The Daily Sketch – incorporating the Daily Graphic – of Monday 6th February 1928 reports:
Rating Reform – Mr Churchill has lost no time in nipping in the bud any hopes of a reduced income tax. But the frankness of this pre-Budget announcement is scarcely reproduced in the reasons advanced – the General Strike and the coal stoppage – to excuse the Government’s failure to relieve industry. The evil consequence of the disturbances cited have never been mitigated in this paper, but their worst effects now belong to the past, and the Government cannot indefinitely blame ancient industrial ills for its own financial shortcomings.
Mr. Churchill went further and suggested that if he found himself with a surplus he would devote it not to lowering the income tax but to reforming the rating system. Rating reform is second in importance only to a reduced income-tax and nobody is under a stronger moral obligation to give his attention to this subject than is Mr. Churchill, whose policy – notably his Road Fund raid – has done much to add to the rates burden.
In many respects rates constitute an even worse, because a more unfair, drain upon industry than income-tax. On every ton of crucible steel, for example, they represented in 1924 a charge of 21shillings compared with 3 shillings in 1914. And rates have to be paid whether profits are made or not. Unfortunately Mr. Churchill’s rebuff to income-tax payers was much more definite than his hint of relief to ratepayers. And industry demands something better than the mere hint of promise. Some at least of its burdens must be lifted.
We shall come back to Winston’s troubles on this matter in the near future.