Bates v. Commissioners of Inland Revenue
28. Mr. More
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the observations of the House of Lords in the case of Bates and the Commissioners of Inland Revenue on 8th December, 1966, what steps he will take to correct the apparent injustice of the present law.
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Niall MacDermot)
The observations to which the hon. Member refers are being considered.
Does not the Chancellor think that this is something of a scandal? Fifteen years ago attention was drawn by the House of Lords to the unsatisfactory state of the law. In those 15 years, nothing has been done.
I am not prepared to accept the hon. Gentleman's strictures, but it is perhaps better that I reserve comment until our consideration of those observations is completed.
While Niall MacDermotthe Financial Secretary is considering this case, would he also consider whether he should publish the basis upon which the Inland Revenue has been invoking these Sections and the basis on which it has left them alone? He will recollect that it has not invoked Sections 408 and 411 on all occasions.
Again, I do not accept what the hon. Lady says. There are different interpretations of this Section which have been advocated by various people, and the Inland Revenue has never sought to interpret the Section in the way in which some people have suggested it can and should be and criticised the Section consequently.
Portland Beach (Removal of Pebbles)
29. Mr. Evelyn King
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give a direction to the Crown Commissioners to bring to a speedy end that contract which enables pebbles to be removed from Portland beach.
The contract in question ended on 31st December last.[column 1259]
Is renewal of the contract under discussion, as apparently it has not yet been renewed? If so, will the hon. and learned Gentleman take steps to see that it is not renewed and bear in mind that there is real danger to coastal defences and to people's houses in that area? The Crown Commissioners have not checked in the past on the amount of pebbles removed or on the place from which they are being removed.
The Crown Commissioners are anxious to see that sea defences are not put at risk. They have asked the local authority for its views. They are awaiting them before deciding whether to permit further removals.
30. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress he has made with his plans for reduction of Government spending across the exchanges by £100 million; and whether this reduction will now be achieved during the current financial year.
31. Mr. Stratton Mills
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now give details of the £100 million reduction in Government overseas expenditure for 1966–67 announced by the Prime Minister on 20th July l* and if he will make a statement.
41. Mr. Dickens
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been achieved in effecting the reduction of £100 million in Government overseas expenditure in 1966–67, announced on 20th July last.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. James Callaghan)
I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 18th January.—[Vol. 739, c. 398–400.]
Does the Chancellor recall that these cuts were described six months ago as a firm programme? Why are they still completely in the dark? Can he tell us whether he now anticipates that there will be any increase or any reduction in the rate of current Government expenditure across the exchanges in 1966–67 by comparison with 1965–66?[column 1260]
No, Sir. I am not ready to give an answer to the second part of the question. As to the first part, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said that it was proposed to give a progress report on this matter when the White Paper is published in a few weeks' time.
Mr. Stratton Mills
Could the Chancellor confirm the Prime Minister's assurance last July that this £100 million cut in overseas expenditure would consist of new cuts and not be related back to last year's Defence Review and other items announced or envisaged before the review of 20th July?
That is a very detailed question. Broadly, these are new cuts. As in the case of some of the difficult negotiations now going on, there is no doubt that the cuts resulting from the discussions which are taking place and which are made public will have a profound effect on the economy of certain countries and must be carried out with care and the minimum of dislocation.
Does the Chancellor accept the view of Mr. Fred Catherwood that heavy overseas expenditure has been a major cause of the slow economic growth of this country since the war? Will he give the House an assurance that he will work towards a defence budget of not more than £1,750 million at 1964 prices in 1970, as this is in accordance with current Labour Party policy?
I cannot answer a question about the 1970 defence programme this afternoon, even if it was my responsibility. As to the first part of the question, quite clearly Government expenditure overseas is very heavy and has been growing. This Government have restrained it and in due course will cut it back, and it must have a hampering effect on growth. I would not attribute the—I will not say “total failure” , because that would give the wrong impression—I would not attribute the slow rate of growth of this country purely to that.
Is the saving intended to include the saving from United States spending on U.S. Forces transferred from France? If it is, as it was originally intended that by 1969–70 the saving of [column 1261]£100 million would have been there anyway, what is the corresponding increase that there will be in defence expenditure?
I think that the hon. Gentleman had better put that Question down or wait for the progress report which is coming in about three weeks' time.