Orders of the Day — House of Commons Members Fund Bill.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 19th July 1939.

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Photo of Sir Philip Colfox Sir Philip Colfox , Dorset Western

I heartily endorse what has been said by the previous speaker. It seems to me absolutely iniquitous that anybody should be required to pay a tax on money that he cannot under any circumstances receive. It would not be proper on this occasion to enter into a discussion on Income Tax as a whole, nor, indeed, would I be competent to do it because it is a very complicated subject into which none but real experts can enter. It has always seemed to me a most anomalous position that anybody should be required to pay Income Tax on what he does not receive, but, of course, this Sub-section has been inserted into the Bill very obviously in order that the general public may be told that no charge for these pensions will fall upon public funds. There is not the smallest chance that the general public will believe such a statement, nor do I really think it is a true statement, because when we read a little lower down we find that the trustees will be exempt from the payment of Income Tax on all the income of the Fund and on any investment thereof. Clearly the capital subscriptions by Members will have to pay Income Tax before they are received by the trustees, but as far as the invested surplus income from investments is concerned, it seems to me that there is no doubt that but for this provision that income would have to pay tax. Therefore it seems totally inaccurate to say that no charge will fall on the public funds because a certain amount, and possibly a substantial amount, of Income Tax will be remitted on the income derived from the investments of the Fund.

Possibly I have misinterpreted it and no doubt if I have the Chancellor of the Exchequer will correct me. But there is no doubt that this provision has been inserted in order that the general public may be told that no charge falls on public funds, though there is not the smallest chance of the general public believing it. Therefore it seems ridiculous to me that this gross injustice should be perpetrated on every Member of Parliament in an endeavour to create an impression which certainly will not be created, because all the general public believe now and will continue to believe, whatever they may be told by Conservative members and candidates — and of course, other politicians are not so careful in their statements— that we, as Members of Parliament, have at this time of national crisis and heavy local expenditure, taken up the time of the House to push through this proposal. I strongly support the deletion of this Sub-section.