HC Deb 16 May 1963 vol 677 c1674

Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Mitchison

What is the Clause about, and why only five-sixths?

Mr. du Cann

I was hoping that the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) would ask that question, because I am extremely interested in this subject. I remember so well going to a dinner at which Lord Monckton was the principal guest. This was at the time when he was at the Ministry of Labour. He had spent the whole day in conference and had his most excellent expert Civil Service advisers at his side. Every time that he felt like speaking, they pulled his sleeve and said, "I do not think I would intervene just now if I were you, Minister". He said, Coming to this dinner and having the opportunity to speak is something that I have been looking forward to all day".

10.15 p.m.

I would not go quite as far as that, but I am asked "Why five-sixths?" I should be happy, if the Committee wishes, even at this late hour, to retail the long history of tithes. That I will not do. I simply say that Clause 31 preserves the right of an owner-occupier of land charged with a tithe redemption annuity to relief from tax on five-sixths of the annuity.

I am asked why. It was the amount originally fixed by Section 13 of the Tithe Act, 1936, as a conventional measure of the interest element in the annuity. Unless a general figure of that sort were chosen, obviously there would have to be a large number of specific calculations year by year. It was thought convenient at that time to take a single figure of that sort. The process is being continued in the Clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.