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National Finance

Volume 393: debated on Tuesday 9 November 1943

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Lend-Lease

54.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now able to give the amount of Lend-Lease reckoned in sterling, rendered by the United States to Great Britain up to 30th June, 1943, or other convenient later date?

No, Sir. As my predecessor has informed the hon. Member, such figures are not available.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the President, in his statement, gave a figure for shipments to Great Britain, and that the right hon. Gentleman himself has since explained that this includes shipments sent on elsewhere? Will he make representations to the United States Government that they should make their statements in such a form as may be readily understandable by all people and will not lead to misconceptions?

I do not think that that would be at all desirable. I do not want to call attention to the purely financial aspects of this matter.

Requisitioned Properties (Repairs)

55.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will call the special attention of requisitioning Departments to their liability to carry out proper maintenance of the properties requisitioned by them, and impress upon them that they should undertake all necessary repairs, particularly outside painting and roof work, etc., in order to save much larger payments which will have to be made out of public funds on termination of the requisitioning if avoidable depreciation is not checked?

This matter has recently been the subject of consultation between the Treasury and the Departments concerned. I am advised that it is the practice of Departments to effect such current repairs as are essential to prevent avoidable deterioration, subject, of course, to the fact that labour and materials are in very short supply.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that all over the country property which has been requisitioned by the Departments, especially wooden property, is deteriorating very rapidly for want of paint, and that at the end of the war a formidable bill will have to be met, which could be avoided if this work were undertaken?

There is no difference between us on this matter. As I have said, the Treasury have been in touch with the Departments, and wish to see such work undertaken wherever possible.

Motor Vehicle Licences (Refunds)

57.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that in cases when a petroleum officer delays until after the expiry of the month to notify a motor-car owner that he can no longer be allowed petrol coupons, the county council concerned cannot refund the money paid for the licence for the month in which the refusal was posted; and whether in these circumstances the county council will be given discretion to make such refunds?

The law provides for a refund of motor licence duty, but only in respect of each complete month of the currency of the licence that is unexpired when the licence is surrendered. A refund of duty in respect of a period prior to the surrender of the licence can only be given when the council is satisfied that the vehicle has not been on the road at any time during the currency of the licence. Careful consideration has been given to the possibility of amending the law to meet other cases of the kind to which my hon. Friend refers, but no practicable alternative arrangement has been found.

Dollar Incomes (Double Taxation)

58.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that residents in the British Isles in receipt of an earned dollar income from the United States of America pay the United States Government a tax of 30 per cent. on such income, making their total Income Tax 13s. in the £; and what is the corresponding position of a United States resident in receipt of an income in pounds sterling earned in this country?

With regard to the first part of my hon. Friend's Question, the United Kingdom Income Tax is payable on the net amount after deduction of the United States withholding tax, and earned income relief is given on that amount. As regards the second part of the Question, I understand that the United States Income Tax law grants certain relief in respect of income from foreign sources which has been taxed in the country of origin; the total rate of taxation in the circumstances stated would depend on the total income of the taxpayer.

Is it not possible for the British Government and the United State; Government to come to some arrangement whereby this crushing double taxation on their respective nationals could be obviated?

All I can say is that it has not been possible to arrive at any arrangement with foreign countries comparable with the Dominions Income Tax relief arrangement.

Excess Profits Tax Rebate (Farmers)

59.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the unconditional 20 per cent. rebate of the Excess Profits Tax, announced in the Budget speech of 1942, applies to farmers as well as to industrialists; and whether arrangements have been made for farmers to get back 20 per cent. of everything they have paid in Excess Profits Tax as a direct cash rebate at the end of the war?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the replies given to my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) on 23rd September and 14th October.

Income Tax (Pay-As-You-Earn Scheme)

60.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will sympathetically consider the resolution from the directors of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce suggesting, inter alia, that in regard to the scheme for deducting Income Tax from earnings based on the principle of pay-as-you-earn,. alternative methods of deduction be devised after close consultation with practical people directly concerned, with a view to lightening the extra burden on clerical staffs?

My attention has been drawn to the resolution to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers. I would point out that the Board of Inland Revenue have throughout been in consultation with the British Employers' Confederation as representing employers and the Confederation accepts the method of deduction proposed.

61.

asked the Chancellor of the. Exchequer when will the regulations for applying the principle of pay-as-you-earn be issued?

I am not in a position to say when the Regulations will be ready, but I may remind my hon. Friend that when made they have to be laid on the Table under the provisions of Clause 2 (4) of the Bill.

62.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the tax tables required in the application of pay-as-you-earn will be printed; and whether they will be supplied to employers of labour without charge?

I cannot yet say when the tax tables will be ready, but they will be printed as soon as possible and will be supplied to employers without charge.

Foreign Investments And Invisible Exports

64.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has at his disposal full information on the state of our current invisible exports, the income from foreign investments and their value and the expected position of our income from foreign investments and invisible exports at the conclusion of hostilities; and whether, to enable hon. Members to form a judgment on the principles of international agreements on monetary and commercial matters, he will publish a White Paper giving the relevant facts?

It would not be in the national interest to publish such information at the present time.

As these very important subjects are certainly to become the subject of debate early in the forthcoming Session, is it not desirable that hon. Members should be informed of the facts, and, if it is not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to furnish all the information, cannot he furnish some estimate of the respective positions?

I will certainly consider what can be done to facilitate debate, but I must adhere to my answer that the publication of exact figures at the present time would not be in the public interest.

Economic And Monetary Policy

65.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will undertake not to enter into any agreement with any foreign Power which prevents us from pursuing a co-ordinated economic policy which ensures full employment, maintains direct regulation of imports and exports and enables us to conclude reciprocal agreements with the Dominions and Colonies on trade and monetary matters?

The hon. Member's Question raises issues too wide and various for treatment in an answer to a Parliamentary Question, but he may be assured that in all international discussions of an economic character the many relevant considerations will be carefully borne in mind.

Can we have a very definite assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that the conclusion of any international monetary or commercial agreements, particularly with foreign countries, are not going to interfere with the prerogative to enter into direct trading and monetary arrangements with the Dominions and the Colonies? Can we be assured that our relations with the Colonies on these matters, which are very important, will be fully protected?

Certainly, Sir, the most careful consideration will be given to that aspect of the matter, and it will be the subject of discussion with the Dominions. I do not think I can go beyond the promise already given in this House as to the opportunity for debate before definite commitments are entered into.

Can the Chancellor say whether the Dominions are themselves being consulted about these important matters before any decisions are arrived at?

United Nations Reconstruction Banks

66.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he now has any statement to make with regard to the United Nations Reconstruction Bank, in view of the fact that the draft proposals have been at the Treasury for some months and that the final proposal was received by his Department nearly a month ago?

The hon. Member is misinformed. It was only recently that we received anything that could properly be described as a draft proposal, and it was made clear to us that this was not to be regarded as an authoritative proposal from the United States Treasury. The proposal in its present form is under consideration, but I am not in a position to make a statement at present.

Am I wrong in saying that certain papers were received and overtures made in the early months of this year? I made a careful check of this.

The hon. Member is quite wrong. Certain material was published, of which in fact my predecessor had no cognisance, which did not represent any authentic contacts, and it is only, as I have said, quite recently that anything in the nature of a draft proposal—that not binding in any way on the American authorities—was communicated to my Department.

My right hon. Friend said that it is not binding on the American authorities; can he say also that it is not binding on our own?