HC Deb 03 June 1954 vol 528 cc1441-2
30. Mr. Houghton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what instructions the Board of Inland Revenue have sent to local inspectors of taxes to guide and fortify them in the duties imposed upon them by Chapter II of Part VI of the Income Tax Act, 1952, which relates to expenses allowances to directors and others; and what steps Her Majesty's Inspectors are authorised to take in cases of refusal by taxpayers to answer questions, in view of the number of such cases since the publicity given to the recent apology by the Board of Inland Revenue to the Institute of Directors.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Instructions were issued in 1948 and have been supplemented from time to time as occasion required. There is, of course, nothing in the correspondence with the Institute of Directors which would justify a taxpayer in refusing to answer reasonable questions. As the hon. Member will be aware if information sufficient to support a claim for an Income Tax deduction is not forthcoming, the inspector can refuse to allow the claim. If the taxpayer is dissatisfied he can have his case heard by the appeal commissioners.

Mr. Houghton

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of the harmful effect upon the repute of the Inland Revenue of the exaggerated publicity which followed the apology he gave to the Institute of Directors? Is he further aware that, after the most careful inquiries, I can find no evidence that any such form, which was the subject of the apology, was ever issued to a taxpayer with a request that he should answer those questions? Will the right hon. Gentleman allow the closest examination to be made of the facts of this matter, because I believe that he has been grossly misled?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The latter part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary does not arise on the main Question. I will, of course, look into any points that he is good enough to raise, but I am bound to say that the questionnaire in question—if that is not alliterative—was, to the best of my knowledge issued. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's main point reflects anything but credit on the administration of a Department for being prepared to admit one is wrong on the very rare occasion, in the case of this Department, that it is.