HC Deb 05 February 1959 vol 599 cc561-2
25. Mrs. Mann

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that on the death of her husband a mother, with or without a family, loses the £250 Income Tax allowance, and is treated as a single person for Income Tax purposes; and if he will abolish this practice.

Mr. Simon

I am afraid that my right hon. Friend does not see his way to propose the adoption of the hon. Lady's suggestion.

Mrs. Mann

Would the Financial Secretary intimate to his right hon. Friend, who may not know, that the widow is having a very hard struggle when she is left with a mortgage on her house, and that even if she goes to work she is penalised by having her entire 50s. widow's pension taken away from her by his other right hon. Friend? Would not his two right hon. Friends get together to try to do something for the widows of this country?

Mr. Simon

I know that there are many widows suffering considerable hardship, and in any case their lot is one which must command sympathy. This is, however, a question of fiscal law, and successive Governments have not been able to accept the suggestion of the hon. Lady, for the simple reason that the married person's allowance is higher than the single person's allowance because it is an allowance on two peoples' incomes. With regard to the second part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question, she will, of course, be aware that the earnings rule has been relaxed in favour of widows who go out to work.

Mr. H. Wilson

May I ask why it was that on Question No. 24 the Economic Secretary could not anticipate the Budget statement yet on Question No. 25, equally a Budget matter and requiring legislation, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury turned it down flat, without even saying that the Chancellor would give consideration to it between now and the Budget?

Mr. Simon

I should have made it plain that I was speaking with my right hon. Friend's authority.

Sir T. Moore

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There are 124 Questions on the Order Paper today. We have reached No. 25. Yesterday you were in the same predicament and referred to the fact that there were so many supplementary questions asked that it was difficult to get on. Today the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) has asked a supplementary question on practically every Question raised. May I ask whether there is any way by which we can hope to reach the end of Questions today?

Mr. Speaker

That is beyond my power.

35. Mr. Oliver

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the hardship caused to widows, spinsters and married women living apart from their husbands between the ages of 60 to 65 years, who pay Income Tax on their small incomes on amounts not exceeding £275 a year; and whether he will consider giving tax exemption at 60 years of age as will be the case on their attaining the age of 65 years.

Mr. Simon

I have noted the hon. Member's suggestion.

Mr. Oliver

I am very much obliged to the Financial Secretary, but will he bear in mind that this point was contained in an Amendment to the Finance Bill, but was not called? Will he also bear in mind that there is very great hardship when spinsters and others, drawing only £2 10s. a week pension, and having a small sum from their employer—an income of £3 2s. 6d. in all—are expected to pay tax on £40 of their income?

Mr. Simon

The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that the difficulty here is that a husband can qualify for age exemption or age relief by virtue of his wife's age as well as of his own; and the Royal Commission on the Taxation of Profits and Income endorsed the present arrangement.