§ 3.6 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will give serious consideration to relieving British consulting engineers from paying selective employment tax in respect of the members of their staffs employed in Great Britain on the design of overseas work.]
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, the Association of Consulting Engineers have made representations on this matter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has replied that he will take these representations into account in framing his Budget proposals. As noble Lords will be aware, provision was made in the Finance Act 1967 for relief of the selective employment tax in respect of employees working overseas, subject to a qualifying period of 13 weeks.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Question, question!
§ LORD MAIS
I did ask, my Lords, whether the noble Lord was aware that British consulting engineers are in fact at this moment engaged on £1,600 million worth of work overseas; and I would also hope that the noble Lord is aware that they are already competing in very difficult conditions against foreign consultants.
§ LORD BESWICK
Yes, my Lords, my right honourable friend is aware of the very valuable contribution which these consultants are making. There are certain difficulties, however, in differentiating between them and others who also make a valuable contribution to our export earnings. Nevertheless, as I have said, the Chancellor is taking all these considerations into account.
My Lords, are Her Majesty's Government aware that there are many staff, particularly in the City of London, who are employed solely on administering overseas enterprises of Britain and thus producing foreign exchange?