Orders of the Day — Finance Bill.

– in the House of Commons on 3rd May 1929.

Alert me about debates like this

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time.—[Commander Eyres Monsell.]

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

In the few remarks I desire to make on the Third Reading of this Bill let me at the outset explain that it is not our intention to oppose the Measure. In one respect at any rate it realises what many of us on this side have been urging ever since we have been in the House, that is, that we have at last a proposal to abolish the Tea Duty. In the second place, if I had any hesitation in regard to this Measure, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who, in a recent speech, attempted to prove how nearer the financial results accruing under a Conservative Government corresponded to the ideals of the Labour party in regard to direct taxation, would have helped to satisfy me that at any rate there are things in the Bill which might receive our support. In looking back upon the series of Budgets introduced by the present Government, of which this is the last, there are certain points which I should like to mention on this the last opportunity we shall have of considering the finances of the nation before Parliament dissolves. One matter which has been mentioned in the discussions on this Bill, is the treatment by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Debt question.

It is to be regretted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has paid such slight attention to what we consider the fundamental principles for dealing with Debt. This is the more important in view of the fact that the creation of new duties is a matter which is being constantly discussed in the country. The old principle which governed the treatment of Debt was a fixed Sinking Fund, commenced by the present Prime Minister, and the application of any surplus to the reduction of the Sinking Fund has been altered by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, decidedly to the detriment of the financial interests of the country. A criticism has appeared in one of the financial papers as to what really is the amount of money the Chancellor has actually used in regard to the Sinking Fund.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

On the Third Reading of the Finance Bill, the hon. Member must confine his remarks to what is actually in the Bill. He cannot go beyond the scope of the Measure.

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

Our discussions in Committee have covered a whole series of matters and in the beginning of the Bill we are told that they are provisions which are necessary to meet the expenditure of the country. I understood that on the Third Reading of this Bill a certain latitude is allowed hon. Members in dealing with these matters. There is the abolition of the Tea Duty, which surely involves a consideration as to the way in which money is to be raised, and that cannot be fully dealt with unless we are able to discuss the question of the Sinking Fund and the Debt.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

It is customary on one of the Budget Resolutions in Committee to allow a full discussion of all questions affecting the revenue of the year and the payment of Debt, and an equal latitude is allowed on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill. But, when we come to the Third Reading, it has always been customary and the rule that the discussion should be confined strictly to the provisions of the Bill itself, and to nothing else.

Photo of Sir George Gillett Sir George Gillett , Finsbury

The matters that come under the category laid down in that Ruling, Mr. Speaker, include Income Tax, the Tea, Duty, the Betting Duty and the Customs Duty dealing with hops. The issue that I wanted to bring before the House, relating to the debt and its relationship to other questions, hardly comes within the range of subjects that can be dealt with. I therefore turn my attention to the question of Income Tax and of direct and indirect taxation. At an earlier stage of the Bill the Financial Secretary to the Treasury pointed out that the repeal of the Tea Duty had altered the relationship between direct and indirect taxation. That alteration is one of the most important changes that the Government have brought forward. As to the distribution of wealth in this country, the returns for Super-tax and Income Tax have indicated, if anything, an increase of wealth among a certain section of the population and a decrease of wealth among the wage earners. We have seen going on throughout the country a reduction in the wages of the wage earners. Although the country is nothing like as prosperous as it was before the War, the burden has fallen largely upon the working classes.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) said in a recent speech that he estimated that out of a total income of something like £4,000,000,000, only £1,600,000,000 was the proportion that went to the wage earner, and that the much larger balance went into the hands of the rest of the community. That being the position in the relationship of the two classes, the question is, how far this Bill is going to adjust the inequality? One of the ways in which the inequality ought to be adjusted is, first, by a reduction of the taxes that fall upon the necessities of life. The Tea Duty is an illustration. It is also imperative that the Sugar Duty should be removed. Inasmuch as the Financial Secretary has spoken warmly in praise of what the Government have done in repealing the Tea Duty, I can only hope that if he and his friends should be in power in the next Parliament, we may look for a continuation of this policy of removing duties now imposed on the necessities of life. The inequality in the distribution of the income of the country does justify those of us who think that the resources of the country might be used to a greater extent in removing burdens that press so unfairly upon one section of the population, in saying that the financial policy of the country should be such that the credit of the country would increase the wealth available for those who are now suffering under very serious handicaps. The Bill ought to have included proposals that would have provided more employment for those who are now suffering. Is it not possible for more to be done in that direction? We are having the Betting Duty removed, and in connection with this further proposals are to be made at some future time in another Bill. Those proposals are unsatisfactory. It is a mistaken idea to make a differentiation in telephone charges in order to counter the proposals made in this Bill. The ruling you have given, Mr. Speaker, makes it impossible for me to develop the special subject on which I was anxious to speak, and I shall not detain the House longer.

Photo of Mr John Remer Mr John Remer , Macclesfield

The hon. Member made the statement that the Conservative party had followed the principles of the Labour party in abolishing the Tea Duty. I would remind him that if it had not been for the revenue obtained under the Safeguarding Duties and other duties of a similar kind, it would not have been possible for the Government to have removed the Tea Duty. It is a remarkable fact that the Safeguarding Duties bring in practically the same amount as is lost to the revenue by the removal of the Tea Duty. The Conservative party has held for many years that our fiscal system should be so arranged that the duties imposed do the country some good, while taxes on such things as tea and sugar, which cannot add to the employment of our people, should be removed. I would commend particularly to the House the fact that not one word of criticism of a serious character has been raised by the Labour party or the Liberal party against this Finance Bill. I think the Chancellor is to be congratulated on the great benefit which he has given to the country, while avoiding those objections which are usually urged by hon. Members opposite.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

This Budget has remitted certain taxes, and we appreciate that fact, but I think the Conservative party are taking more credit in this matter than they are entitled to. The Financial Secretary, in the Second Beading Debate, sought to take credit for the reduction of indirect taxation affecting the necessities of life, but, at the same time, he put in a plea for the direct taxpayer, and seemed to be of the opinion that the direct taxpayers were entitled to sympathy. The hon. Gentleman said: Although the direct taxpayer is, according to these figures, paying 65 per cent. as against the 35 per cent. of the indirect taxpayer, it must not be forgotten that in practice the direct taxpayer pays also indirect taxes, whereas a large proportion of the indirect taxpayers do not pay direct taxes at all."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th April, 1929; cols. 1088–89, Vol. 227.] The hon. Gentleman left one to infer that the direct taxpayer was being penalised. I think I shall be in order on the Third Reading in touching upon that point, and in dealing with the proportion of the national wealth which goes to a certain section of our people as compared with other sections. I have been getting out figures in regard to the Super-tax payers, and I find that these people take a far greater proportion of the national wealth than they appear to be entitled to, and therefore ought to bear a far greater burden of the taxation of the country than they do at the present time. The Government could very well take away the taxes which we call indirect taxes, bearing on the necessities of life, if they desired to do so. We are told that the figure of indirect taxation has fallen, and that the proportion which was 4.43 per cent. is now 2.91 per cent. of the total tax revenue. The relief just given under this head amounts to about £6,000,000 and, according to the figures with which we have been supplied, that leaves somewhere between £13,000,000 and £14,000,000 being raised by indirect taxation. If the Government desired to do away with the remaining indirect taxes, I contend that they could have done so in this Budget.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer made the statement that he regretted having taken the sixpence off the Income Tax, but the right hon. Gentleman could very easily have reimposed the £10,000,000 of which he relieved the Super-tax payers in 1925. Had he done so there would be no question about the remaining 2.91 of indirect taxation. That could have been put right in this Budget. According to the financial returns which have been given to us, there are 147 persons in this country enjoying among them, an annual income of £29,500,000, which represents £200,000 per annum for each of those persons. That works out at £3,800 per week. On the other hand, taking all the 45,000,000 of people who are under our jurisdiction, out of the national income of £4,000,000,000 each person has only £1 14s. per week or about £80 a year. A comparison of the Super-tax payers with the ordinary indirect taxpayers showed a vast difference, which satisfies me that when the question arises of securing revenue we ought to look to where the money is. There is no apology from our side when we press that the national revenue should be obtained from those who have wealth and not from the poor people who have little. We think that in this Budget the Government could have relieved the people of the £13,000,000 or £14,000,000 of indirect taxation which means so much to them by adopting the method I have outlined.

The Conservative party has placarded the country with posters bearing the words "Safety first." The Super-taxpayer who views that poster can say to himself. "Yes, this is a Government which means 'safety first' for me." Judging by this Finance Bill at least, that is the case, but there is a vast army of people who will view that poster with different feelings, and who will say, "It is not safety first for us." We say that the Conservative party have not carried out their mission, in putting this Finance Bill before the country, and I trust that when an opportunity comes, as I hope it will later on, we shall take advantage of that opportunity to raise this whole question of indirect taxes, and that the burden of raisings revenue required for the country will be put on the shoulders of those best able to carry it.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

It is a little unfortunate that my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) has not been able to develop the argument which he desired to develop. The Ruling which you, Mr. Speaker, have given is understood, but I submit that there is a case to be put forward on these lines. We submit that far too great a proportion of the national revenue is being raised from indirect taxation, and that, had it not been for the unfortunate treatment by the Chancellor of the debt question, there would have been a much larger surplus available in the next few years, enabling a much more effective attack to be made on the burden of indirect taxation at present weighing on the mass of the people. From that point of view I think we are entitled to say that if there had been a more orthodox—I fancy that is the word which the hon. Member for Finsbury would use—adherence to the settled principles of dealing with debt in the last few years, there would have been a much larger reduction in the burden on the indirect taxpayer than has yet been possible.

The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) has pointed out the serious anomalies which exist, as between the direct and the indirect taxpayer. It is no answer for the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer) to suggest that it would not have been possible to remit the Tea Duty but for the imposition of certain Safeguarding Duties. His case is that it has been possible to remove the residue of the Tea Duty because of the revenue which has been received in the last few years from Safeguarding Duties. If the hon. Member can persuade the poorer classes of the community that it is of any great advantage to them to get a reduction of 4d. per pound on tea, and, thereafter, to pay taxes upon all the knives, forks and spoons which they use, upon practically every article of crockery in their kitchens, upon the enamelled pots and pans used by the housewife, upon silk stockings and a multitude of other goods, then the hon. Member deserves to be called a very fortunate man. It is quite certain that the actual burden of the Safeguarding Duties upon the working class is more than sufficient to cover the whole of the relief which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given in the remission of the Tea Duty.

I am delighted that at last we can regard ourselves as free from the imposition of the Tea Duty, and from more than one point of view. First of all, I am glad because for year after year in this House I have been personally associated with the efforts that have been made to secure the complete remission of the Duty, and I am glad because over a large and important trade you will have a good deal of expensive machinery now rendered unnecessary. There has always been a large amount of capital locked up in the financing of the process of the Tea Duty, and that will now be completely removed, and the general machinery for dealing with tea in the greatest tea market in the world, the City of London, will be certainly facilitated. I am glad also from the point of view of the consumer, because this relief is much overdue; and, following the line of argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh, I think we can repeat here what we have said before, namely, that if the Labour party is given, as it deserves to be given, power in this country and not merely office without power, it certainly will attack this question of indirect taxation and, with the possible exception of duties upon pure luxuries, remove the whole burden of indirect taxation from the mass of the people and fit the burden of meeting the revenue required by the country on the backs of the people in accordance with the old-time principle of ability to pay. After all, the real test of just taxation, as my hon. Friend indicated, is what a man has left to provide himself and his family with reasonable comfort after he has paid the taxation which the State imposes.

Things have been said in various quarters as to the effect that, in the case of the removal of the Tea Duty, as in the case of the removal of some other duties, it will not be likely that the whole remission of the duty will be passed on to the consumer. I want to say, quite frankly, that I do not hold that view. I think an examination of the results of the large remissions of indirect taxation made in the Labour Budget of 1924 will show that the consumer has reaped the benefit. There are always differences in the market price of the various commodities to be traced between 1924 and 1929, but if you take the whole of the figures of market quotations during that period and analyse the factors which have operated in causing those fluctuations, I think it can be clearly demonstrated that the remissions have been passed on to the consumer and I have no doubt that, as far as it is possible, this remission also will be passed on.

But there is one danger, and it is mainly about this danger that I have risen this morning to address myself to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. The tea used by our people is the most important and stable article of their diet. It is a curious thing that it is only quite recently that it has generally been regarded as a foodstuff. In fact, I think that even so recently as the inquiry by the Board of Trade under the Merchandise Marks Act tea was described as not being a foodstuff. It certainly is a very stable item in the diet of the people, and, therefore, it is essential that whatever changes take place in the Customs arrangements with regard to this commodity, some safeguard should be obtained to prevent undue exploitation of the community in regard to it. As I say, I think the remission of the duty will be passed on, but we have now had such a long history of Customs handling of this commodity that the statistics which have been regularly compiled by the Government Department concerned, and made available to the trade, have had a very important and a very stabilising influence upon the trade.

It is always exceedingly important, when you are dealing with a commodity of this character, that you should know, not merely the gross figures of import and export, but also what are the stocks of the commodity in the country and where those stocks are. In the past, while tea has had to be put into bonded warehouses, from which it could not be removed until the duty was paid, we have always had very firm information, not only as to what the total stock is, but where the stock actually is for the time being. Traders, of course, have not removed their tea from bond until they were willing to pay the duty which was required to release it, and they did not do so until the last moment, because, if they paid large sums in duty in order to release their tea so as to carry a large stock ex-bond, they had to carry extra capital charges for the interest on that duty. But now that no duty is to be paid, no information as to actual stocks will be available from the Government Department. Tea can be removed from the quayside at any time when the tea comes in, and as there will be a conveyance of this tea to private warehouses and to all parts of the country for packing purposes, it will be exceedingly difficult to get really accurate information as to what are the available stocks and where they are for the time being, and that will have a much more disturbing effect upon the market for this commodity than has yet been realised.

I know that this is rather a difficult question, and I am anxious not to press the Financial Secretary unduly this morning, but I want to ask whether the Government have the matter in mind and whether they propose to do anything about it. I recognise that, if you deal with a commodity like tea, now that it is duty free, from the point of view of information as to stocks, you at once raise the question as to what shall be the position of statistics as to stocks of other important food commodities, and, therefore, you enter upon a rather wide area of investigation and possibly of enactment; but, on the other hand, when you have had the experience in this trade in the past to go on and when you know the effect of having really adequate information, surely it is a guide for the Government of the day in its investigations as to whether, in the case of tea—and possibly, as I hope the Labour Government shortly will completely remove the duty upon sugar, in the case of sugar and similar important food commodities also—the country ought to know, not only for reasons of emergency, but also to prevent undue manipulation of the food markets, what are the stocks available and where they are.

The only point about that is that any requirement in that connection should be completely general. I remember sitting in the witness chair before the Royal Commission on Food Prices in 1925 and being examined, without notice, by the Chairman, who wanted me to undertake to give certain information with regard to stocks. My answer to him at once was that we, for our part, would be quite willing to give information as to stocks, provided that everybody else was asked to do the same, and not only with regard to stocks, but with regard to forward contracts also. In view of the necessity of maintaining as far as possible the stability of the market in this commodity, I ask that at a time when the Government have at last seen their way to remove this duty, they will pay attention to this matter with a view to preventing what might possibly result in a sort of mild corner in this important food commodity. I do not propose to say anything else this morning upon the Third Reading of the Finance Bill, except to say that, apart from this one provision, the complete abolition of the Tea Duty, this is a most drab, mundane Budget, which cannot commend itself very strongly to the people, and is, perhaps, after all, a fitting climax to the somewhat inefficient performance of his financial duties by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Photo of Mr George Pilcher Mr George Pilcher , Penryn and Falmouth

There is a subject upon which I wish to say a few words if I may, and I apologise for troubling the Financial Secretary to the Treasury at this very late stage in the proceedings on the Budget. I want to refer to the position arising in regard to non-resident Income Taxpayers. Under the two decisions which were come to by the House of Lords in March, 1928, in the cases of Levene and Lysaght. The position now appears to be, to judge from the circular issued by the Board of Revenue in February, that a person living overseas, if he has a residence of any kind in this country, is chargeable to British Income Tax if he stays here for even a single week in the year. That is causing very serious injustice to officers employed by the British Crown, both military and civil officers, in the Overseas Dominions. I have got here some extracts from one of the leading newspapers in India. The heading to one of the leading articles is "A colossal wrong." It explains that very large numbers of people living in India are obliged often to maintain some sort of dwelling here for their children at school, or their wife it may be, and if the man employed abroad is compelled to come home for reasons of sickness, or for other reasons, he immediately finds himself on landing, however short may be the time he stays in this country, mulcted in British Income Tax.

There is another rule which depends on those two decisions, or which seems to have been affected by those two decisions. It is to the effect that although a person may have no residence at all in this country, if he comes to this country for an average of three months in the year, over a term of four or five years, he may be mulcted in British Income Tax in respect of the whole of his income, either received or sent to this country. There are many cases in which a minimum of three months is spent here regularly by a person whose whole occupation is abroad, and that does involve, also, a very serious hardship in the case of some of the judgeships in our Overseas Dominions. Judges who are entitled to a minimum statutory average leave of three months, who spend their statutory leave out of the country, although they are employed abroad, and although the whole of their income is affected by it, find themselves mulcted in the same way as other people who have not a house in that country. I am much more interested, however, in the Overseas officers employed in the Overseas Departments than in other classes. There has been some apprehension expressed lest these new rules, or new reading of old rules, may operate against the visits of foreigners to this country. There have been instances given in the newspapers in which they have operated to that effect, and recently new associations, which have been formed to promote travel in this country, have mentioned that particular case to the Minister. That interests me less than the case of officers employed Overseas, and I think that if my hon. friend has studied the newspapers for the last two or three months, and the concrete cases given there, he will realise the very strong case there is for the reconsideration of the operation of the new rules and the need for their revision.

Photo of Mr Arthur Samuel Mr Arthur Samuel , Farnham

I listened with pleasure but without surprise to the hon. Member opposite who opened the Debate when he announced that he was not going to oppose the Third Reading of this Bill. As a matter of fact, there is nothing with which the Labour party can find fault in the Bill; otherwise we should have heard of it. I note with astonishment that there is not a single Member of the Liberal party in the House while the House is discussing one of the most important Bills that can come before it. Here is a Bill giving legislative effect to the proposals in the Budget, and not one single Liberal Member is present to listen or speak. On the Committee stage there were not present at any time three Members of the Liberal party together. No one on the Liberal side spoke, but towards the end one hon. Member arrived on the Liberal Benches, got up, and asked a question which was out of order. This Finance Bill has been a remarkable Bill. Not one Amendment in Committee was put down. The Bill is unassailable, and no one opposite dares oppose it.

I have no case to answer this morning, but a few questions have been put to me, and I propose to answer them briefly. The hon. Members for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett), Leigh (Mr. Tinker), and Hillsborough (Mr. A. V. Alexander) all dealt with the question of the relative weight of direct and indirect taxation. Let me say at once, on behalf of the Government, that there is no section of the people in this country for whom it is our desire to reduce the burden of taxation, more strongly, than our poorer fellow-citizens. It is the policy of the Government to take taxation off their shoulders and to improve their position. The lower the figure of indirect taxation upon the poorer citizens the better we like it. We have got it down for their benefit as I showed the other day. If you take out of the 35.61 per cent. of indirect taxation the theoretical indirect taxes upon oil, silk and betting, and the McKenna duties, 3.77 per cent., the figure is 31.84 per cent. for indirect taxation, which is below the figure of the Socialist Government and the lowest on record.

There is a point which was never sufficiently brought out in the discussions on the Budget and on this Bill. I want to take the point, and I do not want to use an ethical or moral argument but to take it purely on arithmetical grounds. Before I deal with it let me preface my observations by a point already mentioned by me. Financial Statement No. 84 shows clearly what is contributed by direct taxation such as Income and Super-tax, Estate Duties, Stamp and Excess Profits Duty, Land Tax and other duties. That comes to £412,000,000. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is the date?"]. That was issued by me as Financial Secretary on 15th April last. None of this money is contributed by the poorer members of our nation. Then come the Customs and Excise, £250,000,000, which is called indirect taxation but is not found by the poorer indirect taxpayer entirely. People often overlook the fact that part of it is found by the direct taxpayer. Therefore you have to add to the amount of percentage of taxation borne by the direct taxpayer the unknown amount borne by them also on indirect taxation. Then comes my main point. Hon. Members opposite always forget to give it value. On the other side of the Financial Statement are two social services which we are delighted to provide. In a very small degree they may perhaps benefit the direct taxpayer; but almost entirely they benefit the indirect taxpayer, that is to say, the poorer members of our nation. The point is always carefully avoided by hon Members opposite. The two amounts for social services which are enjoyed by the indirect taxpayers are education £50,000,000, and health, labour, insurance, including old age and widows' pensions, £79,000,000. Members must not forget, and the country must not forget, that here is the large sum of £129,000,000 provided by the direct and indirect taxpayer which almost entirely goes to the benefit of the indirect taxpayer. That £129,000,000 for social services has to be taken into account and given weight in the indirect taxation calculation. It is never admitted by the other side, yet it is a very cogent and powerful factor in the relative indirect and direct taxation scheme of this country.

The other point with which I want to deal was that raised by the hon. Member for Hillsborough. He put his case very temperately and did his best to cover up his annoyance at not being able to find anything to oppose in this Bill. He asked if we would take some part in providing certain statistics for the use of the tea trade. He has been in trade and business, like I have, all his life, and he must admit that if he asks the Government to give statistics of tea, he must decide where the practice is going to begin and where it is going to end? It will not end with tea once you admit the principle of our compiling the necessary statistics to enable merchants to know what stocks are coming in and out. We therefore cannot agree to undertake that duty. But we will give such help as we can to assist merchants and importers to obtain the information they require, but obviously it must stop there, and the trade must not read into my words more than I mean. We will now give such help as we can. I understand that the tea merchants and importers are taking steps about gathering statistics which they themselves need; we will, if they now apply to us, do the best we can to give every help and courtesy in our power.

I understood the hon. Member for Hillsborough to say that tea, which entered greatly into the food of the people—although he hinted that it had no food value—should be delivered to them in a cleanly state. I can tell him that the examination of tea for health purposes will continue. The obligation to examine imported tea, which is laid on the Customs by the Sale of Food and Drugs Act, 1875, will continue in force, notwithstanding the repeal of the Duty, and tea which is found to be mixed with other substances, or is exhausted or unfit for human food, will be subject to the directions of the Commissioners of Customs as regards disposal. It may give the hon. Gentleman some satisfaction to know that we intend to continue to look after the health of the people by seeing that they do not get adulterated food.

12 n.

The hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Pilcher) put a question, which I recently noticed in another form in letters to the Press, with regard to Income Tax on leave. I looked into the matter carefully, and I have made some notes upon it which I think will apply to the hon. Gentleman's question. I am glad that he has raised it, because it gives me an opportunity of clearing up a misunderstanding. The letters which have appeared in the Press were written under a misunderstanding of the position. My hon. Friend made use of the expression "subject to Income Tax if he stays here a week." That is not correct, and I am glad to be able to make a correction. The position is this. The hon. Member had in mind the case of a British subject working in India. The position of a British subject working in India or elsewhere abroad, who makes occasional visits to this country, is this. He incurs no Income Tax liability at all by visiting this country if he maintains no place of residence here, and if he be in the country for less than six months in the Income Tax year. Even if he maintains a place of residence here, the liability to Income Tax is limited to the amount of his foreign income which is received in or brought into the country. I think that that will lay at rest some of the fears expressed by my hon. Friend. Another point was raised in another part of the Debate to which I had better refer, because this gives me an opportunity of settling a misunderstanding. It is the point which concerns the charge to Income Tax on employés of British companies in India and the Malay States. It has been suggested that if these employés are paid by commission, the commission is liable to Income Tax here merely because the employer is a British company. The suggestion as I have stated it is entirely without foundation. The hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth expressed the fear that this alleged taxation of income upon visitors from India, the Dominions and foreign countries is opposed to the scheme which the Government have at heart, namely, the "Come to Britain" movement. The Board of Inland Revenue are anxious to dispose of what is a widespread misapprehension about the circumstances in which, and the extent to which, visitors to the United Kingdom who are not domiciled here are liable to Income Tax. I hope that the hon. Member will allow me to send him a lucid little document which was drawn up by the Inland Revenue in February last. It explains the misapprehensions and puts right the fears. It deals with the liability to tax on income arising abroad, and I think that it would be a service if I were to read one or two passages. We cannot make this position too clear, because misapprehension may do harm: No part of a visitor's income from sources outside the United Kingdom is subject to United Kingdom Income Tax, unless he is chargeable as a person residing in the United Kingdom. The circumstances in which he may become so chargeable and the extent of his liability are indicated below. Then we come to a section on what constitutes residence: A visitor who maintains no place of abode in the United Kingdom, and whose visits are not habitual, but occasional only, is not regarded as a resident in the United Kingdom unless he has been in the United Kingdom for a period or periods equal in the whole to six months in the Income Tax year beginning 6th April.A visitor who becomes chargeable as a resident is liable not on the whole of his income arising from abroad, but only on so much of that income as is received in or remitted to him in the United Kingdom. If there is any doubt about the interpretation of the meaning of these rules, the Inland Revenue will be glad to see people in order to explain the position to them; we wish to encourage people to visit us. I think I have dealt with all the questions. We have now come to the end of the discussions on this admirable Bill, and I ask the House to give it a Third Reading.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

I would like to say one word on this Bill. Several times I have tried to get a word in. I hope that when the second Finance Bill comes on consideration will be given to the state of the West Indian sugar trade. Last year's Budget was very severe upon it, and there was hardship as a result of the regulations which were made. Several hundred thousands of coloured British citizens there are suffering very severely, and I trust the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make an investigation into the circumstances to see whether something cannot be done to remedy the state of affairs.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.