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National Finance

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 22 April 1943

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Children's Allowances


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the approximate cost at the present time of instituting a system of children's allowances on the lines of the Beveridge Report at the rate of 5s. per week, taking into consideration the economy that would be effected by the consequent reduction in the cost of service children's allowances?

I would refer the hon. Member to the White Paper which was issued on this subject in May last (Cmd. 6354) in which he will find full details of the cost of various schemes of children's allowances at the 5s. rate. As explained in that paper, it would appear, for a variety of reasons, to be impracticable to realise any saving in respect of children of men in the Armed Forces.

In view of the very great interest in children's allowances, could not my right hon. Friend consider introducing them in the near future, so that people can have some of their Beveridge jam now?

That is quite a different question from the Question on the Paper asking the cost.

Unset Precious Stones (Purchase Tax)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether Purchase Tax is payable in respect of unset or uncut precious stones; and, if so, at what rate?

Owing to the difficulties in imposing such a tax, such stones are not chargeable with Purchase Tax.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that Purchase Tax is supposed to be payable on luxury articles, and surely articles which are not required for use in industry are definitely luxury articles and should be taxed?

I agree, and I should be only too glad to do it, but I am afraid it has always been considered that the difficulties would not be worth the yield in tax.

In view of the evasion of other taxes will the right hon. Gentleman see whether he can at any rate get the Purchase Tax collected?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether secondhand jewellery pays 100 per cent. tax?

Taxation (Comparison With Other Countries)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total yearly amount per head of the population raised in direct and indirect taxation in Great Britain, the United States of America, Russia, Canada, Australia and South Africa, respectively; and whether any figures are available which would afford a useful comparison as regards Germany and Italy?

I will obtain such information as is available in answer to my hon. and gallant Friend's Question and will in due course circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Industrial Accidents, Compensation (Taxation)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in cases of awards of compensation for loss of limbs in industrial accidents, he will consider making some allowance from Income Tax for cost of annual repairs to artificial limbs or, alternatively, allow such awards to be free of tax?

Awards of compensation for personal injury are not regarded as income for Income Tax purposes. If my hon. Friend has any case in mind in which it is suggested that such compensation is liable, I will make inquiries if he will send me particulars. With regard to the suggestion for an Income Tax allowance in respect of the cost of annual repairs to an artificial limb I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean) of 8th September last.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the income is often insufficient to pay for the cost of repairs and renewals, owing to high taxation?

Evacuees, United States (Sterling Remittances)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will now consider increasing the amount of sterling which may be remitted each month for the support of British women and children registered as evacuated to the United States of America and the British Dominions?

The amount of remittances to be allowed to women and children evacuated to the United States of America and Canada is kept under review. I am not prepared at the present time to authorise an increase. There is no restriction on remittances to British Dominions other than Canada, since these are within the sterling area.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me how mothers with children in the United States can meet the tremendous rise in the cost of living which has taken place, and whether it is not a question of raising these amounts now instead of waiting until some later date?

I am keeping this matter under review. I have not had any representations lately, but I will have regard to what my hon. Friend has said.

Government Departments (Telephone Calls)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in connection with free telephone calls for Whitehall Government Departments and services financed directly by the Exchequer which the Government are sanctioning for the duration of the war, he will give an assurance that each Government Department shall keep a monthly record of all outgoing calls, with a view to curtailing unnecessary calls and avoiding congestion throughout the country?

The need for rigid economy in the use of telephone communication facilities has been impressed on all Government Departments. While the suggestion made by my hon. Friend will be borne in mind, I doubt whether manpower considerations would permit of its adoption.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, and not be astonished if I say, that I approve of the proposed action of the Government; and will he bear in mind that if Government Departments take as long with their telephone calls as they do over their correspondence, there will not be much service left for the general public?

Will my right hon. Friend save some of his powers of astonishment? Stranger things may come.

Can my right hon. Friend say what difference will be made in Post Office receipts owing to the decline in telegraphing and telephoning by Government Departments?

Bank Notes (High Denominations)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has any statement to make about the continued issue of bank notes of high denominations?

Yes, Sir, with my concurrence the Bank of England propose to cease forthwith to issue bank notes of the denominations of £10 and upwards and will withdraw those already issued as opportunity offers. One object of the change is to simplify the production and handling of the Note Issue. It will also provide an additional handicap for those who may contemplate breaches of Exchange Control or other Regulations.

Post-War Currency Policy (United States Proposals)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the text of the United States proposals for an international stabilisation fund will be available to Members?

War Damage Payments


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the fact that the Treasury under the War Damage Act has paid out more in compensation than it has received in premiums and contributions, this position corresponds with anticipations; what is the difference referred to which the Treasury has met; what is the amount of unpaid contributions; and whether the War Damage Commission consider that any variation of the amount of future contributions will be entailed?

As the answer is rather long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

The position when the original War Damage Act was introduced was too uncertain for estimates of expenditure to be made. The Act therefore provided in Section 22 for an eventual review by the Treasury of the amount of the contribution to be exacted under Part I. Premiums under Part II are fixed from time to time in the light of experience. It is much too soon for the review under Section 22 to be undertaken, but as I said when moving the Second Reading of the amending Act last year, my present inclination, if any variation of the total contribution were necessary, would be to alter the number rather than the amount of the annual instalments. In reply to the second part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 15th April to the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes). The amount of contributions outstanding is £7,500,000. Part of this amount will be recovered by deduction from value payments when they are made, and a further part is not recoverable so long as the Inland Revenue Department is satisfied that by reason of war damage properties are unfit for their normal use.

Salvage Awards, Tugs (Income Tax)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury why Income Tax is deducted from the salvage awards to tugs especially engaged on salvage work and not from awards to tugs casually so employed; and whether he is aware that this discrimination is causing confusion and dissatisfaction?

I would refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Southampton (Dr. Russell Thomas) on 28th April last, in which he announced that a wartime concession had been authorised under which salvage awards to officers and crews of ships not specifically employed on salvage work, in respect of services rendered during the war, would not be assessed to Income Tax. The distinction to which my hon. Friend refers proceeds on that principle. Salvage awards to crews of tugboats not specifically engaged on salvage work are treated as not being liable to tax, but in the case of tugboats specifically engaged on salvage work the awards arise from the work on which the crews are regularly employed, and there can be no question of relieving their income from tax.