§ MR. LAURENCE HARDY (Kent, Ashford)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that Instruction No. 12, issued last year to the Laud Tax Commissioners, has been in many cases ignored by the assessors of Land Tax, who decline to exempt even land which has been free from Land Tax for a period of 200 years; whether he is aware that the Board of Inland Revenue also support the Local Commissioners in their refusal to admit any claim for exemption, unless proof of a contract of redemption is actually produced; and whether he will secure that in all cases where no Land Tax has been charged for many years on any particular property the Local Commissioners shall be authorised to regard such fact as presumptive evidence that the property 628 has at some time been redeemed from, the tax, even though no actual contract of redemption can be produced?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
The responsibility for making the Land Tax assessments rests with the Land Tax Commissioners of the respective districts. Those Commissioners are bound to bring into assessment all lands not exonerated by redemption contract, or otherwise. The intention of Instruction No. 12 was that, before bringing into assessment property not charged in previous years to Land Tax, the assessing authorities should satisfy themselves that it had not been exonerated, or was not otherwise exempt, instead of throwing on the present owner the extremely difficult, and often impossible, task of proving that some predecessor in title had at some remote date effected a redemption of the tax. It must be remembered that, if a person who ought to have paid Land Tax has escaped assessment in the past, some of his fellow parishioners have contributed more than their fair share of the Land Tax parochial quota. But my hon. Friend will find that I shall have something to say on this matter in connection with the Budget.