§ 29. Mr. F. M. Bennett
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken by electoral registration officers in Nyasaland to check tax records of voters applying to qualify as taxpayers for the last ten years.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
The electoral registration officers acted in accordance with instructions issued to them by the Governor, and I will send a copy of these instructions to my hon. Friend.
No difficulties appear to have arisen in checking that applicants for registration satisfied the tax requirements up to the time when registration ended on 18th March.
§ Mr. Bennett
I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that Malawi publications have recently indicated that, provided an African can produce a certificate stating that he has paid tax for the previous year, no further evidence or check would be required, other than a simple statement by him that tax had been paid during the previous nine years, in accordance with the rules? In those circumstances, is my right hon. Friend satisfied that abuses, on whatever scale, did not take place?
§ Mr. Macleod
I have not seen that reference. Perhaps my hon. Friend will draw my attention to it. But it is a fact that if one pays tax one does so only when one has satisfied any tax arrears there may be for previous years. Therefore, the payment of tax is prima facie evidence of having paid it in recent years. Although some difficulty was expected in these matters, as I think my Answer shows, it did not eventuate.