HC Deb 13 February 1922 vol 150 cc620-1W

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that a large number of workers in South Wales are now undergoing imprisonment in His Majesty's prisons on account of non-payment of Income Tax; and whether, having regard to the incidence of low wages and of unemployment in South Wales, it is the policy of the Government to continue these prosecutions, thereby adding to the number of prisoners maintained at the public expense?


I am aware that persons are from time to time committed to prison under order of the Competent Court in cases of summary proceedings for the recovery of arrears of Income Tax, but I have no information as to the number of any such eases at the present time, either generally or in any particular area. As regards the second part of the question, I would remind the hon. Member that imprisonment, in the class of cases to which he refers, can arise only after proceedings which have involved proof of means, i.e., in cases in which the Court is satisfied that since the date of the order for payment the defaulter has been in possession of sufficient means to enable him to pay the tax in arrear.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, notwithstanding frequent promises given by himself and others on behalf of the Government that due regard and consideration would be given in the cases of the unemployed workmen prior to proceeding against, them for non-payment of Income Tax, in the Rhondda Valley miners who have been unemployed since February, 1921, are not only summoned but imprisoned for such non-payment; and will he take the necessary stops to remedy this grievance at the earliest possible moment by giving instructions to His Majesty's inspectors of taxes not to institute proceedings against the unemployed at least until such time as they have secured and settled down in regular employment?


As has been explained on previous occasions, it is the practice under existing instructions not to proceed for the recovery of arrears of Income Tax in summary proceedings in the case of taxpayers who are known to be out of employment and, in consequence, unable to pay the sums due. If the hon. Member has in mind any specific cases in which he considers this practice has not been followed, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have the matter promptly looked into, and communicate with him as soon as he is in a position to do so.