HL Deb 05 April 1889 vol 334 cc1697-8

, in rising to ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is proposed, before handing over the proceeds of the licences to the County Councils, to deduct the expense of collecting the same, or whether that expense is to fall on the Imperial Exchequer, said: My Lords, the question which stands in my name involves a point of very considerable interest to the taxpayers of the United Kingdom, and especially to the income taxpayers. Your Lordships are aware that by the 20th clause of the Local Government Bill, the proceeds of what are called the Local Taxation Licences are directed to be handed over to the County Councils, but the clause is silent as to who is to pay the expense of collecting this money, and it appears probable that it will be handed over without any deduction whatever. That would, I submit, be a very great injustice, to the income taxpayers of the country. The question is not a small one; the amount involved is very considerable. In round numbers, the total amount to be collected will be about three millions of money, and it is estimated by those acquainted with the matter that the cost of collection will amount to something like 10 per cent.


I hope that Her Majesty's Government will never relinquish the collection of assessed taxes and licences, or the last state of the taxpayer would be worse than the first. If a deduction were made local bodies might wish to collect, but they would not be able to do it so easily and cheaply as the experienced officials who now collect. It would be almost impossible for the Government to enter into minute accounts with the County Councils, since some of the licences, such as those for armorial bearings and shooting, were general to the whole country, and not limited to any one county. It was said the evening before that the criticisms had been hard upon the Inland Revenue; those made by me were only upon the arguments put forward on the part of the Inland Revenue in the Return then before the House. I have always found the Inland Revenue officials ready to hear reason, and a satisfactory Department for correspondence; that would not be the case with Local Authorities.


It is no proposed to take into account the charge for collection. The money will be handed over to the County Councils, in accordance with the 20th section of the Local Government Act, without deduction.