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Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is an important item in relation to our national finances, and is it not important also when set alongside social security payments which arise from strikes? Should not the Government keep track of it?
It is important, but the hon. Gentleman does not fully understand the method by which pay-as-you-earn taxation is operated. The refunds to which he refers are mostly made by employers in the ordinary course of events, and it is impossible for the Government, unless they obtain a return from every employer of every reason for each repayment of tax, to give the information for which he asks.
But does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise that one of the anxieties which people have is that the ordinary person, if he becomes entitled to a refund, may have to wait many weeks, or sometimes months, while in these cases special arrangements are made? Will he comment on that?
Yes, with pleasure. The right hon. Gentleman is not accurate in what he says. In the ordinary course of pay-as-you-earn, there is no distinction made in the rate of repayment by the employer whether the employee's entitlement to repayment arises because he is on strike, because his wife has had a baby, because he has got married, or whatever the reason may be.