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National Finance

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1949

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Sterling (Value)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is his policy to devalue the £ sterling.

Will the hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. and learned Friend to make up his mind soon whether he intends to devalue in one, two or three months, and so end the uncertainty?

My right hon. and learned Friend has already made up his mind that any such step as this is neither necessary nor desirable.

Income Tax Acts (Codification)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, when the general revision of the Income Tax Acts is under consideration, attention will be paid to the method of appointment of general commissioners and to the property qualification; and how soon he anticipates that it will be possible to revise these provisions.

Yes, Sir. This question will be dealt with when the Income Tax Acts are codified but I cannot say when that will be.

Post-War Credits


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now consider making payment of post-war credits to anyone who is medically assured is incapable of living more than a limited time, and will thus be unable to receive their credits at the age of 60 or 65.

No, Sir. The difficulties of extending special treatment in cases of hardship have frequently been explained in Debate.

Is not this a particularly heartless reply when the right hon. Gentleman is asked to consider the suggestion that these people should have a little more money before they die in order that they can have the opportunity of enjoying the few luxuries to which they are entitled?

Is the Financial Secretary aware of the very great concern widely felt at the very unsympathetic attitude of the Treasury towards cases of hardship, as evidenced by the fact that the Treasury are not prepared to find out what it would cost to make the concession?

Is it any good asking the Treasury to reconsider this question, because, although the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that the difficulties of the position have been explained, they have not convinced us on this side of the House or the people who think they are suffering a grievance?

I cannot help that. We have discussed this many times and the prime difficulty is one of definition.

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that he will not take the same steps to burke the discussion of this matter on the Finance Bill as his right hon. and learned Friend has done with the Purchase Tax?

I did not know that it was my right hon. and learned Friend. It was the House which agreed to the Resolution to which the right hon. Gentleman refers—

—and if he is criticising the House, that is another matter. I have not the slightest doubt that this question will be raised during the Debates on the Finance Bill, and if that is so an answer will be given.

Does my right hon. Friend realise what a dangerous thing it is for any doctor to say to his patient that he can only live a limited length of time?

Can my right hon. Friend give the House an estimate of what this concession might cost if it were conceded?

Petrol Duty (Farm Tractors)

49 and 50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) why he has not found it possible to consider favourably the scheme submitted by the National Farmers' Union and the National Farmers' Union of Scotland for the repeal of the duty on petrol used for agricultural farm tractors and machinery and horticultural equipment;

(2) if he has considered the scheme submitted by Norfolk Tractors, Limited, for the removal of petrol tax on farm tractors; and what decision he has reached.

It would be necessary to define with sufficient exactness the purposes for which petrol is to be free of taxation; and, secondly, to have means of administering the exemption effectively and with fairness to all concerned. In my right hon. and learned Friend's opinion, neither of these requirements could be met in the case the hon. Member refers to.

Could not the right hon. Gentleman make a simple rule, at any rate in the case of tractors which are driven by petrol, in order that a reduction could be made?

Development Value (Claims)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many claims for compensation for loss of development value have so far been made; and how much the total claims made to this date are.

The number of claims received up to the end of April was approximately 100,000. The amount is not known as claimants are not obliged to state the amount claimed.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the number of approximately 100,000 claims is up to the estimate which his Department originally thought would be the number of claims?

The number is quite academic. It is what the claims stand for, and as yet that is not known. I am sorry that without notice I cannot answer the question put to me by my hon. Friend.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the great strain put on professional men to get these claims in by the last day of June, which is the present tinal day, and will he consider extending the time?

The time has already been extended once and we cannot go on extending it.

War Damage Commission (Interviews)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many personal interviews have been granted in the last 12 months by the Chairman of the War Damage Commission to persons desirous of raising with him questions with reference to decisions of the Commission.

I am informed by the Chairman of the War Damage Commission that statistical records are not kept of the number of such interviews, but that it must be very large.

He cannot, however, undertake to interview claimants or their advisers personally on individual cases, if only because the number of notified claims is over 3½ million. He is always, of course, ready to see an hon. Member about cases raised by his constituents, or to arrange for applicants themselves to be seen by senior officers as appropriate.

Does the Chairman follow the salutary practice of granting an interview in cases where there is a conflict between officials of the Commission and members of the public, and in which substantial issues are raised?

The Chairman of the War Damage Commission follows the practice I have outlined?