HC Deb 26 May 1960 vol 624 cc825-6

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Powell

It is a fortunate chance that our consideration of this Clause follows so closely upon our consideration of Clause 37. I noted particularly that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer drew attention to the many cases in which Parliament has legislated retrospectively to put something right which had gone wrong to the disadvantage of the taxpayer.

In Clause 39 we are dealing with a case where a mistake was made in the Finance Act, 1956, and if one reads the relevant words in the 1956 Act, in the light of the correction which we are now invited to make, one sees that it is obvious that there was a mistake which would bring about—and, for all I know, in the intervening years has brought about—undesired results to the disadvantage of certain taxpayers. In this Clause we are correcting that mistake. But in this Clause we do not find the same words as in Clause 37, that the provision shall be deemed always to have had effect. Far from it. We find the words: as respects qualifying premiums paid after the end of the year 1959–60. It is a little ironical that, side by side and facing one another across the pages of the Bill, we should have a case where we are putting an error right—un-doubtedly rightly putting it right—to the benefit of the Revenue with the necessary proviso that it should have retrospective force, and an instance where we are putting a mistake right for the benefit of the taxpayer with the provision that it shall take effect only as from the current financial year.

This is a small matter and it may be that only a few people, if any, have been affected, although I imagine that in the four years there will have been some people affected by the error we are now putting right. I suggest that it is only equitable that we should go back to 1956 to put right an error as from the time when we ourselves made it.

10.30 p.m.

Sir E. Boyle

My hon. Friend has made an interesting point and one which I think, in the circumstances of the last hour, the Committee will agree to be pertinent. I will certainly undertake that this matter will be considered between now and Report.

I think that probably the number of people affected will have been pretty small. If between June and November the claimant had a birthday he would have had a less favourable annuity rate for the premium paid in November. In all the circumstances, my hon. Friend has raised a point of substances which we will certainly look at.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.