§ Mr. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that grants of probate and administration can be taken out by Inland Revenue officers when the gross value of the estate does not exceed £300, on deposit with him of 15s. for fees of Court and expenses; whether he is aware that the Inland Revenue officer at Ballyshannon, on application being made 776 to him by Patrick Brown, who had previously obtained an order of the Court enabling him to obtain the grants of administration to Cornelius Clarke, whose assets for the purpose of administration were only valued at £5, referred the case to the district registrar of Londonderry, who replied that he could not deal with it through him, as the case was one for legal decision and not contemplated by The Customs and Inland Revenue Act, 1881, or The Finance Act, 1894; whether, having regard to the fact that Brown is a judgment creditor in a sum of upwards of £13 and the guardian of the estate, and that no question presenting any real difficulty arises, the grant in this case may be taken out by the Inland Revenue officer, and the costs and expenses incidental to its extraction through the district registry office thus saved; and whether some steps will be taken to secure that in such small cases the Inland Revenue, if it acts at all, should extract grants of probate and administration, and not take all the easy grants and leave grants presenting any questions of difficulty, however slight, to solicitors.
(Answered by Mr. Runciman.) I am informed that the functions of the Inland Revenue officer under Section 33 of The Revenue Act, 1881, are merely those of an agent acting as a channel of communication between the applicant for a grant and the officers of the Probate Court, and it is necessary that he should; refer to those officers in all cases where there is any complication in the circumstances of the application. That is what happened in the case referred to, and the action taken by the officer was correct and necessary. Similarly the district registrar acted strictly in accordance with a rule of Court which provides that "applications for grants of probate or administration in cases which have already been before the Court (on motion or otherwise) must be made through a solicitor." As regards the last part of the Question, I beg to refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the 2nd ultimo to ray hon. friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow.†