HC Deb 18 May 1971 vol 817 c1060
7. Mr. David James

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the cost to the Exchequer of treating husbands' and wives' unearned income separately for surtax purposes.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

The information is not available in such a form as to enable a reliable estimate to be made but the cost would be substantial, possibly of the order of £100 million.

Mr. James

As my right hon. Friend has, rightly, introduced the principle of separate taxation on earned income, would it not be right to extend the principle to what is in most cases retirement income? Will my hon. Friend look favourably on the proposition that, if the expense is prohibitive—as I am inclined to accent that it is—it would be fair marginally to increase the rates in order to do away with this anomaly?

Mr. Jenkin

I take note of what my hon. Friend said. The expense is great, and this has to be judged in the order of priorities and the other possibilities open to my right hon. Friend. I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that the only pledge we gave before the General Election was to disaggregate earned incomes, which we have done by giving married couples an option.