HC Deb 04 June 1888 vol 326 cc1022-4
SIR GEORGE BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether he has received a Memorial from the Royal Colonial Institute as to the effect upon Colonists of the English Legacy and Succession Duty Acts; whether, in regard to Legacy and Succession Duties, in the case of a person who dies domiciled in England, his personal property situate in England, and his personal property situate in a Colony, are alike liable to the English Duty, the latter property being also liable to the Colonial Duty, if any; whether this liability to pay double duty, and other anomalies of the present system, can be put an end to by the adoption in all parts of the Empire of the principle that the locality of the estate, and not the domicile of the testator, should determine the liability for Legacy and Succession Duties on personal property, as is already the case with those duties in regard to real property, and with the Probate Duties; and, whether Her Majesty's Government will take steps to exempt personal property not situate in the United Kingdom from liability to pay the English Legacy and Succession Duty, and to make liable for those duties property situate within the United Kingdom but owned by those domiciled elsewhere?


In answer to the first of the hon. Member's four Questions, I beg to say that I have received such a Memorial from the Royal Colonial Institute. My answer to his second Question is also, in the main, in the affirmative. Upon the death of a person domiciled in England, his personal property, other than settled personalty, pays Legacy Duty, whether it be situate in England, in the Colonies, or abroad. In the case of settled personalty, which is subject not to Legacy but to Succession Duty, the liability of the property to duty depends not upon the domicile of the settlor, but on the question whether the property is vested in English trustees, and can only be recovered by an action in England. With regard to the third Question, I can only say that the great change which it contemplates could not be effected except with the approval of every Colonial Legislature as well as of the Imperial Parliament, and that that change is one which I should certainly not accept without the gravest consideration. And, in answer to the fourth Question, I am certainly not prepared to take steps to exempt personal property not situate in this country from Legacy Duty. Such an exemption would cause heavy loss to the Revenue; while the compensation suggested by the hon. Member—namely, the subjection to Legacy Duty of the personal property situate in this country of persons domiciled abroad—would not only not make up that loss, but might involve us in very awkward controversies with Foreign Governments. I have done my best to answer these Questions as explicitly as I could; but the discussion of a difficult financial problem like this is plainly quite beyond the scope of an answer to a Question in this House.