HL Deb 26 June 1923 vol 54 cc611-4

LORD RAGLAN had given Notice to ask His Majesty's Government—

  1. 1. Why officers of the British Army serving in India do not receive the same married allowance as in England.
  2. 2. Why officers holding brevet rank forfeit two shillings per diem on transfer to the Indian establishment.
  3. 3. Whether officers serving in India who come home on six months' leave, or whose wives spend six months in England, are liable for the full Income Tax in both countries.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, as regards my first Question, the anomalies to which this arrangement leads appear to be due to the fact that the military authorities in this country and in India take different views as to the desirability of encouraging officers to marry. In this country when a captain marries he receives, in addition to his pay, lodging allowance, 4s. 6d. a day; furniture allowance, 2s. a day; light and fuel allowance, 3s. 11d. a day; ration allowance, 1s. 7d. a day; a total of 12s. a day. When he is transferred to India he gets exactly the same pay and allowances as a bachelor. It is true that a bachelor in India is rather better off than he is in this country, but the expenses of a married man in India are far greater than they are at home. In this country a married officer can, more or less, cut his coat according to his cloth. In India, however, he is compelled to conform to the standard of the country. He has to live in an expensive bungalow, with a large staff of servants, to send his wife and family to the hills in the hot weather, and to send them home every four or five years, and unless he is a man of considerable means he cannot afford to do this. The married officers serving in India now have a great sense of grievance.

With regard to my second Question, this is an old grievance, but it becomes a new one to each successive officer transferred to India, who finds himself docked of 2s. a day, which he has been awarded usually in consequence of distinguished service in the field. With regard to the third Question, it has long been a grievance with an officer who wishes to spend his leave in this country that he is obliged to establish himself, if he wishes to avoid paying a large sum in taxation, on the Continent. But since the introduction of an Income Tax in India, if my information is correct, he is taxed, not once, but twice. If this is so, it is not only a grievance but a real injustice.


My Lords, the first Question asked by the noble Lord is based really on a misconception. He assumes that pay in both cases is based upon the same principle, and that therefore, if there is any allowance whatever which might, be given to the British officer in this country, it ought, therefore, ipso facto, to be granted to the British officer serving in India. Of course, this is not the case. The pay of these officers in these different countries is based to some extent on different considerations, and the pay warrant for the British officer does not apply to officers serving in India. In fact, generally speaking, the pay of the officers serving in India is more in the nature of a consolidated rate; the pay of a British officer here, is more in the nature of pay with certain allowances. Therefore, if you wish to compare the married allowance of an officer here with the increase, or increment, of pay for those who are over thirty, you must be very careful not to draw false inferences as to the relative advantages of the two officers. I should like to say about all these things—the question of whether the so-called marriage allowance or whether the pay in lieu should be confined to married officers, or whether it should be granted, as it is in India now, to people who have the good fortune not to be married and are over the age of thirty—all these matters and others will come up for settlement and discussion when questions of pay are reconsidered, as they will be after the five years' period next year. Therefore, I think I need not say anything more on that particular point.

The same reasoning to some extent applies to the allowances for brevet rank. I will not call this an anomaly, but it is rather a curious provision, because an extra 2s. is granted under British rules to a captain who is a brevet major, but not to officers of any other substantive rank who held higher rank by brevet. Therefore, it is very difficult to conceive why this rule obtains in the British Service and why, if it obtains for an officer of a particular rank, it does not obtain for an officer of another rank, because he has no more responsibility by reason of the brevet than if he had not got it. But I think my answer to that will apply, perhaps, to the other Questions with which I have already dealt. As I dare say the noble Lord is aware, this arrangement is of very long standing and perhaps because of its antiquity it escaped attention and was left in when the division took place in the year 1919.

The question of the liability to Income Tax of officers serving in India is, of course, like all Income Tax questions, rather a difficult one. But the assumption in the Question seems to be that these officers are liable to the full Income Tax in both countries. That assumption is entirely incorrect. No officer is in fact liable in any circumstances for double Income Tax and in certain circumstances, into which, perhaps, I had better not go, an officer is not liable to any Income Tax at all. If an officer comes to this country he does not become liable to British Income Tax until he has been here for six months unless he has been maintaining a permanent establishment here, and he is not liable to Indian Income Tax in respect of any pay issued here while he is in this country. In respect of any pay issued in India and remitted to this country—that is to say, for the support of his family—on which British Income Tax is leviable, an officer can claim Dominion Income Tax relief under which any sums deducted for Indian Income Tax are remitted from the tax chargeable here. Therefore, the assumption implied in the Question of my noble friend as to the paying of double Income Tax is really not supported by what happens in fact.


I am much obliged to the noble Viscount for the answer that he has made to my questions. In regard to Income Tax I might say that what I stated is the opinion of a good many officers; but we all know how difficult it is to understand these things.


I think we shall always sympathise with the officers in that matter.

House adjourned at five minutes before seven o'clock.