Inland Revenue Staff Federation
The Union was born in the late 19th century, when a group of tax clerks met together to fight for higher pay, higher status and better conditions. At that time clerks were hired by surveyors of taxes, they were usually employed on a temporary basis, paid low wages and denied sick leave, holidays or promotion. Clerks who asked for better conditions were branded as agitators and sacked.
The Federation was founded on 1 January 1936 with the merger of the Association of Officers of Taxes, the National Association of Assessors and Collectors of Taxes and the Valuation Office Clerical Association. Its Assistant Secretary from 1936 until World War II was future Prime Minister of the United Kingdom James Callaghan.
In 1937, the Federation, which represented taxes and collection staff, was joined by valuation staff. The roots of the Federation go back to 1883 and the founding of the London Association of Assessors and Collectors, but only after 1937 did it fully represent all staff grades at the Inland Revenue.
In 1938, the Inland Revenue Minor Establishments' Association joined the union. The union initially operated on a federal basis but, in 1939/40, it became a single organisation. These changes took place under the leadership of William Thomas Seddon.
At the 1986 Jubilee Celebration, the IRSF was described as a modern efficient organisation, with a high profile in the trade union movement, with a membership of 55,000.
Only two people held presidency of the union twice, those being G B Walker and William Robert Roy Skinner. The first female president of the Federation was Winifred Mary Kidd in 1956.
- 1936–1937 John Roughton Simpson
- 1937–1938 David Thomson
- 1938–1941 William Thomas Seddon
- 1941–1944 James Cyril Jagger
- 1944–1946 William Frederick Botterill Smith
- 1946–1949 Reginald George Cox
- 1949–1951 Gerald Benjamin Walker
- 1951–1953 Richard Henry LeFevere
- 1953–1955 William Robert Roy Skinner
- 1955–1957 Mrs Winifred Mary Kidd
- 1957–1958 Gerald Benjamin Walker
- 1958–1960 William Robert Roy Skinner
- 1960–1962 J V Boyle
- 1962–1964 G W Davies
- 1964–1966 J G C Hopkins
- 1966–1968 W G Lloyd
- 1968–1970 J Bibby
- 1970–1972 W Wilson
- 1972–1974 D L Thomas
- 1974–1976 W Bartlett
- 1976–1978 T I McKeon
- 1978–1980 S C Walters
- 1980–1982 T T Bagguley
- 1982–1984 C H Boote
- 1984–1986 C Salt
- 1986 - F R Winrow
The Book of the Presidents: 1936–1957
The following information is taken from The Book of the Presidents. No further copyright information is listed on the volume, which runs into blank pages following the last insert from 1957 on Winifred Mary Kidd, the first female president of the IRSF. This particular volume was originally owned by William Robert Roy Skinner, President of the Federation in 1953 and then again in 1958.
On 1 January 1936 The Association of Taxes and the National Association of the Taxes Assessing and Collecting Services were bought together in Federal Unity as the Inland Revenue Staff Federation.
John Roughton Simpson The First President of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation 1936 1st Federal Assembly, Scarborough 1937 2nd Federal Assembly, Llandudno
1936 "... We must develop ... not an A.O.T point of a National Association point of view, but only a Federation poing of view - one which has regard for the interests of all and not merely those of a section ..."
"... I express the hope that this First Meeting of the Federal Assembly will be a milestone in the progress of both Associations, the starting point of greater unity in our own Department, and will serve to encourage greater unity in the Service at large."
1937 "... If we face up to a close relationship between wage standards in the Service and wage standards outside there are two vitally important matters with which the Service must deal. Firstly, we must, by concerted action, vigorously pursued, secure some machinery which will ensure that the adjustment of Service remuneration does not lag behind the wages trend in industry. Secondly, we myst renew our attack on Clause 5 of the Trade Disputes Act. What an absurd and intolerable position it will become if the Government, whilst insisting on our standards of remuneration being related to those of workers outside, continues to forbid us to co-operate with outside Trade Unions! ..."
David Thomson President 1937–38
David Thomson was the second President of the federated body but did not preside over a Conference as he was succeeded in 1938 by W.T.Seddon, first President of the amalgamated Federation.
On 28 May 1938 came the amalgamation of the already federated Association of Officers of Taxes and the National Association of the Taxes Assessing and Collecting Services with the Valuation Office Clerical Association. The three separate Associations ceased to exist. All became one in the Inland Revenue Staff Federation.
William Thomas Seddon Third President 1938 1st A.D.C. Bexhill 1939 2nd A.D.C. Glasgow 1940 3rd A.D.C. London 1941 4th A.D.C London
1938 "... I trust that the lead which our constituents have given in amalgamation will be a happy augury for the efforts we are making towards achieving an alliance of the organizations representing the clerical grades in the Civil Service ..."
1939 "... Today the world around us is trembling on the brink of a great upheaval. Hatreds, fears and ambitions have all combined to threaten the peace of the civilized world ... It has taken many people a long time to learn the obvious lesson that no individual can lose his liberty without that act weakening the liberties of every other individual ..."
1940 "... At this time, when the war has entered upon a more ruthless, a more dangerous and, maybe, a more decisive phase, our first thoughts as we meet here today must be for our members serving with the Forces ..."
1941 "... Mr Churchill, when he took office, promised us nothing but blood and tears, sweat and toil. Hitler will see to it that we get the blood and tears. We can only defeat him by sweat and toil. Nothing else matters to any of us but ultimate victory. All those rights and liberties which mean so much to us will be as dust and ashes if we fail ..." "... We believe that in steering the middle course we have been interpreting the wishes of almost all our members. That course has been the wholehearted support of the war effort accompanied by intelligent vigilance for and open criticism of any unnecessary restrictions of liberty, the rediculour postures of little people dressed up in a lot of red tape, and misuse of power by people in positions of authority ..."
James Cyril Jagger Fourth President 1942 5th A.D.C. London 1943 6th A.D.C London
1942 "... This (1941) Budget registered a new high level in direct taxation and brought within its provisions several million new taxpayers ..." "... Our membership was immediately alive to the herculean task in which it would be involved and your Executive Committee was very concerned lest our failure to perform the task efficiently and to time-table brought upon us the public criticism and contumely to which the sealed lips of Civil Servants of the last war made us so much subjected ..."
"... The Board maintained its traditional silence ..."
"... the Press and B.B.B. turned to the Federation for assistance and enlightenment ..."
"our General Secretary did a series of explanatory broadcasts ..."
"... That is the history of our entry upon a path we never dreamed to tread."
1943 "... Now we are faced with the need to make our contribution to Civil Service post-war reconstruction and already the General Secretary is much occupies with several colleagues on the National Staff Side in preparing for early discussions with the Treasury."
The Annual Delegate Conference was cancelled in 1944 because of the critical stage of the war.
William Frederick Bottrill Smith Fifth President 1945 7th A.D.C. London 1946 8th A.D.C. Margate
1945 "It is my privilege to open our first Conference following victory in Europe. For over five years the nation has been engaged in the grim struggle to crush the menace of Nazi oppression. During these dark days we readily forfeited many of the improvements in conditions won after years of struggle: we willingly worked longer hours, we gladly put up with black out conditions and we heartily cussed the all to frequent visits of the Luftwaffe! We enthusiastically exercised the old British privilege of enjoying our grumbles about heavy personal tax deductions, restrictions on liberty and rationing. Ours has been no glamour job. Sweat, yes; tears, maybe; blood, sometimes. But through it all we can claim to have produced the goods - against great odds - and to have played our part throughout the crisis in Britain's history..."
1946 "The welcome repeal of the Trade Disputes Act, 1927, opens up opportunities for the Civil Service unions to shoulder a full share of responsibility. Affiliation to the T.U.C. will enable us to join with the trade union movement generally in ensuring that the workers' efforts are used to best advantage. In all directions it cannot be doubted the Federation is entering a new era of activity and opportunity ... our greatest contribution to a national recovery can be made within our own Department ... criticism is not enough - we must find a solution..."
Reginald George Cox Sixth President 1947 9th A.D.C. Ryde, Isle of Wight 1948 10th A.D.C. Scarborough 1949 11th A.D.C. Brighton
1947 "... As for the conditions in Tax offices ... it is really time that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as our Minister, made a determined effort to get to the root of the perpetual state of chaotic overwork, serious arrear and persistent discontent..."
1948 "... In the light of our experience we are convinced, and have consistently advocated, that some further form of federation is the only solution to the problem of association representation which has arisen in the Chief Inspector's Branch as a consequence of the Taxes Reorganisation Scheme..."
1949 "... By a fortunate coincidence, the General Secretary's election to Parliament, on which we all offer him our hearty congratulations, enabled him to serve on the Standing Committee of the House of Commons charged with the detailed examination of the Superannuation Bill. It hardly needs me to say ... he was not unvigilant of the interests of the people to whom he has rendered a lifetime service..." "... Anyone who knows the taxes machine as we do must be seriously concerned at its failure to do its job fairly and squarely as between one taxpayer and another ... The clue to the situation is manpower, not more of it, but better use of the experience and ability we have in our ranks..."
Gerald Benjamin Walker Seventh President 1950 12th A.D.C. St Annes 1951 13th A.D.C. St Annes
1950 "... Trade Unions exist and function in conditions entirely different to those which first impelled men and women workers to band together for the protection of their livelihood and to resist exploitation and victimization ... unless we can develop a spirit of social service throughout our movement, every suggested solution for the ills of our times based upon economic analysis will be unavailing..." "Today the body politic affects every sphere of our lives to a greater extent than ever before and if we treat it with blissful indifference it is my firm opinion that we shall be sadly prejudicing our position as an effective bargaining force..."
1951 "... The summary dismissal at the T.U.C. of our resolution asking for consideration of a National Wages Board was painful and disappointing at the time, but thanks to the interest aroused in the Press, and the position of our General Secretary in the political world, the idea has attracted a great deal of attention in other places..." "... It is an advantage not only of the nation but also of ourselves as Civil Servants that there should not be one Civil Servant too many..."
Richard Henry Le Fevre Eighth President 1952 14th A.D.C. Scarborough 1953 15th A.D.C. St Annes
1952 "... We are now equal partners in the fullest sense, having achieved a stature to be much admired in so short a time from the Conference in this town when the Collection Service decided to combine their fortunes with ours... "... if necessary the Chancellor must be told in quite plain terms that he cannot add burdens to the Department in the shape of such thins as the back-duty drive, an avalanche of untaxed interest cases, and E.P.L. and at the same time look for a reduction of staff. ..."
1953 "... I am particularly happy to say that our relations with the Association of H.M. Inspectors of Taxes have throughout my term of office been those of the utmost co-operation and friendliness. I believe we now have a bond in existence between the two organisations which will endure and that we can go forward harmoniously in a joint effort to secure the sort of career which we desire..." "... We have a splendid organisation to serve us - let us cherish it and nurture is and have its strength always available when we wish to make progress..."
William Robert Roy Skinner Ninth President 1954 16th A.D.C. St Annes 1956 17th A.D.C. St Annes
1954 "... The General Secretary is absent from the Conference today in order to raise in the House of Commons, this afternoon, the question of overtime and working conditions arising from the clause in the Finance Bill dealing with Post War Credits and also to probe further into what we now believe to be a quite unjustified reflection upon the Department concerning directors' expenses..."
1955 "... Although it will take six years to achieve full parity with men, Equal Pay has now arrived after thirty-five years of struggle. No previous President of the Federation has ever been able to make such a statement, and I am proud to do so..."
Winifred Mary Kidd Tenth President 1956 18th A.D.C. St Annes 1957 19th A.D.C. Eastbourne
1956 "... We meet at probably the most momentous period in Civil Service history for the last quarter of a century. Some of us can look back to 1931 and remember the aftermath of the Report of the Tomlin Commission; not many can recall, almost twenty years previously, the Macdonnel Commission of 1912. ..." "... Those of us who recall the deficiencies of the Tomlin Report can surely look with a great measure of satisfaction to what is offered by the Priestly Commission Report ... first and foremost ... the Civil Service Pay Research Unit..."
1957 "... One of the most memorable occasions I or the Federation will witness was the "40 Years On" dinner last November ... some of that great gathering may have been conspicuous for their achievements and present position, all were proud of being or having been for so long a time part of the Federation's progress. Let none of us be so little that we cannot appreciate the significance of the Federation's growth and success, cannot dwell on its early history, and pause, once in a while. ..."
- IRSF 1936–1986: A Jubilee Celebration, at Congress House on 28 October 1986. President: F Winrow General Secretary: A M G Christopher, CBE. No Copyright listed on document.
- A Summary Description of the papers of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation, University of Warwick
- Inland Revenue Staff Federation: The Book of the Presidents. No copyright listed in volume.