§ MR. ALDERMAN SALOMONS
said, he would beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether it is true that an order addressed to bankers or other persons for any payment of money, whether as dividend or otherwise, and which hitherto has been exempt from Stamp Duty, as being neither a Letter nor a Power of Attorney, is, by a new construction put by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue on the Act of the present Session, to be made liable to the Duty of Five Shillings, or any other Duties charged on Letters or Powers of Attorney; and, if so, whether such new construction will not be a great hardship on individuals, and an interference with established usage?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, in reply, that his hon. Friend must have been misinformed—at least, the facts which had come within his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) knowledge were entirely different. The Act of the present Session had no bearing on this subject, except to reduce the Duties which were recited in it, and were not applicable to the instruments of which his hon. Friend had spoken. No new construction had been put on the law as it stood, and as it had stood before the Act of the present Session. What had taken place was this—some persons felt a doubt as to whether the orders to which his hon. Friend had referred were liable to Stamp Duty, as was the case with Powers of Attorney, and the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown was that they were so liable. But the date of that opinion was as old as the month of December, 1860, and he was not cognizant of any further proceedings having been taken since that time. It was not a question of penalty, no penalty being imposed for not using a stamp. It was purely a question of discretion in the parties as to the legality of the instrument they used, and the risk of being unable to enforce it in case it should be questioned in a court of justice.