends confirm that, because they know in the school of experience.
1352 The kind of case I have in mind is exactly that which the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) was putting just now. It was the case of an ordinary intelligent, ambitious and excellent working-class family with a really bright son who wants to learn a trade properly and become not only a skilled worker but ultimately to play some leading part in the industrial life of this country in some capacity or other. I say a leading part; I am not going to minimise the importance of skilled workers, and I should have thought right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite knew it very well.
Surely what we are out for now is a career open to the talents. I have not "Britain Strong and Free" here, but if the words are given their ordinary sense, it is just the thing that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen ought to want. They should want a career open to all the talents and a career open not merely in the universities, not merely in the excellent and valuable, but still theoretical education you get there, but in a skilled trade.
The whole point is surely that if that form of education is penalised—for education it is—by comparison with the more theoretical education you get elsewhere, then a decision is being made which will have two effects. First, it will hit our potential supply of skilled workers—leaders in industry, etc. Second, from another point of view, it will induce the intelligent, ambitious working-class young man and his family to go to another kind of education.
Whatever our education deficiencies may or may not be in this country, the most obvious field in which we are deficient at the moment is technological education of just this kind. Look at what happens in America—the favourite model for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. Go abroad and look at Germany and other countries on the Continent. Can anybody say that we in this country are ahead in the march of technological education, and in the democratic character it should have?
Here is an opportunity, at no colossal cost to the Exchequer, to do what we all know perfectly well is the right thing to do. That is not a bad argument. Secondly, it is an opportunity to do something that will be a real contribution towards the advance of this country in a 1353 field where lately it has shown some tendency to fall behind.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
I believe that this is most vital issue. In another place the other day they were discussing the scientific use of our manpower. I tried on one occasion in this House to give point to the fact that we are fast falling behind our competitors in the production of scientists and technologists. I believe that both in the United States and in Switzerland the percentage of the population engaged now in scientific and technological study is far and away greater than in this country.
The Minister for Economic Affairs gave me a reply a few months ago that the proportion was now one in 3,000 in this country, and we know in the United States it is one in 400. There is no future for British industry on such a basis. Again we find that in Britain there are even fewer university graduates who take careers in industry than there are in any other manufacturing country. Yet we propose now to differentiate as between university students and those who are prepared to go on from industry to take a course of a technological and scientific nature.
It is grotesque to ask British industry to produce at a pace which can compete with the United States, Germany or Switzerland unless we are prepared to stop this silly differentiation between apprentices who are trying to learn a skilled craft and then wish to go on and become technologists and scientists and those who wish to engage in some artistic pursuit. I hope that the Chancellor will realise that we are not discussing a mere party political question or a small issue. On issues of this kind will depend whether we can obtain a goodly supply of youngsters with sufficient initiative to put their talents to scientific and technological subjects. Unless we do obtain them it is crazy of the Chancellor to ask for more production in this or any other year.
I know that the point has been made that we on this side of the House should have done more in this direction when we were in office. But no matter what we did or did not do, there is a university population of 85,000 in this country today compared with 50,000 in 1939, and we are entitled to some credit for that fact. The divorcement that has taken place between university graduates and 1354 industry can never be remedied if we perpetuate the conditions which now exist.
It has been pointed out from this side of the House that boys are put into all kinds of blind alley jobs and can earn pretty high wages at an early age. That may be attractive to some parents, but fortunately the majority of parents want to think that their boys are going into an industry that will give them a reasonable and secure future. They believe that upon the quality of production which made this country great in the past will depend the future of British industry. I believe that the Government cannot hope to persuade parents to put their boys into these industries, and indeed they will not do so, unless they can show that they are prepared to help them in the way suggested in the Amendment to the Chancellor's proposed Amendment.
As far as the future of the British economy is concerned, I believe that unless we catch up in the production of scientists and technologists with the United States, Switzerland and Germany, all the appeals to people in industry for more hard work will fail. It is only by creating new ideas and applying them speedily to industry that we can hope to maintain our position in the world.
We are falling behind, and both sides of this House would be well advised to inform the Chancellor that we are not satisfied that the Government are doing enough in this direction. We should tell the Chancellor that he should ask that the Whips be taken off and a vote taken, realising, as we do, that upon the settlement of this issue depnds whether we have that close liaison between scientists and industry which we now need.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
I hope that the Chancellor realises the deep feelings on this side of the Committee on this subject, and that he cannot expect the House to be satisfied with the two short speeches which have comprised the Government's contribution to this debate. What is the principle to which the Solicitor-General refers as being so sacrosanct that he cannot deal with it until he gets the report of the Royal Commission? I gather, from what the Solicitor-General said, that he was trying to apologise for the fact that he had not paid attention to what had been said about this matter in Committee. He tried to justify his own 1355 method of introducing this Amendment by saying that that was all he said during the Committee stage that he would do.
He was asked to recognise that there is a very great discrimination in this matter. In fact, there is a double discrimination. On the one hand, there is a discrimination between university graduates and those engaged in full-time academic training, and, on the other hand, the apprentices and those engaged in studying for some trade, profession, or vocation. Why should there be such a discrimination? Is that the principle the Solicitor-General is defending, because that principle is not enshrined in the Bill? It is conceded that both classes of persons following training or engaged in full-time training are entitled to have the child allowance.
There is another discrimination, which seems to be equally anomalous. Why is it that child's allowance is obtainable where a child has an unearned income of £85 a year, but is not obtainable if the child is in receipt of wages up to £85 a year? How does the Solicitor-General attempt—I am not sure that he is following this argument.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am certainly following the argument. I think it is about the tenth time I have heard it.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
Of course, it is a great misfortune that we should have to repeat arguments in order to make the Government understand the seriousness of what we are saying. Not a single argument has been addressed by the Treasury Bench in defence of this double anomaly, which we are seeking to remove. All the Solicitor-General has said is that he did not intend, when he spoke on the Committee stage, to do so, and, then, he says he cannot do anything until he has had a report from the Royal Commission.
He said that he thought the Royal Commission would listen to the arguments put forward tonight and that they might also consider any arguments put forward on the other side of the House. The Solicitor-General knows there are not any arguments on the other side of the House. If there are, we have not heard them. What are the arguments against the merits of this proposal? If there are any such arguments which are 1356 to be put to the Royal Commission, the Solicitor-General ought to tell us what they are.
It is for this House to decide this matter, not the Royal Commission. The Government ought not to attempt to shelter behind the Royal Commission when they know there is not a single argument against this proposal. Here is a very real, deeply-felt injustice. We are not merely seeking to remove it, but are trying to save the Government from what is, viewed from the wider interests of the nation, the very short-sighted, stupid policy of discouraging parents from putting their children as apprentices to a trade, or from articling them to some profession, where they can not only get the benefit of professional training, but also be permitted to earn up to £85 a year without involving them in the loss of the child allowance.
In view of the overwhelming arguments in favour of removal, at once, of this anomaly, I hope we shall not be compelled to divide the House, but that, at this late stage, we shall have an assurance our arguments have been appreciated and will be met.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
I hope that the Solicitor-General will not say that he has heard my argument for the tenth time, because this is the first time that I have intervened in this debate at all. This is an occasion when all of us should pay great and serious regard to what is said.
I am concerned about this country's survival. Its survival will not depend upon the number of votes which are cast in this Lobby or that. It will depend upon the output of steel and castings in the foundries of Great Britain and the amount of coal that is obtained. One can almost count on two hands the number of apprentices in the foundry trade today. The number is deplorable because parents can now take their sons from school and encourage them to go to jobs at a wage which their fathers would have regarded as fabulous in their young days.
I want to encourage the Government to do something right for once. This argument, "You did not do it," is not an argument at all. I readily admit that there was so much left undone when we were in office because it was impossible 1357 to do everything in six years. Even supermen could not have put everything right in that time. Here is an opportunity to put right the first thing that we left undone. All the other things which we are supposed to have left undone have become worse, not better.
I suggest that the Government have not seriously applied their minds to this problem. They have thought of a number—£13—and they have doubled it—£26. They have thought of something to be taken away in case the Opposition should dare to suggest it, so that it could be left as it was—namely £26. I suggest that £85, which is in the Amendment to the proposed Amendment, is quite insufficient having regard to the cost of clothing that apprentices have to wear, the tools with which they have to equip themselves and the training they have to undergo.
The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Summers) knows something about the Outward Bound School's activities in this connection. I give the hon. Gentleman credit for the active part that he is playing in this type of work. It is all very well for him to salute, but it would have been better if these things could have
§ been said 20 years ago. It was not possible to say these things to hon. Members opposite then because they did not do anything about the problem. They had no intention of doing anything. It is only because of Socialist legislation and pressure that anything has been done at all. I would utter a word in passing—leave it alone.
§ The Solicitor-General should apply himself to this problem. It is not the amount of money that I am concerned with. I am concerned with the effect on parents when the Government say that it is better to let things drift rather than encourage parents, as I was encouraged, to send their sons into a trade and become honoured members of a great industry, the steel industry. It is better to pursue a long-term policy and encourage skilled craftsmen. We are steadily lagging behind. I ask the Government to do for the first time something that will be of real value. It will not save them, but it will help the country.
§ Question put, "That 'twenty-six,' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 225; Noes, 218.1361
|Division No. 172.]||AYES||[11.19 a.m.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Cary, Sir Robert||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Channon, H.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Amory, Heathcoat, (Tiverton)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Cole, Norman||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R, (Blackburn, W.)||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hay, John|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Craddock, Beresford (Speithorne)||Heald, Sir Lionel|
|Banks, Col. C.||Cranborne, Viscount||Heath, Edward|
|Barber, Anthony||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Crouch, R. F.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Deedes, W. F.||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Digby, S. Wingfield||Hollis, M. C.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA||Hope, Lord John|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Donner, P. W.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Birch, Nigel||Drayson, G. B.||Horobin, I. M.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Drewe, G.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence|
|Black, C. W.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Hurd, A. R.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Fell, A.||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Fisher, Nigel||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)|
|Braine, B. R.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Hyde Lt.-Col. H. M.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Foster, John||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Gage, C. H.||Kaberry, D.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Keeling, Sir Edward|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)|
|Bullard, D. G.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Godber, J. B.||Lambton, Viscount|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Gough, C. F. H.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Graham, Sir Fergus||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Storey, S.|
|Linstead, H. N.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Osborne, C||Summers, G. S.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Partridge, E||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)||Peto, Brig. C. H M||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Pickthorn, K. W M.||Teeling, W.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Pilkington, Capt R. A||Thomas, Rt. Hon J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Pitman, I. J.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|McAdden, S. J.||Powell, J. Enoch||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Macketon, Brig. H. R.||Profumo, J. D.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Raikes, H. V.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col C N.|
|McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Rayner, Brig. R||Tilney, John|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Redmayne, M.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Remnant, Hon. P.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Robertson, Sir David||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Manningham Buller, Sir R. E.||Roper, Sir Harold||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Markham, Major S. F.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Marples, A. E.||Russell, R. S.||Walker-Smith, D. C|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Ward, Hon George (Worcester)|
|Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Maudling, H.||Schofield, Lt.-Col W. (Rochdale)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Shepherd, William||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Medlicott, Brig. F.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Mellor, Sir John||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Wellwood, W.|
|Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Nabarro, G. D. N.||Soames, Capt. C.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Nicholls, Harmar||Spearman, A. C. M.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Speir, R. M.||Wills, G.|
|Nield, Basil (Chester)||Spence, H R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.||Stanley, Capt. Hon Richard||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Nutting, Anthony||Stevens, G. P.|
|Odey, G. W.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Butcher and Mr. Oakshott.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Holt, A. F|
|Adams, Richard||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Albu, A. H.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hoy, J. H.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Deer, G.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Delargy, H. J.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Awbery, S. S||Dodds, N. N.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Donnelly, D. L.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Baird, J.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon F J||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Janner, B.|
|Bence, C. R.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)|
|Benson, G.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Beswick, F.||Ewart, R.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Bing, G. H. C||Fernyhough, E||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Blackburn, F.||Field, W. J.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Finch, H. J.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Blyton, W R||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Boardman, H.||Foot, M. M.||Keenan, W|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon A. G.||Forman, J C.||Kenyon, C.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||King, Dr H M|
|Bowen, E. R.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N||Lewis, Arthur|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Gibson, C. W.||Lindgren, G. S|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Glanville, James||Logan, D. G.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Gordon-Walker, Rt Hon. P. C.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Burton, Miss F E||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||McGovern, J.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S)||Grey, C. F.||McInnes, J.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Carmichael, J||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||McLeavy, F.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Grimond, J.||McNeil, Rt. Hon H|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Chelwynd, G. R||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mallalieu, J. P. W (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Clunie, J.||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Collick, P. H.||Hamilton, W. W.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hannan, W.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S)||Hargreaves, A.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Hayman, F. H.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Mitchison, G. R|
|Daines, P.||Henderson. Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Moody, A. S.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Herbison, Miss M.||Morgan, Dr. H. B W|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hobson, C. R.||Morley, R.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Holman, P.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Mort, D. L.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Moyle, A.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Mulley, F. W||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Murray, J. D.||Ross, William||Wade, D. W.|
|Nally, W.||Royle, C.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon P J||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)||Weitzman, D.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Orbach, M||Short, E. W.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Oswald, T.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||West, D. G.|
|Padley, W. E.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Pannell, Charles||Slater, J.||Wigg, George|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Paton, J.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)|
|Pearson, A.||Snow, J. W.||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)|
|Peart, T. F.||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Porter, G.||Sparks, J. A.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Rankin, John||Swingter, S. T.||Yates, V. F.|
|Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Sylvester, G. O.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Rhodes, H.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Wallace.|
§ Question again proposed, "That the proposed words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
I beg to move, "That the debate be now adjourned."
I think that the Chancellor must himself be very anxious and uneasy in view of the Division figures which have just been announced, and it will be to his interest to accept the Motion, owing to the probability of a defeat in the near future. There are other good arguments which will appeal to both sides of the House even more. For example I think the Chancellor will agree that we have made good progress. We have had good debates; there has been no filibustering, and we have kept up the harmony of the proceedings exactly as we did throughout the whole of the Committee stage.
All the same, it is clear that there is still some considerable way to go before we can complete the Report stage and, looking at it in terms of pages, I think I am right in saying that we still have to deal with 19 pages or thereabouts of the Order Paper. I am sure the Chancellor will agree that it is rather unlikely that we shall be able to get through that, even if we sit for many hours. In the circumstances, and in view of the important matters which are still to be discussed, I should have thought that there would be a good deal to be said for adjourning now and for giving us another day or perhaps half a day in order that we may 1362 complete our discussion in an orderly and sensible manner, and so that these important issues should be fully discussed and reported in the Press.
One of our difficulties is that in the early hours of the morning the proceedings are not always reported. The Chancellor may recall that there were some excellent speeches made during the Committee stage which did not get nearly enough publicity. It would be a tragedy if the utterances of my hon. and right hon. Friends and some of the Chancellor's speeches were not fully reported. In those circumstances I hope that he will accept the Motion.
I am sure that we would all agree that he has been pleasant and accommodating throughout the proceedings. I understand that his even temper got a little ruffled not long ago, but he gets over those things—and he is smiling now. Under the circumstances I am sure that he will accept the Motion. After all, this is the hour at which we usually adjourn.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I regret that there can be no question of accepting the Motion of the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell). As I announced yesterday, it is the Government's intention to finish the Report stage tonight, to whatever hour we sit.
I do not think the task is so formidable as the right hon. Gentleman makes out. He little knows the accommodating nature of some of our proposals, as we continue. In fact, for the last five or 1363 six pages I do not see any matter which need take much time or cause very much controversy and, as we have already taken the Schedule on the Entertainments Duty earlier, that is also eliminated as a subject of discussion. It is not until we come to one or two matters relating to Purchase Tax—which have all been fully discussed before or, if not, have been explained in the debate—that we have any matters of any important substance.
After that there is the new Part III in the Fourth Schedule which, in any case, is totally incomprehensible; so it would be of no great importance whether or not we discussed it. Then we have one or two details to finish up with. Therefore, although the task looks formidable, to an expert it is quite clear that we can get through it without very much trouble.
I would say, further, that as most of these subjects have been exhaustively discussed before in the Committee I cannot imagine that the national Press will be losing an undue amount by missing some of our observations. If they are, I can certainly put the whole of the public relations staff—which has been
§ severely cut—on to the task of providing facilities to hon. Members if they wish to give a speech to the public which the public might otherwise miss.
§ In the circumstances, and in the hope that the right hon. Gentleman, with the good temper that he and his hon. Friends have hitherto exhibited, and to which I pay full tribute, will continue in the same spirit of understanding so that we do not take up too much time in discussing those matters which have been exhaustively discussed in Committee, I think we might get through without much trouble. Therefore I regret that we cannot accept the right hon. Gentleman's Motion.
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)
If it is the intention to go on through the night, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, will you give instructions for the temperature to be raised, not only in the Chamber but in other parts of the building?
§ Question put, "That the debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 205; Noes, 221.1367
|Division No. 173.]||AYES||11.35 a.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Crossman, R. H. S.||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)|
|Adams, Richard||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)|
|Albu, A. H.||Daines, P.||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H||Hannan, W.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hargreaves, A.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Hayman, F. H.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Baird, J.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hobson, C. R.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Deer, G.||Houghton, Douglas|
|Bence, C. R.||Delargy, H. J.||Hoy, J. H.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Dodds, N. N.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Benson, G.||Donnelly, D. L.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Beswick, F.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Edwards, John (Brighouse)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Boardman, H.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Janner, B.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Ewart, R.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Fernyhough, E.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Field, W. J.||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Finch, H. J.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Foot, M. M.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Forman, J. C.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Freeman, John (Watford)||Keenan, W.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Carmichael, J.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Gibson, C. W.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Glanville, James||Lewis, Arthur|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Clunie, J.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||MacColl, J. E.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Grey, C. F.||McGhee, H. G|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gridley, Sir Arnold||McGovern, J.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||McInnes, J.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|McLeavy, F.||Popplewell, E.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Proctor, W. T.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Rankin, John||Wallace, H. W.|
|Manuel, A. C.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H A||Rhodes, H.||Weitzman, D.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Robens, Rt. Hon, A.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Mellish, R. J.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||West, D. G.|
|Moody, A S.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon John|
|Morgan, Dr H B. W||Ross, William||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Morley, R.||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wigg, George|
|Mori, D. L||Short, E. W.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Moyle, A.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)|
|Mulley, F. W||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)|
|Murray, J. D||Simmons, c. J. (Brierley Hill)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Nally, W.||Slater, J.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon P J||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Williams, W. R. (Droylesden)|
|Oliver, G. H.||Snow, J. W||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Orbach, M.||Sorensen, R. W.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Oswald, T.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C)|
|Padley, W. E.||Sparks, J. A.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Yates, V. F.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Pannell, Charles||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Paton, J||Swingler, S. T.||Mr. Royle and|
|Pearson, A.||Sylvester, G. O.||Mr. Kenneth Robinson.|
|Peart, T. F.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hurd, A. R.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Crouch, R. F.||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Deedes, W. F.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Digby, S. Wingfield||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Donner, P. W.||Kaberry, D.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Doughty, C. J. A||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)|
|Barber, Anthony||Drayson, G. B.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Drewe, C.||Lambton, Viscount|
|Exter, A. B.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Fell, A.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Fisher, Nigel||Lindsay, Martin|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Foster, John||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.|
|Birch, Nigel||Gage, C H.||Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Black, C. W.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Boothby, R. J. G||Godber, J. B.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||McAdden, S. J.|
|Bowen, E. R.||Gough, C. F. H.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir Charles|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J A||Graham, Sir Fergus||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Grimond, J.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Braine, B. R.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hare, Hon. J. H.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maclean, Fitzroy|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macleod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)|
|Bollard, D. G.||Hay, John||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Heald, Sir Lionel||Markham, Major S. F.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Heath, Edward||Marples, A. E.|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Higgs, J. M. C.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Maudling, R.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|Channon, H.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Medlicott, Brig. F|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Hollis, M. C.||Mellor, Sir John|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Holt, A. F.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Cole, Norman||Hope, Lord John||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Cooper-Key, E. M||Horobin, I. M.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P|
|Nutting, Anthony||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Tilney, John|
|Odey, G. W.||Schofield, Lt. Col. W. (Rochdale)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon W. D||Shepherd, William||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Osborne, C.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K|
|Partridge, E.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Soames, Capt. C.||Wade, D. W.|
|Peyton, J. W. W.||Spearman, A. C. M.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Speir, R. M||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Pilkington, Capt. R A||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Walker-Smith, D C|
|Pitman, I. J.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Power, J. Enoch||Stevens, G. P.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Profumo, J. D.||Storey, S.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Raikes, H. V.||Summers, G. S.||Wellwood, W.|
|Rayner, Brig. R.||Sutcliffe, H.||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Redmayne, M.||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Remnant, Hon. P.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Teeling, W.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Robertson, Sir David||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)||Wills, G.|
|Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Roper, Sir Harold||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Russell, R. S.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn Peter (Monmouth)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.||Mr. Studholme and Mr. Oakshott.|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 11.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Houghton
I beg to move, in page 16, line 26, at the end to insert:(6) In subsection (1) or section two hundred and fourteen of the Income Tax Act, 1952 (which relates to a person taking charge of a widower's or widow's children, or acting as his or her housekeeper) the words "is resident with him for the purposes of having," shall be deleted, and the word "has," substituted, and the words "that he has no female relative of his own or his deceased wife who is able or willing to take such charge or act in any such capacity and," shall be deleted.I assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that I shall have no need of the services of his noble Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and his newly-acquired trumpeter. This is a speech for the House and not the public. Moreover, my remarks will be more temperate this time than last, if only because on this occasion I shall not have to listen to an arrogant, dehydrated speech from the Solicitor-General before I make my own.
The topic of housekeeping is one that all men approach in a spirit of respect. This Amendment seeks to remedy some of the defects of the law in regard to housekeeper allowance. In 1920, when the housekeeper allowance was introduced into the Income Tax code, the allowance could be granted to a widower who had a female relative of his own or of his deceased wife who was resident with him for the purpose of having the charge and care of any child of his; or, if he could prove that he had no female relative of his own or of his deceased wife who was able or willing to take such charge, some other female person could be employed to undertake it.
1368 One of two things which this Amendment seeks to do is to delete from the Income Tax Act the reference regarding the implied obligation of a female relative to become the housekeeper of a widower when, unhappily, he loses his wife. No such sentiment had a rightful place in an Act of Parliament. It seems to place an implied obligation upon the female relations of a widower or of his deceased wife to go and look after his children. The wording of the Act is,If the claimant proves … that he has no female relative of his own or of his deceased wife who is able or willing to take such charge. …It is insulting to a widower to ask him to prove that he has no female relative who is willing or able to undertake the duties of housekeeper and look after his children. Surely, he is free to engage whatever housekeeper he wishes. He may desire not to accept the services, voluntarily offered may be, of a relative of his own—still less, perhaps, a relative of his deceased wife who may be quite willing to become his housekeeper. I do not know what would happen if a widower had to confess that a female relative was willing and able so to act but that he did not desire her services in that capacity.
The other matter with which I seek to deal is a discrepancy in the law with regard to the residence of a housekeeper. The law says that a housekeeper who is a female relative must be resident with the claimant, but in the case of a housekeeper who is employed by the claimant there is no such stipulation. This problem engaged the attention of the Joint Committee of the House of Lords and the House of 1369 Commons that was appointed to consider the consolidation Income Tax Act.
Right hon. and hon. Members who wish to study the technicalities of the problem will find them admirably explained on pages 18–19 of the first Report of the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills 1951–52. In fact the Joint Committee of the two Houses did consider whether they could remove this difficulty by either inserting the condition of residence for the employed housekeeper or deleting it in the case of the female relative housekeeper. But the Committee decided that whichever they did they might be altering the law. As one noble Lord said, their job was not to remove doubts, but to consolidate them. That was the whole point of the Committee. This particular doubt was well and truly consolidated by being left exactly as it was.
In no single case has this problem been resolved in the courts, although one claim did go some way in that respect. The claimant had a housekeeper whom he engaged to look after his children. She was a married woman who lived in a neighbouring flat which was quite accessible to his apartment. She came early in the morning and went home last thing at night. But in that case she was not resident with the claimant, although the House will agree it was a perfectly reasonable arrangement in present conditions.
It is not easy to get housekeepers to become resident in these days because all domestic help is hard to come by. Moreover many widowers are quite capable of looking after their children after they have been put to bed at night and when they get up in the morning. But in this particular case the claimant did not pursue to the courts the particular point of residence. He argued that she was sufficiently resident to be resident for the purpose of the Act. He lost on that argument. What he should have done was to claim she was not resident and need not be resident, but he was no doubt badly advised by the gentlemen of the legal profession. For all I know he had resort to the advice of the Solicitor-General, but however it was, the matter was not resolved in a way which would remove this doubt from the Act
The Joint Committee of both Houses found no enlightenment in the decision of the court and they took refuge in 1370 consolidating this doubt, just as the right hon. Gentleman in a few moments, will take refuge in further consolidating it. He will say the Royal Commission is sitting, and that this is one of the matters it could properly consider. He is going lo consolidate the doubt by doing nothing. We all know that way of dealing with these difficulties and complexities.
The importance of this matter is that, although in the case of an employed housekeeper, the Act does not say she must be resident, the fact that that doubt has never been resolved leads the Inland Revenue at the moment to refuse an allowance where an employed housekeeper is not resident. They have no authority in my judgment to refuse the allowance where an employed housekeeper is not resident, but so far they have not found a widower rich enough, or rash enough, to go to the courts to test the matter. That is why, in my submission, it is the duty of the House to relieve some unknown taxpayer of the burden and expense of taking this matter to court.
It can easily be done. The Amendment I have moved would revise the Section in the Income Tax Act to read as follows:If the claimant proves that he is a widower and that for the year of assessment a person, being a female relative of his or of his deceased wife, has the charge and care of any child of his or in the capacity of housekeeper, or that he has employed some other female person for the purpose, he shall, subject as hereinafter provided, be entitled to a deduction …It makes no condition that he must prove that he has no female relative or that, if he has, she is unwilling or unable to act. It lays upon him no obligation to prove that she is resident with him. The obligation resting upon him would be to prove that the person concerned is a housekeeper. I believe that it is possible for a taxpayer to prove to the satisfaction of the Inland Revenue that he has a female relative as a housekeeper and that although she is not resident she is a housekeeper, looking after the children and doing all the things that a housekeeper would be normally expected to do. I hope that the Chancellor will be able to make some advance towards meeting what I think he would agree is a genuine criticism of the doubt and obscurity of the law.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
I beg to second the Amendment.
1371 I am particularly glad to do so because I raised this matter during the Committee stage of the Bill. Unfortunately there was no reply at all from the Government at that time. We have no inkling of what they feel about this Amendment, and therefore we have to move it in the strongest terms possible.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) referred first to the obscurity of the Clause. I think that he is quite right in saying that the Inland Revenue, and the Treasury for that matter, are quite unjustified in their present interpretation of the Section. If I may paraphrase the Section as it stands, it says first of all that if a widower has a female relative resident with him in order to act as his housekeeper he can claim an allowance.
Then it goes on to say that if he has no relative able and willing to act in such capacity, and he employs someone else, he can also claim the allowance. The obscurity has arisen in the interpretation of the words "such capacity." if he has no female relative able and willing, and he employs someone else in "such capacity," he can claim the allowance, and the words "such capacity" have been held, I suppose, to be related to being a housekeeper and also to being a resident.
I have read the Section so often that I could almost repeat it off by heart. I say that there is no real justification for saying that the word "such" implies the qualification of residence in the case of someone other than a relative. In those circumstances we should be quite justified in asking that the matter be cleared up.
However, there is apparently no doubt in the mind of the Treasury. I wrote to the Chancellor some time ago putting forward a case where this matter came up. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury was good enough to reply. He made it quite clear that he had no doubt at all about the interpretation of the Clause. He said:As you are no doubt aware, a housekeeper allowance is given to a widower only where he employs a resident housekeeper.What justification has the Financial Secretary for that remark? It has never been decided in the courts. The Joint Committee preparing the 1952 Consolida- 1372 tion Act declared that it was an obscurity, but the Treasury blithely go on in their parsimonious way interpreting the law as narrowly as they can. It is high time that we cleared up this whole matter.
In clearing it up we ought also to be careful to administer as much justice as we can. I want to endorse what has been said from this side of the House about the injustice that this Section. as it stands, creates. Should a housekeeper, employed by a widower, have to be resident? That is the first question we have to ask ourselves. The person who is best qualified to look after a widower's children, for example, may be someone with a home of her own. Why, therefore, must she move into his house in order to care for the children?
Secondly, all sorts of problems confront working people in this respect. A man who is unfortunately left a widower may have a house which is not large enough to accommodate a resident housekeeper with a bedroom and, perhaps, another room of her own. Why should that man, with a small house, be penalised in this way, when he cannot accommodate a resident housekeeper?
Furthermore, let us take the example of a block of flats. Why must a woman, who can very well help by housekeeping for a widower in a block of flats, being the tenant of a neighbouring flat, have to move into his flat when it is only one floor up or, perhaps, just across the passage? I can see the argument that the Chancellor will use on this question of residence. He will say, and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury makes it in the letter he wrote me, that if he once took down the barrier of residence in this respect, he would open the doors to a claim for a housekeeper allowance for all domestic help employed by a widower.
§ Mr. Butler indicated assent.
§ Mr. Chapman
I see the Chancellor nods his head. He is going to say, perhaps, that he cannot accept this Amendment because a widower will then claim that anyone who comes in to dust his front room is a housekeeper and will claim the £50 allowance. There is some force in that argument, but, I do not think it really stands up to examination, if one looks at the figures involved. After all, 1373 what is the allowance being claimed? It is £50 of taxable income. The most a widower can benefit by is £50 at 9s. 6d. in the £, or, more often, much less than that. So the most he is going to benefit by is 10s. 0d. per week.
That is a small enough figure to help re-imburse him for any domestic help, whether it is a fully-employed housekeeper or occasional domestic help, to help him through the week and to look after his home now that he is, unfortunately, left without a wife to do this job for him. If it is only a benefit of 10s. a week to the widower, how can the Chancellor grumble when a man claims this allowance for a help, perhaps, in a marginal case, whom the Chancellor might not regard as wholly a housekeeper? The amount is so trifling, that the present attitude is taking parsimony further than even the Treasury usually goes.
Apart, however, from the question of residence, is the Chancellor's interpretation of the law such that, as it stands, a man has to prove he has no female relatives able and willing to do the job? Certainly, the Section reads like that, and, if it is so, it is rather ridiculous. I can imagine many of my own female relatives whom I would not trust to bring up my own children and instead of whom I would be happy to have someone else. [Interruption.] So long as I do not mention their names, I shall be all right.
The law places an implied obligation upon the widower to prove that he has not got a relative who can do the job. That may have been all right in the 19th century, with the particular ideas of family unity which prevailed in those days, but it does not fit in with modern conditions.
We need the law clarified and its obscurities remedied. We want to clear up the point relating to residence, which seems unjust in its application at the moment, and we want to remove this implied obligation on the widower to prove that he has not got a female relative who can act as his housekeeper. We have tried to put the case as reasonably as possible, and I hope that the Chancellor will meet us in some way.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
This is a very real human problem, as I am sure the Chancellor will appreciate. The hon. 1374 Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman) referred to the fact that he knew of an instance of this problem and I am sure most of us know of several instances in our own constituencies. I cannot understand why there is any reluctance to accept the Amendment. There are difficulties to which reference has been made, but other difficulties will remain if the Amendment is not accepted.
There is one aspect to which little reference has been made so far. It may not seem a weighty matter to many people, but we have to judge these matters not as they seem to us but as they seem to other people. A few weeks ago one of my constituents wrote to me in a state of great indignation telling me that he had assumed from a letter he had received—whether from the Inland Revenue or elsewhere I am not quite certain—that he could take some woman into his household with, he said, inevitable assumptions on the part of all the neighbours.
Whether that is correct or not, one can understand that in many working-class homes where there is quite inadequate accommodation, many men have great difficulty in finding room for any suitable female who will look after their children, apart from which, from their standpoint at least, there is a moral objection. Certainly if a man brings into his home some woman shortly after his wife has died, one knows that neighbours start talking. For that reason alone, even if there is accommodation, many a family has to suffer disabilities because the father is unable to get anyone to come in and, therefore, has to do his best to look after the children. The children suffer accordingly.
I frankly admit that there are difficulties, to which reference has been made, but am I wrong in assuming that if a female relative is willing to look after the children, even though she lives apart from the household, her services provide a valid claim for the allowance referred to? In any case I suggest that here is a real human difficulty which the Chancellor should appreciate much more sympathetically than he has done up to now. There is the need of the children to be considered. When a man's wife dies and he is left with the children I know, from the experience of my con- 1375 stituents and others, that he is hard put to it to know what to do.
There are inevitably females in the family who, no doubt, are willing or able to help, but it does not follow that he desires their services or that they would be suitable; but I presume that legally any relative can simply state that she is willing to help, and even if she is not at all acceptable to a man that would rule out any possibility of the man securing the relief to which reference has been made.
I hope the Chancellor will appreciate the great difficulty particularly in working-class homes. It is a real human problem, and I hope that he will consider it sympathetically and will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Janner
I wish to add one or two words as a Member of the Committee that dealt with this particular point when the consolidation Measure was being considered. I do not want to repeat the arguments that have been used about providing the opportunity for a proper person to be engaged to look after children left in this condition, and about the necessity of making a proper allowance for that purpose, but I should like the House to know that we found ourselves in considerable difficulty when discussing this point in the Committee, and that there was definitely a doubt as to whether a court, if it were given the opportunity of deciding a case on this question, would not come to the conclusion that the words suggested in the Amendment really applied, anyhow.
I think the point has been made here that it should not be left to an individual to test this matter in the courts. I think an interpretation should be given to the Act which is, at least, in favour of the person who would receive protection from a court if the court came to the conclusion that residence was not necessary. The learned judge who sat as Chairman of the Committee could not make up his mind as to whether or not a definite decision should be given in the Committee itself, and consequently we were not able to alter this very ambiguous wording, which may mean one tiling or the other with regard to the question of residence.
1376 It is not asking very much of the Chancellor to make it clear that what the present Act says actually means that residence in the case of a housekeeper, in the sense of residence in the case of a relative, does not mean that the housekeeper must reside in the particular premises, but that it really means that the housekeeper who resides outside the premises shall, as the Act stands at present, shall be entitled to assist and the relief granted. There is ambiguity about it, and it would be an act of fairness, I think on the part of the Chancellor if he were to resolve that ambiguity in favour of the taxpayer, and not be cheeseparing about the position.
§ Mr. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
I hope that the Chancellor will heed the pleas of my hon. Friends, because he must realise what a great human problem this is. During the Committee stage I tried to get the Financial Secretary to look at a case which had been brought to my notice only recently. On May Day a young man came to me and told me his wife had died, that he had two children, who were both going to school, and that a person was coming in every morning, getting their breakfast, coming in again and getting their dinner, and seeing them safely tucked in bed at night; and that, although he was paying for this help, the local Inland Revenue officer had told him that because the person doing the work was not residing with him, nothing could be done for him, and that only the House of Commons could effect a remedy.
I want the Chancellor to understand that there are some people who have such a high standard of morality that they do not care for the idea of there being a young woman sleeping in a man's house unless she and the man are married one to the other; and that there are some neighbourhoods that will talk about that sort of thing and probably make wild guesses that may be very untrue and most unlikely, but which, nevertheless, cause great embarrassment and much heart ache to the people concerned. It is the sort of thing that only happens in working-class households and working-class districts. If the children were going to boarding school people would not be concerned at all. The children would be well looked after.
1377 12.15 a.m.
The man to whom I have referred is an engineer, turning out at seven o'clock in the morning, and not getting back until five or six in the evening. I say that it is very mean and contemptible that we do not meet his case; and all the more so when one remembers that the man might have been indifferent to the welfare of his children. He might have been so indifferent that the local authority would have had to take charge of them; and that would have cost the Chancellor much more than if he accepted this Amendment.
Therefore, I do ask that the right hon. Gentleman should try to realise there is real need for this Amendment to be accepted. It would only be doing justice to men who are looking after their motherless children; men who are doing a really grand job, because a man who has lost his wife and is still prepared to make sacrifices for his children should have every possible encouragement from the Government. Yet. the only encouragement which he gets is to be refused the allowance to which he is morally entitled.
Let me tell the Chancellor that it is physically impossible in some of the industrial centres, because of the lack of space, for there to be separate bedrooms for the man, the woman, and the children. I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman is going to be big, generous and human enough to meet the terms of our Amendment.
§ Mr. Maudling
This Amendment has been moved, seconded, and supported in a series of weighty and interesting speeches, and the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) was, I think, far too modest in claiming that his was a speech only for the House of Commons; for this is a matter of keen interest to many families throughout the country. The hon. Members for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) and Northfield (Mr. Chapman) and others put the case very strongly—better than I could, and in so doing, they sometimes anticipated some of my arguments.
One of those arguments is that this is a matter which is being considered by the Royal Commission. Section 214 of the Income Tax Act, 1952, is one of three parts, all dealing roughly with similar circumstances where a woman has died and her children need to be looked after; 1378 and if one is going to alter the conditions of residence in one part, there should be an alteration in the other two. But, perhaps, that is a minor point. It is recommended by hon. Members opposite that the condition of residence should no longer be applied as it has been for a number of years for the grant of these allowances, but I would explain why this Government agree with previous Governments that the residence provisions are right.
The whole conception of these allowances is that they are applied in circumstances where the household has become bereft of the mother. It is based on the idea of family unity—and on that ideal—which I thought the hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman) rather too easily dismissed as a 19th century conception. That is quite wrong, because it is still a strong and valid one; and the idea is that there should be assistance for a taxpayer who has the aid of a woman who is willing to act as a housekeeper, not just provide the children with their breakfasts, and put them to bed at night; but somebody who is willing to try to give the children the background and comfort that they need.
§ Mr. Sorensen
Supposing there is a neighbour living next door who puts the children away last thing at night, as is very often the case, and also gives them breakfast first thing in the morning? In what respect is she different from the mother, as far as looking after the household is concerned?
§ Mr. Maudling
So far as looking after the household is concerned there may not be a great deal of difference; but as far as looking after the children is concerned there is a lot of difference. I am not saying that there is not great strength in the argument for the Amendment. As I said, this question is being considered by the Royal Commission, but at the present moment, while that consideration is in progress, I was putting to the House the arguments—which I think are strong and valid—why Governments, up to the present, have not adopted the suggestion contained in this Amendment.
The whole idea underlying this allowance is that it should provide for some person resident to look after the children. It is true that it does not apply in the case of a widow or widower. They do not have to have children. They get 1379 the allowance anyway. That is an anomaly which was introduced in the Act of 1924, despite the advice of the Royal Commission of 1920, and it is because it is felt to be rather an anomaly that successive Governments have resisted an extension of that particular housekeeper allowance where there are no children.
Now I come to the point about the uncertainty of the law, and whether it is the law that the residence qualification applies to the non-relative housekeeper as it does to the relative who acts as a housekeeper. As has been pointed out by a number of hon. Members in the Consolidation Bill Committee, there are grounds for doubt as to the exact position in law, at the present moment, about the housekeeper who is not a relative.
In these matters the Inland Revenue authorities have a clear and obvious duty to interpret the law according to what appears to them to be the correct interpretation. Until it be shown in the courts that they are wrong it is the belief of the Inland Revenue authorities that the interpretation which they place upon it is the correct one, and that the residence qualification should apply to the non-relative as it applies to the relative.
But if it is true that there is doubt about the matter—and no doubt there is doubt—I would point out that it appears rather to be assumed by the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) that if the doubt were resolved it would be resolved in the direction he thinks right, whereas if my argument is right—that residence is a proper qualification—it means that if the doubt were resolved it would be resolved in the opposite direction, by making it clear that residence is a proper qualification.
§ Mr. Janner
In view of the arguments raised by very learned authorities in the debate on the Consolidation Measure, would not the hon. Gentleman say that he ought not to tell the Commissioners that they must put that interpretation upon those words? Will he be good enough to agree with what was said in the course of that debate, that the reason for the non-insertion of those words was the specific one that there was this doubt? Why should that doubt be resolved by the Government against the taxpayer and not in the taxpayer's favour?
§ Mr. Maudling
The Inland Revenue authorities apply the law as it appears to them to be their duty to apply it, and if the Government consider—as they do at the moment—that residence is a proper qualification, they would certainly not be right in advising the Commissioners to interpret the law in the opposite direction.
I think I am correct in saying that the Chairman of the Consolidation Bill Committee is now Chairman of the Royal Commission, and in his capacity as Chairman of that Commission and with the assistance of his colleagues, he is now considering this question of residence, and if it is right that it should be cleared up surely it is a very good thing to clear it up after we have had the benefit of this particular advice.
Finally, there was the point about the necessity for the taxpayer to show that he has no female relative able and willing to undertake the task of housekeeper. I do not think that is an unreasonable necessity, as some hon. Members seem to think. Incidentally, I think I am right in saying that the words are "able and, "not" able or, "which appear, I think, in the Amendment and were used in the speech of the hon. Member who moved it.
If a taxpayer has a relative able and willing to undertake the task, I do not think it is unreasonable to say that he should look to her first. That is consistent with the underlying principle of this allowance, which has been adopted and continued by Governments, and which is based on the conception of the unity of the family and the priority of the claims of the family unit.
I listened with great care to the sincere arguments put forward from the other side of the House on what is, without doubt, an important problem affecting closely and personally a large number of people. I have tried to indicate the reasons why the Government consider that the condition of residence in both cases is, as we consider, embodied in the existing law, and the reasons why the Government think that this should be continued; but I have also pointed out that this is a matter which is being examined by the Royal Commission. I hope that that will be a crumb of comfort to hon. Members. The Royal Commission is eminently qualified to give an 1381 opinion which will be of assistance to the House. Therefore, 1 would ask the House, while awaiting the Royal Commission's report, not to accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. Sorensen
May I ask the hon. Gentleman to consider this case. If a widower has assistance from a woman living next door, who looks after his house and children, and, in order that she shall have accommodation, the children are sent to her house while she goes to live in his house, does it follow that he would get relief?
§ Mr. MacColl
I think the Parliamentary Secretary would find it easier to clear his mind if he looked at this question from the point of view of the children, and not only from the point of the Inland Revenue, or the convenience of the father. The position is that in such a family there has been a disaster, namely, the loss of the mother. What the Government have to decide is, what is best for the children? Is it better for the father to try to keep the home going, and to keep some stability of environment for the children, or to put them into an institution, which may be the only alternative?
I should have thought that the opinion of the Curtis Committee, of the Home Office, of the Report of the Children's Department of the Home Office, of psychologists, and of everyone else, is overwhelmingly that it is the father's duty to keep the home going. If that is his duty, surely it is the duty of the Inland Revenue to try to facilitate the effort which he makes, not for his own comfort or convenience, but for the children.
So long as there are children to be maintained in the family, surely it is the duty of the Inland Revenue to assist him, by an Income Tax concession, to do his duty. The care of the children is affected by whether it is a female relative, who may be temperamentally unsuited to the task, who may have to be brought in for the purpose, or whether it is the motherly woman neighbour. But that is not relevant to this matter, nor whether the per- 1382 son who administers the comfort and care is living next door, or inhabiting an unsatisfactory attic and becoming the object of uncomfortable talk in the neighbourhood.
The Parliamentary Secretary should forget the legal niceties and the danger that there might be abuse and that someone might want to employ a charlady and get some Income Tax relief by doing so. The possible danger in that respect is not nearly as great as the danger to the home through the financial strain on a father in keeping a home going in very difficult circumstances. We should give such a father every assistance that we can.
§ 12.30 a.m.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Nobody who has listened to the debate can feel very happy about the present state of this part of the Income Tax law. To begin with, there is the question of interpretation as to whether the qualification about residence applies to the non-relative or not, and on that, with respect to the Parliamentary Secretary, we should like the view of the Solicitor-General.
This is a matter of considerable importance. It has never been decided in the courts, I believe. The case mentioned by my hon. Friend was not argued on this basis; it was simply taken for granted by the person concerned that the Inland Revenue interpretation was correct, although I believe that previously it had always been realised that there was considerable doubt. We ought to have a more authoritative explanation from one of the Law Officers of the Crown.
Even if the Inland Revenue interpretation is correct, it would be generally agreed in the light of the speeches by my hon. Friends that it is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs. It is almost impossible to hold the line that where a widower who has no female relative willing and capable of looking after the children, or where it is not possible without very great difficulty for someone to come in and live with him, he must, if he is to get the allowance, have some other person employed by him actually living in the house. Many examples have been given of how much more convenient it would be in some cases to have the services of another married person who could not live in the house.
1383 We cannot possibly leave the matter there. This is not a point of law; it is a question of policy on which we can reasonably expect the Government to have come to some conclusion of their own. When there are complicated points of law with widespread repercussions it is certainly not an unreasonable answer to say that a Royal Commission is looking into the matter, but this is not quite that type of case. The Parliamentary Secretary did not suggest that anything very disastrous would happen if the Amendment were accepted. I hope we shall have some further explanation from the Solicitor-General and a rather more forthcoming reply from either the Solicitor-General or the Parliamentary Secretary.
§ The Solicitor-General
In answer to the right hon. Gentleman, there is a decided case on which reliance has been placed for one interpretation. Doubt has been cast on the correctness of the decision by a very eminent legal authority. On matters of this sort opinions of lawyers may well differ, and I should hesitate to express any conclusive view at short notice this evening. Whatever view I expressed, the matter may well soon come before the Commissioners to decide and to interpret after hearing the arguments on both sides. I am sorry that I cannot throw more light on the matter.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
This is a very strange situation, because the Solicitor-General is now adopting a very modest attitude by saying, "I do not really know what the answer to this is." But the Parliamentary Secretary had no doubt. He was quite clear what the right interpretation was. He even said that it was the Government view and the Inland Revenue view.
§ Mr. Maudling
I do not think I said that. I said clearly that there is some doubt here, and that while there is doubt it is the duty of the Revenue officers to follow what they consider to be the right interpretation.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
The hon. Gentleman also referred to the point of view of the Government. Surely one would expect the Government to have some view on it, but I am still in a fog as to what it is. There is a difference of opinion 1384 between the Parliamentary Secretary and the hon. and learned Gentleman. It is difficult for me—I have heard two contrary views. It is right that the Government should clear up this appalling muddle.
If my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) decides to press this matter, I shall be very willing to follow him into the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
The House is now in an intolerable position. I support the Amendment but I will not add a word abouts its merits. I gather that the Government are going to resist it. Whatever views may be held about the merits, it is quite unpardonable for the House to leave the section in this state of obscurity. After all, this is a legislative Assembly. It is our duty to make the laws; it is the duty of the public to observe them; and the last thing we can do is allow these important Income Tax provisions to go out in a state in which there is a most considerable doubt about what they mean. It is admitted that there is the greatest doubt and uncertainty about these obscure provisions.
When the Income Tax Acts came to be consolidated the Joint Committee felt unable to resolve the doubt. They said that what it meant was obscure but that it was not their task to come down on one side or the other. Now the Parliamentary Secretary—and I admire his modesty—has not expressed any view on what the words mean, or whether residence is necessary or not in the case of a non-relative housekeeper. For what it is worth, my own view is that it is not necessary for a non-relative housekeeper to be resident. But it is admitted that there is a doubt about it.
The Solicitor-General himself refuses to give any confident opinion; indeed, he made the extraordinary statement that he had not even considered the matter. It is a sorry state of affairs when on a matter of this importance a Law Officer of the Crown not only says he does not know what the answer is but says he has not considered it. That is not good enough. We have a duty to make laws in a clear, precise fashion so that the public can understand what their liabilities are.
There is an even more serious aspect. Two members of the Treasury Bench 1385 have now propounded the extraordinary doctrine that if there is doubt about the meaning of an Income Tax Act it is the duty of the Inland Revenue officers to resolve it in the interests of the Crown. That is an entirely novel doctrine. If there is such a doubt the taxpayer is entitled to the benefit of it.
We cannot allow an Act to go forward about which there is this obscurity. The public must know what the law is and what their duties are. We, as legislators, must resolve the doubt. We have put forward an Amendment that should commend itself on its merits to the common sense of the House. But if the Government take the opposite view of the merits of what we are proposing, they have a duty to resolve the doubt that exists, and to take the courage of their convictions in both hands and say that the residential qualification is essential.
Unless they do that, they are not entitled to pursue this quite indefensible practice of resolving doubts in their own favour—and doing worse—because they now say they leave it to the Income Tax officials, who are only supposed to act under the direction of the Government. Who does take the responsibility of telling the inspectors how they should resolve this doubt? I feel, in view of the very sorry exhibition we have had from the Government benches, that it would be quite indefensible to leave the matter in this extraordinarily unsatisfactory condition.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I do not wish to go into the merits or construction of this Amendment, but I do not think we can let pass the most remarkable bit of constitutional doctrine I have ever heard in my life put forward by the Parliamentary Secretary. It came to this: here is an admittedly doubtful provision, and in these circumstances it is the duty of the Inland Revenue to do what they think to be right. I have never heard such an extraordinary suggestion. Our duty is to declare what the taxes shall be, and to do it clearly.
The duty of the Inland Revenue is to levy such taxes as they are authorised by us to levy, and no more. They are not set up to be judges of morals for the community. They are neither qualified for the purpose, nor are they likely to carry 1386 it out effectively when they have to reconcile their views on morality with their duty to collect the revenue which is properly due. I can understand that when the Law Officers of the Crown are so wholly incompetent to give consideration to the matter, they might perhaps consult the Archbishop of Canterbury on moral grounds, but they are certainly not qualified to do it themselves.
My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) put the matter quite rightly in that, so far as the Constitution is concerned, unless the Inland Revenue are clearly entitled to collect taxes, they must, as a matter of constitutional doctrine and good sound law, give the taxpayer the benefit of the doubt. The Conservative clubs in this country used to be called Constitutional clubs. I do not know if they still are. I did not expect to have to get up at half-past twelve at night and tell the party opposite that they must not do this violence to the British Constitution. It is an intolerable burden upon the Income Tax inspectors and other officials of the Board of Inland Revenue to make them judges of our morality.
§ 12.45 a.m.
§ Mr. A. Blenkinsop (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
I certainly had no intention of intervening in this debate, and I should not have done so but for the extraordinary statement we have had from the Front Bench opposite. Like other hon. Members, in my own constituency I have many cases of this kind where there are very strong feelings indeed about the human issues involved.
When we have added to that this extraordinary legal muddle, with which my hon. and learned Friends have dealt so much more ably than I can, I make a further appeal to the Chancellor who, I hope, is even now re-considering the matter. We shall try to give him time to do so. I appeal to him to make this concession on two grounds. The first ground is the human issues that are involved and the real anxiety of everyone on both sides of the House to try and ensure the best possible conditions for the children who are left in these very sad cases.
It is quite intolerable to us that the position should be as it is at present in those cases where so often there is not 1387 accommodation for anyone from outside to be resident in the house. We know that to be true not only in the industrial areas but even in the Macmillan people's house, where in many cases there will be no accommodation available for a female relative. I hope that, having regard to the views expressed in this debate, the Chancellor will agree to accept this Amendment.
Quite apart from that issue, surely after the statements we have had about the legal position it should be perfectly clear—if anything is clear—that our Amendment should be accepted so that at least the House and the country should know how the matter stands. I hope the Chancellor has now been given the opportunity to come away from his discussions and announce to the House that, after all, he is prepared to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has heard the whole of this debate. I have been sitting here all the time and so has he. We also have the good fortune to have with us the Foreign Secretary who is generally regarded as the Deputy Prime Minister and who, therefore, no doubt, has considerable authority in his own right on some of these issues.
I appeal to the Chancellor to reconsider what has been said and what he has heard tonight. There is no difference on any side of the House, or any political issue here. My hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) and my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) put the case extremely effectively.
There is not very much revenue concerned here. The Chancellor will not unbalance his Budget; nor is the drain on our gold reserves going to be increased if he gives this concession. No one will contend that many taxpayers will arrange their affairs, if they are widowers, in such a way that they will not have a housekeeper, if they can get one, to look after their children but will arrange to get one in order to obtain this allowance.
This is a small problem in terms of finance. It cannot mean much in terms of evasion. At any rate, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation put forward no point about 1388 evasion. Nor did he speak of any repercussive effect on any other body of taxpayers which might have been a reason for turning down this Amendment. I appeal to the Chancellor to consider this matter again.
It is not good enough to say, "Let the Royal Commission consider it." That might well be an argument if this House had not considered it. After all, it is one of the objects of a Royal Commission to consider things in order to relieve this House of the responsibility of doing so, because we want to talk about other matters. That is not so in this case. The House has considered this matter very fully, and we have spent more time upon it than any Royal Commission is ever likely to spend. The views of the House are pretty clear.
We believe there is a real case for doing something for this comparatively small number of men, who are deprived of a woman to look after their family and who are deprived of the mother of the family, and we cannot resist that Sort of claim unless it can be demonstrated that there are weighty reasons regarding evasion and wide repercussive effects which would upset the economy.
In these circumstances, I hope the Chancellor will consider what has been said on the merits of the matter and that he will not rely on the argument about a Royal Commission. This House is prepared to lay down the law on the matter and say what it ought to be. I hope that the Chancellor will give us the benefit of his views and tell us he is prepared to consider this matter and see if he cannot go some way towards meeting the case.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
Those hon. Members who have spoken have closely studied the law, as it stands, under Section 214 of the Income Tax Act, as consolidated in 1952. Therefore, there is no need for me to outline the law. Certain observations have been made on the duties of the Inland Revenue. It is my duty, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, not to let pass the rather vague suggestions made that certain extraordinary things are happening about the manner in which the Inland Revenue are interpreting their duties.
Nothing in the words, which fell from the mouth of the Parliamentary Secretary 1389 to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, can have brought any confusion into this matter. The law, in the Section to which I have referred, is there for everybody to read. If the citizen feels there is any confusion, he has the right of appeal to the General and Special Commissioners. If he is not successful, he has the right of appeal, in point of law, to the High Court.
As the relation between the citizen and the taxpayer and the Inland Revenue should be absolutely above board, and, as there have been difficulties about the rights of the citizen vis-à-vis the Inland Revenue, it is important that I should make a statement about that subject to remove any doubt. The human issue of this particular Amendment——
§ Mr. Gaitskell
The Solicitor-General told us that he did not really know what the law was. Is that the position? Are the Government completely unaware of what it really means? I should have supposed, if the Inland Revenue had to administer this law, that they would have some view upon it. One would hope that that view would coincide with that of the Government and of the legal advisers of the Government. There is confusion here. If, in fact, the Law Officers of the Crown hold a different view from the Inland Revenue, we are in great difficulty.
§ Mr. Butler
There is no difficulty at all. The law stands as the law. There is no question of the Government trying to interpret it one way or the other. In so far as the House of Commons has done its work, and the Government have done their work, the law stands to be interpreted in the courts. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that that is the whole spirit of our constitution.
The position of the Solicitor-General is that there has been a case on this matter; the case of Brown v. Adamson. Even so distinguished a legal luminary as Lord Radcliffe, who I believe is the greatest living expert on Income Tax in this country, and who is a Lord of Appeal, expressed an opinion, in the hearing of the case, that there was some doubt about the manner in which the law had been finally consolidated. That is the point, and so the Solicitor-General is in the company of the greatest living expert on Income Tax law.
1390 I am not an expert on these matters. I am simply an ordinary Minister of the Crown, but, in my view, there is a considerable difficulty in understanding the many anomalies and difficulties which arise over the housekeeper allowance. As the right hon. Gentleman himself said, it is a particularly difficult aspect of the Income Tax law. When the Government had to make up their mind what attitude they would take towards this Amendment they were naturally actuated by exactly the same consideration which arose in my own mind, because I helped to give guidance to the Government in this matter.
It is obvious that as there is a considerable doubt in these matters it is better to allow the Royal Commission to look into this question rather than to try to settle it out of hand. If we were to try and settle this out of hand on the Report stage, with no further stage on which to test the accuracy of our conclusions, we should give to ourselves airs which are not assumed by even greater legal luminaries than ourselves.
§ Mr. Janner
In the circumstances, as the right hon. Gentleman admits that there is a grave doubt about this matter, and as he must admit that it would be grossly unfair to the taxpayer to be called upon to pay a tax which he is not or might not be obliged to pay, is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to put this money into a suspense account pending a decision of the Royal Commission, or is he prepared to have a test case fought, for which the Government will pay, to enable the matter to be decided in the courts?
§ Mr. Butler
I agree that it is a serious matter. But the law was in this condition before it was consolidated, from after the first war. Therefore, I do not think the House of Commons need feel that there has been any great dereliction of duty. If there has been a dereliction of duty there has been the period of office of the last Government and of previous Governments since approximately 1920–24, in which this matter could have been dealt with.
§ Mr. Butler
The position about Lord Radcliffe is very satisfactory because we are very fortunate in having him as the Chairman of the Royal Commission.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Did he not make his statement very recently, on the Consolidation Committee, I think it was?
§ Mr. Butler
Yes, but that is all the more reason why in the acute consideration given to the Amendment to which the right hon. Gentleman has put his name I thought it would be grossly immodest of me, as there was doubt in this matter, to try to settle it out of hand when the Commission are giving it detailed consideration. Therefore, it is not only with a sense of modesty but also with a sense of common sense and of humanity that we decided to take this course.
I would appeal to the House now to come to a decision on this matter. It was raised at some length in the Committee stage on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," and we have now had a very useful discussion which, no doubt, will be brought to the attention, in the OFFICIAL REPORT, of those who are to give it further consideration. I would beseech hon. Members not to think that there is an easy solution to this matter. When I was looking into it I was informed that if we departed from the criterion of residence it would be extremely difficult not to give the allowance to those who might be classed in the general category of domestic servants. There are real difficulties in departing from the criterion of residence.
The hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), who often illuminates our debates, referred to the human question of the difficulty of somebody coming to live in somebody else's house. I fully appreciate that. I realise the housing shortage in the country, the shortage of rooms, and so forth, but to decide this matter as a matter of law out of hand, when many of the legal luminaries in the country 1392 regard it as one of the most complicated in the Income Tax law, would be both unreasonable and unwise.
Therefore, I beseech the House not to try and come to an early decision on a matter which has lasted 20 or 30 years in our statute law, and which is now regarded as one of some doubt. I consider that the Royal Commission can give us very valuable advice upon it.
§ 1.0 a.m.
§ Mr. Jay
It seems to me that the Chancellor has left us in even worse confusion. Let me briefly make a suggestion to him which may help the Government in their difficulty. We are now informed, not merely by my hon. Friend but by the Parliamentary Secretary who so oddly speaks for the Treasury in these matters, and by the Chancellor himself, that there is a doubt about the interpretation of the existing law on this matter. Now, as I understand it, the Royal Commission on Taxation is not mainly considering points of interpretation of the existing law: it is considering points of general taxation policy, which is a totally different matter.
While that Royal Commission sits it is necessary for the Inland Revenue to go on administering the law, and in the course of administering the law, obviously it must follow one interpretation or another. The extraordinary position we have now reached is that though the representatives of the Treasury tonight tell us that there is considerable doubt—which, apparently, they have no intention of trying to resolve in the immediate future—about the interpretation of the law, they are, nevertheless, permitting and sanctioning the Inland Revenue to pursue and implement their own particular interpretation, which makes the confusion even worse.
We are in the situation that, so far from the Treasury Solicitors consulting the Law Officers of the Crown as to whether the interpretation the Inland Revenue is adopting is in fact in accordance with the existing law, we now learn, only by asking the Solicitor-General what is his interpretation of the law, that he has given no thought to the situation whatever. That is what seems to us an extraordinary situation.
Therefore, would it not help the Government if I were to make this sug- 1393 gestion? Is it not the duty of the Ministers responsible to confer together with the legal advisers of the Crown to reach a collective view, within the Government, as to what the present law is on this matter? Could they not do that—not, I agree, in the next five minutes before we come to a decision on this Amendment, but in the immediate future—and give us this assurance tonight, that, having consulted together on this matter—which, we learn, they have not hitherto done—they will, in the first place, inform the House what their considered view is, and, in the second place, ensure that the Inland Revenue follows that view in this matter?
§ Mr. H. Hynd
I am a little puzzled by the way the Government approach this matter. They seem to be concentrating on trying to interpret the law as it was passed by previous Parliaments. Surely that is not what we are here for tonight? What we are here for is to frame the 1952 Finance Bill, which will be the law from now on—not to try to interpret what past laws may have been. If that is the position, then it seems to me to knock the bottom out of much of the argument we have been listening to for the last hour or so.
The other point that is puzzling me is this insistence on how the courts will interpret what the Act says. With great respect to the courts of this country I would say that the courts are not the ruling body. The High Court of Parliament is the ruling body, and it is the High Court of Parliament which makes the laws, not the law courts of this country; so we should not, in my submission, be so much concerned about the interpretation the courts will place on past Acts of Parliament.
Our job tonight is to lay down in this present Finance Bill the desire of Parliament and how we think Income Tax ought to be collected. It seems to me that the clear desire of the House is along the lines laid down in the Amendment.
§ In these circumstances I think it is quite wrong for us to concentrate so much on what past Acts have laid down. We ought to be concentrating our minds on having the best form of words to carry out in this Measure the present desires of Parliament.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
This debate has taken a very unfortunate turn, because what I understand is now suggested by the Government is that this House should abrogate its position as a Legislature and hand over to an"overlord"—and this time he is Lord Radcliffe. He is to say what shall be the Income Tax law.
Those of us who practice in the courts have, at times, to tolerate from learned judges criticism of the framing of Acts of Parliament; and those who have had to face this criticism have made our apologies and explanations. Acts framed after alteration in Committee, and then on Report, or after re-committal, may finish with something in not quite so clear a form as is desirable.
Here we are asked by the Government to leave the law in a most obscure position, although the Government ought to have the courage to make it clear, either by accepting the Amendment or saying that the condition of residence applies in one case or does not apply. We, as a legislative body, are completely abrogating our position when we ought to make that position quite clear and not leave it to Her Majesty's learned judges to say," Oh, this is a quite obscure law. Lord Radcliffe says one thing, and the learned Solicitor-General supports him; but Members of the Government say another thing, and it is not known what is meant." Will not the Government give a clear decision?
§ Question put," That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 194; Noes, 204.1397
|Division No. 174.]||AYES||[1.07 a.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Baird, J.||Blackburn, F.|
|Adams, Richard||Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Blenkinsop, A.|
|Albu, A. H.||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Blyton, W. R.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bence, C. R.||Boardman, H.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Benn, Wedgwood||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Benson, G.||Bowden, H. W.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Beswick, F.||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bing, G. H. C.||Brockway, A. F.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Popplewell, E.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Herbison, Miss M.||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Brawn, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hobson, C. R.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Holt, A. F.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Houghton, Douglas||Rankin, John|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hoy, J. H.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Rhodes, H.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Clunie, J.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Collick, P. H.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Janner, B.||Ross, William|
|Crossman, R. H S.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)|
|Dairies, P.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon E.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Short, E. W.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Slater, J.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Snow, J. W.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Keenan, W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Deer, G.||King, Dr. H. M.||Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Lewis, Arthur||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Lindgren, G. S.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacColl, J. E.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||MoGovern, J.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||McInnes, J.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||McLeavy, F.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Ewart, R.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Field, W. J.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Watkins, T. E.|
|Finch, H. J.||Manuel, A. C.||Weitzman, D.|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Foot, M. M.||Mayhew, C. P.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Forman, J C.||Mellish, R. J.||West, D. G.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mitchison, G. R||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Moody, A. S.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Morley, R.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mort, D. L.||Wigg, George|
|Gibson, C. W.||Moyle, A.||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)|
|Glanville, James||Mulley, F. W.||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)|
|Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Murray, J. D.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Nally, W.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Grey, C. F.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Orbach, M.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Oswald, T.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Grimond, J.||Padley, W. E.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||Pannell, Charles||Yates, V. F.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Pargiter, G. A.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Hannan, W.||Paton, J|
|Hargreaves, A.||Pearson, A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hayman, F. H.||Peart, T. F.||Mr. Royle and Mr. Wilkins.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Boyle, Sir Edward||Crouch, R. F.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Braine, B. R.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Ashton, H (Chelmsford)||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Deedes, W. F.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Brooman-White, R. C.||Digby, S. Wingfield|
|Astor, Hon. J. J (Plymouth, Sutton)||Browne, Jack (Govan)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.|
|Baldwin, A E.||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Banks, Col C.||Bullard, D. G.||Drayson, G. B.|
|Barber, Anthony||Burden, F. F. A.||Drewe, G.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Butcher, H. W.||Duncan, J. A. L.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Eden, Rt. Hon. A|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Carson, Hon. E.||Fell, A.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cary, Sir Robert||Fisher, Nigel|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Channon, H.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Cole, Norman||Foster, John|
|Birch, Nigel||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Gage, C. H|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Garner-Evans, E H.|
|Black, C. W.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Godber, J. B.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Cranborne, Viscount||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Gough, C. F. H|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||McKibbin, A. J.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Hare, Hon J. H.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Shepherd, William|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Hay, John||Markham, Major S. F.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Heald, Sir Lionel||Marples, A. E.||Speir, R. M.|
|Heath, Edward||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Maudling, R.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Storey, S.|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Holland-Martin, C. J||Mellor, Sir John||Studholme, H. G.|
|Hollis, M. C.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Summers, G. S.|
|Hope, Lord John||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Nabarro, G. D. N||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nicholls, Harmar||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Horobin, I. M.||Nicholson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Oakshott, H. D.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Odey, G. W.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D||Tilney, John|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Osborne, C.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Partridge, E.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Vaughan-Morgan. J K|
|Kaberry, D.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pitman, I. J.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Powell, J. Enoch||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Waterhouse, Capt Rt. Hon. C.|
|Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Profumo, J. D.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Raikes, H. V.||Wellwood, W.|
|Linstead, H. N.||Rayner, Brig. R.||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Redmayne, M.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Remnant, Hon. P||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Robertson, Sir David||Wills, G.|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Roper, Sir Harold||Wood, Hon. R.|
|McAdden, S. J.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Russell, R. S.||Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith and|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Mr. Vosper.|