asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that, because of the withdrawal of members of the staffs of professional accountants' offices, apprehension and unrest are being caused among members of the public who are unable to obtain the skilled advice and assistance they require in connection with their tax affairs; and will he state the number of women within the scope of the National Service Acts who are at present employed in the offices of the Inland Revenue in connection with the administration and collection of Income Tax, Excess Profits Tax, National Defence Contribution and War Damage Contribution?
I have had no evidence that apprehension and unrest are being caused among members of the public owing to the withdrawal of staff from accountants' offices. Deferment of calling-up has been granted to a very considerable number of accountants and male members of their staffs who are liable for military service, and men over military age are not being withdrawn from the profession. Deferment is not normally granted in the case of women who are liable under the National Service Acts, but other women possessing special qualifications are not being withdrawn. The second part of the Question should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
In regard to the reply to the first part of my Question, is it not a fact that in certain cases arrangements were made that essential members of professional accountancy staffs would not, in fact, be called up unless suitable substitutes could be found, and is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the cases which I brought to the attention of the Ministry such substitutes were not found and considerable hardship is being caused to my constituents?
I am advised on this matter with regard to accountants by a headquarters committee, who go into the thing very carefully. I cannot guarantee prior substitution in every case, and I take this occasion to say that I am afraid that prior substitution will have to go very shortly altogether, because when I send substitutes people want to keep their own staffs, and they make it difficult to take on the substitutes.
Is the Minister aware that in certain cases such a guarantee was given?
I should want notice of that question.
Is it to be understood that professional chartered accountants are exempt from military service at all ages?
Oh no, Sir.