HC Deb 18 January 1979 vol 960 cc1942-3
14. Mr. Durant

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will meet a delegation from the National Association of Widows to discuss the taxation of widows.

Mr. Denzil Davies

My right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary would be glad to meet a delegation from the National Association of Widows, as he has in previous years.

Mr. Durant

When the Minister meets representatives of the National Association of Widows will he bear in mind their feelings of grave injustice about being taxed on their widows' pensions? Will he consider bringing them into line in the next Budget with the war widows who have been given a 50 per cent. discount?

Mr. Davies

I do not accept that there is a grave injustice. However, I accept that widows, like other groups of people, are anxious about the amount of tax that they pay. The House decided to give the 50 per cent. exemption to war widows. I do not accept that that is the right way to deal with the problem. Income from whatever source should be taxed in the same way, subject to the rules.

Mr. Ovenden

When my right hon. Friend meets the widows, will he tell them how he justifies singling out widows' allowance as the only short-term social security benefit which is taxed?

Mr. Davies

Both sides of the House recognise that in theory there is no reason why other short-term allowances should not be taxed. But there is an administrative problem caused by the fluctuating nature of most of the short-term allowances. The widows' allowance does not fluctuate. It is a flat-rate allowance paid for a short period and there are no administrative problems.