HC Deb 04 March 1953 vol 512 cc365-6
6. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what inquiry is taking place in the African Colonies into the system of direct taxation of Africans, especially into the possibility of replacing hut or poll tax by a more scientific method of taxation.

Mr. Lyttelton

No general inquiry is taking place. This matter is necessarily one for the individual Governments concerned, most of which have held inquiries of their own in recent years.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

In view of the growing requirements of social services in such territories as these, is it possible to find a better system than the flat-rate one so often employed?

Mr. Lyttelton

My hon. Friend will agree that a uniform system is impossible. Many territories have variations in the methods of collecting tax.

Mr. J. Johnson

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the unscientific poll tax often forces Africans to leave their villages and work in distant parts to get money to pay the tax? Will he consider the matter in that light?

Mr. Lyttelton

It is very difficult for me to give a satisfactory answer. Where the incomes of Africans differ widely, the poll tax acts unfairly on those who are earning more, but it is difficult to do more than try to vary the rate of tax in relation to economic conditions.