asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what arrangements he has now made to speed up repayments of selective employment tax to persons not liable to the tax; what is now the average interval between payment and repayment; and whether this period is the same for public authorities and private citizens.
Most claims for refund are paid within about two weeks of receipt. Claims for private taxpayers are on a quarterly basis, but in the case of public bodies where the number of claims to be dealt with is small by comparison, payments are made more frequently.
As levying this tax on those not liable to it involves an interest-free loan to the Exchequer, will the hon. Gentleman say what justification there is for treating public authorities more favourably than private citizens?
The reason why public authorities are treated more favourably is because in their case there is one single claim covering a large number of people which can be administratively dealt with in this way.
Concerning the interest-free loan, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the process of collection and repayment is cumbersome, but that will end when the National Insurance stamp is abolished.
The right hon. Gentleman will also remember that if there was not this interest-free loan, £13½ million extra would have to be raised by the tax, which would put up the rate by another shilling
It is expected that Professor Reddaway's initial findings will be available before the end of the year. They will be published and my right hon. Friend will give very careful consideration to his findings.