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Written Answers

Volume 530: debated on Friday 16 July 1954

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday, 16th July, 1954

Ra Camp, Trawsfynydd (Complaint)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the constant damage caused to private property in the village of Trawsfynydd, Merionethshire, by gunfire reverberation from the Royal Artillery Camp at Trawsfynydd; rind what steps he is taking to abate this nuisance and to meet the claims of the owners of damaged properties.

I do not know of any such damage caused by the Royal Artillery, and my Department has not received any claims on this account.

Post Office Services (Government Offices)

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what proportion of his Department's receipts from all sources derive from business originating in Government offices, both central and local; and whether all such business is paid for or credited at the same rates as are applicable to private persons or firms.

The income in respect of postal and telecommunication services rendered to other central Government Departments represented in 1952–53 about 8 per cent. of the total Post Office income. A further 8 per cent. of the total was in respect of agency services (savings bank, national insurance, etc.). In general, the charges for postal and agency services exclude profit, but telecommunication services are paid for or credited at full public rates. Local authorities pay for services in precisely the same way as private persons or firms and no distinctive accounts are, therefore, kept.

Borstal Institutions (Absconders)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has for amending the Borstal rules in order to implement the recommendation of the Departmental Committee on Punishment in Prisons and Borstals that adjudication upon absconders from Borstal should be reserved to the board of visitors.

Two years ago I decided not to take a final decision on this recommendation until I had had a chance to see how it worked in practice, and I therefore gave effect to it by administrative direction as an experimental measure. I am advised that this direction, which causes appreciable inconvenience to boards of visitors, is serving no useful purpose and a large majority of boards of visitors have asked that it should be withdrawn. I have accordingly decided to discontinue it and to leave it to Borstal governors to decide in each case whether or not to refer the case to the board of visitors.

Members' Expenses (Tax Allowances)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered the recommendation of the Select Committee on Members' Expenses that the practice whereby, since 1913, £100 out of the payment Members receive has been automatically allowed tax free as an expense allowance should be discontinued: and whether he will make a statement.

Yes. As the Select Committee point out, the Treasury. were empowered by Section 3 of the Finance Act, 1913 (now paragraph 8 of the Ninth Schedule to the Income Tax Act, 1952), to fix for any class of persons remunerated out of public funds a sum on account of necessary expenses which would be automatically deducted from their remuneration in assessing Income Tax thereon. A Treasury Minute of October. 1913, fixed, in the case of Members of the House of Commons not in receipt of salaries as Ministers or Officers of the House or Officers of His Majesty's Household, the sum of £100, which has remained unchanged ever since. The provisions of this Minute are now virtually a dead letter, because practically all such hon. Members incur necessary expenses of more than £100 a year, and are therefore entitled to claim tax relief on a sum greater than £100. The Government therefore agree with the Select Committee's recommendation.A further reason for discontinuing the 1913 arrangement is provided by the institution of a Sessional Allowance. This enables hon. Members to recover their necessary expenses, within limits, by a cash reimbursement instead of bearing them out of their salaries. It would not be consistent with this arrangement to provide at the same time that the first£100 of salary should be automatically relieved of tax on account of necessary expenses.

A new Treasury Minute is therefore being made, revoking the Minute of 1913, with effect from the same date as the institution of the Sessional Allowance. This will, of course, have no effect on the Income Tax position of hon. Members who already declare to the Inland Revenue that their necessary expenses exceed £100 per annum. Other hon. Members (who are very few) will no longer be entitled to any automatic tax relief, but they will be entitled to claim relief under the ordinary law in respect of such necessary expenses as they do incur.