HC Deb 08 July 1896 vol 42 cc1005-22

(1.) Where any property passing on the death of a deceased person consists of such pictures, prints, hooks, manuscripts, works of art, scientific collections, or other things not yielding income as appear to the Treasury to be of national, scientific, or historic interest, and is settled so as to he enjoyed in kind in succession by different persons, such property shall not, on the death of such deceased person, be aggregated with other property, but shall form an estate by itself, and, while enjoyed in kind by a person not competent to dispose of the same, be exempt from Estate Duty, but if it is sold or is in the possession of some person who is then competent to dispose of the same, shall become liable to Estate Duty.

(2.) The person selling the same, or for whose benefit the same is sold, and also the person being in possession and competent to dispose of the same, shall be accountable for the duty, and shall deliver on account, in accordance with Section 8 of the principal Act, in the ease of a sale within one month after the sale, and in the case of a person coming into possession, or if in possession becoming competent to dispose, within six months after he so comes into possession, or becomes competent to dispose.

Question again proposed, "That Clause 16 stand part of the Bill."

Debate resumed:—

SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

said he thought their method of dealing with the clause had been considerably altered by the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last evening that he was willing to consider how the public might be indemnified for what they might lose by the access which might be given to them to the works that were to be exempted from taxation. In the Act of 1894 the exemption was given only to articles of that description which were dedicated to the public, but here the exemption was given to articles which still remained in private hands and under private control. The exemption applied to articles which were settled under a settlement.


The exemption from the payment of duty would only be until they were sold or came into the possession of some person competent to dispose of them.


said that, was while they were still under settlement. He quite understood the sentiment which dictated and underlay the clause, but in a Measure of finance of this character it was always dangerous to invade the principles upon which the legislation proceeded. ["Hear, hear!"] He fully recognised that in his Amendments to the clause the Chancellor of the Exchequer had carefully desired not to attack the principles upon which the Bill was founded. Allusion had been made to the Succession and Legacy Duty. The Estate Duty was not founded upon the same principle as the Legacy or Succession Duty. The Legacy Duty embraced the principle of consanguinity, which, of course, the Estate Duty did not recognise. In the same manner the Succession Duty was governed by the principle of looking at the interest of the person who took. These were distinctions in principle which were discussed at great length in 1894, when they were considering what should be the basis of the new Estate Duty. The Estate Duty looked solely to the property that passed; that really was its foundation. It would be very dangerous to depart from that principle, and if they once did so they did not know what breach they might be making into the public revenue. ["Hear, hear!"] A test had been alluded to which, however, was a test that ought not to be applied to the Probate Duty, and that was the question whether the property yielded an income. It had been sought to apply that test to family plate or jewels, which were frequently made heirlooms. It was said they yielded no income. But they would pass under will, and they had always paid Probate Duty, consequently the Estate Duty, following the same rule, left the articles subject to the payment of such duty. ["Hear, hear!"] Another argument had been used that particular pictures or particular collections might be desirable to be retained in particular families without subjecting them to the charges under the Estate Duty. He quite appreciated that, and if the right hon. Gentleman had found it possible, or found it possible in the future, to make a net to let the small fishes through and which would retain the largo fishes, he, for his part, should not object very much to such a proposal. Upon the other clauses of the Bill, as he had already said, when dealing with indirect taxation he could not himself support any proposition which would go towards the reduction of taxation in the present state of public finance and revenue of the country. But they were now met with the question of direct taxation, and it could not be disputed or denied that these things were the luxuries of the more wealthy, and they must be very careful in cases of direct taxation not to show undue preference to articles which, after all, were articles of luxury. The right hon. Gentleman, or some of those who had argued upon this matter, had said that these were heirlooms, and that it was very hard upon a poor family to be obliged, on coming into possession of those things with which they could not part, to have to pay a large sum as duty upon them. ["Hear, hear!"] But that was not the fact. If a family was in a condition which made it desirable or necessary for the good of the family that the heirlooms should be parted with, the Court of Chancery would be able to order the sale of the heirlooms.


They would have to pay the duty under this clause.


Undoubtedly. But what he wanted to point out was that the duty would then be placed on the family who, ex hypothesi, were in an impoverished condition, and by the mere fact that the things could be sold the duty would be paid by that impoverished family. They all knew that even an historical mansion itself, under circumstances in which the condition of the family required it, could be parted with, and, therefore, the duty would have to be paid upon it. He could not see that this clause really met the case of the persons whom they desired to relieve by it. Then they must look to the other side of the question. They all knew that persons of great fortune devoted a considerable portion of their means to the collection of works of this description. But he did not think there was any use keeping things in the hands of men who, if they could, would at once get rid of them. So long as they had persons who had collections which they were willing to keep, well and good; but if they endeavoured by this Bill to compel collections to be kept in the hands of those who did not value them, but rather desired to get rid of them, they would be extending consideration to people who did not deserve to be favoured at the public expense. If they were making a present of a few thousand pounds a year to wealthy people they would create a feeling in the minds of the public that they were doing an injustice which ought to be avoided. The policy of the Act of 1894 was, as nearly as could be, to make all property pay alike, and if they were now to select a particular class of property, and that, too, belonging mainly to rich people, and make these special exemptions applicable to it, they would create a sense of inequality which he thought would be very unfortunate. ["Hear, hear!"] He recognised the sentiment that had dictated the clause, but he saw danger in departing from principles already established. He believed the clause would involve considerable loss to the revenue in a great many cases where the revenue ought not to lose. He was disposed to take issue with the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon Clause 16, but before criticising it further he would rather wait to see the result of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's inquiries into the subject to which it referred. He thought the loss to the public of large sums they would otherwise receive from property of this description was greater than any advantages which might be derived from protecting small persons with small property.


said it was perfectly evident that the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had a sentiment in favour of the clause, but it was struggling with his financial conscience; and he thought that, if he could convince the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee that his expectations of enormous loss to the revenue that might occur from the operation of the clause were hardly well founded, much of his objection would disappear. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that if he could confine the operations of the clause to persons with small means happening to be possessed of valuable treasures of this description and unable to pay the Death Duties on their value, there would be no objection to it. But he had in his mind millionaires, who, having invested large sums in the purchase of great collections, might escape, through the operation of the clause, from the payment of Death Duties on a large portion of their fortunes.


said it was not only on the value of these things themselves, but what they would pay on the rest of their fortune. A man worth three millions might have nearly a million invested in property of this kind.


said that if it was a question of millions the rate of duty would not be less because this property was not aggregated with the rest of the fortune. Eight per cent. was the highest duty that could be paid, however many millions a man might be possessed of. He had carefully investigated the matter in concert with officials of the Inland Revenue, and he was quite sure the right hon. Gentleman would admit that the calculation of those officials as to the probable effect on the revenue of any clause of the kind must be received with respect and confidence. In introducing the Budget he stated that the total effect on the revenue of the alteration which he proposed in the Death Duties would amount to no more than £200,000 a year. There were several clauses relating to the Death Duties, each of which would entail a loss on the revenue. This was only one of them, but it entailed a larger loss than any of the other clauses, but the total amount was only £200,000. He had gone into the matter, and he believed that under this clause the probable loss to the revenue at the outside would not be more than £100,000 a year. The clause was strictly limited to objects possessing historic, scientific, or national interest. He believed there were few collections of the value the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned. Two or three would occur to all of them. But anyone who followed the course of sales of collections of the kind would see that collections worth half a million or anything like that amount were rare. All valuable personalty of this character had been liable to Probate Duty for many years past. The average annual value of property of the kind liable to Probate Duty, including artistic objects, plate, furniture, jewels, and many other articles which would not come under the operation of the clause, was not more than about £7,000,000. Only a comparatively small part of this would obtain relief under the clause. As the right hon. Gentleman had pointed out, ordinary jewels, plate, furniture, and many works of art would not come under the operation of the clause or obtain relief by it. It was estimated by the Inland Revenue that, at the outside, out of an annual average of £7,000,000, not more than £1,500,000 would be at all likely to obtain benefit under the clause, and putting that at 6 per cent.—a high average—it came to no more than £90,000 a year. He hoped that would diminish the fears the right hon. Gentleman opposite had as to the financial operation of the clause. ["Hear, hear!"]

*MR. H. C. F. LUTTRELL (Devon, Tavistock)

objected to the clause mainly on principle. It appeared to be a clause full of difficulty, and to be unfair and harmful. There would be great difficulty in carrying out the clause. It would be extremely difficult for the Inland Revenue to determine what were objects of national interest. It would be most unfair to exempt from taxation those who, of all people, ought to pay. Our system of taxation had hitherto been to place the heaviest burden on those best able to bear it. That was a fair system, and he should like to see a further advance in that direction. They on the Opposition side were determined that there should be no going back upon that principle of taxation—the principle that those who could afford to pay should pay—without a strong protest from them. The clause proposed that the wealthy classes should not pay duty for their works of art; but if they could afford to keep those works of art, surely they could afford to pay for them. It was said that those articles did not bring in income; but hitherto articles had not been exempted from taxation because they did not bring in income. On the contrary, they were taxed for that very reason. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself had made the proposal that pleasure horses should be taxed, and pleasure horses did not bring in income. Again, carts were exempt from taxation because they were sources of income; while carriages paid taxation because they were not sources of income. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the object of making this proposal was partly in the interest of the public and partly in the interest of the private owner. But what was the public to gain by the exemption of works of art from taxation? The public would be losers rather than gainers. It was said that one of the objects of the clause was to keep works of art in the country. Why, then, not pass a law, as the Italians had done, providing that no works of art should leave the country. That would be the most logical course to take. But he did not think that works of art would leave, the country even if they were brought into the market. He was glad to see that the national museums were spending more money year after year in buying works of art; and, therefore, even if private collections were dispersed, many of the objects would find their way to the museums, where they would be of great advantage to the community. Again—looking at the matter from the point of view of the public—it was hard on the public to exempt rich people from taxation which they ought to bear, because taxation of which one class was relieved was always placed on some other class. Therefore the clause made those who had not works of art pay the taxes which those who had works of art ought to bear. But the clause was not only unfair; it was also anomalous. The clause proposed to exempt works of art inside the house, but not works of art outside the house. Why should a man who spent money on embellishing and beautifying his house outside have to pay duty, while the man who spent the money beautifying and embellishing his house inside got off free of duty? Besides, it was far easier for the public to see works of art outside a house than works of art inside a house. Then—looking at the matter from the point of view of a private owner—he did not think that individuals wanted any encouragement whatever to hoard up works of art. He thought that families were too prone to keep such collections together. He knew cases of families having suffered so that works of art might be retained. It was said that the people who possessed those treasures had a pride in them. But there was family pride and family pride. There was a family pride that was noble, but family picture pride and family jewellery pride was not noble—it was ignoble. Many of these collections of ancient pictures were in new families. Something might be said for the exemption of ancient portraits belonging to an old family; but, as he understood the clause, it proposed to exempt even the ancestors of a new family. A man might go to Wardour Street any day and buy hundreds of ancient ancestors, and the clause proposed to exempt such pictures from duty. (Addressing Colonel Kenyon-Slaney, who shook his head in contradiction to Mr. Luttrell): Will the hon. Gentleman keep his head quiet in order that something may go into it? [Laughter and cries of "Order!"]

COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)

I do not think I am out of order in expressing my disapproval of this absolute travesty of what has been said, and what is thought upon this subject. [Cheers.]


Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to say what I think upon the subject. I say that if a man goes into an old picture shop and buys some ancient ancestors, of which the market is full——


I rise to order——


Here is another ancestor. [Laughter and cries of " Order!"


The pictures we are considering are national and historical pictures, and not ancient ancestors.


The decision as to the character of the pictures depends upon the Treasury.


Of course the hon. Gentleman is entitled to put any construction he pleases on the clause, but I must say that his remarks for the last few minutes are hardly relevant to the clause. ["Hear, hear!"]


said he would show that his remarks were relevant. If a man bought pictures of ancestors, the Treasury might decide that they were of national interest, and they would therefore be exempt from duty. But he and his friends did not look at the matter from the point of view either of sentiment or finance alone. They objected to the clause on principle; they said it was unfair to the general body of taxpayers; and they were determined to divide against the clause. [Cheers.]


asked whether the hon. Gentleman was serious in thinking that the Treasury would decide that pictures of ancestors out of Wardour Street were of national or historic interest? He undertook to say that not a single ancestor of any hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House would be declared to be of national or historic interest—[laughter]—or, for the matter of that, not many ancestors of any hon. Members on the Government Benches. [Laughter.] The truth was that the hon. Gentleman had entirely misapprehended the meaning of the clause. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Monmouthshire had said that the clause was an invasion of the principle of his Finance Act, which, according to the right hon. Gentleman, was that all should pay alike. On the contrary, he asserted that the Finance Act established the principle that all should pay differently. If a butler were left £1,000 by a millionaire, that £1,000 would pay £80 Estate Duty; but if a millionaire were left £1,000 by a butler, the millionaire would have to pay only £20 Estate Duty on the little all of the deceased butler. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman had said, also, that he would accept the clause if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would devise means which would enable the little fishes to escape through the meshes of the net while he caught the big fishes. That was an entirely false principle of taxation. The principle of small profits and quick returns, of small taxes over large areas, was the principle which every sound-minded Chancellor of the Exchequer would apply. The right hon. Gentleman also urged that the relief was not really given. It was given when it was wanted, and it was taken away when it was no longer wanted. When the property was sold or came into the possession of a person who was able to sell it, the duty rightly became payable. He admitted that the section was not a fine specimen of scientific drafting; but for that he was not responsible. [Laughter.] He should be sorry to have it said of him that he had drafted some of the Bills which had been before the House lately. [Laughter.] The true definition was that made in the Legacy Duty Act—the nature of the property and the manner of its enjoyment. But it must be remembered that this clause represented a compromise. This property was previously liable to the Probate Duty, but was relieved from that duty on becoming liable to Estate Duty. He saw the word "analogue" rising to the lips of the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer—[laughter]—but he begged him to spare the word. Since 1894 he had spent weary nights in endeavouring to get into the right hon. Gentleman's mind the principles of his own Act. [Laughter.] The Death Duties, whether Probate Duty, Account Duty, Legacy Duty, Succession Duty or Estate Duty, all had this in common, that they depended on two things—death, and property passing by the death. The difference between one Death Duty and another began only when the method of arriving at the rate and amount of duty were settled, where there was no difference, where they all agreed, was in making the duty dependent on there being property that passed by death. Now the contention in respect of the present clause was that no property passed by death, but only a curatorship—an unpaid curatorship involving large liabilities and responsibilities. In many cases the people who possessed these pictures were extremely poor, and he was sure that the exemption would only affect an extremely small amount of duty.


said that the hon. Member was so learned on this subject that he had difficulty in following him. [Laughter.] A great deal was said about "analogues," and as he was not sure, he asked one of the late Law Officers of the Crown what the word meant. [Laughter.] That gentleman explained that it was not a word in the English language, but a species of vague "Mrs. Harris" introduced into legal proceedings. [Laughter.] He objected to these exemptions as being contrary to the sound radical principles of finance. He was quite sure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not find it possible to meet the suggestions which had been made from the Opposition Benches, and which practically amounted to securing a right of entry for the public to the places where these pictures were kept. To do that would absolutely destroy the privacy of the owner of the house. ["Hear, hear!"] It would be impossible to oblige persons who possessed one or two valuable historical pictures to admit the public at all times. The noble Lord the Member for Rochester represented an historic house, where the fullest facilities for inspection were given to the public; but the noble Lord must know that forcing the owner to give entry to the public was a different thing from leaving it to his discretion. ["Hear, hear!"] Then, many of those who owned these treasures lived in remote districts, and very few could avail themselves of the right of entry if it were secured. So that the public could not get any adequate quid pro quo for this exemption. The proposed modifications to the clause would be unworkable, and the clause as it stood was unworkable. It was to be left to the Treasury to decide what were objects of national, scientific, and historic interest. How was the Treasury to decide? Was a Treasury clerk to go down and inspect? [Laughter.]


The hon. Member does not seem to remember that under the 15th section of the Act of 1894 precisely the same duty is thrown upon the Treasury, and there has been no difficulty in administering the Act of 1894.


said that in that case the Treasury must have been very considerably done. [Laughter.] It accounted for the small sums received by the Exchequer. [Laughter.] He never knew two "friends of art" who agreed as to what was a valuable picture; and how could the Treasury decide where artists could not? [Laughter.] The exemption was a very clear advantage to the owners of those collections, but where was the advantage to the public? Why did a man collect pictures. As a general rule he collected them from vanity. A rich man first of all bought a pedigree, and then a coat-of-arms—[laughter]—and then he deemed it to be rather a correct thing, like the livery of his footman, to have a collection of pictures and works of art around him. [Laughter.] But he did not see why they should encourage vanity of this description. A man who gave to charity was not exempted, but a man who collected a quantity of pictures in his country house was to be exempted from taxation under this clause. He called attention to these words in the clause—"and other things not yielding income." This was somewhat vague drafting, and he should like to know what the phrase meant. Reference had been made to Chatsworth. On one occasion he happened to be in the vicinity of Chats-worth, and by the liberality of the owner he, among other humble people—[laughter]—was allowed to wander about the place. There were some drawings at Chatsworth which were valuable, but it seemed to him that the historical works of art in the house were in the main utter rubbish. [Laughter.] He would mention two things as an example. There was a picture of the Emperor Nicholas which had been given to a former Duke of Devonshire. Would the Treasury regard that as a work of art? [Laiighter.] Then there was a malachite vase given by the same Emperor; would that be considered an historical object? [Laughter.] What struck him as being beautiful and interesting at Chatsworth were the park and the gardens. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the pictures produced no interest, but the gardens were practically kept up entirely for the public, costing the Duke, of Devonshire a large amount of money. Did the Chancellor of the Exchequer include the gardens? [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER dissented.] Why not? [Laughter.] After all, it was just as useful to adorn nature as to imitate nature. [Laughter.] He apprehended that in the reading of this clause a Judge might decide that "other things" would include the gardens. It was urged that owners derived no moneyed interest from the pictures; but that could be said of a great many other things. Owners at least derived some interest, because they obtained the unearned increment in them, and the enhanced value that attached to them during the lapse of years. Supposing a life owner of pictures were to take them out of the country. He would derive a benefit from this exemption, and the public would derive no advantage of any kind. If the owner wanted to sell them he had only to apply to the Court of Chancery to show that his means rendered it necessary to sell. Why interfere with that provision and encourage owners not to go to the Court of Chancery? The public had, and could have no equivalent for the exemption which was being given in these cases. If the Government were to schedule the great works of art, in the country as was done in Italy, and to forbid them from being taken out of the country, then he could understand the owners receiving some kind of quid pro quo. In Italy a man was not allowed to sell works of art out of the country. If he did so he was called upon to pay the amount he had received to the Treasury. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the amount which would be lost to the Treasury was £90,000 per annum. He suspected that the amount would be considerably more, because as soon as a person knew that he could escape from paying the debt he would seek to escape. But it was the rich who were to receive the benefit of this £90,000. Take the Rothschilds for example. In many things they were very generous, but they were great collectors of objects of art. They were always raising the price of objects of art by one member of the family competing against the other. [Laughter.] At the lowest estimate it might be taken that the Rothschilds had £1,000,000 invested in objects of art; and this £1,000,000 at 8 per cent. represented £80,000. Were the Government going to give to the Rothschild family this exemption, representing to each successive generation of this wealthy and highly-respectable family a sum of £80,000 per generation? [Laughter.] Did the Government not think that the Opposition would go to the country and point out what had been done? [Laughter.] An Agricultural Relief Bill was not enough, but apparently all the rich men were to be benefited in. this way as well. It was not fair and reasonable finance. ["Hear, hear!"]


agreed with his hon. Friend in what he had said. The orthodox exponent of this clause, the hon. Member for Lynn Regis, had made it more difficult for the Opposition to deal with this clause than before. He had pointed out its invidious character as shown by the distinction contained in the clause, and the hon. Gentleman had put the dots on the is in the matter, for he had said they could not benefit by it because none of their ancestors were of historic or national importance. [Laughter.] The distinction was apparently drawn by the dividing line between Parties in the House, and therefore the Members of the Opposition were to get no benefit, while the £90,000 were to go to Members opposite. [Laughter.] He presumed that they might claim the hon. Member for Lynn Regis as a person of national and historic importance, and that in time his picture would be hung up in the Treasury as the unsuccessful opponent of the Act of 1894. [Laughter.] The great danger of this clause was the invidious and unfair character of the distinction.


had a great deal of sympathy with the sentimental aspect of this case, but he did not see how hon. Members could forget that, when Liberals sat opposite, this question was raised on the Finance Act of 1894. The present Attorney General brought an Amendment forward on that Act embodying a similar principle to that now embodied in this clause—namely, the whittling down of taxation. But the House then had so little sympathy with the Amendment that the Attorney General was beaten by a majority of 48. Many hon. Members regarded the question from the point of view as to whether the clause indicated bad finance or not. For his own part he thought it was very bad finance indeed, and looking at the matter from a sentimental point of view, he contended that on that ground it was unjust, because it did not go far enough. There was no sentiment entertained for the poor man who had no family settlements. The benefit under the clause was to be given only to those rich families which could afford to have family settlements, but the poor man, who had no such settlements, was disregarded, and would have to pay the duty. For, as he read the clause, it would apply only to those families which had settlements. He thought, therefore, that there was great force in the contention of the hon. Member for Northampton, that the effect of the clause would only be to relieve the rich, and the richest classes in the country, people who were well able to pay the duty. ["Hear, hear!"] He supported the Finance Bill of 1894 because it went on the principle of making people pay who had the ability to pay. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that this particular exemption would not cost more than £100,000, and he could not help thinking that if the right hon. Gentleman were rich enough to give up this amount, he might have devoted it to a remission of taxation in a much better and juster form than for the benefit of the wealthy men who did not want the relief. For instance, he might have devoted it to the relief of the distressed tenant-farmers of the country by a reduction of taxation under Schedule B. ["Hear, hear!"] Here was a case of real necessity for relief, but such could not be said of those who were rich enough to keep valuable works of art. The Government, therefore, had an opportunity of really benefiting the tenant-farmers of the country by granting remission of taxation to them under Schedule B to the amount stated, and it could thus be done without extra charge upon the Exchequer. He hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a Division, and that it would be supported by Members on both sides of the House, who did not regard the question as one of Party. ["Hear, hear!"]


, who ventured to take part in the Debate, because he had in 1894 endeavoured during the Finance Bill discussion, to secure the immunity of historic manuscripts, which were in settlement from the succession duties, said he believed that large numbers of gentlemen who held valuable manuscripts and collections of works of art would thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the proposed relief, not altogether from financial considerations, but as a matter of justice. Some remarks had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire, about certain proprietors of works of art having refused access to their collections, but his experiences of the possessors of such collections and of valuable manuscripts was that they were always ready to give students or inquirers access to them. Evidence of that was furnished by the readiness which had been shown to have valuable manuscripts inspected and catalogued by the Historical Manuscript Commission, and he believed the effect of the clause would be to increase, if possible, the desire of those who held valuable historical documents and pictures to throw them open to inspection, and would thereby lead to a greater diffusion of literary and art knowledge throughout the country. ["Hear hear!"]

*SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

said that if hon. Gentle men on the Opposition side of the House believed that the clause would have the effect that the hon. Member for Clapham said it would have, he was sure they would vote for it. But he and they strongly doubted that the clause would have that effect; they doubted that it was a wise provision, and he thought the Committee ought to divide upon it. He certainly believed that the Treasury was likely to be imposed upon to a formidable extent, as had been stated, in regard to the valuation of pictures, because of the well-known fashion which often caused such pictures—perhaps acquired under peculiar circumstances—to rise in value in the market to an extraordinary extent. He could state privately the case of a picture which originally cost £4—just the value of the frame—but which, if put up for sale in the market at the present time, would fetch £20,000. That was not the only case of the kind he could mention. He knew of two other pictures which, though of merely nominal value a few years ago, would now fetch thousands of pounds. Some hon. Members seemed to doubt the statement of the hon. Member for Northampton when he referred to the great value which accrued to pictures and works of art in the progress of time. But the statement was a fact which could be brought to the test of experience. As an illustration they might take the Strawberry Hill collection. They knew the dates and prices of the purchases of the pictures and miniatures when purchased by Horace Walpole, and all those objects were of the historical character contemplated by the clause in question. Well, it was known, in reference to the miniatures especially, that the value of the collection had risen a hundredfold in a period of 150 years. The whole was sold 100 years after Walpole bought it, and a great deal was sold again exactly 50 years later. It was a fact that the value of these collections increased at a remarkable rate in the course of time. These were examples of the enormous rise in works of art of real value such as were contemplated by the clause. In the case of great and notorious collections the Treasury might escape imposition by sending an expert to value, but in that of the small collections, especially of books, he was confident the Treasury would be deceived to a great extent in regard to valuation. As to the enormous value of the collections, and as to the fact that the nation did not receive what it ought to in respect of them, there could be no doubt in the mind of any one—except the Chancellor of the Exchequer. On the whole the clause was one they ought to oppose.


said the right hon. Baronet appeared to think that these collections did not pay what they ought, and that by this clause the collectors were to be given an enormous boon. He agreed that in many cases the valuation for Probate Duty of collections had been much below the mark, but surely that was no argument against the clause. If valuations could be conducted better in the future than in the past, no one would be more glad than himself. He trusted that now the Committee would come to a decision.

Question put:—

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 178 Noes, 74.—(Division List, No. 319).

Clause 17,—