§ 2.35 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government, in view of the reply to a Question in another place on June 15, 1966, by the Minister of Overseas Development, whether they are now satisfied that tax assessments in respect of former colonial civil servants now resident in the United Kingdom have been sent to them in the case of the Ghana and Ceylon Governments respectively.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS (LORD BESWICK)
My Lords, I assume that the noble Lord is referring to the reply given by my right honourable friend in another place on July 13, 1966. That reply was based on information obtained through British High Commissions that tax assessments had been sent out. I now understand that six Ceylon pensioners had not received their tax assessments and our High Commission in Ceylon has been asked to make appropriate inquiries.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, would Her Majesty's Government not agree that the position regarding these pensioners, who have to look to the Government for protection, is most unsatisfactory? The position is that the first indication these people get that they face a tax liability occurs when their pensions are cut. Is it not disgraceful that men originally appointed by various Ministers of State to serve their country overseas should 1210 suffer this financial anxiety? In view of the fact that the Ceylon Government caused the Minister in another place to make an inaccurate statement that all tax assessments had been sent, which was contrary to the fact, would it not be more appropriate for the Government to take proper action, instead of merely causing further inquiries to be made through the British High Commisison in Colombo?
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, with respect to the noble Lord, I think that he is making heavy weather of this matter. It is not unknown even in this country for the income tax authorities to make some mistake or delay in some assessments, and it is quite likely that in the Inland Revenue Office in Colombo they are even less efficient—or less efficient—with the result that some former civil servants have been inconvenienced. I am very sorry about this, but we are helping to the extent we can.