A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

276 278 3

Home Intelligence Special Report No. 10 .

4th March, 1942

Income Tax Quiz

At the request of Publications Division R.I.O.s were asked to report on the public's reactions to “Income Tax Quiz”. Their replies indicate that, on the whole, this booklet was well received, by those who were aware of its existence. But it appears that in most Regions it has not yet reached the main body of the working-class public.

Northern Region . Enquiries indicate that a majority had never heard of the “Quiz”, but that those who had seen it were enthusiastic about it. Booksellers were reported to have sold out, and to be awaiting further supplies.

In this Region the “Quiz” seems already to have reached the working-class public. Shipyards and collieries are mentioned as being particularly interested, and Trades Unions, the F.B.I., and Local Information Committees have put forward various proposals for encouraging interest in the booklet and improving its distribution.

It is suggested, for instance, by the East Durham L.I.C. that “a copy be sent to every Miners' Lodge” where, it is thought, considerable sales could be made. The West Hartlepool Committee suggested that “copies should be made available for sale at pay boxes in works and shipyards”. It is also pointed out by a Trades. Union official that, as working men “rarely, if ever, know precisely what was their income in a certain period”, a note stating that this information would be obtainable from their employer might profitably have been inserted in the “Quiz”.

Publicity in this area seems to have been most effective through the B.B.C.

North Eastern Region . “The ‘Quiz’ appears to have been well received”. The fact that it was not issued free seems to have increased its value in the eyes of the public. “The indexing and the quoting of examples have also been the subject of favourable comment”.

The press seems to have been chiefly responsible for making the public aware of the booklet.

North Midland Region . Though knowledge of the “Quiz” was apparently scanty in this Region, those who had seen or heard of it were enthusiastic. There is, however, “a strong feeling that it should be issued free to first payers”, and also “to such people as shop stewards” and others who might be able to create a demand for it. But according to a report from one L.I.C. “people are indignant that they should have to pay for an explanation of what they consider to be a muddle made by the Government”. Another L.I.C. considers the booklet useless “because the people in need of instruction would be the last to spend twopence on it”. In view of this feeling the R.I.O. approached the Welfare Officer of B.A. Collieries who informed him that he had obtained 1,000 copies of the “Quiz”, and was placing them on sale at 1½d. each at the pit head. The result was a great demand, and several hundred sales.

The press again appears to have been the chief medium of publicity.

Eastern Region . The news of a publication such as the “Quiz” is reported as being “welcomed by all, and the form of ‘Questions and Answers’ appears to be widely acceptable”. Some shops in Cambridge and Welwyn Garden City are said to have sold out early on, and it seems that “widespread interest and discussion was aroused” by the extracts which have appeared in the press. So far, no comments have been received on the contents of the booklet, but an impression seems to exist “that it covers only specified groups”, and there are requests “from all groups of wage-earners and property holders” for similar booklets applicable to themselves.

London Region . Reports indicate that as yet the “Quiz” seems to have aroused little interest and few comments are available. “Some people are said to be cutting out the extracts which some of the papers (sic) are running, but do not seem to have thought of buying the “Quiz” itself”.

One contact criticises the word “Quiz” as being unfamiliar to people.

Another contact reports that owing to the Postwar Credits statement (p.16) - that they are “part of the income tax deducted from your wages between January and December 1942” - there is some impression that the scheme is for this year only.

The B.B.C. seems to be the means by which most people heard of the booklet.

South Western Region . Reports suggest that, at the time of the enquiry, the public were hardly aware of the “Quiz”; such comments as had been heard were mostly of mild approval. The R.I.O. mentions that:

“A few newspaper editors ... were interested to hear about it, but deplored the fact that review copies did not appear to have been sent to them. They considered that this omission reflected adversely upon our propaganda machinery”.

Welsh Region . “Very many people” seemed to be unaware of the “Quiz”. Those who had seen it are described as being “loud in their praise” though this appreciation appears to be confined to certain districts. It is suggested that “much more effective publicity” is needed. The following criticisms are also made:

(1) “‘Quiz’ is not a particularly commonplace word among working people”.

(2) A Welsh language edition is “strongly recommended as in predominantly Welsh areas a publication in English is often not read at all or is inadequately understood”. In some rural districts such a publication is said to be regarded with “more than a little suspicion”.

(3) “A free issue would add to its popularity”.

Most people first heard of the “Quiz” through the B.B.C.; others had done so through the press and in general conversation.

Midland Region . Little comment has yet been reported, though most of those who have seen the booklet seen to “think it has gone a fair way to clarifying the position”; there is still the “greatest, confusion, however, over taxation of the husband's and wife's combined incomes”.

Knowledge of the “Quiz” is attributed to both the press and the B.B.C.

North Western Region . Though reports suggest that “the ‘Quiz’ is useful and is appreciated”, it is also described as “too complicated for the working man”, but special mention is made of its value to “trades union officials, Citizens' Advice Bureaux and librarians”.

As a means of publicity the B.B.C. is considered to have been most effective, though the series in the Daily Express is described as “most valuable”. But on the whole, “the conclusion appears inescapable that there has been insufficient publicity, and that many working men have not heard of the “Quiz” yet”.

It is also reported that so far the “Quiz” has reached the “clerical worker and superior artisan” group rather than “first payers”; “if the idea was to sell taxpaying to the workers, it is a failure”. Trades union officials and Company secretaries are recommended as being especially suitable for publicising the “Quiz” in works.

Scottish Region . Here it would seem that public interest in the booklet is subject to local influences. A great demand is reported from Edinburgh, while on Clydeside its existence appears to be almost ignored. One bookseller specifically mentioned workmen as purchasers, but according to the R.I.O.: “In view of the fact that the occupation groups mentioned on the back of the “Quiz” - navvies, dockers, bricklayers, etc. - certainly are not in the habit of buying H.M. stationery publications, the information that all sorts of people “including workmen” were buying up the booklet was unexpected”!

It is suggested that “Directors of works should be circulated urging them to purchase quantities in bulk to sell to employees”.

South Eastern Region . No public reactions were reported from this Region where the “Quiz” appears to have evoked little interest.


Reports from seven out of eleven R.I.O.s indicate that at the time of their enquiries, which were made mostly between 19th and 27th February, many people seemed to be unaware of the “Quiz”. On the whole, those who had seen it appeared to think it excellent, with the reservations already mentioned under Regional headings.

There was little criticism of the price but it was thought that a free distribution to certain classes of people, e.g. shop stewards, who, would stimulate the booklet's sales.

The reports do not give a clear indication of the way in which people came to hear of the “Quiz”. Such information as there is suggests that the B.B.C., closely followed by the press, were the chief sources of information.

Reports from two Regions suggest that the word “Quiz” is not familiar to the public in the sense in which it is used.

We use cookies to track usage and preferences.

Privacy & Cookie Policy Accept & Close