HC Deb 21 October 1952 vol 505 cc837-8
10. Mr. Osborne

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of the national income went to the richest tenth and to the poorest half of the nation in 1936, 1949 and 1951, respectively, both before and after taxation.

Mr. R. A. Butler

As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

Pre-war figures are not available, except for 1938, and the most recent post-war figures relate to 1950. My reply is therefore confined to these years. The following are the best estimates I can give of the proportions asked for, expressed as percentages of the total of incomes received by individuals.

Richest tenth Poorest half
Before tax After tax Before tax After tax
per cent. per cent. per cent. per cent
1938 40 36 23 24.5
1950 34 28 21 24

In reading these figures, the following points should be noted:

  1. (a) Not all the national income can be allocated to individuals (e.g., the undistributed profit of companies) and the figures given refer only to incomes actually received by individuals which can be allocated into income ranges.
  2. (b) The "richest tenth" has been understood to mean the tenth who had the highest incomes among those who receive incomes, counting man and wife as one; the "poorest half" has been understood similarly.
  3. (c) It will be appreciated that the percentages "before tax" relate to the total of incomes before tax, while those "after tax" relate to the substantially smaller total of personal income after tax.