HC Deb 01 July 1969 vol 786 cc226-8
23. Mr. Sheldon

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration he has given to the further representations made to him that research studies should be set up to consider the disincentive effects of taxation.

Mr. Diamond

I have nothing to add to my long letter to my hon. Friend of 29th April and the Chancellor's comments in the Finance Bill debate on 13th May.—[Vol. 783, c. 1272–3.]

Mr. Sheldon

Is my right hon. Friend aware that since then there has been brought to my notice a very large amount of exploratory work being taken on at certain universities? Does he not consider that it is time the Government paralleled that work in the universities with some research efforts of their own?

Mr. Diamond

As I explained in my letter and my right hon. Friend explained in his speech, we did not think we could usefully take on further work at the present time.

Mr. Blaker

Does the Chief Secretary recall that studies into the disincentive effect of taxes on service industries were made by the Bland Committee and published in 1967? The Government have done nothing about them? Why not?

Mr. Diamond

Those were recommendations made to the subsequent committee examining these very things.

25. Mr. Kenneth Baker

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration he has given to the plan submitted to him by the accountants' organisations for streamlining the tax system; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Taverne

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer discussed this recently with representatives of the accountancy bodies and has agreed that the Inland Revenue should consider with them the procedure for consultation on this subject.

Mr. Baker

Surely the Chancellor would not say that this is good enough? Would not the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that we have the most complicated and obscure mass of tax laws on personal taxation of any country in the world? Would he not agree that the first thing which is needed is a simplification of the personal taxation system? Will he bear in mind that in America, where there are three times the number of taxpayers, only the same number of tax gatherers are employed as we have in the Inland Revenue?

Mr. Taverne

Of course simplification would be in many ways desirable, but it is not always realised that simplification might run counter to equity, and many Chancellors, including those who have come from the benches opposite, have found in the past that their desires for simplification have not proved quite as easy in practice as they had hoped. Discussions with accountancy bodies on an informal basis would be the best way of proceeding and I hope that when the discussions take place—they are to start this week—they will produce good results.

Mrs. Ewing

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the amount of overtime worked by the Inland Revenue and that the bill for overtime is an unproductive addition to the bill the taxpayer has to meet?

Mr. Taverne

The alternative to overtime would be to take on extra civil servants, which is something that hon. Members opposite are loth to accept. Of course one is very well aware of the arguments produced by hon. Members opposite who want less taxation but more public expenditure.