HC Deb 19 June 1894 vol 25 cc1476-543

COMMITTEE. [Progress, 18th June.]

[FIFTEENTH NIGHT.]

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 7.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)

said, he wished to move an Amendment, the object of which was to-substitute for a mere shadowy creation an absolute and tangible person. The-clause proposed to place penal consequences on a person whom the Commissioners "believed" to have taken possession of some property. He did not think "belief" was sufficient. Under existing legislation liability was always restricted to the person who had done the act for which the penalty might be imposed, and he submitted it was only reasonable that his Amendment limiting the accountability to the person who had actually taken possession of the property should be accepted. It left all other persons, whether executors or trustees, exactly where they now stood.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 1, to leave out from the second word "person" to the word "taken," in line 2, in order to insert the words "who has."—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

*SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)

said, he supported the Amendment on the ground that the clause as it stood created a new and, as he thought, an undesirable precedent. A wrong-doer, for instance, even an executor or administrator de son tort, was only liable for acts which he had committed, and not for constructive malfeasance or misfeasance.

THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby

said, the hon. Member was under a misapprehension as to the nature of the provision. The clause only said that a man should be asked to give information; and if he had none to give, there would be an end of the matter.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES

pointed out that the clause went beyond that. The information was asked for, and if a man did not or could not give it he was fined £100, although he might not have taken possession of any property. That was certainly most unreasonable, and the power ought to be restricted, as he was willing it should be, to persons who had actually taken possession of the property. The Commissioners might believe that a person had taken possession when there were no grounds for the belief. It was perfectly monstrous that an innocent person should be placed under this heavy penalty, and he should press his Amendment.

MR. HANBURY (Preston)

said, he hoped his hon. Friend would insist on his Amendment, for the clause as it stood raised an entirely new principle. A man in order to spite another man might write to the Commissioners saying he had reason to believe he was dealing with certain property. The Commissioners thereupon demanded information, but the man having nothing to do with the matter, either refused or neglected to take any notice of the demand, and the Commissioners at once fined him £100. That was an easy way of raising the Revenue, for by sending out 100 such letters the Exchequer might sweep in £10,000. Worst of all, the Commissioners appeared to have no option in the matter, and could not impose a lesser fine.

SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)

said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had informed the Committee that if the man who received the application replied that he knew nothing of the matter, there would be an end of it, but the Bill did not say so. All the Bill said was that he was liable to be fined either £100 or three times the amount of the Estate Duty. Was the right hon. Gentleman willing to put words into the clause which would make clear that that was the intention as suggested by him?

MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)

said, that if the right hon. Gentleman insisted on retaining the existing form of words, he might give the Committee a guarantee that a person "believed" to have taken possession, and wrongly believed to have done so by the Commissioners, should not be subject to that heavy penalty. Although they were told there would be an end of the matter if a man replied that he knew nothing of it, the fact remained that if the Commissioners were not satisfied with the reply, they would enforce the heavy penalty. That was not a position in which any man should be placed.

SIR W. HARCOURT

said, ho would be willing to make the matter as clear as possible. If the Commissioners believed a man had taken possession of property, they would ask him for information. The clause did not go further than was necessary to enable the Commissioners to deal with a man who had administered part of an estate, and who took no notice of applications made to him, or answered untruly. If it transpired that they were mistaken, and the man had nothing to do with the property, there would at once be an end of the matter. He did not see how he could put it more clearly.

MR. HANBURY

inquired if that was a proper definition of the section? He personally interpreted it very differently. He took the intention to be that if a person believed by the Commissioners to be dealing with property sent no reply to their demand for information he would be fined £100, although he had nothing to do with the property on which the Estate Duty was payable. But if it were found he was so dealing with property, then he would have to pay three times the amount of the Estate Duty. Thus the guilty man was punished less severely than the innocent one. They objected to placing this liability on a man who had nothing to do with the property, especially as it would be absolutely impossible for the Commissioners to produce a jot or tittle of evidence against him.

SIR W. HARCOURT

If that is the objection it should be raised on the next sub-section.

MR. BARTLEY

thought the clause went even further than had been suggested by his hon. Friends. It called on a man not to give such information as he possessed, but such as the Commissioners demanded, and it might be he would be called on to give information which he did not possess, and for his inability to give it would be liable to this heavy penalty. The clause was really worded very carelessly, and his hon. Friend's Amendment would make it perfectly clear that if any individual evaded his responsibility he would be liable to a penalty for such evasion.

COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)

said, that what they complained of was that the clause might carry the interpretation suggested by his hon. Friend, and not that it did so. All they asked was that such a ridiculous interpretation should not be rendered possible, and why in the world the Government refused to make that small concession and remained obstinate no one could understand. Of course, his hon. Friend must press the Amendment to a Division.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 164; Noes 119.—(Division List, No. 107.)

*SIR J. LUBBOCK moved, in page 6, line 3, after "shall," to insert "to the extent of his knowledge." He said, he wished the Government to consider the position in which they were placing the unfortunate person who was aimed at by the clause. He was called upon to furnish information of which he had no knowledge at all, and so he thought he might fairly ask the Government what objection they could possibly have to the insertion of the words "to the extent of his knowledge"? The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them that if a man wrote to the Inland Revenue Commissioners to say that he knew nothing at all about the matter in respect of which their inquiries were made there was an end of it. That was what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, but it was not what the Bill itself said. The Bill distinctly said that whether the person could or could not give this information he was liable to be fined. He could not see that the Government would lose anything by putting these words into the sub-section. As matters stood, he did not see that there was any option as to the imposition of a penalty whether the Commissioners had proceeded rightly or wrongly. All that the Commissioners had to do was to say that they believed that a person had come into possession of or had administered a portion of the estate of the deceased. That was all that the Commissioners had to do in order to render a man who had no knowledge at all in his possession liable to a fine. He earnestly hoped that the Government would favourably consider this matter.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 3, after the word "shall," to insert the words "to the extent of his knowledge."—(Sir J. Lubbock.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

SIR W. HARCOURT

So far as I am concerned, I am entirely in agreement with my right hon. Friend if he desires to put into the sub-section words which it is perfectly obvious that it carries at present. But if these words are inserted I hope that my right hon. Friend and other hon. Gentlemen will refrain from talking any more about this unfortunate man who is going to be maltreated by the Inland Revenue authorities. I hope that this clause may be remembered as one under which this unfortunate person is to be maltreated upon the information of the Attorney General and with the consent of the High Court, before which the information is brought. It is under the information of the Attorney General and by consent of the High Court that these tyrannical Inland Revenue Commissioners are going to trounce a man who has no information to give, and to line him £100 for not supplying it.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)

said, that as a matter of fact, he did not think that there need be any apprehension so far as the present Commissioners of Inland Revenue were concerned. They must recollect, however, that it was possible that the constitution of that Board might be altered. In any case, there was no reason why safeguards should not be introduced as between the citizen and a possibly tyrannical Board of Inland Revenue Commissioners.

*SIR J. LUBBOCK

said, he quite shared the view of the Leader of the Opposition with regard to the present Board of Commissioners. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought that the purpose of his Amendment could be better met by the insertion of words later on, he should offer no objection, but would withdraw the Amendment for the moment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Motion of Mr. GIBSON BOWLES, the following Amendment was agreed to: —Page 6, line 5, after "statement," to insert "to the best of his knowledge and belief."

MR. GIBSON BOWLES moved, in page 6, line 6, to leave out from "which," to "part," and insert the word "forms." He said that the property which was to be accounted for ought not in any case to go beyond such property as formed part of the estate.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 6, to leave out from the word "which," to the word "part," and insert the word "forms."—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

MR. R. T. REID

said, he thought the Amendment was unnecessary.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

*SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)

suggested, in page 6, line 7, after "deceased," to insert to the extent of property actually received or disposed of by him. He submitted that it was impossible a person should give information except in respect of property actually received or disposed of by him. However, if the Attorney General thought it was not needed ho would not press it.

MR. R. T. REID

intimated that he did not think the words were necessary.

MR. HANBURY (Preston) moved, in, page 6, line 8, to leave out Sub-section (5). He said he was not quite sure whether this sub-section was not altogether unnecessary. He did not mean to say it was not necessary to have a penalty. Where there was fraud or wilful neglect there ought to be severe penalties. But yesterday the Solicitor General accepted an Amendment from the hon. Member for Lynn Regis to the first subsection, which went a long way towards rendering this penalty clause unnecessary. If it was unnecessary it was unwise to have two penalty clauses in the same clause. His hon. Friend's Amendment provided that the existing law and practice should be applied to the Act. The Committee would remember that in respect to the Legacy Duty there was a penalty in the shape of extra duty, and that would come within the meaning of the words "law and practice." The principle was quite clear, and he did not suppose that the hon. and learned Solicitor General would say that it was absolutely certain that the sub-section as amended did not apply to the Estate Duty the penalties which were imposed in regard to Succession or Legacy Duty. At any rate, it was a "law and practice" that could be applied to this Bill. Ht was not enough of a lawyer to decide upon the point, but it was open to doubt. Then he would call attention to the inconvenience of this sub-section. It applied the penalties to the preceding sub-sections, but there was an Amendment on the Paper to apply it also to Clause 10. It was certain that either Sub-section 10 was out of its place, or the penalty section was out of its place. His main objection to the sub-section was its extreme obscurity. On three or four important points he, reading it as a layman, was unable to come to any conclusion as to the exact meaning of the section. In the first case the penalty which was to be imposed was an extremely heavy one. There was a fine of £100, and the treble duty might come out very heavily indeed. It might be that upon an estate worth £1,000,000 a fine of £240,000 might become pay- able. That was an enormous fine, and they were imposing it for, in the majority of instances, comparatively small omissions, because the offences in this clause were not very serious ones. But then there was the first sub-section, bringing in the application of the existing law and practice, and between the two it was really impossible to know what an executor might not expose himself to in the way of fines and penalties. Therefore, they ought to be very careful as to the meaning of this clause, before very heavy penalties were imposed. There was no allusion in the sub-section to "wilful" neglect. It was simply if he failed to comply with the requirements made of him he was to be subjected to these enormous penalties. They were told that the Succession Duty Act was the model of draftsmanship for a Bill of this kind. Under the Succession Duty Act, if an account was not rendered, a penalty was to accrue. But was it possible that this heavy fine of £240,000 on an estate of £1,000,000 was to be incurred even if there was wilful neglect? Whatever the penalty was, he thought the word "wilful" ought to be introduced. Then, again, he was not sure whether, under the wording of this sub-section, the Commissioners of Inland Revenue had any choice as to the infliction of penalty. He would like to know whether they could choose between the infliction of a fine of £100, or one of £240,000? There was a very large latitude between these amounts. As the clause stood, perhaps there was a choice, but he doubted whether that would be the case if the Solicitor General's Amendment to apply the penalties to Sub-section 10 was carried. In respect of Clause 10, the "penalty mentioned in the clause above" were the words used, and that made it look as though there was only one penalty. The point ought to be cleared up whether there was or was not a choice. But if it turned out to be the fact that there was a choice of the infliction of a penalty of £100, or one of £240,000, the wording was, all the same, very vague. In his opinion, the wording of the subsection ought to be altered in order to make it clear that the fine of £100 could be inflicted, or a fine of treble the Estate Duty. If there were no other alternative a most invidious task would be thrown on the Commissioners. As he understood the matter the Commissioners would have no choice between imposing a fine of £100 or one of £240,000 in the case of a property worth £1,000,000. He supposed that the Commissioners would have a little human nature in them, and that in most cases, instead of imposing a fine of £240,000, they would be inclined to impose one of £100. A penalty of £240,000 would be monstrous, and he hoped the hon. and learned Solicitor General would introduce some of the mitigating Amendments he had suggested. He was not sure whether the fine was to be additional to the duty. If so the amount that would have to be paid on £1,000,000 would be not £240,000, but £320,000. What precedents were there for this monstrous proposal of the Government? A double penalty was imposed by the Customs and Inland Revenue Act of 1881 for not proving wills or taking out letters of administration within a fixed period, but the whole amount that could be paid in case the willed personalty amounted to £1,000,000 was £60,000, or only one-fourth as much as might have to be paid under this Bill. There was also a double penalty for non-delivery of a statement respecting the Estate Duty of 1 per cent., but that only brought in £20,000 or one-twelfth of the present fine. There was also a penalty imposed by an Act of George III. on executors who failed to transmit within 14 days the duty on legacies bequeathed to them. The penalty was 10 per cent. on the amount of a duty of 1 per cent. He was bound to say that executors were in such a peculiar position with regard to legacies left to them that they ought to be under exceptional penalties. He admitted that the penalty imposed in such a case was a very heavy one if wilful neglect continued for a very long time, because it would accumulate month by month. It would, however, amount only to £1,000 in case the property reached £1,000,000. The penalty, therefore, in this exactly parallel case with reference to the Succession Duty would be 1–240th that now proposed to be imposed. The three cases of penalties he had mentioned showed how out of all proportion to the offence would be the penalty inflicted under the present Act. It was evident that the sub-section needed very con- siderable amendment, and until it was amended so as to be made perfectly intelligible he thought he was perfectly justified in moving its omission altogether.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 8, to leave out Sub-section (5).—(Mr. Hanbury)

Question proposed, "That the words 'a person who' stand part of the Clause."

MR. R. T. REID

The other day, when this matter was brought forward, I intimated that we were prepared to accept some Amendment of the subsection. The hon. Member has admitted that the practice of imposing penalties amounting to double or even treble duty is, in fact, common. He himself has shown in the various fiscal Bills brought in by successive Governments that practice has been confirmed, and in a certain sense it is desirable to adhere to the line which has been pursued in preceding Acts. The hon. Gentleman moves to omit the sub-section, but I do not think he altogether desires to do that. If this clause were omitted an executor would be "out of the frying-pan into the fire," because an offence on his part would, I think, be punishable by fine and imprisonment. I will tell the Committee to what degree we desire to alter and amend this clause. I think there ought to be a mitigation in the amount of the penalty to begin with, but I attach less importance to that than I do to the provision we are prepared to add at the end of the sub-section—namely— Providing that the Commissioners, or, in any proceedings for the recovery of such penalties, the Court shall be able to reduce the same. This will leave the Commissioners, in the first instance, liberty to mitigate the penalties themselves if they think fit, and if they do not mitigate them when they take proceedings for recovering the penalties the Court will have power to reduce the amount of them. That will be a real substantial mitigation. I cannot imagine that any Court would be so insane as to impose a penalty of £240,000. In point of fact, that is the extreme limit which could be reached in a case where the amount involved was £1,000,000. If the Amendments I propose are accepted by the Committee the sub-section will read in this way— A person who fails to comply with any of the foregoing provisions of this section shall be liable to pay £100, or if Estate Duty is payable a sum equal to double the amount of the Estate Duty for which he is accountable according as the Commissioners elect, provided that the Commissioners or in any proceedings for the recovery of such penalties, the Court shall be able to reduce the same.

MR. HANBURY

asked whether the Commissioners would have the power of imposing a penalty of less than double the amount of the Estate Duty, or would the alternative be a fine either of £100 or double the amount of the duty?

MR. R. T. REID

It is quite clear that under the words I propose to insert at the end of the sub-section the Commissioners will be able to reduce the penalty.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES

thought it was advisable, in taxing acts of this kind, that the penalty should be a large one, but that there should be power given to the Commissioners to remit it. The effect of adopting such a plan was to prevent litigation. This was the case under the Customs Act with regard to smuggling. The authorities under that Act said to an offender, "You are liable to a fine of £100, but give us a statement of the circumstances, and we will consider the matter." The statement was, of course, supplied, and then the authorities said, "You are liable to a fine of £100, but we will let you off for £10." The offender generally accepted this offer, and there was an end of the matter. He (Mr. Gibson Bowles) had no great feeling for the executor of a millionaire. If such a man went wrong in his account or failed to deliver a statement, it was well that he should be made to smart pretty severely for it. He should have thought that the adoption of the words— If Estate Duty is payable a sum not exceeding double the amount of the Estate Duty, would have met the case.

MR. GOSCHEN

said, he did not wish to place any difficulties in the way of the Solicitor General, who had just made this concession, but he should like the laymen in the Committee to know precisely where they were. He should be the last person in the Committee to try to diminish the penalties that ought really to be imposed in a case of this kind, but at the same time he should not like to frighten executors too much. They stood on a different footing from other persons with regard to penalties. Generally in such a case as that of smuggling, it was the man himself against whom the authorities proceeded, and not the friend who acted for him, whilst here the executor was discharging onerous duties on behalf of others. He should like to know whether the clause materially increased the penalties which had hitherto been charged, and whether those penalties would extend to a number of new cases? He did not think the Solicitor General had replied to a question whether Section 1 of the existing Act would not cover the cost proposed to be dealt with in this sub-section. Under the existing Act there was a penalty of £500 for altering receipts after assessment with intent to defraud, while there was another penalty of 10 per cent. off the duty for another offence. What he (Mr. Goschen) put before the hon. and learned Gentleman was not in opposition to what the hon. and learned Member had put, but as clearing up the case whether these were materially increased penalties as compared with existing penalties, and whether the Government were not spreading their net much wider in order to cover a number of negligences or lapses from the true statement of accounts which the hon. Member anticipated. On these points he should be glad if the hon. and learned Member would be good enough to say a few words.

MR. R. T. REID

said, it was true that in these cases there would be a larger penalty than in previous cases, inasmuch as the duty itself would be higher. The right hon. Gentleman would understand that taking the maximum under this Bill and comparing it with the minimum Succession or Legacy Duty, the penalty would be higher on the principle that the duty itself was a higher one. On the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman would see at the end of the clause the Amendment he proposed moving to allow a mitigation and redress grievances. With regard to the amount of punishment inflicted for statutory offences, it was difficult, comparing the penalties of one Statute with another, to say what precise penalty should be meted out in each individual offence. All he would point out was that in this particular clause there was a proviso that seemed to him large and liberal, enabling the Court to diminish the penalty to any extent they thought fit— to 1s. if necessary. They must leave the question to the Commissioners, checked and; controlled by the Courts in each case. In regard to the incorporation of other Acts of Parliament, it was not the case that the pains and penalties imposed by those Acts were also incorporated. That was not done in the Bill, and, in his opinion, they should not be incorporated.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR

said, he thought the Committee had considerable reason to complain of the drafting of the Bill in the particular they were now considering. He would not deal with the last point referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman, who was an incomparably higher authority than he was. In fact, he (Mr. Balfour) was no authority at all upon it. He did not dispute the hon. and learned Gentleman's dictum that the Court would not consent without specific direction to introduce under the words "existing law of practice" the penalties contained in previous Acts of Parliament. But he confessed he was surprised at that statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman, for he had told them that if the words of the clause were not adopted the executor would be worse off than he was at present, and liable not only to fine but to imprisonment under the Common Law. He (Mr. Balfour) should have thought that the Judges would be more inclined to leniency than the hon. and learned Gentleman imagined they would be, but the hon. and learned Gentleman knew what the practice of the Court was. Therefore, he left that question. But he would ask, out of whose estate was the fine to come? Would it come out of the estate of the peccant executor or of the deceased? Would the hon. and learned Gentleman answer that question? The answer would modify the remainder of his argument.

*SIR J. RIGBY

It would be the peccant executor, and he would not be re-imbursed by anybody.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR

said, it came to this, then: the executor who was to administer the whole estate would be liable to heavy fine, however poor he might be. If he administered a large or small estate the crime would be the same, but the larger the estate the larger the fine would be. He might, as had been pointed out, be liable to a fine of a quarter or half a million if, without any desire for benefit or prospect of personal gain, he happened to be a peccant administrator of a large property. What answer had the Government to make to that? Why, they said, "Our whole Statute Law in regard to the infliction of penalties is a mass of inconsistencies and absurdities; these inconsistencies and absurdities are put right, on the whole, by the discretion of the Court." Why, then, should they add a new absurdity and a new inconsistency to those already existing, and trust to the equity of the Courts to bring the thing right? The answer of the Government was not a sufficiently serious one. The hon. and learned Gentleman had himself shown by his promise to amend the sub-section the absolutely indefensible character of the proposition of the Government. He trusted the Committee would try and draft the Bill properly so as not to leave the whole of the penalties to be dealt with subsequently by the Courts of Law. His learned friends who were familiar with the practice of the Courts of Law said that the word "wilfully" was always read in clauses of this nature. Nothing would be lost by putting that word in; therefore, if it should meet the views of the Government, he hoped it would be added when the proper time came. That was his first hope. His second hope was that they would not leave the extraordinary and ridiculous discrepancy between the maximum named and the minimum. The minimum was £100, and the maximum could be anything—even £500,000. He ventured to suggest that the analogy of the existing Acts should be followed, and that the executor should be bound to pay a certain percentage in addition to the duty he was liable for. That was the existing law with regard to the Succession Duty, and he could not see why the Government should have any objection to introduce it into this clause. He would earnestly press upon the Government that instead of leaving this ludicrous sum of twice the amount they should put in a percentage. That was the second suggestion that he ventured to make. Unless the Government put in the Succession Duty penalties they would leave the clause in a condition in which no man could defend it, and if not worked on injustice would not be an instrument of oppression, because the Courts, in their discretion, would correct the bad drafting Parliament had permitted to pass. He maintained they were in no sense antagonistic to or against the interests of the Inland Revenue Department, whose rights in this case, he admitted, required to be guarded.

*THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir J. RIGBY,) Forfar

said, it was not a proper thing to condemn the drafting of a sub-section that had been materially altered in Committee. He could not help saying that most of the criticisms of the right hon. Gentleman were founded on a misapprehension as to the meaning of the words contained in the existing law. The objects of the Bill was not to reduce the system of the law, as at present, or even to introduce a better one, but to follow what had been done before. Only the penalty of £100 applied where no duty was payable. The double duty penalty could only be payable where there was an Estate Duty payable by the person who was accountable. He must say that if there were time he could justify the clauses as they stood, and it was not by reason of unskilled draftsman ship—

MR. A. J. BALFOUR

said, he did not mean his speech to be directed against the draftsmanship, but against the Government, and what he begged the hon. and learned Gentleman to do was to take the analogy of the Succession Duty; there all that the man was liable for was 10 per cent. of the duty, which was reckoned at 1 per cent. Secondly, that the duty was not calculated by the system of augmentation and graduation, but taking the duty at the lowest scale and making him liable for 10 per cent. upon that.

SIR J. RIGBY

was sorry that his misunderstanding of the right hon. Gentleman should have led him to waste the time of the Committee. Then there was no charge against the draftsman?

MR. A. J. BALFOUR

No, it is all against the stupidity of the Government.

*SIR J. RIGBY

said, the suggestion was that the Government ought to have corrected the stupidity of the draftsman. With reference to the practical suggestion made, the word "wilfully" was unnecessary, and he would say at once that if they made a concession that was seized upon as an indication that their original position was unsound. He would point out to the Committee that if they sued for a penalty, there must have been an offence against the Act. He did not think "wilful" necessary, but be saw no harm in putting it in. He agreed that the penalties were enormous, and in the case of enormous estates, the temptation to fraud was of the gravest character; but he could not see why they should depart from the penalty of a double duty merely because it might be that in several cases an enormous penalty was provided. If the penalty was enormous the estate must be enormous, and could they imagine au executor in the case of one of these enormous estates acting without legal advice at every step? Of course not; and if the executor chose to disregard that legal advice, he was not a proper subject for the pity of this Committee. He would say that if a man, knowing what he ought to do, deliberately did that which the Act of Parliament forbade him to do, then misericordia to be in was the proper position for him. There was no reason to believe that injustice would take place in the future that had never been heard of before, and enormous penalties now existed up to £20,000 and £30,000. He ventured to say they had taken away all forms of objection. The penalty was £100 and double duty, subject in each case to diminution by the Commissioners or by any Court that had to settle the question as to what duty should be payable.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)

said, he understood the Attorney General to argue there was no new principle with regard to penalties. He could only say the Attorney General had forgotten the Succession Duty Act, under the 46th section of which the whole penalty turned on the Act having been wilfully neglected; if there was no wilfulness, no penalty arose. He had already said he was in favour of inflicting penalties reducible by the Commissioners, but he did not think they should go beyond what, under present conditions was found sufficient. Under the 46th section of the Succession Duty Act "all persons accountable," which included others than those who had to pay the duty, If any person required to give any such notice or deliver such account as aforesaid shall wilfully neglect to do so at the pre- scribed period, he shall be liable to pay to Her Majesty a sum equal to ten pounds per centum upon the amount of duty payable by him; or in the case of a succession chargeable with a higher rate of duty than one pound per centum upon the value thereof, upon such less sum as such duty, if assessable at the rate of one pound per centum upon the value of the succession, would amount to, and a like penalty for every month after the first month during which such neglect shall continue. So that first the neglect must be wilful under the Succession Act, which had stood the test of 40 years; and, secondly, if the wilful neglect had continued the penalty was 10 per centum of the minimum amount. Even if the duty were 10 per cent. the property would only be chargeable on a 1 per cent. duty. If the neglect continued after the wilfulness had been established, then for every extra mouth of the continuance of the default a similar percentage of 10 per cent. was levied. That was an excellent device, but, under the present Bill, when they had levied their one penalty, large or small, they had shot their bolt and still might be left without their account. It was conceivable that it might be worth a man's while to refuse the account and to pay the penalty. Without an account they could not have aggregation, without aggregation they could not have graduation, without aggregation and graduation they could not have valuation, and without all of them he could not see how they were to arrive at the collection of the duty. But under the Succession Duty Act, which put this miserable attempt at legislation to shame, a provision was made for the continuance of the default, and the penalty continued month by month until the account was rendered, so that, under those circumstances, not only was the Revenue secured against any wilful default in the delivery of the account, but was secured in case of a continuance of it. He thought the Government would be well advised to recur to the sound practical conditions of the Succession Duty Act, charging 10 per cent. on the duty and making the penalty recur month by month. He thought it was a great pity the Government had not had recourse to the practical wisdom of the Succession Act.

*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOE INDIA (Mr. H. H. FOWLER,) Wolverhampton, E.

only interposed to remind the hon. Gentleman and the Leader of the Opposition that the Government had not gone into any new and devious ways; they had simply followed the latest example, the increase of the Death Duties made by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1889. The clause in that Act said that if a person neglected to furnish an account he should be liable to double the amount of duty chargeable. Therefore, the precedent for a double duty was the Act of 1889. But they had gone a step further than that Act in giving absolute discretion to the Court, for it was only by a Court these penalties could be imposed.

MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)

said, the right hon. Gentleman quoted the Act of 1889, and he would examine that Act, as he was bound to do, as right hon. Gentlemen opposite were always bringing up that Act. If they did quote it, let them put it before the Committee properly, and show the full effect of it, and not make this ex post facto attempt to bolster up their charges.

MR. H. H. FOWLER

said, his statement was that they had followed the precedent of that Act, and precisely in the same way.

MR. GOSCHEN

said, the Government did not, and that was the difficulty. They proposed a penalty of double 1 per cent., but the right hon. Gentleman proposed to double the 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 per cent., and they said that was based on the foundation of the Succession Duty Act. The whole thing was ridiculous. For the same crime that they imposed 2 per cent. the right hon. Gentleman proposed to impose 10, 12, or 14 per cent. Would the right hon. Gentleman let him call his attention to another point? He thought the right hon. Gentleman had before him the words of the Estate Duty. In that there was one default for which 2 per cent. was imposed, whereas in the present case there were a number of penalties. These penalties might be imposed not for merely neglecting to deliver a statement, but for failing to comply with any of the foregoing provisions of the Bill. Future executors would have to know their solicitors' charges, because according to the hon. and learned Gentleman no one would be considered as worthy of any mercy who did not follow the advice of his legal advisers. The words a person who had failed to comply with the foregoing provisions was not only applicable to Sub-section 4, but to all the foregoing sections. He, therefore, ventured to repeat that the right hon. Gentleman had not followed the precedent of 1889, but had extended it in a way they considered to be dangerous, and which would require very great discretion on the part of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue not to work unjustly.

MR. HANBURY

pointed out that under the Succession Duty Act the Commissioners had a power which was not given with regard to this Bill, and it was therefore not sufficient to say, "No doubt we are imposing a tremendous penalty, but it is in the power of the Commissioners to reduce that." They must have some standard to work upon which was not provided under the Bill, as was the case under the Succession Duty Act.

*SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)

said, he would like to say a few words with regard to the precedent of 1889, if it were a precedent. He did not think if it t were wrong—as some of them thought—that could be any reason for repeating an error, and it was this slavish adherence to precedents, which were merely survivals of barbaric punishments that defeated their own ends, and had not even the terrifying consequences attributed to them which often prevented just and proper reforms. In this case there would not be, as there ought not to be, having regard to the more modern legislative precedents, a minimum penalty; but the Bill ought to go a step further and put some reasonably practical limit upon a maximum penalty. These penalties often operated rigorously, unequally, and inequitably; there had been cases of long-continued imprisonments under the Customs Laws, which he had done his best to modify by legislation, and which had been a disgrace to the administration of the present day. The Solicitor General said that, at any rate, this heavy penalty would be better than a conviction for misdemeanour. He (Sir A. Rollit) thought it was worse, because it might mean almost indefinite imprisonment, whereas in cases of misdemeanour there was a well-understood limit of punishment, which did not apply to cases of Crown obligations.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 202; Noes 169.—(Division List, No. 108.)

On Motion of Mr. BUTCHER the following Amendment was agreed to:—

Page 6, line 8, after "who," insert "wilfully."

MR. HANBUEY

proposed, after the word "shall," in line 9, to insert the words:— If Estate Duty is not payable be liable to pay £100; and if Estate Duty is payable either £100, or a sum equal to double the amount of the Estate Duty.

This Amendment, he said, would make the matter much plainer than it was at the present moment.

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

SIR W. HARCOURT

Really, I must ask, are we to go on with this sort of thing? In the conduct of this Bill are we to be responsible for the drafting? Are there not already sufficient Amendments on the Paper without further drafting Amendments which nobody can understand, and which, as far as we can understand them, would make nonsense of the Bill? Are we to make any progress or not? If not, let us understand it, and, if we are, I must protest against such a course as that which is being pursued.

MR. GOSCHEN

I think if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will look at these words he will see that there is a difficulty in the option which is given. He may not think it necessary to correct them, but they are clearly wrong as they stand in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman can assume this attitude if he likes, and say we are bringing up small points, but the right hon. Gentleman has just given way on an important point to a certain extent. They are important points. The Government have put in the Bill treble the amount of the duty which their own Solicitor General says is too much and which nobody defends. We are obliged to watch the Bill this way on account of the manner in which it is drawn. If the right hon. Gentleman appeals to his friends let them at all events see how many words the Government have been compelled to change in the Bill on their own account. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have better consulted the progress of the Bill by not taking that attitude. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer would look at the words he would see that they are wrong. The Bill says a person who fails to comply with the foregoing provisions— Shall be liable to pay £100, or if Estate Duty is payable, a sum equal to treble the amount of the Estate Duty for which he is accountable, according as the Commissioners elect. The Commissioners have not to elect two points which are on the same footing, and the Amendment is perfectly right. We do not wish to raise points that are too small, but I will stake my reputation upon it that this part of the clause is wrongly drafted, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer looks at it he will see it is.

SIR W. HARCOURT

Hon. Gentlemen opposite profess to attach importance to every Amendment, and upon every Amendment which we cannot accept the right hon. Gentleman does his best to encourage debate. He taunts us because we have accepted important Amendments. Where there was a material objection to be met we have endeavoured to meet it, and then we are taunted with doing so; and because we have accepted important Amendments it is suggested that we should, therefore, accept unimportant Amendments and encourage Debate upon them. We cannot do that. The right hon. Gentleman, I should have thought, would have been satisfied with the last Division. He had an opportunity, as the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, of voting against any penalties whatever for any breach of the Revenue. Surely he should have been satisfied with that, and should now let us go on with business.

MR. GOSCHEN

Not if the right hon. Gentleman makes statements that are absolutely contrary to the fact. What does the Chancellor of the Exchequer mean by saying that I voted against imposing any penalty whatever?

SIR W. HARCOURT

The last Division was on that question. The last Division was to omit Sub-section 5. If that Division had been carried by the right hon. Gentleman there would have been no penalty.

MR. GOSCHEN

This is a specimen of the candour of the right hon. Gentleman! Now we see how he tries to mislead public opinion! The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as possible the vote was not, in fact, against any penalty whatever. I do not know whether he strolled in to hear the whole Debate; but if he was present he must have known we actually proposed, in reference to this especial tax, to defend the Revenue. We proposed the penalties of the Succession Duty, and after that the right hon. Gentleman thinks it decent and fair to state to the public, to be reported, and possibly to be repeated in some of his organs, and for it to be quoted, that, as an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, I voted against the penalties that were imposed for the protection of the Revenue. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well he is wrong. I think there are differences enough between him and me on many important points as to make it unnecessary to multiply them by charging me with conduct, as an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, of which he knows in his heart I certainly would not be guilty.

SIR W. HARCOURT

I am sorry my right hon. Friend thinks I have made an unfounded charge. All I can say is, that the vote on which we divided was the entire omission of Sub-section 5. Of course, if you wished to have modified it, the course was to have moved and divided upon that modification, but that was not the course taken. The Division was taken on the distinct motion to omit the whole clause, and it was that the very first words of that clause be omitted and 7iot for any modification.

MR. HANBURY

said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was again wrong. He should have thought that the Leader of the House would have been present during the main discussion; but during the whole of the last discussion the right hon. Gentleman was absent, and the result was that they had this delay in the Bill. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had been told over and over again that the greatest obstructionist and waster of time in the House was the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself. So long as the Bill was in charge of the Attorney General, and especially the Solicitor General, it got on rapidly, but directly the Chancellor of the Exchequer strode into the House they had these scenes. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been present he would have known very well that what he said lately was absolutely without foundation. One of the reasons he (Mr. Hanbury) adduced for the omission of the last sub-section altogether was that there were penalties imposed under Subsection 1, and that in his opinion the penalties of the Legacy and Succession Duty Acts were actually imposed. For the benefit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was not present, he would again re-state the reasons he gave for the alteration, and which he stated in his previous speech, and the right hon. Gentleman would then see there was some reason for amending the sub-section. The Chancellor of the Exchequer supposed that the drafting of the Bill was sacred and ought not to be amended, when two-thirds of the Bill, so far as it had been disposed of at the present moment, consisted of Amendments. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had two great faults in regard to this Bill, and these were that he was either not present or would not argue. Those were the two worst faults any man who had charge of a Bill could have. The reason why he introduced this Amendment was that he did not believe the section carried out the intentions of the Government. As the Government, however, did not desire to make their meaning clear, he was quite willing to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. BARTLEY moved, in page 6, line 9, after "pay," insert "a sum not exceeding." He said he rose to move this Amendment with fear and trembling. He did not know whether these words would meet with the approval of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He hoped the few minutes that had elapsed would have made the right hon. Gentleman feel that really some of these Amendments were very reasonable, and when it was found from the reprinted Bill that of the last two clauses one word out of every two that appeared had been put in by way of amendment, it must be acknowledged that there was some reason in the discussions that had taken place. The Solicitor General said yesterday that it was really necessary to have put certain Amendments in to make these very clauses ship-shape. With regard to the present Amendment, he pointed out that without making a fraudulent statement some unfortunate persons might fall into a mistake, and the word "wilful" having been put in there might be gradations of wilfulness, and it was reasonable some limit should be put in. He therefore proposed the limit of £100. The Amendment would meet most objections, and would make the clause less drastic than it was at present. The matter was entirely in the discretion of the Commissioners, and he thought, therefore, the Amendment might fairly be accepted.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 9, after the word "pay," to insert the words "a sum not exceeding."—(Mr. Bartley.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

said, an Amendment he had to move later on, and which was in the following words, would cover the ground the hon. Member desired to cover:— Provided that the Commissioners, or in any proceedings for recovery, the Court, shall have power to reduce the sum.

MR. BARTLEY

said, that would certainly meet the point, and the fact that the Government intended to propose similar words showed that the Amendment was not an unreasonable one.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.) moved an Amendment, to which he understood the Government agreed, providing that a person who failed to comply with the provisions of the Act should be liable to pay £100, or, if Estate Duty is payable, a sum equal to "double" (instead of "treble") the amount of the Estate Duty for which he is accountable.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 10, to leave out the word "treble," and insert the word "double."—(Mr. T. H. Bolton.)

Question, "That the word 'treble' stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.

Question proposed, "That the word 'double' be there inserted."

SIR M. HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)

asked the Government whether it was absolutely necessary to impose so large a fine as even double the duty? It was better for the Revenue and for the subjects that the penalties enacted should be proportioned in some measure to the penalties enforced by the Courts; and it was impossible to believe that the Courts would enforce double the amount of the graduated Estate Duty. He hoped the Attorney General would not pass the matter over in silence, and that the House would have some answer given on this important point.

*SIR J. RIGBY

pointed out that he had already explained why, in the opinion of the Government, it was desirable to impose a large penalty. It was obvious that if there was a very large duty payable there was a very large temptation to evade it, and also a very large fund out of which to pay for the evasion. That was the reason for the provision.

SIR M. HICKS-BEACH

said, there was no precedent for graduation, and that was the important point. This was imposing a far heavier burden than any previous Act of Parliament.

MR. BARTLEY

said, that these enormous penalties really defeated the objects aimed at, because nobody could possibly pay them, and it would be much better to insert a reasonable sum. After all, the wrong-doing was no greater in the case of a millionaire than of a smaller man.

MR. HANBURY

intimited that he would move an Amendment to the effect that the fine should be on the scale of the Succession Duty—10 per cent.

SIR R. WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)

thought that it would probably be sufficient for the purpose of restraining evildoers if a percentage, say 5 per cent. on the amount of the Estate Duty, was imposed. If the suggestion foreshadowed by his hon. Friend were adopted, it would mean the imposition of a very large fine —increasingly large for the heavier estates.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 194; Noes 159.—(Division List, No. 109.)

*MR. BUTCHER (York) moved to further amend Sub-section 5 by providing that the penalty should be limited to a sum equal to double the amount of the Estate Duty only that was still unpaid. His objection was that the same penalty might be enforced against an executor, for instance, for two perfectly different offences. He might neglect to render any account whatever for an estate worth £50,000, or he might make what would in comparison be only a trivial error and omit to include in the account an item of, perhaps, £100. In the latter case the penalty that could be enforced under the clause would be out of all proportion to the crime. If a penalty was to be enforced in such a case, it should be proportionate in some measure to the offence.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 11, after the word "duty," to insert the words "remaining unpaid."—(Mr. Butcher.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

said, he would accept the Amendment.

Question put, and agreed to.

SIR R. WEBSTER

thought that the Courts should have power to reduce the penalty in proper cases.

MR. R. T. REID

consented to add to the clause the following:— Provided that in any proceedings for the recovery of any such penalty the Court shall have power to reduce any such penalty.

Amendment agreed to.

MR. BARTLEY

then moved to insert in Sub-section 6 some words limiting the time within which, if it should appear that for some reason or other too little duty had been paid, the Inland Revenue should be able to claim payment. The money so claimed would be treated as arrears of duty, but could not be demanded after a certificate of discharge had been granted. He again pointed out that the duties of executor would never he undertaken by anyone at all if his responsibility were to continue for an indefinite time. He should move, therefore, that the certificate of discharge should be granted after the period of one year.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 16, after the word "afterwards," to insert the words "within a period of one year."—(Mr. Bartley.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

hoped that the hon. Gentleman would not press his Amendment. He thought there were sufficient difficulties already to be met in the way of getting in full and accurate returns.

SIR R. WEBSTER

pointed out that in many case it would be impossible to administer an estate in so short a time as one year. If any definite time were inserted in the clause after which the cer- tificate of discharge was to be given, five or six years would be a more suitable term than the one proposed. He also objected to the proposal on the ground that it was a serious innovation as regards the prerogative of the Crown to sue for a debt at any time.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES

thought that the Committee ought to consider this Amendment, for it went to the root of the Bill. He reminded the Solicitor General that this was an analogue to the Probate Duty. Of course, nobody could be quite sure he was always right, except the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and therefore he was not quite sure he was right about this practical difficulty, but no doubt the Solicitor General would know. He thought it was very advisable to put some limit on the word "afterwards," which ran right to the end of the world, and even beyond it. If the word were allowed to stand, Probate could never be got for some estates. If an estate was always left open in the fashion proposed, aggregation would never be completed, the Inland Revenue would have to keep their eyes always on the estate, and therefore, in order to lessen the difficulties of the Inland Revenue, the Amendment ought to be accepted.

COMMANDER BETHELL

said, he could give an illustration of the extraordinary hardship which the present law worked as regarded the Succession Duty; and, of course, the same thing might occur under the Bill. It was discovered a few years ago that the amount of Succession Duty charged on a particular estate 40 years ago was not sufficient, and the unfortunate present owner had to pay the balance of the Succession Duty, with interest at 2 or 3 per cent. for the past 40 years.

MR. BARTLEY

said, a similar case of hardship came under his notice, and it was that case which induced him, in the interest of those who administered complicated estates, to try to have some period fixed in which an estate should really be settled. Of course, if there was fraud in any case, no time limit would apply.

MR. GOSCHEN

mentioned that when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer nothing so hard came before him as claims for Succession Duty, 30 years old, with interest at the rate of 5 per cent.; and it would indeed be well if the Government looked into the whole question with a view to finding whether something could not be done to enable Somerset House to deal more equitably with those hard cases without injury to the Revenue.

MR. R. T. REID

promised to communicate with the Inland Revenue Authorities on the subject.

MR. BARTLEY

said, he would alter his Amendment so as to fix a period of 10 years, at the end of which an estate would be considered finally settled. In the matter of Income Tax the Crown only allowed three years within which claims for overcharge would be considered; and surely 10 years were a sufficient period within which the Crown knight make a fresh claim on any estate in respect to duty.

MR. R. T. REID

said, the Government had gone as far as they could in the way of the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman.

MR. GOSCHEN

said, he should like himself to move an Amendment dealing with the whole case of renewal claims in respect not only to Estate Duty, but to Succession Duty and every other duty, if the Government did not see their way to deal with it. But the Solicitor General had promised that the whole matter would be considered before the Bill passed, and perhaps, under the circumstances, his hon. Friend would not press his Amendment.

MR. BARTLEY

said, on the understanding that the matter would come up again, he begged leave to withdraw his Amendment.

SIR J. LUBBOCK

remarked, that cases similar to that mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Holderness had also come under his notice.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. BYRNE (Essex, Walthamstow) moved, in page 6, line 18, at end, to insert— (7) The Commissioners may, upon such terms as to security or undertakings, or otherwise, as they may require, give to the executor of the deceased, upon the delivery of the Inland Revenue affidavit, a certificate allowing the payment of the whole or any part of the Estate Duty payable by the executor under this Act to be postponed for such time as they may think fit, and the executor shall thereupon be entitled to have probate or letters of administration granted to him.

The subject-matter of the Amendment came up incidentally in the course of a discussion on another question. A section of an Act of George III. gave a similar power to the Commissioners with regard to Succession Duty, but its conditions were so onerous—the executor having to find two sureties for double the amount of duty and pay 10 per cent. interest—that the section was practically never acted upon. It was found in practice that a great hardship was done in this matter, particularly in the case of small estates. When a man died his executor was unable to touch the estate until he got probate. The consequence was that, unless he happened to be a wealthy man, he had to borrow the money to pay the duty. That was sometimes a difficult course, and it was always onerous and troublesome. If the Amendment were adopted, absolute discretion in the matter of postponing the payment of duty would be left to the Commissioners, and might in cases where they thought fit even insist on security being given. The thing he wanted to avoid was that the executor should be forced to borrow money to pay the duty before he could touch the assets of the estate.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 18, at end, insert— (7) The Commissioners may, upon such terms as to security or undertakings, or otherwise, as they may require, give to the executor of the deceased, upon the delivery of the Inland Revenue affidavit, a certificate allowing the payment of the whole or any part of the Estate Duty payable by the executor under this Act to be postponed for such time as they may think fit, and the executor shall thereupon be entitled to have probate or letters of administration granted to him."—(Mr. Byrne.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

said, that question came up at an early stage of the Bill, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer then promised that he would take it into consideration. The conclusion come to by the Government was that they were willing to add the following words to the clause, and he thought they would secure the object aimed at by the Amendment:— Where the Commissioners are satisfied that the Estate Duty on any property cannot be raised at once, they may allow payment to be postponed for such period, to such extent, and on payment of such interest, not exceeding 4 per cent., or any higher interest yielded by the property, and on such terms as the Commissioners may think fit.

MR. BYRNE

said, the words of the Solicitor General did not secure the chief object which he aimed at in his Amendment, and that was that an executor should get probate at once so that he might at once get possession of the assets and then pay the duty. Under the Amendment of the Solicitor General the Commissioners must be satisfied that a man could not raise the money by mortgage, for instance, before he got this concession. Of course, the executor could raise the money by mortgage; but only at 5 or 7 per cent. interest, and that was what he wanted to avoid.

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, the Opposition had so often acknowledged the way in which they had been met by the Solicitor General that he was sure the hon. and learned Gentleman did not desire any further acknowledgment. He would like to point out—though not in the nature of a complaint—that the Amendment had appeared on the Paper for many days, and it would have been more convenient if the Solicitor General had also placed on the Paper the words he proposed to substitute for the Amendment. The Amendment was not put down without the fullest consideration as to the best way to deal with a practical difficulty. The first thing they wanted to secure was that the executor should be allowed probate or letters of administration without any delay. The Bill proposed that for the first time foreign property should come within the purview of the Estate Duty, and certainly the first stop to be taken before that property could be got in was the taking out of probate or letters of administration. It seemed to him that the Government in their Amendment had lost sight of the point to which the Amendment before the Committee directed attention. It was not a question merely of the remission of the duty for a time, and the payment of interest under circumstances of absolute inability to pay the duty; but it was a question of granting probate at once, and allowing such time for the payment of the duty as the Commissioners might think fit.

MR. R. T. REID

said, he was sorry he was unable to place his Amendment on the Paper; but he was detained in the House on the Bill till after 12 o'clock last night, and had not had time to prepare it. If his Amendment did not cover the objects of hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, alterations could be suggested on the Report stage. But he had made inquiries, and had satisfied himself that probate could be granted at once under his Amendment. It was necessary, for the protection of the Revenue, to insist that the executor should show that he was not able to raise the money before the remission was granted; or otherwise there would be a constant flow of applications to the Commissioners for the purpose of obtaining the remission, when, in fact, it would not be needed.

*MR. T. H. BOLTON

suggested that the Amendment of the Solicitor General should be modified by the insertion after the word "cannot" of the words "without difficulty, inconvenience, or expense." The Amendment would then road— Where the Commissioners are satisfied that the Estate Duty of any property cannot, without difficulty, inconvenience, or expense, be raised at once," &c. He thought the words "cannot be raised" were altogether too strict. The difficulty of raising the money would not arise in the cases of large estates. In those cases the executor could go to the testator's bankers and make arrangements for the payment of the Estate Duty by the bankers direct to the Inland Revenue. But in the cases of very many small estates, of from £400 to £500 up to £5,000, there was a difficulty in realising the money without having to borrow and pay large interest, and there ought to be a provision by which in such cases, upon a verified statement of facts and security being given, probate might be provisionally granted without the payment of the full duty.

MR. GATHORNE-HARDY (Sussex, East Grinstead)

said, it seemed to him that the restrictions contained in the Amendment of the Solicitor General took away altogether the value of the Amendment. If the Commissioners were only able to give time when the money could not be raised, they were practically prevented altogether from giving time in any circumstances whatever. He knew it was necessary that the Commissioners should use their power carefully, and under the strictest conditions; but he did not think it was necessary to fetter their discretion so much as the words of the Solicitor General would do. He could quite understand that those who would have the administration of the Act ought not to have too large a dis- cretion, because it would lead to many appeals being made to them for concessions. But that was a difficulty that could be met by rules. Give the Commissioners a large discretion, and then let them frame a rule that only under the strictest circumstances would they allow probate to be given unless the duty was paid in the first instance.

*MR. BUTCHER

said, he had looked up recent colonial legislation on the subject of the Death Duties, and he found in most of the Acts a provision almost exactly in the same terms as the Amendment proposed by his hon. and learned Friend. The legislators of the colonies felt it was absolutely necessary to make some concessions in order to enable the executor to get hold of the assets. That was a precedent which the Solicitor General might very well follow.

SIR R. WEBSTER

pointed out that the 55th Act of George III. gave the Commissioners a much larger discretion than the Amendment of the Solicitor General. He called attention to the matter now, so that it might be considered before the Report.

MR. BYRNE

said, he accepted with gratitude such concession as he could get from the Solicitor General, although he was afraid that the Amendment which the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed would not effect all that was desired. He regretted that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not seen his way to go a little farther. The Amendment had been down on the Paper for weeks, and he had had many representations with regard to it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 21, to leave out from the word "where," to the word "that," in line 22.—(Mr. Byrne.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, the Amendment was necessary. The matter would have to be determined by the Courts, but if the words of the sub-section stood, the excess would only be repayable where it was proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners that too much Estate Duty had been paid. What the Government probably meant was that if there had been an excess payment it should be returned.

MR. R. T. REID

said, the hon. and learned Gentleman forgot that excess payments could at the present moment be recovered from the Government by petition of right. Petition of right was a thoroughly well-understood legal procedure. If, on reflection, hon. Members opposite entertained any doubt on the subject of the remedy in such cases, they might bring up the matter again on Report.

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, that these Amendments were not put down and moved without reflection. The suggestion was continually being made from the Government Benches that the Opposition had thrown down these Amendments in a haphazard sort of way, but that was not the case. Of course, a person could proceed to recover excess payment by petition of right, but every petition of right required the sanction of the Attorney General, and during the seven years that he held that office he did not remember being called upon to sanction a single petition of right in regard to the recovery of excess payments of the kind now under discussion. Therefore, it was not a remedy in daily use. He and his friends would consider the matter further if the Solicitor General desired them to do so, although he thought the point was one which should be decided in Committee; but the burden put upon them of raising questions again upon Report was becoming very serious.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES

said, there were two cases under the clause where Estate Duty would have to be returned; in the first place, where too much had actually been paid, and, in the second place, where it was proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners that too much had been paid. He could conceive it possible that it might be proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners that too much had been paid when such was not the case. In his opinion, as a layman, the clause was more liberal as it stood than it would be if amended in the manner proposed.

MR. BARTLEY

said, that supposing there was a dispute about the amount of duty, and the matter was taken to the High Court, the High Court might give a decision against the Commissioners, and the Commissioners might very well be dissatisfied with that decision. Unsuccessful litigants very often were dissatisfied with the decision of the Court. The Commissioners might then say, "It is not proved to our satisfaction that too much has been paid," and they might refuse to repay the excess.

Question put, and agreed to.

MR. BARTLEY

said, he would move an Amendment providing, as an alternative to the "satisfaction" of the Commissioners, that the excess should be repaid if it was shown to the satisfaction of the Court that too much had been paid.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 21, after the word "Commissioners," to insert the words "or has been decided by the High Court."—(Mr. Barthy.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

SIR R. WEBSTER

If that were accepted every difficulty would be met.

MR. R. T. REID

said, the Government could not accept the Amendment, which would be superfluous.

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, the words proposed would do no harm. They would render the discussion of this point on Report unnecessary, and unless the hon. and learned Gentleman could say that they were objectionable he (Sir R. Webster) trusted that they would be accepted.

MR. R. T. REID

said, he must take some responsibility in these matters. He thought the words both superfluous and objectionable.

*MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)

said, that people would not care to enter on the costly process of petition of right. He had understood that anyone who was dissatisfied with an assessment was to have the right of appeal to the High Court. It was clear, therefore, that an intention existed to provide some remedy other than a petition of right.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 86; Noes 114.—(Division List, No. 110.)

*MR. BUTCHER

said, be would move an Amendment with the object of putting the Commissioners of Inland Revenue and the persons who paid the duty on the same footing in regard to this question of excess payment. The Bill provided that, if too little was paid, the Government were to receive 4 per cent. interest on the amount remaining due. He now proposed that if too much was paid, the Commissioners should pay 4 per cent. interest on the excess. There was an express statutory provision as to arrears of Legacy Duty. In Section 9 of the Act of 1868 it was provided that interest at the rate of 4 per cent. should be paid on arrears. He thought that the Government should have the same justice meted out to them as was meted out to those who had to pay the duties.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 23, after the word "them," to insert the words "with interest at four per cent. per annum from the date of payment."—(Mr. Butcher.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

said, he believed that in no instance did the Government pay interest on excess payments of duty. He believed such a course as that suggested was absolutely without precedent, and if he were wrong he should be glad to be corrected. As a rule, such excess payments were the result of a blunder or error in valuation on the part of the person making the affidavit and bringing in the account. The Committee had enough to do in passing this measure, without having to take into consideration innovations of this character. He hoped the Amendment would not be pressed.

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, that as regarded pressing the Amendment, he did not know that it would be deemed necessary to walk through the Division Lobby in support of it. But the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General appeared so to overlook the facts that the Opposition could not allow the matter to be settled without discussion. He (Sir R. Webster) denied the contention of the hon. and learned Gentleman that if too much were paid it would be owing to the faulty valuation of the person paying the money. The assumption was that the Commissioners or the Court would have decided that too much had been paid. In most instances there would have been a successful appeal against the valuation, and yet the hon. and learned Gentleman said that the fault would have been that of the person making the return. The present measure could not be regarded in the light of existing Acts. It might be true that in no case did the Government pay interest on excess payments, but his reply was that they ought to do so if they made mistakes. The hon. and learned Gentleman on this occasion, like the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer on previous occasions, overlooked the cases that were being created by the Bill, and it certainly did seem simple and common justice that if there was to be a postponement of payment, and the executor was to pay interest at the rate of 4 per cent. on any sum overdue, the Inland Revenue Commissioners should pay the same interest on any excess amounts held by them. The Commissioners might possibly hold £7,000 or £8,000 too much for seven or eight months before making repayment. In common justice they should pay interest on it. He did not care whether the proposal involved an innovation in the practice of the Treasury, provided it was a just one.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR

said, he should like the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General to answer this. Supposing that in consequence of instructions contained in the Bill an over-valuation were made, could it be denied in common honesty that so long as the over-charge was in the hands of the Government it should bear interest? Would the hon. Member report that one phase of the matter? If money was held back through the lâches of the executor interest should not be paid. Probably they would take the valuation of the executor as a rule, but they need not do so. They were responsible, and if, in the exercise of their responsibility, they made too heavy a charge, which was afterwards reduced by the Courts, it was absurd to tell the public that interest should not be paid on the over-charge.

MR. BARTLEY

said, they ought to have a distinct answer from the hon. and learned Gentleman on this subject. The Solicitor General said there was enough to do in connection with the Bill without going into questions of this sort. Well, the Bill had a good deal in it, and it was all on one side. Its object was to get money into the Exchequer. Here was a case involving a consideration of common honesty. It was proposed to do a thing which, if done by anyone else but the Government, would be regarded as simply dishonest, and hon. Members who were sent there to represent the interests of the public were asked to pass it by. From the moment the breath was out of a man's body interest at the rate of 3 per cent. was due to the Exchequer, and the Government ought to see that no injustice was caused by permitting the Department to refuse to pay interest on the money they overcharged. He thought the Committee were bound to divide on the Amendment, seeing that the proposal of the Government was so monstrously unjust. It might be true that Her Majesty's Government, in these cases, had never allowed interest, but if that were so, it was quite time the law was-altered. The State might not have been strictly honest hitherto, but in these Radical days it should be made so. If it made too heavy a charge it should do what an honest person would do in ordinary trade, that was to say, pay interest on the overcharge.

MR. HANBURY

said, he did not know how the Amendment could be resisted, especially if words were added showing that only in cases where the overcharge was their own fault should interest be paid by the Government. He certainly thought that the time had now been reached when Government Departments ought to set a good example of honesty in these affairs. Up to the present they had done no sort of justice to the private individual—that was to say, they had demanded of him that which, when the conditions were reversed, they were not willing to give back to him. The Government had set a precedent in the Employers' Liability Bill, having recognised the principle that persons in Government employment should be compensated in the same way as persons in private employment. The Government demanded interest on money due to them; therefore, why, in the name of everything right and honest, should they not carry out the same principle when they owed money?

SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)

said, that as he had moved for the relinquishment of this interest in the case of arrears in the hands of the executors, he felt bound in the strongest manner to support the Amendment. He hoped it would be carried to a Division.

MR. BUTCHER

said, he would propose an addition to the Amendment to the effect that the repayment of the over-charge should be made with interest at 4 per cent. per annum front the date of payment in cases where the overpayment was due to over-valuation by the Commissioners.

MR. R. T. REID

said, he was sure that the hon. Member had no sympathy with usury, except in cases of delinquency. If the hon. Gentleman made the rate of interest 3 per cent. he would take upon himself the responsibility of accepting the Amendment.

MR. BUTCHER

I accept 3 per cent. instead of 4 per cent.

Amendment amended accordingly.

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

SIR R. WEBSTER moved, in page 6, line 23, at end, insert— but any person aggrieved by a decision of the Commissioners under this sub-section may appeal to the High Court within the time, and in the manner, and on the conditions directed by Rules of Court, and the Court shall thereupon determine the amount, if any, to be repaid by the Commissioners.

He said, he hoped that the hon. and learned Solicitor General would be able to meet them in this matter, because it would practically get rid of a very lengthy discussion and of most of the objections to Sub-sections 8. He would remind those Members of the Government who were good enough to give him their attention that the Committee had agreed that duty overpaid was to be returned by the Commissioners. The Solicitor General, he noticed, had returned to the House, and he hoped to be able to move even his stony heart. If he accepted this Amendment there was, at all events, nobody who could tell tales of him, for he was sure that the Under Secretary for the Home Office would not breathe a word if the Amendment were assented to. His point was that, in as much as the Commissioners of Inland Revenue were the judges in their own cause, there ought to be a tribunal of appeal, and he submitted that his Amendment only laid down a method of procedure which was right and just. It might be some inducement to the Government to consider this Amendment favourably that they would be getting rid of a discussion on a previous sub-section that would otherwise have to be taken on Report.

Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 23, at end, to insert— but any person aggrieved by a decision of the Commissioners under this sub-section may appeal to the High Court within the time, and in the manner, and on the conditions directed by Rules of Court, and the Court shall there-upon determine the amount, if any, to be repaid by the Commissioners."—(Sir R. Webster.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

said, he thought he was prepared to make a proposal to the hon. and learned Member in respect to this particular Amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman might consider for a moment how matters stood. He had accepted the Amendment that 3 per cent. interest should be paid on moneys which had been overpaid by reason of the excessive valuation of the Commissioners, but he thought it desirable to make some limitation which would prevent persons from allowing money to remain with the Commissioners at interest instead of speedily proceeding with their appeal. He agreed that there should be some right of appeal, and the Government were carefully considering a sub-section dealing with the matter which would be placed upon the Paper for the Report stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Motion of Mr. R. T. REID, the following Amendments were agreed to:—

Page 6, line 30, after "prescribed," insert "and if so required by the Commissioners shall be in duplicate."

Page 6, line 32, at end, insert and any person who fails to comply with the provisions of this enactment shall be liable to the penalty above in this section mentioned.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

SIR R. WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)

said he should like to ask whether the Solicitor General would be able shortly to put upon the Paper a clause with regard to the right of appeal?

MR. R. T. REID

said, that these matters of drafting were difficult, but the hon. and learned Gentleman might be sure that there would be no unnecessary delay.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 8.

SIR W. HARCOURT moved the omission of the clause. He said, the object of the clause was to prevent evasion of collection of the tax and to require a certificate to be given by the Commissioners in case of property which was exempt. The clause, however, would be brought up in another form. It was found that the clause in its present form would have put too great delay upon securities of which immediate transfer was necessary. Very great inconvenience would consequently have been caused, especially in the case of insurance policies and bankers' securities. He was satisfied from the evidence of Insurance Companies, bankers, and others that the clause in its present form would be inconvenient. He had also learnt from them that they would have no objection to do what was necessary for the protection of the revenue by rendering an account of the transfers that took place. The Insurance Companies were willing to render an account quarterly of the insurances they had paid, and he believed it would be quite possible to get other authorities who transferred their securities to give an account to the Inland Revenue Authorities of the securities so transferred. That was really all the Revenue officers required. They simply wanted to know what had been done. The fraudulent transactions to which he had referred, of course, concealed from the Inland Revenue Department a number of transfers of property that ought to pay duty. The Government might, of course, have introduced a clause on the subject into this Bill, but it would not be a clause which had any necessary or immediate reference to the subject of the Bill. It would have reference to the general collection of Revenue. The Government thought it would be possible to pass in another Bill a clause which, without delaying the transfer of securities in a way that would be inconvenient to commercial men, would secure to the Revenue an account of what had been done, so as to ensure the payment of duty upon securities that ought to pay duty. Such a clause could very well be reserved for some omnibus Bill, and need not necessarily form part of this measure. From this point of view he had consented to the omission of Clause 8 from the Bill, on the recommendation of those who considered that its provisions would subject them to inconvenience and delay.

Moved, to leave out the Clause.—(Sir W. Harcourt.)

Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, that of course Members were glad to hear the declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer following upon the statement he made some nights ago as to the course the Government proposed to follow. Having had a good deal to do with Insurance Companies and having received many representations from them, his objection to the clause was not that it was framed in order to hamper transactions which ought to be watched because they were fraudulent, but that it would interfere with legitimate transactions. As to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said as to the possibility of a probate or testamentary document I as to which probate had been paid j being used over and over again, there was a very simple remedy which the Government might adopt—namely, that of requiring each transfer to be endorsed upon the instrument itself, with the date and the circumstances under which it took place. Under these circumstances, the document that must be produced would bear upon its face an indication of the extent to which it had been used. He was surprised that such a simple remedy had not been thought of before, and he could not help thinking that something of the kind should be borne in mind by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as furnishing a more direct remedy for fraudulent transactions than reliance upon returns rendered by the persons through whose hands those transfers went. He by no means suggested that such returns would not be useful, but he doubted very much whether, from an administrative point of view, they could be relied upon to the same extent as an endorsement of all transfers on the instrument could be relied upon. He would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to remember that any schedules or statements which were returned to the Inland Revenue Department might, unless very careful machinery was adopted, afford considerable opportunity for misrepresentation unless they were very carefully I safeguarded.

MR. GRANT LAWSON

said, he thought that under Sub-section 4, of Clause 7, the Chancellor of the Exchequer could require any such particulars to be given respecting the estates of deceased persons as were needed.

SIR W. HARCOURT

said, he did not think so. He was much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Sir R. Webster) for the suggestion he had made with regard to endorsements. What was really wanted was notice that a transfer had taken place, and the Department could then proceed to make the inquiries which it was its duty to make.

MR. BARTLEY

said, he had intended to move an Amendment on this clause providing that notice should be given. He supposed that the question of notice would form the chief feature of the new clause.

Question put, and negatived.

Clause 9.

SIR R. WEBSTER (on behalf of Mr. BUTCHER, York), moved to insert after "shall," in page 7, line 22, the words— Subject to all charges and incumbrances existing at the death of the deceased.

The Committee was not now dealing with the primary liability of the executor to pay the Estate Duty, but with the charge upon the property. It was, therefore, assumed that the executor had in some way satisfied the Inland Revenue Authorities, and got the probate. It was provided that the greater part of the Estate Duty should be a first charge upon the estate. He submitted that it would be contrary to precedent and unjust that existing charges should be postponed until the payment of the duty.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 22, after the word "shall," to insert the words— Subject to all charges and incumbrances existing at the death of the deceased."—(Sir R. Webster.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

This and some other Amendments on the Paper in the same sense are, I think, based upon a misunderstanding. The section provides that the greater part of the Estate Duty shall be a first charge on the property that is liable to the duty. What is the property liable to the duty? It is not the incumbered property, but the property which passes on the death. The property which passes on the death, in the case of incumbered property, is merely the equity of redemption. The Amendment would imply that the property liable to duty would possibly include the incumbrances, and from that; point of view it would be objectionable. That is the reason why we cannot accept the Amendment, and not in the least because we suggest or believe for a moment that there ought to be a charge upon the property prior to the incumbrances, it being perfectly clear that there would be no such charge.

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, it was evident that the person who had advised the Solicitor General had confined his attention to cases of equity of redemption, and had confused the value of the property with the property itself. He (Sir R. Webster) happened to possess a very small piece of land which he was sure would not excite any feeling of resentment on the part of the Solicitor General, who had certain views about property, and which happened to be charged with a charitable payment, such payment being a first charge on the property. This clause proposed to say that the Estate Duty should be a first charge on the property. There might in a similar way be an investment in Consols with a first charge upon it in the form of a payment to a charity. These words would give rise to a claim on the part of the Crown that the Estate Duty would come before the payment of any other charge upon the property; and if that were not so, what objection could I there be to the insertion of the words? It was idle to suggest that there was any danger to be feared from the words proposed. They would only have a safeguarding effect preventing a charge on the part of the Crown from having priority. It might be that some day he and the Solicitor General would have to argue the matter in Court; and it could not then be said that the matter had escaped attention in the Committee. Of course, if the hon. and learned Gentleman said that he (Sir R. Webster) was in the wrong in the view he took, it would be necessary for him to give way.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES

said, that what was referred to was not the Estate Duty, but only the rateable part of it, and it only referred to that part which did not pass to the executor—in other words, to realty and settled personalty. It came to this, that they had to allocate to each portion of the property its proportion of the whole duty, otherwise they would never be able to arrive at any rateable part. Well, supposing he succeeded to a field—one of hundreds, or, it might be, of thousands forming part of the estate of a deceased person. What would be the charge on that field? Neither the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General nor the Commissioners of Inland Revenue would be able to tell what Estate Duty should be charged unless they had ascertained the value of the field, taking it out of the value of the whole estate. That was not to be disputed. It was clear, therefore, that unless the Commissioners did what the Solicitor General refused them permission to do on the previous evening—that was to say, unless they valued the parts of the estate separately this part of the clause would not work, and they would never be able to tell what the rateable proportion of the duty was on his field. That part of the sub-section would be absolutely unworkable until and unless they could ascertain the value of that portion of the estate in order to ascertain its proportion to the whole estate and, consequently, to arrive at the rateable proportion to be charged thereon. When the Bill came to be put into operation there would be tremendous difficulty to encounter through not being able to apportion the amount of duty chargeable to each portion of the estate, and payable by each beneficiary. These matters had been treated very lightly in the House. The fact was that the Bill had never been considered in its effects, but merely with a view to the effect it would produce on the electioneering prospects of the Government. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes; he distinctly said so. Before adopting a new principle such as that contained in the Bill they ought to have carefully worked it out. At every turn hon. Members who proposed Amendments were told that what they suggested was already in the Bill, or, if not, that it ought to be postponed to the Report. Her Majesty's Government did not, he presumed, propose to make their first charge on an estate a superseding first charge. That could not be their intention, but here again a difficulty arose in consequence of a misconception of the true gospel of tax-collecting. In the Succession Duty Act the charge was on the interest of the successor, and if the Succession Duty Act were followed as a precedent the same thing would be done in this case. That would be all right. They knew what the interest in the property was, and who had to pay; but this went further and brought in the whole property, and it would seem without taking account of previous encumbrances. There was clearly an ambiguity in the clause, and that the Amendment would remove.

*MR. BARTLEY

said, he had raised this question before on the subject of Death Duties being second to existing mortgages. It seemed to him that these words were absolutely necessary. He would give a concrete case. Suppose an estate valued at £30,000, bringing in 2 per cent, on its value—which was not an uncommon case—that is to say, £600 a year net; suppose it had a mortgage of £15,000 upon it at 4 per cent.—not an unusual thing for an agricultural man—the interest on that mortgage would require £600 a year to pay it, the whole receipts of the estate. But that estate being worth £30,000, and only having a mortgage of £15,000 upon it, would have to pay the Estate Duty on the balance of £15,000. If this were the whole of the estate, the Estate Duty for eight years, with interest, would be about £80 a year. There was, therefore, this fact, that the incumbrances upon that estate would take the whole income of the estate, but for eight years the Chancellor of the Exchequer would want £80 a year. He put this case to the Solicitor General on a former occasion, and he said most distinctly that the £600 a year interest on the mortgage would be the first claim on the estate and that the Estate Duty would come second. That being so, how could it be compatible with the words of the clause— A rateable part of the Estate Duty on an estate in proportion to the value of any property which does not pass to the executor as such, shall be a first charge on the property liable to the duty. He certainly thought some safeguarding words were necessary in order to prevent the mortgage coming second to the £80 a year which the Chancellor of the Exchequer demanded.

MR. R. T. REID

said, he had stated as clearly as he could in answer to the hon. Member, and he now repeated without the smallest hesitation, that the mortgagee retained all his rights unimpaired. It was true that the duty had to be a first charge on the property liable to it. What was that? It was the property passing on the death. And what was that? It was the margin beyond incumbrances belonging to other persons. The Government must act upon their own judgment in this matter, because they had the responsibility and duty. They believed that the insertion of these words might lead people to entertain misgivings and doubts about things which were perfectly plain, and that was his view.

*MR. T. H. BOLTON

said, he would like to point out that there was, at all events, some doubt in this matter, and there being some doubt—notwithstanding the strong opinion of the learned Solicitor General and the Attorney General—surely there would be no harm whatever in putting that doubt at rest. He held in his hand a Report of the Committee of the Council of the Incorporated Law Institution, which represented solicitors throughout the country, and they expressly called attention to the clause, and said it indicated that the duty would under the clause as worded be the first charge upon the property, but that it should be subject to incumbrances existing at the date of death. He could not see why there should be this objection to making the matter plain, and he hoped that on the Report stage the point would be further considered.

MR. BYRNE (Essex, Walthamstow)

said, he confessed that he felt some difficulty, and he thought the introduction of the words proposed would get rid of ambiguity to a very large extent. He was not at all satisfied with the words "on an estate," and did not find them in any other part of the Act used in this general sense. Clause 3 said— To be paid on any property passing on the death of the deceased, and he understood those words. It was there provided that the property passing should be aggregated so as to form one estate, but he saw nothing in this clause stating that the estate referred to was estate referred to in Clause 3. If the words "a rateable part of the Estate Duty on an estate" meant not only the property that was left, but the artificial class of property which was to he aggregated, in order to ascertain the Estate Duty, it gave rise to a curious difficulty, because they would have, first of all, to ascertain the whole amount of the Estate Duty, and they could not ascertain the whole amount of the Estate Duty until they had ascertained the whole amount of property passing at the death, and that would not be finally determined until, possibly, after the lapse of several years after the death. He would like also an explanation of the remaining words of the first snb-section— In proportion to the value of any property which does not pass to the executor as such shall be a first charge on the property liable to the duty. The words, In proportion to the value of any property which does not pass to the executor, did not refer to any settled property at all, otherwise than by will. The words, Shall be a first charge on the property liable to the duty, were very extraordinary. Was not the whole of a man's estate liable to the duty? He could not understand what was meant by that phrase. The words. "the property liable to the duty" introduced confusion, which would lead to difficulties in any event, but especially with reference to incumbrances. If they created a first charge on the property liable to the duty, they created a first charge on the legal estate. [Mr. R. T. REID dissented.] As the learned Solicitor General did not agree with him, it was useless to pursue the matter further.

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, the learned Solicitor General thought the words "subject to existing incumbrances" were not absolutely clear, but if he turned to Clause 6 he would find that it was distinctly enacted that— In determining the value of an estate for the purpose of Estate Duty allowance should be made for reasonable funeral expenses and for debts and incumbrances. He had been held up to ridicule by the learned Solicitor General, but all they desired was to make the matter clear.

MR. R. T. REID

said, he did not think he had said anything to expose the hon. Member to ridicule. All he had said was that this Committee consisted mostly of laymen. He did not apprehend that laymen would suppose that they could be competent judges of fine points of equity law, conveyancing, and so forth. It was most distasteful to him to differ from hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to questions of law. He had frequently given in in order to show that he did not put his own opinions against others, but hi this case he confessed he had himself no doubt about this matter, and it must be ended somehow. The Attorney General held the same opinion, because he had discussed the question with him that day. It came to this: on whose responsibility was it to be settled? They had the responsibility, and wore advised by those who were competent to advise, and he had not the slightest doubt on the subject. He appealed to hon. Members opposite who did not agree with them to now divide on the question.

Question put, and negatived.

*MR. T. H. BOLTON moved, on behalf of Mr. Courtney (Cornwall, Bodmin), in page 7, line 22, to leave out "liable to the duty," and insert "in respect of which duty is levied."

MR. R. T. REID

said, he was quite prepared to accept the Amendment, with the slight modification of the insertion of the word "leviable" for "levied."

Amendment amended, by inserting the word "leviable" for "levied."

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

MR. T. H. BOLTON moved, in page 7, line 30, after "property," insert— And on request separate certificates shall be granted for separate items of property, and such certificates shall discharge the property in the hands of a purchaser notwithstanding that it may be subsequently ascertained that a higher duty was payable. He said he made the proposal with a view of facilitating the dealing with the property after a death, so that persons interested in each item of property might know what duty there was on it. Unless some provision of the kind was accepted, it would be almost impossible to deal with the estate for a considerable period of time. There might be property in the colonies and abroad which might not be known to the executor, and which, when it came to be ascertained, would raise the rate of duty. How could the persons beneficially interested mortgage or sell or exercise rights of ownership with reference to the property bequeathed to them unless they had an opportunity of ascertaining the duty chargeable, and obtaining the certificate once for all? A proposition of this kind ought to be embodied in the Bill.

SIR R. WEBSTER

suggested that the Chairman should put the Amendment' down to the word "property" first, as two separate questions were raised.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 20, after the word "property," to insert the words— And on request separate certificates shall be granted for separate items of property,

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, ho thought I the first part of the Amendment was a very useful improvement in the interest I of the administration of estates. When they came to deal with such questions as pictures or the transfer of personal chattels, or of personal property, it was an extremely important thing that power should be given to grant separate certificates for separate items. He would appeal to his hon. Friend not to press the last part of the Amendment, because he thought it was much better dealt with by an Amendment put down by a Member for one of the divisions of Lancashire, or, he thought, by one which he had put down later on the clause.

MR. R. T. REID

said, that with regard to the first part of the Amendment, they would inquire whether it would be practicable to insert it. It was not an easy thing to do, and all he could say was that they would consider the point.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES

said, he thought it was absolutely necessary to have separate certificates for separate properties. In the case of a man who had separate estates, some in England and some in the colonies, a certificate was part of the title. He thought the word "item" in the Amendment might be improved upon.

*MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)

said, he did not know what difficulty there could be in granting separate certificates. At the present moment separate certificates were granted which covered not only Succession Duty but Estate Duty when distinct properties passed, and he did not see why the same thing should not be done in the case of the new Estate Duty.

MR. T. H. BOLTON

said, that having regard to the assurance of the learned Solicitor General he did not propose to move the words, and would ask leave to withdraw that portion of the clause, and as to the other part, he would accept the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir R. Webster), and would leave the matter to be dealt with by a subsequent Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES moved, in page 7, line 32, to leave out the second "to," and insert "from." He said the Amendment was one of English, and he imagined it would be accepted.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 32, to leave out the second "to," and insert "from."—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)

Question, "That the word proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.

On Motion of Mr. GIBSON BOWLES, the following Amendment was agreed to:—Page 7, line 34, after "made," insert "or from any other cause."

*MR. T. H. BOLTON moved, in page 7, line 39, leave out "producing to them the said certificate," and insert "entitled to such repayment of duty." The part of the clause to which the Amendment referred said— The certificate of the Commissioners shall be conclusive evidence that the amount of duty named therein is a first charge on the lands, or other subjects of property after the debts and encumbrances allowed as aforesaid, provided that any such repayment of duty by the Commissioners shall be made to the person producing to them the said certificate.

He proposed that instead of being the person producing the certificate it should be the person entitled to such repayment of duty. The words he suggested would be more appropriate, and would more clearly express what he apprehended was the intention of the Government than the words in the Bill. He thought there could be no objection to the Amendment, which he begged to move.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 39, to leave out the words "producing to them the said certificate," and insert the words "entitled to such repayment of duty."—(Mr. T. H. Bolton.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

MR. R. T. REID

hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press this Amendment. The certificate was to be conclusive evidence that the amount of duty named therein was a first charge, and provision was made that there should be repayment of duty to the person producing the certificate. Of course, the person producing the certificate would be the person who had got a right to it. The person with the certificate was the right man. They must deal with these cases in a practical business sense, and the business-like way was that the man who had the certificate was the man entitled to the repayment.

*MR. T. H. BOLTON

said, this introduced an entirely new principle in dealing with charges or encumbrances upon real property, that the production of the document was evidence of the right of the person producing it. The person producing the document, whoever he might be, whatever his title or whatever flaw there might be in the title, on the mere production of the document was to be entitled to the repayment of duty. He suggested it should be the person entitled to the repayment of duty, the person who had paid the duty, or his legal successor. The person who traced his title from the person paying the duty—the person entitled to the money—should receive it, and not merely a person who somehow or other had the deposit note, as the certificate might be termed.

MR. BYRNE

considered there was a practical difficulty arising out of the matter as it now stood. He quite understood that the production of the certificate ought to be primâ facie evidence that the person was entitled to receive the money, and the best way to meet the matter would be to say the person entitled to such repayment of duty on production of the said certificate, and that would get rid of the objection already referred to. It had been suggested to him that this certificate would form a document of title. If there was a purchaser for a portion of the property he would want a certificate, but he would not be the person to get the repayment of duty. So, again, in the case of a mortgagee, the man who lent money would require possession of the certificate, but he was not the person to receive the money. Take the case of sale. A man sold the property in respect of which this certificate was given, and he would hand over that certificate to the purchaser. But the purchaser would not be the person to get the repayment. If the Amendment were adopted and the words "on production of the said certificate" were added, that would get rid of the first portion of the difficulty.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES

had an Amendment on the Paper to leave out Sub-section (4), but he said he hoped the Government would be able to explain the sub-section so as to enable him to withdraw the Amendment. As it stood at present it seemed to him the sub-section could not be right. It read thus:— (4) If the rateable part of the Estate Duty on any property is paid by the executor, it shall, where occasion requires, be repaid to him by the trustees or owners of the property; but if the duty is on real property, it may be repaid by the same instalments and with the same r interest as are in this Act mentioned. They had already provided that the executor was only to pay duty on the request of the persons accountable. If so that constituted a claim, and, without a section of this kind, gave him the power of recovery. He, therefore, failed to see the point of Sub-section (4).

MR. R. T. REID

said, it was perfectly true that in the cases indicated he did accept an Amendment of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Bristol, that the money should be paid on the request of the person accountable. But there was another case. It was well known that the executor was bound under this Bill to account for all the property of which the deceased, at the time of his death, was competent to dispose. The hon. Gentleman would find that among the property of which the deceased was competent to dispose was property of which the deceased had general power of disposition; that was to say, a power not exercised. That was property which did not pass to the executor, and yet he was bound to account for it. Accordingly, it was within the category of the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Bristol, and that, he thought, was the kind of property which was met by this sub-section, and which the Government, therefore, considered necessary.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES

did not move his Amendment, but said he thought it showed the wickedness of the Bill when it was moved by the Solicitor General that the unfortunate executor was to pay duty on property for which he was not really accountable.

MR. BYRNE

suggested the omission of the words in the sub-section— Repaid to him by the trustees or owners of the property, for the purpose of inserting the words— recoverable by him from the person accountable therefor. It appeared to him that what they really wanted was that the executor should be able to get back from the persons accountable from the rateable part of the Estate Duty. They were introducing entirely new phraseology by the words "trustees or owners of property"; the person who had to pay was the person accountable. He, therefore, moved the adoption of the words he had indicated.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 42, to leave out from the word "be," to the word "but," in line 43, and insert the words "recoverable by him from the person accountable therefor."—(Mr. Byrne.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

MR. R. T. REID

said, it certainly required some closeness to follow the proposal, which he thought he would satisfy the hon. Member could not be accepted. The hon. Gentleman desired that the executor, on payment of the duty on the property, should recover it from the person accountable therefor. He (Mr. Reid) preferred that it should be the trustees or owners of the property. What was his reason for that? His reason was this: It might be that the person accountable was actually the executor himself, and if they inserted the words suggested they would find the executor would have to recover the money from himself. Take the case of a general power of appointment. In that case the executor was bound to pay, in the first instance, and yet the executor was the person accountable. Suppose the executor had paid in the first instance and wanted to recover it back from somebody else, who was he to come down upon? According to the words of the Bill he was to come upon the trustee or owner, and if the words "accountable therefor" were to be inserted the executor himself would be accountable. Upon these grounds the Government could not accept the Amendment.

MR. GRANT LAWSON

said, if his memory did not deceive him they arranged in a previous clause that the executor should only pay at the request of the person accountable for the properties. It appeared to him, therefore, that this Amendment would make the phraseology of this clause correspond with the phraseology of the previous clause.

*MR. BUTCHER

said, the Solicitor General had suggested that a case might arise when the executor would not be able to recover the duty if these words were put in. But in the case the hon. and learned Gentleman supposed—namely, of there being a general power of appointment not executed, it was quite true that the executor would be accountable primarily, but the person who had really got the property would also be accountable, because in a previous section every person who got property became accountable for the duty. Therefore, in the instance put of property under a general power of appointment, the person who had got the property would be accountable, and it was quite right when the executor had to pay duty that he should be able to recover from the person actually getting the property. It was clear, therefore, that in the only case the Solicitor General suggested that this Amendment would not apply, it would apply just as much as in other cases.

SIR R. WEBSTER

could not understand the reasoning of the Solicitor General on these points. In Sub section (3) of Clause 7 the Government had referred to the number of persons accountable. They were trustee, guardian, committee, or other person in whom any interest in the property so passing, or the management thereof, is at any time vested, &c. These were the persons other than the executor. On the previous night they (the Opposition) pointed out that these words were so wide that they would include purchasers for value, but the Amendment was not acceded to, and as the Bill stood these large numbers of persons were supposed to be accountable, and were the only people who were to pay. This clause was to enable the executor to recover in a certain event, and instead of enumerating the same persons as those who had already been enumerated in a previous sub-section, the Solicitor General put in the words "trustees or owners of property," so that only two out of the seven enumerated classes were named. His hon. and learned Friend had pointed out that the proper generic expression for the person from whom the money was to be recovered—and which had been adopted by the Government in the early part of the Bill—was the person accountable for the duty, that being obviously something which corresponded with the previous drafting of previous clauses, and which would, without doubt, include all persons against whom the right of action ought to be. The Solicitor General had not mot the Amendment on its merits, but had endeavoured to put what he ventured to think had been exposed as a fallacy, because the case of an executor recovering from himself was met by the words "where occasion requires." Of course, the occasion would not require it, if the person accountable was the same person from whom it was to be recoverable. It was obvious that some third person must be involved from whom the money was to come and by whom the payment was to be made. The Amendment was so entirely in accordance with the language which Her Majesty's Government themselves had already used, that there was no excuse for their refusing to accept it, and therefore they must divide on the question.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 132; Noes 110.—(Division List, No. 111.)

*MR. T. H. BOLTON moved to insert, in page 7, line 43, after the word "property," the words "and in the meantime be a charge upon such property." The clause dealt with the case of an executor who paid Estate Duty on property which did not come within his province as executor, but which passed at the death of the deceased whose executor he was, and which belonged to trustees or other persons. The clause as it stood gave the executor a claim, in respect to that duty, against the person or persons who were ultimately liable to pay the duty; and the object of the Amendment was to give a claim against the property, in respect of which the duty had been paid, as well as against the owner of the property. It was only right that if an executor, for the convenience of the Government, paid duty on property which was not within his province as executor, the Government should give him a charge on that property as well as a claim against the owner of the property.

Amendment proposed, in page 7, line 43, after the word "property," to insert the words "and in the meantime be a charge upon such property."—(Mr. T. H. Bolton.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

said, the Government could not accept the Amendment, for the reason that they thought it unnecessary, and that it was unwise to load the Bill with unnecessary matter. If the hon. and learned Gentleman would look at Sub-section (5) of the clause now under consideration he would find that an executor, in the position which the hon. and learned Gentleman had described, had the power to raise the duty which he had paid by the sale or mortgage of the property, or any part of it, whether such property was vested in him or not.

*MR. T. H. BOLTON

thought it would be wiser, by specific language in this clause, to fix the liability as a charge upon the property.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. BARTLEY

proposed to add words providing that if the duty is on real property, "and is paid in instalments," it may be repaid by the same instalments.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 1, after the word "property," to insert the words "and is paid in instalments."—(Mr. Bartley.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

said, it was all a matter of opinion; but he considered that the terms of the sub-section were better than those of the Amendment. If he understood the Amendment aright, it proposed that if the duty were on real property it could only be repaid by instalments, if it had been paid by instalments. He could not agree with such a proposal. The executor might pay the duty in a lump sum, but it would not be fair, for that reason, to deprive the owner of the real estate of the power to repay in instalments over eight years.

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, the Solicitor General seemed, in the pressure of business, to have forgotten the previous clauses of the Bill. The executor was to pay this money at the request of the person accountable for it, and the proper provision would be that the person accountable should only be entitled to repay by instalments if the executor paid by instalments. Otherwise gross hardship would be inflicted on the executor who had paid the duty in a lump sum by allowing the man who owed money to repay it by eight annual instalments.

MR. TOMLINSON

pointed out that, under the clause, an executor would he compelled to keep open an estate which he wanted to wind up. Surely that was a position of hardship in which an executor should not be placed.

MR. BYRNE

expressed surprise that the Solicitor General had not accepted the Amendment. The Committee had passed a section in which they had given power to the executor, at the request of the person accountable for the duty, but under no other circumstances, to pay the duty. The executor could pay either in a lump sum or by instalments. If he were requested by the successor to the property to pay in instalments, and chosed to pay in a lump sum, he would have done what he had no right to do, and would have no right to claim to be repaid in a lump sum. But, on the other hand, if the executor was requested to pay in a lump sum and did pay in a lump sum, it would be very unfair if the person responsible for the duty could say to him that he would only repay him in eight annual instalments.

*MR. GIBSON BOWLES

said, he could not understand why this feeling of animosity had arisen against the unfortunate executor. Really so fair and reasonable an Amendment ought to be accepted. It simply provided that in cases where the money was paid in instalments by the executor, the executor should have the right to recover by instalments, and in cases where he had paid down he should have the right to recover the money down. As the clause stood, if the executor paid the money down in a lump sum, the beneficiary or successor to the property could say to him, "You have chosen to pay the money down, but I will only repay you in eight yearly instalments." That would be very unfair.

MR. BARTLEY

contended that it was a monstrous thing that a man who had paid the money in one lump sum at the express request of the person liable should be repaid himself by instalments.

MR. COURTNEY

considered that the difficulty was not likely to arise often, but when it did arise there should certainly be some provision for meeting it. If an executor paid the sum down at the request of the beneficiary, that request formed an element in the consideration that induced him to do so. It was only fair that where a man did that he should not have to wait for his money to be repaid him by instalments, but should have a right to recover in a lump sum.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I do not know what intention the Government have in view in the course they are pursuing. I wish to know whether the Government intend to make it impossible for me to go on with the Bill at all. I say honestly that those on my side of the House have done their very best not to unnecessarily prolong the discussion upon any clause of the Bill. But whenever we raise a question the Government not only do not answer our arguments, but do not even try to do so. I can tell right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench that if I had endeavoured to conduct a Bill in the manner the Government are conducting this Bill hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway from Ireland would not have allowed me to proceed with more than a line of the Bill in three weeks of hard work. I have watched with amazement the Government's mode of conducting this Bill. The Government never meet our arguments, never reply to our suggestions, stated, as all must allow, in the most moderate language, except in such a way as must necessarily prolong the proceedings, trusting entirely to their majority to carry everything they have put in the Bill. That is not the way we should be treated. The question before us is, I submit, one of great importance, yet no answer has been given or even offered by the Government. The unfortunate executor who is obliged to pay the tax imposed by the Bill may be obliged to pay it in one lump sum, yet the beneficiary may meet the executor by saying that under the Act he has the right to pay by instalments extending over eight years, and that he should therefore take advantage of the opportunity offered him and pay back the money advanced by instalments, paying him meanwhile 3 per cent, upon his disbursement. Surely that cannot be considered fair? Are we to get no answer from the Government? Are we to be treated in this way? I say it is intolerable that our arguments should be treated with stolid stupidity by right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench. The action may be very well with a view to creating the impression of firmness, but it is not intelligent, and it certainly is not calculated to further the progress of the Bill. The Government have chosen not to give a single argument, good, bad, or indifferent, in favour of their proposal. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite may have arguments somewhere concealed about them. If so, let them unearth them, let them bring them forth from their inner consciousness, and lay them before us. We are easy to be convinced. After all, human patience has its limits, and if the Government do not meet the arguments advanced on this side they cannot wonder at some feeling of irritation arising among those whose business it is to scan closely the clauses of this Bill.

MR. R. T. REID

The right hon. Gentleman is in an unusual vein this evening. I am not certain that he has done his good taste justice when he says that Members on this Bench are persons of stolid stupidity.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I did not say that. I stated that the behaviour of the Government indicated stolid stupidity, and to that I adhere; but I never suggested that the able gentlemen opposite were either stolid or stupid.

MR. R. T. REID

We must bear the reproach of the right hon. Gentleman as regards our intelligence and capacity as best we can; but, as regards these charges, that we did not attempt to answer or to deal with the arguments of the other side, I say this—that there is no man who has sat there for the last 15 or 16 days who in his cool moments can honestly make that statement. The right hon. Gentleman said that the limits of patience have been reached. I quite agree with him. It requires some temper and some patience to meet the constant repetition of arguments by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Arguments which have been answered by the Government 20 times have been repeated over and over again during the 15 or 16 days that this Bill has been in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman must not be surprised, therefore, when he provoked reprisals. With regard to the Amendment before us, let me tell the right hon. Gentleman that I have already given to it as plain an answer as is possible; but let me repeat it shortly for his benefit. During the early stages of this Committee, appeal after appeal was made to us on behalf of the unfortunate owners of real property, who will not know where to get the money for the duty payable on the estate. In our anxiety for the owners of real estate, for which we do not get the credit we so richly deserve, we say that if the executor pays the money in a lump sum, we will not compel the owner to pay the executor down, but will give him the privilege of paying by instalments in eight years. The Amendment would deprive the owner of the privilege of paying in eight years, and would compel him to pay at once.

MR. A.J.BALFOUR

That is not it.

MR. R. T. REID

That is the substance of the Amendment. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman is not aware what the Amendment is? It proposes that the duty shall be only payable by instalments by the owner of realty if paid by instalments by the executor. We have done this thing because we think it fair to the owners of real property, and I do not think there was any call for the correction which we have undergone at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR

The speech to which the hon. and learned Gentleman objects was not provoked simply by the conduct of the Government on this Amendment, but by their conduct upon previous Amendments. But with regard to this Amendment, let me put one question to the hon. and learned Member, and on its answer will depend the judgment of the Committee as between him and me. Is it or is it not a fact that if the Bill passes unamended it will be in the power of the beneficiary who inherits a real estate to compel the executor to pay all the duty on that estate in a lump sum?

MR. R. T. REID

Certainly not.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I am right in saying that. Is it in the power of the beneficiary to request the executor to pay in a lump sum? Then he may pay in a lump sum, and when the sum is paid it will be in the power of the beneficiary to turn round upon the executor, and say, "My good friend, you have paid in a lump sum, but I find it extremely inconvenient to repay you the lump sum. I therefore propose to pay you according to the privileges granted to me by a beneficent Government, in eight yearly instalments." Then this unfortunate executor, who is to get nothing out of the estate and will do his work gratuitously, will possibly find himself in the position of a person who has parted at once with a large sum of money—it may be an enormous sum—to the Government on behalf of the beneficiary, and yet he may only be repaid afterwards in eight years by instalments, with 3 per cent, interest. I ask, is that the purport of the Bill, and, if so, is it just? Is it just that it should be in my power as beneficiary to tell some unhappy man acting as executor that he is to advance a large sum on my behalf, and I am only to repay him in instalments at 3 per cent.? If you think it just, all I can say is that you have a different sense of justice to myself. If you think it just, you have never attempted to show that it is—you have never attempted to meet my argument by a word, good, bad, or indifferent. I will not use epithets to which hon. Gentlemen opposite can take exception, but I ask, Is that the proper method of meeting Amendments which are honestly moved, and which are important as far as they go?

SIR W. HARCOURT

The real difficulty is that the right hon. Gentleman has not read the Amendment. If he had read it, he would never have stated that the executor would be bound to pay—

MR. A. J. BALFOUR

I did inadvertently state that, but I withdrew the statement at once, as it was not relevant to my argument. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not waste the time of the Committee by dealing with an argument I did not advance.

SIR W. HARCOURT

It happens to be the whole point of the case. ["No, no!"] I will show it in a sentence. If the executor were bound to pay in a lump sum, and did so pay, it would be an injustice to him that he should be repaid in instalments. But the executor will not be bound to pay in a lump sum. He will know perfectly well that it will be in his option to so pay or not, as he chooses, and he will also know that, if he does so pay, he may, or need, be repaid only in instalments if the beneficiary chooses. Therefore no injustice can be done to the executor. There would be injustice done to him if he were bound to pay in a lump sum, but he will not be. Yet on a discussion on this point, that the executor will be bound so to pay, the last half-hour has been wasted, and it shows that hon. Gentlemen have not read the Bill or understood the Amendment.

SIR R. WEBSTER

Who has not read the Bill? Who has not listened to the speech of his colleague, the Solicitor General, made about five minutes ago in his hearing? The hon. and learned Gentleman stated that the executor would only pay at the request of the person accountable for the duty. That request will be to pay either in instalments, or in a lump sum. If by instalments it is only right that the executor should be repaid by instalments, but if the request to the executor is to pay in a lump sum, and he so pays, the clause, without amendment, will make it possible for the person accountable to say afterwards that he will only repay in instalments. I should like to know at what period of the evening the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given the Committee the privilege of his attendance—▀×

THE CHAIRMAN (Sir J. GOLDSMID)

Order, order! There has been enough personal recrimination. The hon. and learned Member must confine himself to the Amendment.

SIR R. WEBSTER

I bow to your ruling, Sir. I was not indulging in personal recrimination▀×["Oh, oh!"]

THE CHAIRMAN

Order, order!

SIR R. WEBSTER

I merely intended to point out that I and other hon. Members on this side of the House have paid close attention to the discussion for four hours, and if hon. Gentlemen opposite had also followed that discussion, they would have seen that the Amendments proposed have been brought forward by those who have thoroughly studied the Bill.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 120; Noes 143.—(Division List, No. 112.)

MR. GIBSON BOWLES

said, he would move to leave out Sub-section 5, which said— A person who pays the Estate Duty on any property, shall have power, whether the property is or is not vested in him, to raise such duty by the sale or mortgage of that property or any part thereof. He admitted that since the Amendment had been placed on the Paper the severity and strangeness of the sub-section had been mitigated by the acceptance of the words which provided that the consent of the beneficiary should be required before the executor was enabled to pay the duty on property not passing to him as executor. But this mitigation was insufficient. By the preceding sub-section they had enabled the executor to commit an injustice on the successor, and this 5th sub-section provided in its naked form— A person who pays the Estate Duty on any property, shall have power, whether the property is or is not vested in him, to raise such duty by the sale or mortgage of that property or any part thereof. Such a monstrous provision as this was never before inserted in any Act of Parliament, or conceived in the mind of any sane draftsman. A person was to be enabled to sell or mortgage property of which he knew nothing which was not vested in him, for which he was not accountable, and over which he had no rights. Trustees were usually appointed in these cases of conveyed estates who were not the same as the executors. It was even a very common thing for the executor of a will to be at variance with the trustees. The sub-section would enable an executor who had a grudge against the trustees or persons entitled to the estate to commit an act of horrible oppression both to the trustees and successor—it would enable him to sell or mortgage the property over their heads in order to pay duty which he was under no obligation to pay. That would be the effect of the sub-section, and it seemed to him only necessary to state it to show the monstrous character of the proposal. The executor was not bound to pay the duty even if requested to do so by the successor. The double assent of the beneficiary and the executor was necessary before the latter paid the duty, and under those circumstances it was monstrous to put into the hands of the executor the power to seize real estate and sell or mortgage it to raise the duty. The executor would have power to coerce the successor, the trustee, and all interested in the real property. He might say, "If you do not come to my terms and agree to such and such a compromise I will sell you up or mortgage the property to raise the money to pay this duty." For these reasons he moved to omit the sub-section.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, to omit Sub-section (5)—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)

Question proposed, "That Sub-section (5) stand part of the Clause."

MR. R. T. REID

said, the hon. Member desired to omit the sub-section altogether. The object of the sub-section was to enable a person who paid duty which was not ordinarily payable by him to recoup himself by mortgaging or selling the estate or any part of it. The hon. Member assumed that the executor was never bound to pay in respect of property which had not belonged to him as executor, but that was incorrect. The executor was bound to pay for all property he was competent to dispose of.

MR. GIBSON BOWLES

Real property?

MR.R. T. REID

All property of which the deceased was competent to dispose. It would be remembered that, when the clause was adverted to earlier in the discussion, it was pointed out that this power existed, and for that reason he had accepted an Amendment of the Member for Bristol, that the executor should not be bound to pay unless he was requested. Some words ought to be added at the commencement of this subsection, and he would deal with that when the time came. At present the Motion before the Committee was to omit the whole sub-section, and raised the question as to whether there was or was not to be a power of sale or mortgage vested in the executor. This the Government could not agree to.

MR. CARSON (Dublin University)

said, there was one point connected with the sub-section he should like to call attention to which had reference to those countries in which real property was registered. He wished to know how the encumbrance which the executor was to have upon the land was to be found out, especially in Ireland, where real property was dealt with by a system of registration. At present all that a purchaser had to do was to search the register for encumbrances, and he would have a valid title against the executor if he found no encumbrance on the register. Under the Bill the encumbrance of the executor would require no registration. How, then, was a purchaser to acquire a good title? By Clause 19, Sub-section 15, in the case of Scotland, an application might be made to the Court, and the Court would create a title; but the case of Ireland seemed to have been entirely overlooked by the Government.

MR. R. T. REID

said, this question deserved consideration. He was not ashamed to say that his acquaintance with Irish registration law was of the most meagre description. He promised that the matter should have consideration.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. R. T. REID moved an Amendment to make the fifth sub-section read that— A person authorised or required to pay the Estate Duty on any property shall, for the purpose of paying the duty, or repaying the amount if paid, have power to raise the money by sale or mortgage.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 3, to leave out from the word "person," to end of line, and insert the words— Authorised or required to pay the Estate Duty on any property shall for the purpose of paying the duty, or repaying the amount if paid."—(Mr. R. T. Reid.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

MR. GIBSON BOWLES

asked what was the meaning of the words "or repaying the amount if paid?"

MR. R. T. REID

said, he did not draft the Amendment, but he thought it meant that the person authorised or required to pay should for the purpose of payment or repayment of the duty repay the amount if already paid.

SIR R. WEBSTER

suggested that the words "or repaying the amount if paid" should be altered to "or obtaining repayment of the amount if paid."

MR. GIBSON BOWLES

thought the words "or repaying the amount if paid" ought to be omitted altogether.

MR. BARTLEY

said, the way these Amendments were prepared did not reflect any credit on the Government. In this particular case the Solicitor General admitted that he had not drawn the Amendment, and did not know what it meant.

Question put, and negatived.

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. COURTNEY

said, that "recovering" would be a better word than "repaying."

MR. R. T. REID

said, he did not think the words "or repaying the amount if paid" were required, and he would omit them.

COMMANDEE BETHELL

said, he understood that the executor had power to raise the duty, by sale of mortgage in the case of real property. If the duty were payable in eight annual instalments, did that mean that the executor could only raise the eighth part of the duty?

MR. R. T. REID

said, that in a case where instalments were payable in eight years, the executor would have no right to go beyond his power.

Question put, and agreed to.

On Motion of Mr. R. T. REID, the following Amendments were agreed to:—

Page 8, line 5, before "such," insert "the amount of."

Page 8, line 5, after "duty," insert— And any interest and expenses properly paid or incurred by him in respect thereof.

*MR. BUTCHER moved, in page 8, line 6, after "thereof," to insert— Subject to the incumbrances thereon existing at the death of the deceased.

The object of the Amendment was to secure that the mortgage by which the money was raised did not take precedence of prior encumbrances.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 6, after the word "thereof," to insert the words— Subject to the incumbrances thereon existing at the death of the deceased."—(Mr. Butcher.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

said, the contention of the Government was that property whereon Estate Duty was payable was nothing more than property which passed at the death of the owner—that was property free from incumbrances. The Amendment was, therefore, unnecessary.

SIR R.WEBSTER

said, the words were necessary in order to prevent the mortgage from taking priority of existing incumbrances.

MR. HALDANE

said, it was clear that the duty was not paid on incumbrances, but only on such margin of the property as remained outside the incumbrances.

Question put, and negatived.

On Motion of Mr. R. T. REID, the following Amendment was agreed to:—

Page 8, line 7, after "of," insert "or a terminable charge on."

MR. BUTCHER moved an Amendment to provide that capital money arising under the Settled Land Act, 1882, should be available for the payment of duty.

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 13, after, the word "settlement," to insert the words "and capital money arising under 'The Settled Land Act, 1882.'"—(Mr. Butcher.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

SIR W. HARCOURT

said, he was much obliged to the hon. Member for suggesting this additional fund.

Question put, and agreed to.

On Motion of Mr. T. H. BOLTON, the following Amendment was agreed to:— Page 8, line 14, after "settlement," insert "and held upon the same trusts."

Amendment proposed, in page 8, line 14, at end, insert— (8)—(1) Nothing in this Act contained shall affect any person dealing for money or money's worth with any property liable to a charge created under this Act unless he had notice of such charge; (2) A person shall not be deemed to have notice of a charge created under this Act unless—(i.) It is within his own knowledge, or would have come to his knowledge if such inquiries and inspections had been made as ought reasonably to have been made by him; or (ii.) in the same transaction with respect to which a question of notice to such purchaser or mortgagee, or person dealing for money or money's worth, arises, it has come to the knowledge of counsel as such, or of his solicitor or other agent as such, or would have come to the knowledge of his solicitor or other agent as such, if such inquiries and inspections had been made as ought reasonably to have been made by such solicitor or agent; (3) Upon the transfer of any stocks, funds, shares, debentures, or securities, the transfer of which is effected or perfected by entry in a book or register, nothing done or suffered under this Act shall prevent such entry being made, or prejudicially affect the person making the same."—(Sir R. Webster.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. R. T. REID

said, the Government had already stated they would accept the principle that a bonâ fide purchaser for value without notice should be protected, but he was afraid they could not accept the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member. It introduced a highly controversial topic—namely, the application of the doctrine of constructive notice.

MR. BYRNE

pointed out that the words were taken from the Conveyancing Act, which crystallised and put into the form of a Statute the pre-existing law with reference to purchasers for value without notice.

MR. HALDANE

said, it was all very well to say that this language had been taken out of the English Conveyancing Act; but that Act, while it applied to the bulk of land in England, did not apply to land in Scotland, nor, he imagined, to land in Ireland.

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, the Act did apply to Ireland. No specific objection to his clause had been given; and it was a strange thing that his proposed alteration of the law with regard to constructive notice stood upon the Statute Books, and so far as he knew was recognised as the law with regard to notices. He confessed he thought that this clause might have received more consideration, but at the same time he had no wish to embarrass his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General. It would be sufficient if the Solicitor General would put the clause on the Paper as soon as possible.

MR. R. T. REID

I will do so.

SIR R. WEBSTER

said, that on the understanding that the Government would bring up a clause to deal with this matter he was willing to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.