HC Deb 28 January 1969 vol 776 cc1094-6
18. Dr. Winstanley

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will seek the consent of Members of Parliament to the publication of information regarding the present level of expenditure, wholly, necessarily and exclusively incurred by them in the performance of their Parliamentary duties.

Mr. Diamond

I am circulating with the OFFICIAL REPORT a table in similar form to tables previously published which classifies the amounts of Members' expenses allowed for Income Tax purposes against their remuneration as Members of Parliament for the year 1967–68, the latest year for which figures are available. The table includes only those cases where final figures are available. Ministers have not been included.

Dr. Winstanley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am grateful for that indication that the Government do not intend to perpetuate a system under which the only control of a professional Government is that of an amateur House of Commons? Does he agree that it is time that the public were made aware of the true financial position of those hon. Members who are not in receipt of outside subsidy and that the only tools with which hon. Members have to do their work are those which they provide themselves?

Mr. Diamond

I hope that the figures in the table will be of satisfaction to the hon. Member.

Mr. Barnett

Is it not absurd that inspectors of taxes are now trying to assess the private part of an hon. Member's London flat, for example, where his wife happens to join him occasionally? Will my right hon. Friend look at this again or ask the inspectors to look at it again?

Mr. Diamond

I will, of course, look with care at anything which my hon. Friends ask me to look at, but my hon. Friend would be the first to join me and to share the view that Members of Parliament should continue to be treated exactly like every other member of the public in their tax assessments.

Sir A. V. Harvey

In the context of this Question, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the position of servants of the House of Commons? Does he not agree that it is absolutely disgraceful when one hears that the widow of a servant of the House is left penniless?

Mr. Diamond

That is a matter for hon. Members personally. [HON. MEMBERS: "No. For the Government."] That is a matter for Members personally. As the hon. Member is, no doubt, aware, those who wish to help are able to do so. The Question on the Order Paper deals with expenses.

Mr. Shinwell

Has not my right hon. Friend missed the point raised by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) that the public are not aware of the expense incurred by hon. Members and are of the opinion that the salary of £3,250 is retained by hon. Members?

Mr. Diamond

My right hon. Friend will see from the table that that very information is given. It is a detailed table, but it indicates that the majority of hon. Members incur expenses, which are allowed for Income Tax, of between £1,000 and £2,000 a year.

Mr. Lubbock

Why are many items and expenditures, such as railway travel and newspapers and journals which are essential in the performance of the Parliamentary duty, not allowed against the Parliamentary salary? Will the right hon. Gentleman revise the rules so that these items can be allowed against tax?

Mr. Diamond

The answer to the hon. Member is that these rules apply to all holders of an office or of employment. All Schedule E taxpayers are treated in the same way. If the hon. Member is suggesting that a Member of this House is being singled out for adverse treatment, I would be only too glad to look at his suggestion.

Following is the table:

Expenses allowed Numbers of Members
£ £
0–99 1
100–199 1
200–299 1
300–399 2
400–499 5
500–599 6
600–699 6
700–799 9
800–899 6
900–999 10
1,000–1,099 17
1,100–1,199 15
1,200–1,299 19
1,300–1,399 19
1,400–1,499 20
1,500–1,599 16
1,600–1,699 9
1,700–1,799 18
1,800–1,899 11
1,900–1,999 13
2,000–2,099 5
2,100–2,199 8
2,200–2,299 8
2,300–2,399 5
2,400–2,499 5
2,500–2,599 5
2,600–2,699 2
2,700–2,799 1
2,800–2,899 1
2,900–2,999 1
3,000–3,099 4
3,100–3,199 2