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National Finance

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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

Unpaid Services (Expenses)

36.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his regulations permit private individuals performing unpaid services for the Government to deduct any expenses necessarily and exclusively incurred in the performance of these services from other sources of personal income.

No, Sir. I should add that individuals who undertake unpaid work for the Government can claim reimbursement of their out-of-pocket expenses in accordance with the scale laid down for unpaid members of Royal Commissions and Government Committees.

Are the right hon. and learned Gentleman's regulations adhered to in this matter?

54.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether members of the Committee on Resale Prices Maintenance will, for taxation purposes, be permitted to charge personal expenses incurred in connection with this Committee against other sources of income.

I cannot answer Questions relating to the tax liability of particular individuals.

Synthetic Oil Plants (Germany)

37.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an estimate of the number of dollars which could be saved to the sterling area were the synthetic oil plants in Germany worked to capacity instead of being dismantled and the output either sold in dollar territories or used to save dollar purchases.

Marshall Plan (Obligations)

38.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations have been received from the Chairman of the Council of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation expressing the view that Great Britain was not carrying out any of the undertakings on financial and monetary stabilisation to which the country has been pledged, consequent on the adherence by His Majesty's Government to the Marshall Plan; and what replies have been made.

is it not the duty of the Chairman of the Council of O.E.E.C., under proposal 1 of the principles and proposals of the plan of action, 1949–50, adopted by the council of O.E.E.C. in March, 1949, Annex C, to receive my right hon. Friend's report and then to discuss it with him; and is his failure to bring forward proposals for this discussion due to the fact that the Americans are apprehensive that we are in such a fix that Mr. Snyder himself is coming to this country to engage in this discussion?

Trade With Japan (Dollars)

39.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will guarantee that no dollar leakages have taken place as a result of the trade agreement with Japan.

It was agreed by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers that the sterling area should be reimbursed in dollars for any unprocessed goods sold to Japan which had cost dollars; and that except by special arrangement with us Japan would not resell goods obtained from the sterling area. There is no reason at all to suppose that these undertakings have not been fully carried out.

Has my right hon. and learned Friend any idea of the amount of dollars which have been leaking through this Japanese trade agreement?

The answer I have just given shows that my idea is that there is no leakage.

Fiduciary Issue

40.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he has agreed to the increase of the fiduciary issue by the Bank of England by £50 million.

For the reason given in the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. D. Thomas) and my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) on 5th July.

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that he is adopting Soviet technique in this matter by saying one thing and doing the opposite? He is warning the country against inflation and then bringing in 50 million more bits of paper.

Sterling Balances (Palestine)

41.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the sterling balance of the former Palestine Government on 15th May, 1948; and how much of this balance had been earmarked for the successor Government of the area allotted by the United Nations resolution to the Arabs.

In so far as the hon. and gallant Member's Question relates to sterling balances in the accepted sense, I would refer him to the reply given to the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) on 27th May, 1948. These sterling balances are almost entirely the counterpart of liabilities, such as Palestine Currency Board notes and deposits in banks, the location of the owners of which is a matter of fact. No question of earmarking by territories therefore arises. On the other hand, the allocation of sterling assets of the former Mandatory Government of Palestine will be discussed with the Government of Israel in talks now proceeding at Tel Aviv and with any Arab successor Government.

Will the Chancellor give an assurance that, in the course of the negotiations now proceeding with the Government of Israel, he will not prejudice the position of any future Arab Government?

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure us that Jacob has not once more stolen his brother's birthright?

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure us that in any arrangement which is ultimately arrived at the acceptance of the assets will be coupled with a duty to discharge outstanding responsibilities?

Income Tax

42.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many employers, as at any recent date, were known to the Income Tax authorities to be holding money deducted by them from the wages and salaries of their employees under Pay-As-You-Earn more than six months previously; and what is the estimated amount involved.

On 27th September, 1947, the latest date for which precise information is at present available, the amount of tax deducted for 1946–47 and earlier years and reported by employers but not paid over by that date was £627,000. No information is available centrally either as to the number of employers involved or as to tax which may have been deducted but not reported by that date.

45.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why tax reclaimed by persons with incomes derived from England living in Jersey is still six months and more overdue in repayment.

If the hon. Member will give me particulars of the cases he has in mind, I will have inquiries made and communicate with him as soon as possible.

56.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his regulations permit a person denied compensation for war damage, due to a too late claim, to claim Income Tax relief on the amount paid in respect of war damage repairs to his property.

In the circumstances described in my hon. Friend's Question, the cost of the repairs may be included in a claim for relief under Rule 8 of No. V of Schedule A of the Income Tax Act, 1918, if the total expenditure on maintenance, repairs, etc., to the property, on the five years' average, exceeds the flat-rate repairs allowance.

Will my right hon. Friend then explain why, if these war damage repairs have not been accepted, ordinary repairs have been accepted in this way?

If my hon. Friend will send me the particulars of any case she has in mind, I will certainly have them looked into.

Houses (Sale Prices)

43.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the profiteering in the prices of houses for sale with vacant possession; and whether he will consider imposing a substantial Purchase Tax on such sales.

The Purchase Tax could not be used as an instrument for imposing a tax on the seller of a house.

Could not my right hon. and learned Friend find some other method of dealing with this exploitation?

I have answered the Question I was asked, which was whether we could use Purchase Tax for the purpose.

If Purchase Tax is not available for the purpose, should not the Chancellor of the Exchequer think in terms of some form of capital appreciation tax, because millions are slipping by in this and other connections at a time when he is scratching around for a million here and there.

Does not my right hon. and learned Friend think that this problem might at least be mitigated by some differential form of Stamp Duty? Is he aware that it has become a national scandal?

I am afraid I cannot answer questions that are not on the Order Paper.

Travellers' Cheques, France

44.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the difficulties experienced by British travellers in cashing travellers' cheques in France; and if he will make representations to the French Government with a view to a simplification of their exchange procedure.

I do not think that the difficulties reported in the Press have been on a large scale or are persisting. Willingness to cash any particular traveller's cheque is a matter for the bank concerned and there is no reason to make representations to the French Government.

Post-War Credits

46.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how far the Post-War Credits of the ex-Service men concerned will be reduced or extinguished by the remission of arrears of tax under the recently-made concession.

The amount of a Post-War Credit for any year is computed by reference to the tax borne for that year. Consequently, to the extent that tax is remitted for any year, the Post-War Credit for that year is less by that amount.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend say whether he took the post-war set-off into account in giving the Committee an estimate of the cost of this remission?

In the estimate of the cost, I do not think it had been taken into account.

War Damage (Late Claims)

47.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state for the guidance of those persons still negotiating with the War Damage Commission, what factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether a late notification is due to most exceptional circumstances; and whether dangerous and nerve-straining rescue work with the Civil Defence service at the time of an incident is included in this category.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to a similar Question on 25th January, 1949.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the undiplomatic and sometimes arbitrary behaviour of the War Damage Commission is causing great distress to many deserving people, and will he ask them to be a little more sympathetic in cases of this kind? Could he not, perhaps, himself give a more sympathetic answer?

I think they are extremely sympathetic. On many occasions I have looked into this matter and discussed it with various Members of the House of Commons.

Is not my right hon. and learned Friend aware that on both sides of the House there are many Members who can bear out from their personal experience the views which have been put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker)?

Bonus Share Issues

48.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many applications for permission to issue bonus shares have been received by the Capital Issues Committees since 6th April, 1949; how many have been sanctioned; how many refused; and what was the aggregate nominal value in each case.

Up to and including 6th July, 116 applications had been received to a nominal amount of £43,381,021; of these 115 had been sanctioned to a nominal amount of £43,231,021; one had been refused, nominal value £150,000.

Does not that reply show that there is really no proper control being exercised if 115 out of 116 have been allowed, with £43 million as the nominal value and undoubtedly twice that amount as the market value? Is it not time this racket stopped?

No, Sir. It shows that applications have been made only in proper cases.

Tax Forms (Welsh Language)

52.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will arrange for letters or notes of guidance as to Income Tax papers to be written in the Welsh language in Welsh-speaking areas.

I am advised that the use of English in Income Tax forms, notes for guidance, and correspondence does not give rise to special difficulties in Wales. Accordingly, I do not consider that the additional expenditure which would be involved would be justifiable. As my hon. Friend will be aware, the staff in appropriate tax offices in Wales includes Welsh-speaking officials and, if need be, correspondence can be conducted in Welsh.

Does not the Chancellor appreciate that it is very difficult for persons who primarily speak and write Welsh to follow these difficult matters? Could he give some estimate of the cost involved in sending out Welsh circulars in the Welsh-speaking areas?

No, Sir; I have not an accurate estimate. I am quite sure, however, that by having Welsh-speaking officers any difficulties can be overcome far better than by having Welsh documents.

Import, Export And Customs Powers Act, 1939

53.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when an Order in Council will be made declaring the date on which the emergency, that was the occasion of the passing of the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, came to an end; and why the said Act had been retained in force for an emergency of an entirely different character.

I cannot accept the implication in the Question that the emergency which was the occasion of the passing of this Act has come to an end. Accordingly, no question of making an Order in Council need arise at present.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman distinguish between the emergency occasioned by the outbreak of war and the emergency occasioned by the outbreak of the fifth year of the Socialist Government?