§ 30. Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view 1055 of the loss to the public revenue involved in the present tax arrangements regarding criminals who write their memoirs for newspapers, he will seek to change the present law so that money paid by newspapers to convicted criminals for memoirs is not an allowable expense to be off-set against profits for tax purposes.
§ Mr. Lewis
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that that is a very disappointing reply? Is he further aware that many people detest the fact that newspapers pay criminals vast sums of money for writing so-called memoirs? They can cease to buy the paper, but they are not aware that as taxpayers they are subsidising the newspaper proprietors. Will he ensure that this is stopped because it cannot really be a legitimate business expense to pay these criminals such vast sums?
§ Mr. Taverne
There is a serious problem here, but after looking into it very carefully I am satisfied that the line of approach suggested by my hon. Friend is not practicable. There are difficulties about the scope of the disallowance, definition difficulties and difficulties of identifying payment in the case of all criminals.
§ Mr. Brooks
Since there is some considerable doubt about the authenticity of the latest batch of memoirs being circulated, which might well render the newspaper liable for false pretences under the Trade Descriptions Act, how does my hon. and learned Friend satisfy himself about the authenticity of the various claims made?
§ Mr. Taverne
The only question with which the Revenue is concerned is whether the expenditure was incurred for the purpose of earning profits. If any definition of this kind were attempted, we should need to know whether it would apply to relatives and associates of criminals. We should have to identify each contribution made, and it would be quite impossible to tackle it in this way.