HC Deb 03 November 1970 vol 805 cc837-8
18. Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to enable farmers to average profits for tax purposes.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Our studies suggest that this would create more problems that it would solve and I could not recommend it.

Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the British farmer is particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of the British weather, which cause annual fluctuations in his income? Would he therefore consider extending to them the privilege already enjoyed by artists and authors?

Mr. Jenkin

I do not think that solution would be appropriate. The extension to authors and artists is a very limited one and only allows the spreading of income in a class of work which takes over a year to produce. A farmer's work is by its nature annual, and therefore it would seem to me not to fall within that exception.

Mr. Pardoe

Would the hon. Gentleman say who is going to face the problems he mentioned? If it is going to be the farmer who will face the problems of this proposed change, and since they want it, could not they be allowed to undertake these problems themselves?

Mr. Jenkin

The problems would be faced by both the taxpayer and the Revenue. Until 1927–28 there was provision for spreading, but this gave rise to considerable hardship. The only way of dealing with this matter would be by opting in or out. It would seem to me that the administrative complexities involved would be immense.