NEW CLAUSE (Income Tax Act (1918) Admendment.)

Orders of the Day — Finance Bill. – in the House of Commons on 28th June 1922.

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That for Schedule A, Rule No. VI., paragraph (c), of The Income Tax Act, 1918, there shall be substituted the following:—
(c) The amount of the tax charged on any hospital, public school, or almshouse, in respect of the public buildings, offices, and premises belonging thereto, including premises occupied by any individual officer or the master thereof, so far as not occupied by a person paying rent for the same.

—[Captain Wedgwood Benn.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Leith

I beg to move "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I have put down this Amendment at the request of the Education Authority of the City of Edinburgh, and many other education authorities are, I believe, in agreement with it. So far the Inhabited House Duty has not been collected upon the residence of the schoolkeeper, or janitor as he is called in Scotland. Owing to the fact that the wages of these people have risen in the last few years, their houses have ceased to come under the exception mentioned in my new Clause. My proposal is that the house should be excepted from the duty. The income of the janitor has nothing to do with it. The effect of the present position is that the education authority is taxed in a way in which it was never intended it should be taxed. The amount of money is small—in the City of Edinburgh it is under £200 a year—but it is a vexatious and unnecessary position, and I beg the Government to consider favourably this Clause.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

I am afraid I cannot assent to the proposal of my hon. and gallant Friend. I agree that the matter is small, but I cannot agree that it is vexatious. The change which has taken place has brought the janitor in some cases above the Income Tax exemption limit. Accordingly, the house fails to get the exemption which previously it had enjoyed. It is a small matter in connection with this particular class of cases, but it is obvious that there might be wide extensions if the principle is once applied. It would mean that because wages or salaries had risen in particular instances, therefore the limit of exemption should be raised. If money became cheap and people had more of it to spend, one must raise all the limits of the Income Tax Schedule. Obviously, that is too wide a principle to apply. It requires more consideration. Under the circumstances I cannot accept the Clause.

Photo of Mr Alexander Lyle-Samuel Mr Alexander Lyle-Samuel , Eye

This proposal refers to any hospital, public school or almshouse, limiting this entirely to janitors or such persons who are occupying positions in publicly provided institutions. We are not asking the Chancellor to make a general concession, for I quite agree that where wages or salaries had been increased the Chancellor would then find himself embarrassed.

Lieut.-Colonel HENDERSON:

This is peculiarly a Scottish question and probably the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not aware that the Secretary for Scot- land did promise that this should receive consideration.

Photo of Sir Robert Horne Sir Robert Horne , Glasgow Hillhead

I have given it great consideration.

Lieut.-Colonel HENDERSON:

He has given consideration to it in the sense that he has said that it cannot be accepted. That is not what the Scottish Office said when we discussed it with them. The whole point is that you are expecting education authorities to pay on