HC Deb 09 April 1962 vol 657 cc971-2

I wish, however, first to refer to certain matters which I mentioned in my Budget speech last year affecting reform of the tax system. I referred then to the possibility of a single corporation tax replacing Income Tax and Profits Tax. I said that I was not worried by one problem mentioned by the Royal Commission, that the rate of such a corporation tax might fall below the standard rate of Income Tax. There were, however, other difficulties referred to by the Royal Commission for which the Inland Revenue have been seeking possible solutions.

Upon my instructions, they have gone a considerable way towards framing a scheme for unification. I felt that that was necessary, so that we could compare existing arrangements with the proposed scheme from the point of view of complexity and the burden of work on taxpayers and their accountants. For my own part, I still believe that, in principle, it is a good idea to unify. But some complex technical problems are involved. Upon their solution depends the decision whether or not it is worth while to unify. Of one thing I can assure the Committee, as I think I said last year. I have no intention of introducing a scheme which is more complicated than the one it replaces.

I have, therefore, asked the Board of Inland Revenue to discuss the draft scheme on the usual controversial basis—[Laughter.]—on the usual confidential basis. I think that in view of the discussions among accountants it could very easily be controversial. I have, therefore, asked the Board of Inland Revenue to discuss the draft scheme with some of the professional bodies with which they are accustomed to review technical issues of this kind. I hope that those who are approached will be good enough to help. We have got beyond the stage of general talk about the desirability or otherwise of a single tax and can now look at a possible scheme. I will report further on this to the Committee in due course.