HC Deb 03 August 1965 vol 717 cc1246-7
2. Mr. Box

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the cost of exempting from Income Tax refreshment and subsistence allowances paid to members of a police force in respect of overtime duty at their usual police station.

Mr. MacDermot

I am afraid that sufficient information on which to base an estimate is not available.

Mr. Box

Regardless of the amount involved, may I ask whether the Financial Secretary is aware that until recently these trifling sums have been treated as free of tax? If he is going to alter that situation and make them liable to tax in the future, will he be consistent and consider the position on such things as concessionary coal to area chairmen and entertainment allowances to leaders of the nationalised industries as well?

Mr. MacDermot

The position is that some local authorities have all along, quite properly, been making deductions for tax. Others have not, and I think that what has given rise to the hon. Gentleman's Question is that the proper practice is now being applied uniformly. One has to compare the position of these payments in favour of police officers with any other form of remuneration which is paid to people who spend money on a meal during the course of their employment. One cannot make out a case for special treatment for police officers in this respect.

Mr. William Clark

Would not the Financial Secretary agree that this problem could be overcome, because in industry one can have luncheon vouchers which are exempt from taxation? Surely, so far as refreshment for the police force is concerned, could not the problem be overcome by an issue of luncheon vouchers, for spending in canteens?

Mr. MacDermot

That is a matter for the local authorities to consider. The luncheon voucher system was introduced, as the hon. Gentleman knows, during the war as a sort of supplement to, and in some cases a replacement of, the meals provided by employers in canteens.