§ MR. SEARS
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the opinion of the Departmental Committee on Income-Tax, 1904–5, in favour of continuing the present practice of employing eight different officials at Somerset House, in addition to the Surveyor of Taxes and his staff, on each claim for repayment of income tax, even when such claim amounts only to a few shillings, is based solely on the evidence of the head of the Repayment Branch at Somerset House, who may be regarded as an interested witness: whether he is aware that no independent evidence was taken such as that of a surveyor of taxes, a collector of Inland Revenue, or of any other revenue officer conversant with the view of the outdoor staff in actual contact with the practical work of investigating the bona fides of the claims and certifying 1181 thereto; and will he say whether the Government will take steps to obtain such independent evidence and make a full inquiry into this matter before forming an opinion as to the wisdom of maintaining a costly establishment which is only engaged on routine duties and on apparently useless and unnecessary work.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The Departmental Committee, of which the late Lord Ritchie was Chairman, was a very strong one, and I am not disposed in this matter to go behind either their procedure or their conclusions. The Committee included the Chief Inspector of Taxes, an ex-surveyor of experience, who both heard the evidence and signed the Report.