HC Deb 03 June 1897 vol 50 cc178-9

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether it was the practice of the Inland Revenue Department, previous to the passing of the Finance Act 1894, to charge probate duty on personal property falling to the Crown by default of next of kin; (2) whether it is now the practice to charge estate duty on both real and personal property which falls to the Crown by default either of heirs or of next of kin; (3) whether there is any instance of departure from this practice in the case either of probate duty or of estate duty; and (4) whether any question has arisen; and, if so, how, as to the lawfulness of the practice?


So far as England is concerned, the answer to the first two Questions is in the affirmative, and I am not aware of any instance in which probate duty has not been paid on personal property falling to the Crown by default of next of kin. A question arose after the passing, of the Act of 1894 as to the legality of charging estate duty in these cases, especially upon real estate, which upon a reference to the Law Officers was decided by them in the affirmative a few months ago. Accordingly, estate duty has been, or will be, paid in all cases in which property, real or personal, has fallen or may fall to the Crown in England. In Scotland the practice has been somewhat different, as the Crown can there collect an estate without administration, and so did not before 1894 pay probate duty (which was payable upon the grant of letters of administration or confirmation). The case was, however, altered by the Act of 1894 (as interpreted by the Law Officers), which made estate duty payable irrespective of letters of administration or confirmation, and since the end of last year the practice in Scotch cases has been assimilated to that in English.