HC Deb 24 July 1967 vol 751 cc35-6
19. Mr. Hilton

asked the Minister of Social Security what is the total amount of Selective Employment Tax paid to date by Labour Force Limited, of 140 Portland Road, London, S.E.25, in respect of the manpower they supply for the construction industry.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Social Security (Mr. Norman Pentland)

It is not our practice to disclose details of payments by individual employers; but I can say that enquiries are being made into this firm's liability for national insurance contributions and Selective Employment Tax, and that proceedings have been instituted tinder Section 90 of the National Insurance Act, following their refusal to produce certain documents.

Mr. Hilton

is my hon. Friend aware that, according to this advertisement which I have in my hand, 50,000 men are at the command of this firm upon which £3¼ million ought to have been paid in Selective Employment Tax? Apart from the avoidance of this, there is also the avoidance of industrial and training levies, which I view even more seriously. It seems peculiar that it should not even be paying Selective Employment Tax in respect of the labour force required to administer this project.

Mr. Pentland

I would accept a lot of what my hon. Friend has said. That is one of the prime reasons why inquiries are being made and proceedings have now been instituted.

Mr. Urwin

Could my hon. Friend give some idea of the extent of the evasion of payment of Selective Employment Tax and National Insurance payments, too, by people operating this insidious system of labour-only subcontracting in addition to the instance which my hon. Friend mentioned?

Mr. Pentland

No, Sir. As my hon. Friend will know, a committee has already been set up by my right hon. Friends the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Public Building and Works. The terms of reference of this Committee are to inquire into the engagement and use of labour in building and civil engineering with particular reference to labour-only subcontracting and to make recommendations. We hope, as a result of this Committee, that we shall have more information forthcoming.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Has the Minister studied the evidence of the N.F.B.T.E. to the Phelps Brown Committee, to which he has just referred, which makes the fair point that there is a place in the industry for genuine sub-contracting for labour-only but which disapproves of gangs of self-employed men who are using this kind of thing to avoid tax?

Mr. Pentland

It is not for me to comment upon that aspect. We are waiting for the Committee's recommendations.