HC Deb 25 June 1968 vol 767 cc234-5
29. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide improved facilities for the public wishing to consult their local income tax inspector by instructing offices of the Inland Revenue to remain open for longer hours and on Saturday mornings.

Mr. Harold Lever

No, sir. But interviews can be arranged by appointment outside the hours when offices are open to the public.

Mr. Smith

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that Saturday morning closing in common with other public sectors places many people at a serious disadvantage, particularly when they have to take time off from work to attend interviews?

Mr. Lever

What the hon. Gentleman has failed to note is that I referred to interviews by appointment including on Saturday morning or other times when the office is closed. That is different from keeping the offices open in the hope that somebody might want to come in at those times.

Mr. Higgins

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if one rings up the Inland Revenue offices in London one does not get a reply after 4 p.m. and one can try for a long time before one realises that the calls are not being answered? Would it be possible for them to make arrangements for a recorded message so that people are told that no officer is available after 4 o'clock?

Mr. Lever

I shall inquire into that.

Mr. Dobson

Will my hon. Friend note that many elderly people would like the facility of having a tax inspector visit them at home to discuss their tax affairs, as they are extremely perturbed at having to attend before a tax officer to go through their private affairs with him? Does my hon. Friend think that that might be the answer to the problem?

Mr. Lever

I am not sure how widespread the demand is for receiving tax officers in the homes of citizens, but I am afraid that the achievement of that must await a more Utopian form of society than we have at present.