Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd May 1976.

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Photo of Mr Joel Barnett Mr Joel Barnett , Heywood and Royton 12:00 am, 3rd May 1976

I am very surprised. Justices of the peace have power to issue warrants on all kinds of occasions. Why should the right hon. and learned Gentleman be so concerned about those who are suspected of cheating the Revenue? I cannot understand it.

I recognise that, despite the need to stop evasion, we must be careful about not going too far with the powers we seek to take. We must balance the need to protect the rights of the honest taxpayer with the need to protect the rights of the individual citizen. It is strange that some Opposition Members who do not have too many scruples about those who break the social security laws for trivial sums should suddenly have scruples about those who are suspected of defrauding the Revenue of large sums of money. Despite that, I recognise that personal privacy should not be breached too readily. We have to be very careful about it.