MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether, in view of the unanimous decision of the House of Lords in the case of the Attorney-General v. Beech, that the Finance Act,, 1894, imposes no charge of estate duty at the death of a life tenant of settled property when that life tenant has surrendered his life interest in such property more than twelve months before death, it is proposed to return all the duties which have been under such circumstances exacted by the Crown since July 1895, under the new construction of the Act which was then adopted under the advice of the Law Officers of the Crown, and which, is now decided to have been erroneous; whether he can state approximately the total amount of the duties exacted under this construction in the cases in question, and the number of separate accounts involved, and whether, considering the position taken up by the present and the late Attorney-General before the House of Lords, to the effect that the Finance Act 1894 does not charge estate duty at the death of a life tenant of settled property when that life tenant has surrendered his life interest in such property within twelve months of his death, it is proposed to abstain in future from claiming the duty under such circumstances, and whether it is proposed to return such duties as have already been exacted in such cases?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
The duty will be repaid in all cases to which the first paragraph of the Question applies, subject to the payment of the proper Succession Duties in each case. I cannot give even an approximate statement of the amount, or the number of accounts, and do not expect to be able to do so before the date of the Budget. The question whether a surrender within twelve months of death would free from Estate Duty was not settled by the decision already given, and I understand that an opportunity will shortly arise for testing this. Meanwhile, repayment will not be made, in such cases.