HC Deb 02 July 1958 vol 590 cc1404-18

In subsection (1) of section two hundred and twelve of the Income Tax Act, 1952 (which relates to relief for children), after the words "if over the age of sixteen years at the commencement of that year, is receiving full-time instruction at any university, college, school or other educational establishment," there shall be inserted the words "or who, being over the age of sixteen years, but has not attained the age of twenty-one years at the commencement of that year 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".—[Mr. Houghton.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Houghton

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

This proposed Clause deals with the position of an incapacitated child over the age of 16, and it proposes to give the parent of such a child between the ages of 16 and 21 the same allowance for Income Tax purposes as is now given in respect of those children over 16 who are receiving full-time instruction at a recognised educational establishment.

This, again, is a recommendation of the Royal Commission, and after the speech of the Financial Secretary a moment or two ago one can be a little bolder in referring to the fact that these Clauses implement recommendations of the Royal Commission. In its second Report the Royal Commission drew attention in paragraph 193 to what it described as a very special situation.

The facts are simple. Child allowance, now graduated according to age in the Finance Act of 1957, applies to dependent children up to the age of 16, and beyond the age of 16, provided that they are undergoing full-time education. Up to the age of 16 the incapacitated child is in the same position as any other child. Child allowance is given to the parents of an incapacitated child under 11 of £100 and 11-plus of £125, but, at the age of 16, since the child is not usually able to benefit from extended education, the allowance ceases and then the parent may claim tax relief for that child as a dependent relative.

The relief for a dependent relative is tax relief on £60 as against tax relief on £125 for a child between 12 and 16, and £150 on a child over 16 undergoing full-time education. So the Committee will see that there is a big drop in the tax relief when the child passes out of the scope of child allowance and becomes eligible for dependent relative relief. This Clause would give to the incapacitated child, in the circumstances described in the Clause itself, tax relief on £150 between the ages of 16 and 21.

The Royal Commission referred to the drop in the tax relief for the parent when the incapacitated child reached the age of 16, but then the drop was only from £85 child allowance to £60 dependent relative, and the drop is now bigger than when the Royal Commission drew attention to this special situation and recommended that relief should be given in respect of the incapacitated child.

This proposal has been discussed twice before; first, on 25th June, 1956, when a new Clause was moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin), and secondly on 16th July, 1957, when I moved an Amendment to the Finance Bill in column 1095 of the OFFICIAL REPORT. The replies given from the Front Bench opposite on those occasions were unfavourable.

Apparently, on the first occasion when we moved to give the special relief to an incapacitated child, we claimed 50 per cent. higher relief for it than was available to the normal child. That must obviously have been a formidable obstruction in the way of the success of the proposed change, because, as was pointed out, this would give the incapacitated child an advantage over the normal one as regards tax relief to the parent, whereas in many cases the normal child undergoing education imposes considerable additional expenses on the parents.

7.0 p.m.

So we failed in 1956. We tried again in 1957, and we fell into another pitfall of home-made new Clauses. We overlooked the fact that we had not put an upper age limit on our proposed relief—it would have gone on for all time. The Financial Secretary of the day pointed out that it would mean that the incapacitated child would go on with this relief indefinitely until it became an adult, and then an anomaly would arise as between the incapacitated child and the ordinary dependent relative of similar age, probably incapacitated by infirmity, who would qualify for much lower relief.

In the new Clause before the Committee we have claimed precisely the same reliefs as are applicable to the normal child undergoing full time instruction after the age of 16, but, in this case, in accordance with the recommendation of the Royal Commission, we have prescribed the upper age limit of 21.

The other defence which was mentioned almost in passing by the then Financial Secretary in 1956, but which was given much heavier weight by the Financial Secretary in 1957, was the bearing of National Assistance grants on this very special situation. The then Financial Secretary, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), emphasised what had been alluded to by the Financial Secretary in the previous year, the present Minister of Housing and Local Government, that a child on reaching age 16 might qualify for a grant from the National Assistance Board if it had no resources or income in its own right and irrespective of the means of the parents. It was suggested that this was the real solution to this very special situation.

I submit to the Committee that the parents should not have to go to the National Assistance Board on behalf of an incapacitated child as the only means of getting the relief to which they are entitled because of the dreadful infliction on their adolescent son or daughter. One might equally argue that parents who send their child to school after the age of 16 should get their relief from the National Assistance Board and not through the medium of tax relief. I feel sure that the Committee will not accept the doctrine that the availability of the National Assistance grant is the complete answer to the claim of the taxpayer for relief in these circumstances. Nor, indeed, do I think that the Committee or the Financial Secretary would suggest this is also the answer to the Royal Commission, which considered this matter with great care.

The Financial Secretary, replying to the debate in 1956, said that he had no desire to compel parents to go to the National Assistance Board if they did not think it was right and proper that they should ask for a grant for their child; but if parents are denied any relief, except by that means, it is a little difficult to see what choice they have except that of going to the National Assistance Board or getting no relief from any other source.

I hope, therefore, that the Paymaster-General, if he is to reply to the debate, will be able to give the Committee some better reply than was given on earlier occasions. The Committee will, I think, feel deeply that parents with a child who is unable to profit from education or to go out to work should have the sympathy of the Chancellor when he is dealing with tax reliefs. We have provisions for old people, for housekeepers, for widowers and widows, and reliefs which take into account domestic afflictions as well as domestic responsibilities of the more normal kind. I trust, therefore, that on this third occasion, the Government will have a more favourable reply to give to a claim for relief, which was dealt with in sympathetic terms and which was the subject of a unanimous recommendation by the Royal Commission.

Mr. E. H. C. Leather (Somerset, North)

I should like for one moment to urge on my right hon. Friend a sympathetic response to this new Clause. I have not had the opportunity of discussing it with him, but I have discussed it with the Financial Secretary on many occasions, and I feel very strongly in agreement with everything which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) has just said.

This Government have a very creditable record in approving tax allowances for all kinds of unfortunate people, particularly in the case of children. I cannot believe that it was a deliberate design that brought about the position in which generous and helpful allowances have been given to healthy children going on in education, but have been stopped in the tragic cases of incapacity, mental or physical or of some other kind.

Certainly no one would argue that there is any economic justification for it. I am sure that my right hon. Friend cannot make out any case, nor would be try to do so, for the person lucky enough to have a healthy child going on to advanced level or the university, which would cost the parent £X, on the ground that for the unfortunate parent, particularly of a mentally handicapped child, the cost of keeping that child would be considerably less.

I would have thought that for most parents with experience of this problem—I am glad to say that I have none myself, but I have a good deal of experience with constituents—the position is, if anything, the reverse. It seems inhuman and unreasonable. Secondly, it seems to me—I agree with the hon. Member for Sowerby—a monstrous answer to say, "Let them go to National Assistance." I should like to underline the point which he made. If we say, "Send these people to National Assistance," we know perfectly well that the vast majority will not go. It is all very well for the Treasury to say that officially that is the answer, but we all know what the vast majority of our constituents feel about National Assistance. If we say that about incapacitated children, we can say it about a dozen other cases as well, which the Government have admitted and accepted over the past few years. I hope that my right hon. Friend may find himself in a position to give us a sympathetic answer on this very deserving case.

The Paymaster-General (Mr. Reginald Maudling)

I would not quarrel with the facts as deployed by the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton). I know him too well to quarrel with his facts unless I am sure they are wrong, which is very rare. Mention has been made of earlier discussions on this matter in 1954 when an answer was given by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. He has the same job in a different capacity this evening.

I think that this is one of those cases which illustrate the immense difficulty of having a coherent pattern of personal reliefs in our claim structure. This point has been raised on a previous occasion and has been turned down. I am afraid that this evening I still cannot accept this proposition on behalf of the Government. I will try to set out the reason which, on the balance of the argument—and I admit that it is on the balance of the argument—seems to me to be a conclusive one.

The first question is about the National Assistance Board. The hon. Gentleman said that this was not a complete answer. I agree that it is not a complete answer, but I think that it is wrong to go further and totally disregard it. The fact that income is provided by the National Assistance Board to people because they are incapacitated seems to me a fact reasonable to take into account. It will certainly assist in cases of hardship. That, of course, is not the complete answer and I do not think it was ever argued that it is the complete answer.

Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)

The right hon. Gentleman must know that the National Assistance Board does not provide people with assistance merely because they are incapacitated, but when they can prove need.

Mr. Maudling

The hon. Member is quite wrong in this case. Normally the National Assistance Board will accept an application at 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 its parents' resources. This is a special case in which an exception is made.

Mr. Fernyhough

Regard is had to the applicant's resources.

Mr. Maudling

Regard is taken of the applicant's resources, but, as I said, no regard is taken of the parents' resources.

We must look at the relation of these allowances to allowances for other children and other dependant relatives. That seems the fundamental difficulty. It is true that in the case of the child at home, dependent on parents, the parents do not get the same allowance as the parents of the child who is being retained at school. The purpose of increasing the allowance for children of that age who stay at school is part of a general drive to encourage children to stay at school and to improve education in the country, but, as so often happens, when we make a move on one front we create anomalies on another, and there is an anomaly here.

If we increased the allowance for the dependant child, how could we possibly keep the present level of dependant relative allowance? I do not think we could say that those supporting children between the ages of 16 and 21 should have a higher allowance than those supporting dependant relatives generally. Therefore, I think the argument should be for a general increase for dependant relatives. That is a matter which is often pressed on the Committee, and often with considerable force. There is quite a substantial amount involved—although I have not the actual figures in terms of tax allowance—and, therefore, it is not a matter which my right hon. Friend could have contemplated this year even if that further general advance had been put forward as a proposition.

The difficulty here is that there is a choice to be made between retaining the present situation, which admittedly involves a disparity between the allowances, or changing it and creating a new anomaly, which would give rise to widespread grievance by giving a special allowance to dependant relatives of this particularly limited character. I have been studying this matter and have found, after four years, that the balance of argument is a fairly narrow one, but, even after taking into account the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Leather), I am forced to the conclusion that it should be left as it is, and, therefore, we cannot accept the Amendment.

Mr. Mitchison

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman one question. How much would this new Clause cost?

Mr. Maudling

I could not give an exact figure—it is a very small amount—but I was not basing my argument in any way on the cost of this actual proposal.

Mr. Leather

Before my right hon. Friend ends his speech, may I say that a sense of grievance and an anomaly already exist. I do not think he would question that. Therefore, a sense of grievance and an anomaly which resulted from accepting this Clause would be no worse than the present position; it would merely be shifted somewhere else. My right hon. Friend said that a general case for an increase in dependent relative allowance was a worthy thing which at some stage might be admitted. Is he arguing that it is too much to ask to shift the anomaly so as to allow another worthy section of the public, which feels this sense of grievance very deeply, to have the grievance removed, rather than stand absolutely pat on refusing to do anything at all?

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Mitchison

I found the reply of the right hon. Gentleman profoundly disappointing. All I can say to him is that I do not myself believe he gave that reply at all gladly. He said as much at the end of his speech. We have had the Government telling us time and time again that we must pay attention to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. We have a perfectly clear recommendation here which, as has already been said, was made in relation to what it described at that time as "a needless hardship". The amount of that hardship has been increased now because of the change in the rates and the consequent increase in the size of the change.

Mr. Maudling

I quite agree that the difference has been changed, but I think it going a little too far to say that the hardship has been increased. People do not get any less as a result.

Mr. Mitchison

People may not get less as a result of the change, but the Report stated: In these circumstances, the drop in the allowance from £85 to £60 seems a needless hardship. If that were so, surely a larger drop is an even larger needless hardship. As he himself admitted, this is obviously a concession that, in terms of money, would be quite small. We have this quite definite recommendation about it. We have the Royal Commission describing it—it was not speaking in terms of "penny dreadfuls"—as "a needless hardship". The question the Government have to consider is: are they, or are they not, prepared to remove a needless hardship which has increased since the time when the Royal Commission noted it?

It is well within the knowledge of the whole Committee that at that time, in 1954, such point as there is in connection with National Assistance already existed and we must take it that these highly competent and industrious people were well acquainted with National Assistance. I think that they were quite right to disregard it for this purpose, partly for the reason that has been given already and was admitted by the right hon. Gentleman, that National Assistance is not meant to be, in the hands of the Government, an excuse for not doing what otherwise would be right. Nor is it meant to be something which the claimant must first exhaust as a remedy before he can get any relief in taxation.

There is, after all, a tax allowance made to a claimant who is a parent. National Assistance allowance is one which is made and only becomes in point because it is made to the child itself. Consequently, we are dealing with two different things. I do not think that even on the most ruthless view of the matter—the Government have been ruthless about this—we can say that those two things necessarily overlap or cover one another.

We have to deal with people in various circumstances. There may be cases in which National Assistance is the only relief which is given in respect of the child. There will be others where the family is a little better off and in which the stage is reached at which Income Tax reliefs become appropriate. The question is whether there ought to be a relief in recognition of family obligations.

The next argument of the Government is, "Well, this may be a needless hardship, but you cannot put it right because you might create another anomaly which would be unpopular with some people." If we are really going to conduct amendments of fiscal legislation on those lines we shall never move at all. If we say that we cannot put one thing right because there is something else which ought to be put right, too, and at the moment we cannot afford to put the second thing right, we are leaving two possible grievances Where only one is required. Dependent relatives either do or do not need an increase. If they do not, their grievance—if any—is misplaced. If, as I think is much more likely, they do, they have a grievance already, and all that we are doing here is buttressing it up by comparison with another set of people.

If we are to defend ourselves from curing a needless hardship simply by saying, "We might upset some other people by doing so," it seems to me that we abnegate our responsibilities in fiscal legislation and assume the mantle of inhumanity which is sometimes attributed to our fiscal legislators and which I feel the right hon. Gentleman wears only reluctantly. The mantle may or may not

extend to the question of dependent relatives; I do not know. But let the right hon. Gentleman throw his mantle aside, and if he has to tear it in half—as St. Martin once had to—to clothe these cases, let him not hesitate to do so for fear of not being completely consistent.

This is an obviously human claim: It involves a small amount. The Government and the party who support them are taking the responsibility of doing something which they know themselves to be wrong, and doing it not for a fiscal reason—because that was not put forward—but simply because they hesitate to correct one injustice in case another possible injustice may be created or reinforced.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes 166, Noes 203.

Division No. 188] AYES 7.22 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Grimond J. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)
Albu, A. H. Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Mann, Mrs. Jean
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hamilton, W. W. Mikardo, Ian
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Mitchison, G. R.
Awbery, S. S. Hastings, S. Monslow, W.
Bacon, Miss Alice Hayman, F. H. Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)
Balfour, A. Healey, Denis Moyle, A.
Benson, Sir George Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Neal, Harold (Boisover)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Herbison, Miss M. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Blackburn, F. Hewitson, Capt. M. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)
Blenkinsop, A. Hobson, C. R. (Keighley) Oliver, G. H.
Blyton, W. R. Holman, P. Oram, A. E.
Boardman, H. Holt, A. F. Orbach, M.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Houghton, Douglas Oswald, T.
Bowdan, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.) Howell, Denis (All Saints) Owen, W. J.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hoy, J. H. Padley, W. E.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Paget, R. T.
Burke, W. A. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Palmer, A. M. F.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Parkin, B. T.
Callaghan, L. J. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Paton, John
Champion, A. J. Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Pearson, A.
Chapman, W. D. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Peart, T. F.
Chetwynd, G. R. Janner, B. Pentland, N.
Clunie, J. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Popplewell, E.
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Probert, A. R.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Proctor, W. T.
Cronin, J. D. Jonas, David (The Hartlepools) Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Rankin, John
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Kenyon, C. Redhead, E. C.
Deer, G. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Reeves, J.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lawson, G. M. Reynolds, G. W.
Delargy, H. J. Ledger, R. J. Rhodes, H.
Diamond, John Lee, Frederick (Newton) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Dodds, N. N. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Donnelly, D. L. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Lewis, Arthur Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lindgren, G. S. Short, E. W.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Logan, D. G. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Skeffington, A. M.
Fernyhough, E. McAlister, Mrs. Mary Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Fletcher, Eric McCann, J. Snow, J. W.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) MacDermot, Niall Sorensen, R. W.
George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then) McInnes, J. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Gibson, C. W. McLeavey, Frank Sparks, J. A.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Stones, W. (Consett)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Mahon, Simon Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Swingler, S. T. Watkins, T. E. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Taylor, Barnard (Mansfield) Weitzman, D. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Taylor, John (West Lothian) Wheeldon, W. E. Winterbottom, Richard
Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Tomney, F. Willey, Frederick Yatas, V. (Ladywood)
Viant, S. P. Williams, David (Neath) Zilliaoue, K.
Wade, D. W. William, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Warbey, W. N. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. J. T. Price and Mr. Simmonds.
Agnew, Sir Peter Gower, H. R. Nugent, G. R. H.
Aitken, W. T. Graham, Sir Fergus Oakshott, H. D.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside) O'Neill, Hn. Pheilm (Co. Antrim, N.)
Alport, C. J. M. Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tivarton) Green, A. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Osborne, C.
Arbuthnot, John Gurden, Harold Page, R. G.
Ashton, H. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Atkins, H. E. Harris, Reader (Heston) Partridge, E.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Peel, W. J.
Barber, Anthony Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Barter, John Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Batsford, Brian Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Baxter, Sir Beverley Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Pitman, I. J.
Beamish, Col. Tufton Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Powell, J. Enoch
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Hesketh, R. F. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Profumo, J. D.
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Hirst, Geoffrey Rameden, J. E.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n) Rawlinson, Peter
Bidgood, J. C. Holland-Martin, C. J. Redmayne, M.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Hope, Lord John Rees-Davies, W. R.
Bishop, F. P. Horobin, Sir Ian Ridsdale, J. E.
Black, C. W. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Robertson, Sir David
Bossom, Sir Alfred Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks))
Boyle, Sir Edward Hutohison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.) Roper, Sir Harold
Braine, B. R. Hyde, Montgomery Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Russell, R. S.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Iremonger, T. L. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Sharples, R. C.
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Shepherd, William
Bryan, P. Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Burden, F. F. A. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)
Butcher, Sir Herbert Joseph, Sir Keith Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Cary, Sir Robert Kaberry, D. Stevens, Geoffrey
Chichester-Clark, R. Kerr, Sir Hamilton Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Kershaw, J. A. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Cole, Norman Kimball, M. Storey, S.
Cooke, Robert Lagden, G. W. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Leavey, J. A. Studholme, Sir Henry
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Leburn, W. G. Summers, Sir Spencer
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Linstead, Sir H. N. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Davidson, Viscountess Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Temple, John M.
D'Avigdor-Coldsmid, Sir Henry Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Deedes, W. F. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswlok) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Macdonald, Sir Peter Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Drayson, G. B. Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
du Cann, E. D. L. McKibbin, Alan Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Turner, H. F. L.
Duncan, Sir James McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Duthie, W. S. Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Vane, W. M. F.
Elliott, R. W. (Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.) Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Vickers, Miss Joan
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Errington, Sir Eric Maddan, Martin Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Farey-Jones, F. W. Markham, Major Sir Frank Wall, Patrick
Finlay, Graeme Marlowe, A. A. H. Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Marshall, Douglas Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Mathew, R. Webbe, Sir H.
Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lontdale) Maudling, Rt. Hon. R. Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Gammans, Lady Medlicott, Sir Frank Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Garner-Evans, E. H. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
George, J. C. (Pollck) Nabarro, G. D. N. Wood, Hon. R.
Gibson-Watt, D. Nairn, D. L. S. Woollam, John Victor
Glover, D. Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)
Godber, J. B. Nicolson, N. (B'n'mth, E. & Chr'ch) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gough, C. F. H. Noble, Michael (Argyll) Sir Gerald Wills and Mr. Legh.

7.30 p.m.

The Temporary Chairman (Dr. Horace King)

The next new Clause selected is "Rebates of customs duty and excise duty on hydrocarbon oils for use in public service vehicles."

Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

Before we turn to that new Clause, I desire to raise a point of order about a Clause standing in my name and dealing with the reduction of duty on publicans' licences. Apparently this has not been selected owing to some misunderstanding.

I know, Sir Charles, that I am not entitled to ask you for your reasons for not selecting it, but may I, with the greatest respect, suggest that you have probably not selected it under the powers given to you by Standing Order No. 31? I do not want to delay the Committee, but I should like to refer to the usual reasons why Clauses are not selected. Some of the usual reasons are that the Clause is not important; or that it is remote from the purposes of the Bill; or that it has already been discussed. Obviously, on reading the Clause it will be seen that none of those reasons could apply to it.

In further support of the argument which I venture to address to you, Sir Charles, I ask you to look at the Standing Order with which, of course, you are familiar. It reads: In respect of any motion, or in respect of any bill under consideration either in a committee of the whole House or on report, Mr. Speaker, or in a committee the Chairman of Ways and Means, and the Deputy Chairman, shall have power to select new clauses or amendments to be proposed, and may, if he thinks fit, call upon any member who has given notice of an amendment to give such explanation of the object of the amendment as may enable him to form a judgment upon it. It is obvious that the Standing Order gives you a discretion, but, with respect, the discretion is limited. That discretion has been dealt with in several parts of that great authority, Erskine May. I will refer to only one, on page 455, where we read: Experience has shown that in such cases the discretion conferred on the Chair by Standing Order No. 31 to select the amendments which may be moved is the best method of securing reasonable opportunities for all varieties of opinions. This power is exercised by the Chair in such a way as to bring out the salient points of criticism. … If my Clause were selected it would certainly bring out unique points of criticism, because it is the only Clause of its kind on the Notice Paper. Erskine May continues: to prevent repetition —there could be no repetition because my Clause is the only one of its kind on the Notice Paper— and overlapping —the same line of thought applies— and, where several Amendments deal with the same point —they do not; mine is the only one— to choose the more effective and the better drafted. I do not want to detain the Committee, but I should like to point out that this new Clause has appeared on the Paper for several years and was approved by former Chancellors of the Exchequer but by a series of accidents was never argued. One of those Chancellors was the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and another was my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton). In my submission, there has been some misunderstanding as to the meaning of the Clause and its relevance, and I ask you, Sir Charles, to reconsider its selection.

Sir James Duncan (South Angus)

Further to that point of order. May I make a comment in support of the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes)? I believe that I am right in saying that an Amendment on similar lines was discussed a year or two ago, but since then other laws have been changed which raise a new situation. If it cannot be discussed on this Bill it will be urgent to reach a settlement on this matter with the Government, if possible before 1961, when revaluation takes place.

The Chairman

I thank the hon. and learned Member for what he said. I was aware of these powers which are put on me for selecting Amendments. It is a most unpleasant business. I would much rather call them all, but as there are 91 new Clauses on the Notice Paper that would be impossible. If I gave my reasons for selection they would be argued, especially by the legal profession. I therefore do not give them. But I have a very good reason for not selecting this new Clause, and if the hon. and learned Member comes to the Chair I will tell him it privately in about two minutes' time.