My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Rockley, I beg to ask the Question which stands in his name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government:—
- (a) What was the cost of collecting corporation duty for the financial years 1953–54, 1954–55, 1955–56;
- (b) Whether in view of the small yield of this tax it should now be abolished;
- (c) Whether Tax Reserve Certificates can be purchased to pay this tax and if not why not.]
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (THE EARL OF MUNSTER)
My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend Lord Hailsham, I have been asked to reply to this Question. The estimated cost of collecting corporation duty for the years 1953–54, 1954–55 and 1955–56 was £4,700, £5,300 and £5,600, respectively. As regards paragraph (b) in my noble friend's Question, I feel sure he will not expect me to anticipate the Budget statement to be made by my right honourable friend in another place. With regard to paragraph (c), the answer is "No"; but my right honourable friend would give sympathetic consideration to the extension of Tax Reserve Certificates to cover corporation duty if he received evidence of any appreciable demand for such a change.
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for that answer, and I should like to ask two supplementary questions. First, who has to pay the tax? Secondly, is it not a fact that there is a department at Worthing which has to collect the tax? If that is so, has this department any other function?
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
My Lords, the corporation duty which is payable to-day is imposed by Section 11 of the Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1885, at the rate of 5 per cent. upon the net annual value of income or profits accrued in respect of real or personal property of certain bodies corporate and un-incorporate. There were exemptions which were later amended by the Act of 1936, but I think that, roughly speaking, 354 the revenue can be said to have been derived from such organisations as the City Livery Companies, professional bodies and clubs of all kinds, including political and social clubs. I regret that I have no answer to the second supplementary question which the noble Viscount has addressed to me.
My Lords, may I ask if the noble Earl has information as to the yield of tax last year? The answer to that would not be revealing any Budget secrets.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
My Lords, I can give the noble Lord the yields for the years in question. In the year 1953–54 the sum was £108,000; in 1954–55, £126,000; and for the year 1955–56, £121,000.
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for his answers. Perhaps he will let my noble friend Lord Rockley know the answer to the second supplementary question that I asked.