HC Deb 16 January 1992 vol 201 c1092
14. Mr. Michael

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what account he takes of the national interest in terms of the viability of businesses and the retention of jobs in deciding on the exercise of the functions of his Department in respect of Inland Revenue responsibilities.

Mr. Maude

The first duty of the Inland Revenue is to collect tax which is properly due. It aims to treat all taxpayers with equal fairness and to settle their tax affairs impartially.

Mr. Michael

Does the Minister recognise that that is a highly bureaucratic response? Given the way that business is suffering under the policies and decisions of this Government, and especially the policies of the Prime Minister, does the Minister recognise that he has a responsibility to ask his officials to deal with businesses in such a way as to enable them, wherever possible, to retain jobs and to keep their businesses going? Will he also accept that this should be his personal responsibility? Will he accept it before the House?

Mr. Maude

The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) described my response as "bureaucratic". It is not a bureaucratic response at all; it simply expresses the statutory duty placed on the Inland Revenue by the House—that is, the duty to collect tax which is properly due. But the Inland Revenue does not pursue that in a blind and dogmatic way. If tax is owing and payment on the due date is impossible, the Inland Revenue will discuss payment over a period of time to meet the liability; and any taxpayer who is in difficulty in paying his or her tax should contact the Inland Revenue at the earliest opportunity to discuss how the difficulty might be resolved.

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