MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been given to the Report of the Public Accounts Committee, dated 5th May, 1867, that the remission of the death duties on property in this country to the value of £209,050, passing by the death of the late Emperor of Russia, was made against the law, and that the Treasury had in this case decided by executive act to dispense with a payment to the Exchequer which they had no power to remit, and to the consequent recommendation of the Committee that whenever a dispensing power is exercised by or with the sanction of the Treasury involving any important principle or substantial amount of money by abandonment of claim on account of revenue, a statement of the fact should be presented for the information of and, where necessary, for ratification by Parliament; whether, in consequence of this Report, a Treasury Minute was made on 31st 546 December, 1897, whereby the Commissioners of Inland Revenue were informed that the Treasury proposed to ask Parliament for a statutory power to remit duty in cases in which an abandonment of claim to revenue is founded on a fixed principle and applies to classes of taxpayers, and were instructed to consider what cases there are that may be said to fall under this category, and to have clauses prepared for consideration in connection with the introduction of the annual Finance Bill; whether such clauses have been prepared; why no such clauses have been embodied in the Finance Bill, 1898; and what steps he proposes to take in order to carry out the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The Treasury Minute expressed mi opinion that remission of taxation founded on a fixed principle of general application affecting classes should, whenever possible, be made the subject of specific legislative enactment. Proposals for this object have been before me; but on full consideration it seemed inappropriate to insert them in the annual Finance Bill, as they have no special reference to the finance of the year. I propose to introduce a separate Bill dealing with this and other matters of the same kind.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Will the right honourable Gentleman in the meantime see that the Treasury does not go against the law by making remissions which it has no power to mate?