Mr. SHIRLEY BENN
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has given his personal consideration to the Regulations issued by the Treasury towards the end of March on the subject of the payment of Income Tax by officers of His Majesty's Fleet; whether he is aware of the extra expenses entailed upon naval officers since the outbreak of the War; whether he is aware that the effect of the imposition and collection of Income Tax from naval officers in the month of March has forced these officers to curtail by a serious proportion the amount of pay allotted to their wives and families; and whether, seeing that, in view of the increase in the cost of living, these wives and families are in need of a larger rather than smaller allowances, he will, if war rates are to be charged, recommend to the Treasury that the minimum for which increased war rates would apply should be £500 actual naval pay?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
No Regulations were issued by the Treasury towards the end of March on the subject of the payment of Income Tax by officers of His Majesty's Fleet. The only instructions relative to the collection of the increment in tax under the Finance Act of last December were issued by the Admiralty on the 17th of that month, and directed,inter alia, that "immediate steps should be taken to reduce the allotment in any case where the officer's net pay, i.e., after deducting Income Tax and providing for mess charges, is insufficient to meet the amount of the allotment"; in other words, that 296W immediate action should be taken to ensure that the consequent reduction was distributed over the three remaining months of the financial year. Further, it does not appear to be a general fact that officers have been forced to curtail, by a serious proportion, the amount of pay allotted to their wives and families. The accounts for last quarter so far received have been examined, and as a result it is found that only in some three or four cases has the allotment been reduced owing to the additional taxation, and in none of these has the reduction exceeded £2 a month. It is possible that other cases may exist where a larger reduction has been necessary, but it seems clear that the hardship has been greatly exaggerated. My hon. Friend will appreciate that the last point he raises is one for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I may, however, invite his attention, as regards the concessions granted for 1915–16, to Section 25 of the Finance (No. 2) Act, 1915, and, as regards the further concession proposed by my right hon. Friend for 1916–17, to the information given on page nine of House of Commons Paper, No. 50, of 1916.