HC Deb 18 May 1971 vol 817 cc1056-7
5. Sir B. Rhys Williams

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now publish a White Paper on the integration of the income tax and social security systems.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

No, Sir.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

Is my hon. Friend aware that a number of hon. Members on both sides are disappointed by the apparently slow progress of the Government's studies of negative income tax and similar systems of integrated taxation and social security? Is it not particularly foolish when we are in process of enacting the National Insurance Bill, which is to introduce the earnings-related contribution to national insurance, to try to pretend that this is not just a social security tax?

Mr. Macmillan

I think that my hon. Friend will agree that it would be even more foolish if we were to act prematurely. We are conducting a close examination of these complicated questions and the results so far show that a good deal of work must still be done, particularly on the whole question of child poverty. It would be wrong to attempt to act or even to publish a Green or White Paper until we are a little further advanced in our studies.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that there are significant risks to the degree of confidentiality that can be preserved in the integration of such data? Can he give an assurance that the House will have a full opportunity of discussing this matter before any definite proposal is made?

Mr. Macmillan

The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that we are not in a position to publish or to produce anything at the moment. The factor of confidentiality is one of the points we have to consider very carefully in any system which involves the integration of a large amount of information.