HC Deb 25 June 1956 vol 555 cc65-89

To subsection (1) of section two hundred and twelve of the Income Tax Act, 1952 (which relates to relief for children), shall be added the words— If the claimant proves that he has living at any time within the year of assessment any child who has not attained the age of twenty-one years at the commencement of that year and who is incapacitated by illness, infirmity or disablement from undergoing full-time instruction at any school or other educational establishment or from following any gainful occupation, he shall be entitled in respect of each such child to a deduction from the amount of income tax with which he is chargeable equal to tax at the standard rate on one hundred and fifty pounds".—[Mr. Cronin.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. John Cronin (Loughborough)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The purpose of this new Clause is quite simple. It is to raise for Income Tax purposes the child allowance from £100 to £150. It is not quite so clear who are to be the beneficiaries under the Clause or what type of people they are. The Clause says that they are children who are incapacitated by illness, infirmity or disablement from undergoing full-time instruction at any school or other educational establishment, or from following any gainful occupation … I do not wish to make any emotional appeal to the Committee, or to harrow its feelings, but I think it is possible that some hon. Members have not a clear idea what sort of people these children are, because, by the very nature of their incapacity, they are very largely hidden from public gaze.

Incapacitated children include spastics, who are a type of persons with which the Committee is familiar and of whom there are about 10,000 in the country at any given time. They also include the mentally deficient, ranging from the milder form of mental deficiency—the type who are ineducable—to the helpless idiot who is incapable of guarding himself against the common dangers of life such as falling on a fire or falling out of a window. They also include epileptics unamenable to treatment, blind children, deaf and dumb children, children born with congenital mutilations and children mutilated by accidents.

I am sure the Committee will agree that children of this type are eminently eligible candidates for some help. The beneficiaries, of course, would be the children and not the parents. I think that all hon. Members who have had experience of cases of this type will agree that the parents of such children are usually of the very best type and do everything possible for their incapacitated children.

There are two main premises of my argument. The first is that these children inflict on their parents very heavy costs. They are much heavier on clothes than ordinary children and, therefore, involve extra expense in that way, and they necessitate a much heavier laundry bill. Many of them have to have special medicines which, to some extent, have to be paid for, and very often constant attendance, which is an expensive item.

In the majority of cases, incapacitated children cannot use public transport for normal purposes or for going away on holiday. These children, quite unwittingly, often do a lot of damage, which involves expense, in the homes of their parents or elsewhere. They also have to have some sort of rudimentary education which, again, frequently costs money. There are other financial losses which the parents of such children have to suffer.

As I have said, they require constant supervision. That means that if the parents cannot afford to employ a permanent nurse, one of the parents has to stay at home so as to be with the child continuously. In these days, when it is very common for both parents to work, the Committee will appreciate, I think, that that imposes a very severe economic burden on the family, particularly when there are other members of the family who have to be supported.

Another important economic burden is that when the child reaches the normal school-leaving age it cannot earn anything and thus contribute to its support in any way. Therefore, all in all, the parents suffer a very heavy economic burden.

The second premise of my argument is that the economic burden being carried by the parents is one which is really the obligation of the State itself. Normally, these children would be admitted to hospitals or to similar institutions which are, of course, entirely chargeable to the State. If they were admitted to a mental or ordinary hospital the cost to the State would be about £12 a week per child. Instead, that burden is being borne by the parents. I am not suggesting, of course, that it costs the parents £12 a week to maintain a child of this sort, but the fact remains that they are suffering a very heavy financial burden which, under modern conditions, is normally recognised as one to be borne by the country as a whole.

In these circumstances, it seems to my hon. Friends and me to be a matter of elementary justice that parents who are paying out heavily for what is really a public expense should receive some sort of indemnity. I feel that that is one of the most important aspects of the arguments in favour of the Clause. The situation at present is a source of some very severe anomalies.

In paragraph 193 of its second Report, the Royal Commission on the Taxation of Profits and Income refers to only one of the anomalies and makes a recommendation. It points out that a child allowance of £100 is allowable to parents of incapacitated children, as in the case of other children, until the year of assessment after the age of 16 has been attained. Thereafter, until the age of 21, or indefinitely, the only allowance available is the £60 dependent relative allowance. That means that at the completely arbitrary age of 16 the parent of an incapacitated child finds that the allowance he receives suddenly drops from £100 to £60 simply because the law is so framed.

That is merely one facet of this situation. My right hon. and hon. Friends put down a new Clause, which has not been discussed, on that subject. A clear-cut recommendation of the Royal Commission based on this obvious injustice was that to a substantial extent the purpose of this Clause should be put into effect.

There is another anomaly which seems rather unjust. If the child is just able to go to a special school after the age of 16, the parent continues to receive an allowance of £100 instead of £60, but if the child is so incapacitated and such a burden that it cannot even be catered for at a special school, then the allowance is simply the dependent relative allowance of £50. Therefore, we have the quite absurd situation where parents who are relieved of the responsibility of such children receive a much bigger allowance than the parents who are not so relieved and who have to maintain the children completely.

These are two very obvious, and, to my mind, quite absurd anomalies for which, I am sure, the Financial Secretary will feel a very strong case can be made for having them put right. This Clause is based, primarily, on putting right an elementary injustice, and, secondly, on indemnifying people who are bearing an expense which is really the obligation of the State.

I have no doubt that the Financial Secretary has certain objections to the Clause and I shall attempt a minor exercise in mind reading in order to anticipate them. He may well point out that the benefit of the Clause would apply only to Income Tax payers and, therefore, would not apply to a substantial class of person who do not pay Income Tax. I do not think that that can be put forward as a serious argument, otherwise there would be no case for any Income Tax reliefs whatever. Secondly, I do not think it can be suggested that we should not attempt to do good on the basis that we cannot do good for every possible person.

There are other objections which the right hon. Gentleman could use. One is that sometimes other relations support an incapacitated child and they would not be covered by the terms of the Clause. Another is that there is an anomaly, perhaps, between an incapacitated child, for whom there would be tax relief on £150 under the Clause, and other dependent relatives, for whom the allowance is on only £60. That is a minor matter because it affects only a few compared with the great bulk who would be benefited by the Clause, and it could be rectified by a simple matter of drafting which one would be content to leave to the Financial Secretary and his very able helpers in the Treasury.

Another objection might be that there was no help after the age of 21. After that age, however, a parent can take steps to alienate a part of his income so that it becomes part of the child's income and, therefore, is not subject to tax or is subject to tax at a much lower rate. This arrangement does not apply before the age of 21. The problem after the age of 21, therefore, is completely different.

The Financial Secretary may also point out that the Clause would cost a good deal to implement and that it is now an unpropitious time to saddle the national finances with extra expense. I should like, however, to refer the right hon. Gentleman to the debate on 29th June, 1954, when my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) made a similar plea, although on that occasion the Committee was discussing a proposal to raise the allowance from £85 to £100. At that time, the then Economic Secretary, now Minister of Supply, said: The cost of the disabled child concession would be very small. I could not give an accurrate figure but it would be negligible. … I am told that the figure might be £1 million or £1½ million a year …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th June, 1954; Vol. 529, c. 1142.] The concession required then, of course, was rather smaller than this one—in fact, it involved only about one-third of the amount.

Dr. King

I think that the £1½ million that the former Economic Secretary mentioned included the allowance for apprentices, which we were debating at the same time. The sum involved, therefore, is even less than £1 million.

Mr. Cronin

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for his help. That shows that the amount involved is even smaller than I anticipated. Even if it were not, a sum which was negligible in 1954 has now merely to be multiplied by three, and three times negligible is something very small.

Dr. King

Hear, hear.

Mr. Cronin

If the Financial Secretary can see his way to implement the Clause, preferably in full or even, possibly, in part, to give some relief to the unfortunate people concerned, it would not only be a source of great satisfaction to the Committee but would certainly raise the status of the Chancellor, of the Financial Secretary and of their party. It would have no inflationary effect worth talking about and one feels quite certain that our steady ascent up our present glacier to the plateau of stability would not be impeded even to a minimum extent.

The Government's acceptance of the Clause would certainly have a strong psychological effect. It would indicate to the country as a whole that, although the Government are prepared to take drastic steps to deal with our inflationary difficulties, they are prepared to make exceptions for those who most require preferential treatment. I hope, therefore, that the Financial Secretary will give the Clause very careful consideration, and will help a class of person whose case is justifiable beyond all doubt.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)

I think that everybody in the Committee has the greatest sympathy with the purpose behind the new Clause, but that many of us would doubt whether it was the right way of giving this relief to this class of people whom we all want to help.

The hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin) referred to the small amount of money involved in this concession. It seems to me that if the sum is so small, its practical value to the people we want to help would equally be negligible, and on that ground alone I think that the Clause must fall.

Mr. Cronin

Is the hon. Member seriously suggesting that because the amount involved to the Exchequer is negligible, it must therefore be negligible to the persons it would benefit?

Mr. Cooper

I hope to show in a moment that that is so.

In my constituency, I take a considerable interest in the local spastics organisation. Practically all the members—the mothers and fathers—are what I would call members of the wage-earning class, almost 100 per cent. so. I would say also that by reason of the concessions which have been granted over the past few years, the great majority of the members are people who pay little or no Income Tax, and yet these are the people who are hardest hit when their family is inflicted with a spastic child.

Although we all want to help them considerably, what would happen if the Clause was passed would be that the family with the highest income and which had a spastic child would get relief—and quite a bit of relief—whereas the family with the smallest income, which paid no tax whatever but still had the burden of a spastic child, would get no financial help whatever from the Exchequer. It seems to me that that torpedoes the whole of the arguments in favour of the Clause.

What we must do is to recognise that this is a very special class of people whom we have to help, and we have to help them in some form in a direct way so that each receives direct financial benefit in consequence of this dreadful disability.

Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)

I find it difficult to follow the logic of the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper), unless he is arguing that there should be no allowances whatever for Income Tax purposes. If the hon. Member seriously argues that, his argument would logically follow; but unless he suggests that there should be no allowances for special circumstances of various groups of taxpayer, I do not follow why he says that this concession is one which we ought not to support. Naturally, it does not preclude us from supporting other more positive measures which would help people who are in this unfortunate position with some special form of allowance for incapacity or something of that nature; but that is not what we are discussing today.

What we are discussing this afternoon is simply a particular concession within the realms of Income Tax. As the hon. Member himself admitted, it would be of some assistance to those who would be affected, and it seems to me that this is a reasonable suggestion, particularly because of the anomalies which now arise. As long as these various allowances exist we should try to see that there is a measure of justice in their operation. As my hon. Friend properly pointed out, it does seem anomalous that a parent of a child who is able to go to school and continue education can claim the full child allowance, but that a parent of an incapacitated child can claim the allowance only if the child is able to go to some special establishment—and that depends, not only on the condition of the child, but on the locality in which the child lives.

In my constituency I have a number of cases of this kind. Not all of them, admittedly, would be covered by the new Clause, because the parents are not paying Income Tax, but there are some who would be covered. It depends, however, on whether the facilities are available. The arrangements for dealing with children vary throughout the country, and they are especially difficult in the rural areas, because of the distances between spastic centres and people's homes. As it happens, I have today had a letter from the Medical Officer of Flintshire, pointing out the cost of taking a spastic child to the nearest urban centre where daily training and education is available.

It seems extremely unfair that the sum of the concession should drop from £100 to £60 for the parent of a child who, through no fault of his own, cannot go to a place of full-time education, and who might even be able to benefit by the education, could he do so, and that the reduction should be at the age of 16, just at the time when the expenditure on that child, as on any other child, is apt to increase. We ought particularly to support the new Clause because there are these anomalies between one group and another.

Dr. King

I would agree with the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper) that this is a minor proposal, and that those of us who share his interest in spastic children look forward to the day when there will be great reforms and much greater assistance given by the State to parents who have incapacitated children. However, that is no reason why we should not, by this Bill, in the meantime give them some help.

I am sure that the hon. Member will agree that mental backwardness and spasticity and epilepsy are not confined to the working classes or to people with low incomes, and if we have a chance by a Finance Bill to help, however slightly, one little group we should take that chance, and I should have thought, knowing his keen interest in the problems of spasticity, that he would have been supporting us now.

This new Clause is the least costly and about the most worthy minor improvement we could make to the Bill. Under Section 212 (1) of the Income Tax Act, 1952, parents whose children after the age of 16 receive further education in a grammar school or university get relief at the standard rate on £100, and everyone in the Committee would agree that it is right that that should be so. Further education means a heavy burden on the parents whose children are receiving it. Let us consider how extensive that concession is. Not only do the parents get the tax concession on £100 but a child concerned is allowed to have an income of £85 a year, in his own right, which is exempt from tax.

However, spastics and epileptic children at the age of 16 are classed as dependants. Some of the children we are speaking of in this debate never get up from their beds, and some of them can never stand, and obviously do not go on with their schooling, and the worst of them have never been to school at all. This group of children at the age of 16 are classed as dependants, and in their case there is dependant's relief of £60, compared with the relief of £100 given to the parents of the brilliant child.

The relief we give to the parents of incapacitated children ought to be the same as that which we give to the parents of the children going to the university. They do not start earning money at that age. They continue their full-time education at home, where it has always been, under the devoted ministration of father and mother.

The parents of incapacitated children seem to get the worst of both worlds. The dependant's allowance itself is a smaller one than is the child allowance up to the age of 16, £60 compared with £100, because the assumption is that the dependant may not be entirely dependent. Indeed, the law permits a dependant to earn or have an income of some £85 a year, but by no stretch of the imagination can the incapacitated child be thought to be able to contribute to his own independence anything like £85 a year.

Such a child is helpless and a complete liability to his parents, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) has said, at the time when he becomes more of a financial burden, at about the age of 16, far from the concession being increased, it drops to £60. Indeed, up to last Friday the whole allowance disappeared at the school-leaving age. As I said on Friday, I hope that an improvement will today be made in this Bill in keeping with that which was effected last Friday in the family allowances.

These helpless children, from the age of 16 to 21, are at their most burdensome to their parents, physically, mentally, and economically. If a child is not too helpless, he goes to a special school. Here is the paradox, that if a child is not sufficiently mentally backward to be kept at home but can go to a special school the Income Tax concession which is given to the brilliant child is given to that child, too, because he is getting full-time instruction. The education of the worst spastics must take place at home.

Some of our backward children are incapacitated children who by no stretch of the imagination could be thought likely to succeed in going to a special school, no matter how many special schools there might be. Many children do not go to special schools, not because they are not suitable for special schools, not because their parents do not want to send them, but because the accommodation of such special schools is insufficient. Therefore, they are being penalised at the moment for the failure of the State to provide enough special schools for various forms of incapacity.

5.30 p.m.

Moreover, as I pointed out in a debate some years ago, some mothers will not let their children go to a special school. I admire these mothers of England who spend 24 hours a day looking after some helpless child, helpless even to manhood, with father and mother continuing these devoted services as long as the child is alive. I think sometimes that they are carrying a burden which is too great for them.

Some mothers might be persuaded, as I have succeeded in doing occasionally, to take the plunge and let the child go to a special school. If there is such a special school available, it is best for the child to go there, but if the incapacitated child stays at home, then, on top of the burden voluntarily assumed by the loving affection of this type of parent, we ought not to retain an extra financial burden. National Assistance looks after the children of poor parents to some extent, but we cannot concern ourselves about that matter in connection with this debate. What we are seeking to do by means of the Clause, either in its present form or in some similar words, is to help that group of parents of incapacitated children who pay Income Tax.

When we discussed this matter on 29th June, 1954, the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury said: When we come to consider … the recommendations of the Royal Commission here,"— that is the recommendation relating to these cases— quite clearly is one with a strong claim on our sympathies. He then went on to mention some of the anomalies which my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin) mentioned in his able speech; but having discussed them he added: I am not putting forward these arguments as reasons for rejecting the hon. Member's main principle."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th June, 1954; Vol. 529, c. 1141–2.] He pointed out that the cost was negligible.

Indeed, as I interrupted my hon. Friend to point out, the £1 million to £1½ million mentioned there was not the cost of this proposed new Clause but of this proposal plus a much more expensive new Clause relating to apprenticeship. The cost is really negligible and the Chancellor could please every hon. Members, even, on second thoughts, the hon. Member for Ilford, South, if he made this concession today.

The new Clause, in spirit if not in words, echoes what the Royal Commission on the Taxation of Profits and Income said in its Second Report: … we recommend that a person who is receiving a child allowance in respect of an incapacitated child when it attains 16 should be entitled to the same figure of allowance for the intervening years until it attains 21.… I beg the Minister at least to go as far as that if he will not go as far as accepting the whole implications of the new Clause.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry Brooke)

The boys and girls to whom the new Clause refers engage the sympathies of all of us. Many of us know homes which are darkened by one of these tragedies and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin) for the very reasonable way in which he moved the Second Reading of the new Clause. I think that he recognised that this is yet another aspect of a problem which has been debated on many previous Finance Bills under different Governments—the question whether we can use the system of tax relief to assist the disabled or incapacitated.

I am sure that the hon. Member recognised, though I am not quite certain whether all hon. Members who spoke did so, that the proposal in the Clause is quite distinct from the recommendation in the Royal Commission's Report. The Clause would bring into existence what we have never had before, as far as I am aware, in our Income Tax law, that is a separate rate of child allowance for certain children.

Hitherto, the child allowance has always been a flat rate for each child, whatever the circumstances. It has been a flat rate regardless of the differing expenditure on their children by different parents, regardless of the differing expenditure by parents on different children in the same family, and indeed, regardless of differing expenditure on the same child at different ages. Many of us who have children know that the cost falling upon the parents does not remain the same throughout the children's boyhood or girlhood.

The proposed new Clause would give a rate of child allowance for totally incapacitated children 50 per cent. higher than the normal rate. The moment we say that we have to examine further all the border line cases or unfairness of application which we might get into if a scheme like this were adopted. I think that it has been recognised in Committee on previous Finance Bills, when we have been discussing this disablement question, that it is not just a matter of fulfilling the natural sympathies of all of us. What we have to do in the whole of our tax law is to avoid creating fresh anomalies or unfairness.

The scope of the proposal is clearly defined in the Clause. It would have the effect of giving substantial relief in a certain number of cases while denying any relief at all in a number of other cases where it might well be argued that there was just as great need. Whereas the Clause would give tax relief on £150 for a child who is entirely incapacitated by illness, infirmity or disablement, there are many parents who put themselves to very considerable expense in trying to save their children from going down to this class of total incapacity, and yet those people, though undergoing that substantial expenditure wholly for the benefit of their child, would gain nothing from the Clause and would feel discriminated against.

Moreover, we have to bear in mind other families who have been mentioned by more than one hon. Member. There is the type of child who is mentally retarded but not ineducable. The point was made that there might not be a special school in the neighbourhood to which the child could be sent, but we all know that there are parents who put themselves to considerable expense to send such a child to some school, at which they have to pay fees for the child to be looked after and educated as far as education is possible. In that case of additional expenditure, so falling upon the parent, the proposed new Clause would do nothing.

We would also have to concentrate on the arrangements which would have to be made for medical assessment, because one of the features of our tax law is that we must be precise and we must know who is to be entitled to the relief and who is not. I would not suggest that the problem of medical assessment would be as difficult or as complicated in this case as in the case of the new Clause which we debated last week. Nevertheless, it would not be wholly easy and, in particular, one has to bear in mind that the Clause would give the total relief in only a case of what one might call 100 per cent, incapacity.

There are many children who are handicapped. They are not able to live fully normal lives, they have not full earning capacity, and they may be able to do very little, but no one would claim that their incapacity amounted to 100 per cent. It would seem strange if nothing at all were done for them, whereas full tax relief were granted for the children in whose case there is 100 per cent. incapacity.

Dr. King

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. First he has spoken about the parents who, at great sacrifice, send their child to a special school and continue its education until the age of 16. That is recognised by the law at the present moment, and such a parent would get £100 Income Tax concession. The Minister was suggesting that what we are proposing to do is to give £150 tax concession to the parents with the badly disabled child at home but nothing for the other one, when they are getting £100 already.

Mr. Brooke

If I said nothing, it was a slip of the tongue. I meant nothing extra by this proposed Clause, which would give £150 in the case of the child who stayed at home, whereas if a child were sent away to school the existing tax relief of £100 would be granted.

The hon. Member for Loughborough begged me not to rely on the argument that the increased allowance would do little or nothing for parents who pay little or no tax. It is only right, however, that this aspect of the matter should be mentioned, especially as it was he himself who said that the beneficiaries of his proposed Clause are the children themselves and not the parents. He himself recognised that the beneficiaries of the Clause would be only one section of the children for whom he was speaking, and those children whose parents were not within the Income Tax range would gain nothing thereby. Reference has been made to the apparent arbitrariness of the age of 16, and I grant at once that the Royal Commission made a definite recommendation. However, the age of 16 is not quite as arbitrary as is commonly supposed, and I am not wholly sure that the Royal Commission had the full picture in mind when it made the recommendation.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) said that National Assistance was available in the case of the children of poor parents, and he implied that this was not available otherwise. I am advised that this is not the case. I am advised that the National Assistance Board will accept an application at or over the age of 16, from or on behalf of a wholly incapacitated child with no capital or income of its own for an assistance grant in its own right regardless of the resources of its parents.

I do not want to urge that any parents should apply for National Assistance who feel strongly that it would be wrong for them to do so. Nevertheless I hope that both sides of the Committee accept that there is nothing degrading about applying for National Assistance, and it is fair for me to point out from this box that parents with incapacitated children over the age of 16 have the right to apply to the National Assistance Board if they think fit to do so.

5.45 p.m.

What I have just said reinforces the fact that if there is real need direct provision of that kind, or through the other social services, will give help with much greater precision than any tax relief can do. In the earlier part of my speech I have sought to indicate that neither this proposed Clause, nor any Clause drafted on similar lines, can give tax relief in all the cases where a legitimate and substantial claim can be made for it. As I said on a previous Clause, to help the disabled by tax relief is bound to be a hit or miss method. Therefore, though I have the greatest sympathy for the families on whose behalf this plea has been made, I must advise the Committee that to grant a tax relief of the kind proposed would not be the best way of helping them.

Mr. Jay

The reply of the Financial Secretary is disappointing. After all, a very small sum of money is involved here. On the previous new Clause the Chancellor could argue with some force that what we were asking for, though desirable, would have cost £32 million, which would have made a large hole in his Budget. The amount concerned here, however, is inconsiderable, and in spite of what the Financial Secretary said, there is an indefensible anomaly in the present law. It is a double anomaly, and nothing the hon. Gentleman said has disproved this.

In the first case, for the individual child there is an allowance of £100 up to the age of 16, and it falls to £60 after that age. One can have one child over the age of 16 for whom there is an allowance of £100 and another child, because he is incapacitated and cannot go to school, for whom there is an allowance of £60. Indeed, there could be twins, one of whom suffered from these disabilities. The same allowance would be made for both up to the age of 16, but from that age onwards the allowance for the incapacitated twin would be only £60 and for the other it would still be £100. That is indefensible.

I am not persuaded that any satisfactory answer has been given, either by the Financial Secretary or by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Cooper). The latter said that because the amount involved was small, it could not be of much use to the children or parents concerned. That is an absurd argument, because if the number of people we are dealing with is comparatively small, it can mean a lot to them and not a great deal to the Exchequer.

The hon. Member for Ilford, South and the Financial Secretary then argued that the proper way to deal with this matter was not through tax relief but through the social services. That is rather a strange argument coming from hon. Gentlemen opposite, namely, that the proper way to give relief to Income Tax payers is through National Assistance rather than through relief of Income Tax. Of course we on this side of the Committee are not arguing that this is the only action which ought to be taken. We feel strongly that help should be given through the social services to those below the Income Tax level. But if those are the views of the hon. Member for Ilford, South, I hope that he will not vote in favour of cuts in the National Health Service in a few weeks' time.

It seems to me that the right solution is to move forward on both fronts. As my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin) said, we cannot accept the doctrine that we should never make any increase in an Income Tax allowance because there are some people who will not get it, or that we should never correct any anomalies within the Income Tax itself. The Royal Commission accepted that argument and applied it to the proposals now before us.

I agree with the Financial Secretary that it might not be the ideal solution to have a higher child allowance for these people than the ordinary child allowance, but the hon. Gentleman will recall that when we put this proposed Clause down we were seeking to raise the existing child allowance above £100. I should be satisfied if the hon. Gentleman would agree to accept the proposal that the allowance for the incapacitated child above the age of 16 should be equal to the present child allowance. If the right hon. Gentleman is unwilling even to do that, I hope that my hon. Friends will not withdraw the Motion.

Mr. Percy Collick (Birkenhead)

I have listened with profound disappointment to the Financial Secretary. His argument was particularly weak. I suspect that it is not easy to stand at the Dispatch Box and reject a Clause which, on its merits, the Committee ought to accept. The Clause proposes that a concession of tax on £150 shall be given to a person maintaining a totally disabled child. I should have thought that an eminently reasonable suggestion. The Financial Secretary probably thinks so, too. However, the Treasury has decided to oppose the Clause.

The right hon. Gentleman's argument seemed to be that the Committee should not accept the Clause because, if it did, there would be children 80 per cent. disabled who would not get the benefit of it. If the Committee cannot persuade the Government to give a concession for 100 per cent. disablement, what hope has it of getting the Government to give a concession for 80 per cent. disablement? Surely an adjustment could easily be made for 80 per cent. disablement in order to meet the case that we have in mind.

One of my constituents is nursing a daughter who is dying of tuberculosis. This poor woman also suffers the handicap of having in the house an imbecile child of seventeen who, because of the shortage of accommodation for mentally defective children, cannot be housed by the public authority. I am sure that the whole Committee will have sympathy with the woman handling that situation. Why cannot the father have the benefit of the £150 concession to meet the burden?

It is significant that every Amendment or new Clause moved by the Opposition to help disabled people has been rejected by the Government. I am not at all sure it is not time that our disabled people formed a pressure group as strong as some of the pressure groups which operate on the Treasury. A number of our new Clauses and Amendments have been completely justifiable on their own merit, and they have also had behind them recommendations by the Royal Commission. We have had no argument from the right hon. Gentleman except that the concession cannot be given for the 100 per cent. disabled because there are children who are 80 per cent. disabled who would not benefit from it.

Mr. H. Brooke

The Royal Commission said nothing at all on those lines. It never suggested a child allowance higher than the normal one.

Mr. Collick

My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) quoted from the Royal Commission's Report on this point.

Dr. King

The Committee should not become confused about this point. The Minister is right when he says that the Royal Commission did not recommend what is contained in our new Clause. Our Clause proposes a tax allowance on £150 for a child. However, the passage which I read from the Royal Commission's Report justifies the Minister giving way to the plea of my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) that he should at least give the incapacitated child the £100 allowance which is given to the other children.

Mr. Collick

If my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen is right, the difference is as between £100 and £150, I am sorry if I was £50 wrong. I am certain the Committee would welcome a concession of £100 even if we cannot have £150. If the Financial Secretary can say that the Government will concede an allowance of £100, which is in harmony with the Royal Commission's Report, well and good. I am sure that my hon. Friends would be very ready to accept it. I urge the Government to do something to meet our case. Throughout the Finance Bill we have had nothing but negative replies from the Treasury Bench. In this case we ought to have had an affirmative reply.

Mr. John Hall

I have listened to the arguments from the Opposition with a great deal of sympathy. My wife and I have been for some time closely associated with organisations dealing with spastic children, backward children and those suffering from infantile paralysis. I have come into close contact with a number of real family tragedies. I should have thought that there was a good case, if not for accepting the new Clause, then for going as far as conceding an allowance of £100.

I realise that the Financial Secretary has a good deal on his side in some of the arguments which he has deployed against accepting the proposal. However, I hope that he and his right hon. Friend will look at the matter again and consider whether the £100 allowance can be extended to cover these cases. It would represent very much needed assistance and well deserved relief for some hard hit families. There are fairly few of these cases, and that is an argument in favour of giving way on the point. I hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider it before Report.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

I had not intended to intervene in this debate, but surely the right hon. Gentleman will not leave unanswered the moving plea by his hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) in support of what has been said by my hon. and right hon. Friends. In view of the very small amount of revenue involved—it is negligible—cannot the right hon. Gentleman tell us that he will bring the matter to the attention of his right hon. Friend, reconsider it with as much sympathy as the Treasury is capable of showing towards a case of this kind, and perhaps bring forward new proposals on Report? Cannot he at least give us that hope?

Mr. H. Brooke

I hope the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) will not charge the Treasury with lack of sympathy. He must know perfectly well that neither Treasury Ministers nor Treasury officials have any lack of sympathy. What we have to do is to administer, with as much justice as possible, the tax law laid down by Parliament.

I will certainly bring to the notice of my right hon. Friend what has been said. I cannot hold out any hope that there will be changes in this year's Finance Bill on the lines suggested, but we will examine the matter further. The right hon. Gentleman will grant that what I have had to do is to address myself to the Clause before the Committee and not to some other Clause which might have been tabled. For the reasons which I have explained, I must advise the Committee not to accept the Clause.

Mr. H. Wilson

I must point out to the right hon. Gentleman that we are talking about Treasury Ministers and not Treasury officials. I am sure Treasury officials would show as much sympathy as possible if Ministers would let them. In the Committee, Treasury Ministers alone are responsible, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would be the first to agree.

6.0 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman made no attempt to defend the Government's hardhearted attitude in terms of the Revenue. It is, as he said, a question of tax law, which has to be just and fair all round, which is in his mind. As my hon. Friends have made clear, the Report of the Royal Commission dealt with this matter and the Commission spent a great deal of time going into it. I agree that the new Clause does not follow word for word the recommendations of the Commission. If the right hon. Gentleman had said that that was his only objection to the new Clause and that he was prepared to accept the Royal Commission's recommendation

and would ask his right hon. Friend on Report to bring forward something to that effect, we should have been satisfied.

We get some crumb of satisfaction in that he will bring to his right hon. Friend's attention what has been said. That does not take us much further forward. Surely everything which is said in the debates on the Finance Bill in the interstices when the Chancellor cannot be with us is brought to his attention. We must assume that the Chancellor reads in HANSARD everything which is said when he is not present. If we cannot make that assumption, we must press for the Chancellor to be here all the time. It is not much of a concession if the right hon. Gentleman says that he will underline words in HANSARD when the Chancellor reads them. If that is the only concession, we must divide the Committee in order to make it clear that we hope that the Government will make this concession in the autumn Budget, or in the next Budget whenever it may be.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 193, Noes 244.

Division No. 231.] AYES [6.1 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Cronin, J. D. Herbison, Miss M.
Albu, A. H. Grossman, R. H. S. Hewitson, Capt. M.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hobson, C. R.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) de Freitas, Geoffrey Holman, P.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Delargy, H. J. Holmes, Horace
Anderson, Frank Dodds, N. N. Holt, A. F.
Bacon, Miss Alice Donnelly, D. L. Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Hubbard, T. F.
Benson, G. Dye, S. Hughes Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Beswick, F. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Blackburn, F. Edelman, M. Hunter, A. E.
Blenkinsop, A. Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Irving, S. (Dartford)
Blyton, W. R. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Boardman, H. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Janner, B.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Jeger, George (Goole)
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Fienburgh, W. Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pnes, S.)
Bowles, F. G. Finch, H. J. Johnson, James (Rugby)
Boyd, T. C. Forman, J. C. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)
Brockway, A. F. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Jones, Elywyn (W. Ham, S.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Gibson, C. W. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Greenwood, Anthony Kenyon, C.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Grey, C. F. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) King, Dr. H. M.
Callaghan, L. J. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Lawson, G. M.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Griffiths, William (Exchange) Lewis, Arthur
Chapman, W. D. Grimond, J. Lindgren, G. S.
Chetwynd, G. R. Hale, Leslie Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Clunie, J. Hamilton, W. W. Logan, D. G.
Coldrick, W. Hannan, W. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) McGhee, H. G.
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Hastings, S. McInnes, J.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hayman, F. H. McKay, John (Wallsend)
Cove, W. G. Healey, Denis McLeavy, Frank
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Mahon, Simon
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Probert, A. R. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.) Proctor, W. T. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Mann, Mrs. Jean Pryde, D. J. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Randall, H. E. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Mason, Roy Rankin, John Tomney, F.
Mayhew, C. P. Redhead, E. C. Turner-Samuels, M.
Messer, Sir F. Reeves, J. Warbey, W. N.
Mikardo, Ian Reid, William Weitzman, D.
Mitchison, G. R. Robens, Rt. Hon. A. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Monslow, W. Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Moody, A. S. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) West, D. G.
Morrison,Rt.Hn.Herbert(Lewis'm,S.) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Wheeldon, W. E.
Moyle, A. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Ross, William White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.) Royle, C. Wilkins, W. A.
Oliver, G. H. Short, E. W. Williams, Rev. Llwelyn (Ab'tillery)
Oram, A. E. Shurmer, P. L. E. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Orbach, M. Silverman, Julius (Aston) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Oswald, T. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.) Willis, Eustaoe (Edinburgh, E.)
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Slater, J. (Sedgefield) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Palmer, A. M. F. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Parker, J. Snow, J. W. Woof, R. E.
Parkin, B. T. Sorensen, R. W. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Paton, John Sparks, J. A. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Pearson, A. Stones, W. (Consett) Zilliacus, K.
Peart, T. F. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Mr. Short and Mr. Deer.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hornby, R. P.
Alport, C. J. M. Doughty, C. J. A. Hornsby-Smith, Miss H. P.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) du Cann, E. D. L. Horobin, Sir Ian
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Howard, John (Test)
Arbuthnot, John Duthie, W. S. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Armstrong, C. W. Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Hughes, Hallett Vice-Admiral J.
Ashton, H. Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Hughes-Young, M. H. C.
Atkins, H. E. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Hulbert, Sir Norman
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh,W.)
Baldwin, A. E. Errington, Sir Eric Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Balniel, Lord Erroll, F. J. Iremonger, T. L.
Banks, Col. C. Farey-Jones, F. W. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Barter, John Fell, A. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Baxter, Sir Beverley Finlay, Graeme Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Fort, R. Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Freeth, D. K. Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Gammans, Sir David Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Garner-Evans, E. H. Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Biggs-Davison, J. A. George, J. C. (Pollok) Joseph, Sir Keith
Bishop, F. P. Gibson-Watt, D. Keegan, D.
Black, C. W. Glover, D. Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Body, R. F. Godber, J. B. Kerr, H. W.
Boothby, Sir Robert Gough, C. F. H. Kershaw, J. A.
Bossom, Sir A. C. Gower, H. R. Kimball, M.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Graham, Sir Fergus Kirk, P. M.
Boyle, Sir Edward Grant, W. (Woodside) Lagden, G. W.
Braine, B. R. Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Lambert, Hon. G.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Green, A. Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.H. Gresham Cooke, R. Langford-Holt, J. A.
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Leather, E. H. C.
Brooman-White, R. C. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Leavey, J. A.
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Gurden, Harold Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Hall, John (Wycombe) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)
Butcher, Sir Herbert Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Lindsay Martin (Solihull)
Campbell, Sir David Harris, Reader (Heston) Linstead, Sir H. N.
Cary, Sir Robert Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Lloyd Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Channon, H. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.
Cole, Norman Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Harvie-Watt, Sir George McAdden, S. J.
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Hay, John Macdonald, Sir Peter
Crouch, R. F. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel McKibbin, A. J.
Crowder, Sir John (Fin[...]hley) Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Henderson, John (Cathoart) McLaughlin, Mrs. P.
Cunningham, Knox Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Currie, G. B. H. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) McLean, Neil (Inverness)
Dance, J. C. G. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Macmillan, Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley)
Davidson, Viscountess Hirst, Geoffrey Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Holland-Martin, C. J. Maddan, Martin
Deedes, W. F. Hope, Lord John Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Marples, A. E. Profumo, J. D. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Mathew, R. Raikes, Sir Victor, Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Maude, Angus Ramsden, J. E. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Maudling, Rt. Hon. R. Redmayne, M. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)
Mawby, R. L. Rees-Davles, W. R. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Remnant, Hon. P. Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Medlicott, Sir Frank Renton, D. L. M. Touche, Sir Gordon
Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Ridsdale, J. E. Turner, H. F. L.
Moore, Sir Thomas Rippon, A. G. F. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Robertson, Sir David Vane, W. M. F.
Nabarro, G. D. N. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Nairn, D. L. S. Roper, Sir Harold Vickers, Miss J. H.
Neave, Airey Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Sharples, R. C. Wall, Major Patrick
Nield, Basil (Chester) Shepherd, William Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Nugent, G. R. H. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Oakshott, H. D. Soames, Capt. C. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Spearman, Sir Alexander Webbe, Sir H.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Spelr, R. M. Whitelaw, W.S.I. (Ponrith & Border)
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Osborne, C. Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Page, R. G. Stanley, Capt Hon. Richard Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Stevens, Geoffrey Wood, Hon. R.
Peyton, J. W. W. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.) Woollam, John Victor
Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Pitt, Miss E. M. Studholme, Sir Henry TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Powell, J. Enoch Summers, Sir Spencer Mr. Wills and Mr. Barber.