A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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22nd June, 1942 .


At the request of Campaigns Division, Regional Information Officers were asked for their views on the need for a salary earners' Income Tax Quiz, as distinct from the existing Quiz for weekly wage earners.

From only one Region comes any direct demand for such a Quiz though three Regions suggest that salaried employees would find one useful and interesting. In three Regions also the difficulties were mentioned of the small salary earner who may not have the same opportunity to get help in solving his income tax problems as his higher paid colleagues.

Reasons for lack of demand

The three main reasons given for a lack of demand are:-

1. That salary earners, through their close acquaintance and familiarity with business procedure, are usually competent to handle their own income tax affairs.

2. That they often have access to their firms' cashiers, accountants and to other knowledgeable people.

3. That in the higher income groups, lawyers and firms of accountants are often consulted about income tax problems.

Six Regions mention these aspects of the problem, while two indicate that the present Quiz is bought by “black coated workers” as well as wage earners, some salary earners are said to refer to the Daily Mail Income Tax Guide which apparently covers both classes.

In two Regions such demands as were made for a salary earners Quiz centred round the following points:-

1. Salary earners sometimes overestimate their knowledge of income tax problems, while others are hazy about the rates at which they are assessed. It is thought that in particular the smaller salary earner might benefit by having a special Quiz. (Three Regions)

2. There is a feeling among some salary earners that they have been neglected, and that while a great fuss has been made of the manual wage earner, it is they themselves who “bear the brunt of everything” - thanks to higher rates of assessment, heavier committments, and often reduced incomes. (Two Regions)

Suggestions for a new Quiz .

Support was given in one Region to the suggestion that the scope of the present Quiz might be widened to include all those who come within the scope of the National Health Insurance Acts, i.e. those earning up to £450 p.a. This it is thought, would be

3. The groups with the highest proportions wanting the peace to be thought about now were the younger age groups, and the upper and middle income groups. It seems likely, therefore, that the persons wanting the subject to be considered now are, in fact, the more progressive, forward-looking - and opinion-forming-groups.

2. Postwar trade and industry .

Q: Which of these suggestions comes nearest to what you would like to see done about trade and industry after the war?

(Suggestions on card handed to person interviewed)
a. Go back to pre-war conditions, with as little government control over private business as possible. 23%
b. Let the Government regulate gas, electricity, waterworks and other industries vital to the general welfare, but continue to have private ownership of most of the nation's business. 31%
c. Have the Government take over ownership and control of all basic industries - transport, coal, steel etc. - wiping out private ownership of them. 40%
Don't know. 6%

Breakdown :

a. Go back etc. b. Government regulate vital general services c. Government control and own all basic industries Don't know
% % % %
Men 22 30 45 3
Women 25 22 35 8
21-34 19 29 46 6
35-49 22 31 42 5
50 and over 27 32 35 6
Upper 27 41 29 6
Middle 27 36 34 5
Lower 22 29 43 6
Towns of over
100,000 21 32 42 5
1,000-100,000 23 31 41 5
Rural 30 27 36 7

Comments :

1. The framing of the choices is by no means ideal. The alternatives are too complicated and not sufficiently clear-cut.

2. It is, however, significant that over 70% of the public would like to see a greater degree of Government control than there was before the war.

3. It is also significant that the highest figures for the greater degree of Government ownership and control came from men, the younger age-groups, the lower social groups, and urban areas.

3. Causes and prevention of war .

The following result is interpolated. It was obtained in the routine monthly British Institute of Public Opinion Survey for May 1942.

Q: What do you think is the main cause of this war?

German aggression 40
Greed, capitalism, imperialism 29
Failures after the last war 7
Appeasement 10
Lack of Christianity 2
Others (including “don't knows”) 12

Q: What do you think is the best way to prevent future wars?

Some form of internationalism 54
Squashing the Axis 13
Great Britain should be strong 8
There'll always be wars 7
Others (including “don't knows”) 18

No check list was provided in either of these questions. The answers therefore represent spontaneous views.

4. Britain and the rest of the postwar world .

Q: When the war is over, what should Great Britain do concerning the rest of the world? Which of these suggestions comes nearest to what you would like to see us do?

(suggestions on card handed to person interviewed)
a. Mind our own business, and outside the Empire have as little as possible to do with other countries. 14%
b. Form no new ties with other nations, but use our influence to try and organise the world for peace. 13%
c. Have as little as possible to do with America and Asia, apart from the Empire; form a new Union in Europe to include ourselves and all European countries under one government 2%
d. Try to form some close connection with the United States. 18%
e. Form a new union to include in one government all democracies everywhere in the world. 22%
f. Form a new league or association of nations to include all the different countries, Great Britain taking an active part in making it work. 27%
Don't know 4%

e. and f. together make up 49% in favour of a world-wide union or league. This tallies closely with the result obtained in the open question (part 2 of Question 3), where 54% favoured some form of internationalism as the best way of preventing future wars.

5. International Police

Q: Some people think the only way to prevent countries quarrelling is to have one or two strong nations policing the world. When the war is over, should Great Britain do the policing alone, or should she do it with some other nation or isn't it our job at all?

Alone 7%
With someone 64%
Not our job 20%
Don't know 9%

(If “with someone”) Who should be the other country to do it with us?.

(No list given to person interviewed)
United States 64%
Russia 38%
China 1%
Canada 1%
Australia 2%
France -
Don't know 14%

6. Britain and the United States after the war .

Q: What would you like to see the British Empire do after the war regarding the United States? Which of these statements comes nearest to expressing your feelings?

(Suggestions on card handed to persons interviewed)
a. Form one united nation with one government, one army, one navy etc. 19%
b. Do not unite our governments, but look upon the United States as our favourite nation, with both sides agreeing to fight for the other should either be threatened. 54%
c. Treat her just as we do any other nation 27%

Q: (To those saying “Yes” to a: i.e. 19%) Would you agree to our entering such a partnership if we were the junior partner and the United States the Senior?

Yes 39%
No 46%
Don't know 15%

Q: If Great Britain and the United States should e[Text Missing]ver units into one nation -

a. What money should be used?

(List stated)
Pound 26%
Dollar 12%
Makes no difference 49%
Don't know 19%

b. Where should the commander of the two united navies come from?

(list stated)
Britain 24%
United States 2%
Whichever seemed better at the time 66%
Don't know 8%

c. Where should the capital of the two united nations be?

(list stated)
London 53%
Washington 5%
Montreal 5%
New York 5%
Elsewhere 1%
Don't know 31%

d. What about titles in the two united nations (the Americans are not used to them)?

Kept 31%
Done away with 58%
Don't know 11%


June 3rd, 1942.

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