HC Deb 22 September 1909 vol 11 cc495-9

Sub-section (5) of Section twelve of the principal Act (which relates to the assessment of duty by the Commissioners) shall have effect only so far as respects the duty in relation to which the opinion of the Commissioners has been required under that Section.

Mr. J. W. HILLS moved to omit the words "only so far."

The present law is that in the case of an ordinary deed the person who applies to stamp the deed puts the amount on, and the deed is stamped without question. He takes the risk if the stamping is wrong. If he is in doubt about it he sends it to the Commissioners, with an abstract of its contents, and they determine the stamping; and that stamp is good against all the world. As far as I can see, the law is exactly the same as it would be if the Section was passed, and I cannot suppose that the Section is useless.


I am perfectly willing to admit it is quite possible that the language of the Clause may require consideration before we reach the Report tage. The Clause limits the admissibility as evidence of an instrument which has been stamped under Section 12, Sub-section (5), of the Act of 1891, to that part of the instrument which has been adjudicated upon, and stamped, and, as the hon. Gentleman said, to the extent that it has been adjudicated on, the stamping is good against the world. But the Clause intends to provide against that being carried any further than the amount of the stamp which has been affixed. There may be some doubt as to the exact happiness of the language chosen for carrying out this proposal, and, if so, we will be able on Report to make any alteration that is necessary.


If there is one thing more astonishing than the Clause itself it is the extraordinary speech which we have just heard from the Government Bench. We are told that the Clause does not mean what it says, that it is going to be considered, that the people who have drawn it up do not quite understand what they want, and that somebody else is going to consider something, though what it is is going to be considered, before Report, we have not been informed. I confess when I read this Finance Bill through and came to this Clause I was astounded. I asked myself. What is the meaning of the Clause, and what effect is it going to have if we pass it? The meaning of the Clause is that a deed which bears an adjudication stamp, which to-day is absolutely conclusive that it is properly stamped, is in future not to be conclusive that it is properly stamped, because there may be all sorts of points raised as to all kinds of questions that are supposed to be omitted.

The original Section referred to of the Stamp Act of 1891 reads as follows:—

"Every instrument stamped with a particular stamp denoting that it is chargeable to no duty, or is duly stamped, shall be abmissible in evidence and available for all purposes, notwithstanding any objection relating to the duty."

That was the sheet-anchor of the Stamp Law. That sheet-anchor is now to be taken away. When a person dealing with property came across a deed that had got an adjudication stamp upon it he knew that he need not go any further with regard to the stamp, and that it had been admitted by the Inland Revenue to be right. There are frequently documents, and there are going to be a great many more documents in future, where very serious questions arise as to whether they are properly stamped or not, and the only safeguard which the purchaser of property has is the adjudication stamp showing that the Inland Revenue have examined into the question and have put the adjudication stamp upon it to indicate that they are satisfied the duty has been properly paid. The words on the stamp are "Adjudicated; duly stamped." The practice is this: You send your deed with the abstract to the Commissioners at Somerset House. They state whether it is correctly stamped or not. If it is, they put the adjudication stamp upon it. If it is not, they state the amount which they further require before they put on the stamp. That money is paid. When the stamp is put on there is an end of the matter. But when we read this Clause, what do we find? "Oh," say the Government, "this deed may have been left with the Inland Revenue to assess the duty upon some particular point, and some points may arise which the Commissioners have not been asked about, and therefore that adjudication stamp is not going to be final." The only point when we send the document is whether the stamp is right. If the stamp is correct, and the Commissioners put on the adjudication stamp to say so, why reopen the matter? Why make it doubtful? Why reserve all sorts of points? I am bound to say, from the little experience I have had in dealing with these deeds for years past, that I have been satisfied whenever I have seen the Commissioners' adjudication stamp upon a document. It is the only criterion whether that is right or not. I am bound to say, further, that a man in buying or selling property in the future, if this Bill passes and becomes an Act, is going to bother and put a man to a great deal of expense and trouble, and perhaps he will have a bad title imposed upon him; because, for the first time since the Stamp Duties were imposed, we now find that the one criterion as to the document being correctly stamped is going to be withdrawn, and withdrawn without any reason whatever being given.

I do protest against the proposal, which I think a most arbitrary one. Indeed, I should like to use stronger language, and call it a stupid proceeding, either on the part of the Inland Revenue or the Government, to put a Clause such as this in the Bill, and to bring it before the Committee in a speech of the kind which we heard from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.


I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment, if it be any convenience to the Committee.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 189; Noes, 48.

Division No. 707.] AYES. [9.0 p.m.
Acland, Francis Dyke. Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Lupton, Arnold
Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Maclean, Donald
Ashton, Thomas Gair Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall) Macpherson, J. T.
Atherley-Jones, L. Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)
Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth) Essex, R. W. M'Callum, John M.
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Evans, Sir S. T. McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Everett, R. Lacey M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)
Barker, Sir John Falconer, J. Maddison, Frederick
Barnard, E. B. Findlay, Alexander Mallet, Charles E.
Barnes, G. N. Fuller, John Michael F. Markham, Arthur Basil
Barran, Sir John Nicholson Fullerton, Hugh Marnham, F. J.
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Gibb, James (Harrow) Massie, J.
Beck, A. Cecil Gibson, J. P. Menzies, Sir Walter
Bell, Richard Gill, A. H. Middlebrook, William
Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonport) Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbert John Molteno, Percy Alport
Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.) Glendinning, R. G. Montgomery, H. G.
Berridge, T. H. D. Glover, Thomas Murray, Capt. Hon. A. C. (Kincard.)
Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romford) Gooch, George Peabody (Bath) Myer, Horatio
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Gulland, John W. Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)
Black, Arthur W. Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Norman, Sir Henry
Boulton, A. C. F. Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Nuttall, Harry
Bowerman, C. W. Hart-Davies, T. O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)
Bramsdon, Sir T. A. Harwood, George Parker, James (Halifax)
Branch, James Haworth, Arthur A. Partington, Oswald
Brigg, John Hedges, A. Paget Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)
Bright, J. A. Helme, Norval Watson Pirie, Duncan V.
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh) Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Pointer, J.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.) Pollard, Dr. G. H.
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Charles Higham, John Sharp Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)
Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Radford, G. H.
Cawley, Sir Frederick Holland, Sir William Henry Raphael, Herbert H.
Channing, Sir Francis Allston Hooper, A. G. Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (Gloucester)
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Hope, W. H. B. (Somerset, N.) Rees, J. D.
Cleland, J. W. Horniman, Emslie John Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)
Clough, William Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Ridsdale, E. A.
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Jardine, Sir J. Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.) Jenkins, J. Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Robinson, S.
Cory, Sir Clifford John Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Jones, Leif (Appleby) Roe, Sir Thomas
Cowan, W. H. Kekewich, Sir George Rogers, F. E. Newman
Crosfield, A. H. King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Rose, Sir Charles Day
Crossley, William J. Laidlaw, Robert Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Dalziel, Sir James Henry Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster) Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis Seddon, J.
Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Lehmann, R. C. Shaw, Sir Charles E. (Stafford)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich) Sherwell, Arthur James
Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) Levy, Sir Maurice Shipman, Dr. John G.
Duckworth, Sir James Lewis, John Herbert Snowden, P.
Soares, Ernest J. Trevelyan, Charles Philips Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Steadman, W. C. Wadsworth, J. Wilkie, Alexander
Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal) Walker, H. de R. (Leicester) Williams, J. (Glamorgan)
Straus, B. S. (Mile End) Walsh, Stephen Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Summerbell, T. Walters, John Tudor Williamson, Sir A.
Taylor, John W. (Durham) Wardle, George J. Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.) Waring, Walter Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Thomasson, Franklin Warner, Thomas Courtenay T. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Thorne, William (West Ham) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Tomkinson, James White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and Captain Norton.
Toulmin, George White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F. Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Balcarres, Lord Faber, George Denison (York) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Baldwin, Stanley Fell, Arthur Peel, Hon. W. R. W.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Fletcher, J. S. Pretyman, E. G.
Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester) Gardner, Ernest Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hamilton, Marquess of Ratcliffe, Major R. F.
Brotherton, Edward Allen Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford) Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Bull, Sir William James Heaton, John Henniker Remnant, James Farquharson
Burdett-Coutts, W. Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Carlile, E. Hildred Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H. Tuke, Sir John Batty
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Keswick, William Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)
Castlereagh, Viscount Kimber, Sir Henry Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Clyde, J. Avon Lambton, Hon. Frederick William Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead) Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. J. W. Hills and Mr. Watson Rutherford.
Courthope, G. Loyd Mason, James F. (Windsor)
Craik, Sir Henry Oddy, John James