§ The limitation to lineal ancestors and descendants referred to in Section one of the Death Duties (Killed in War) Act, 1914, shall be repealed, and the provisions of the said Section shall be construed as though they applied not only to property passing to the ancestors, widow, or descendants of persons killed in the present War but to all collateral relations of such persons.
§ Clause brought up, and read the first time.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."
I pray in aid of my Amendment those very arguments of the Chancellor of the Exchequer which my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Pollock) so scornfully rejected a few moments ago. My Amendment is simply to extend the Clause which was passed in August last in order to make it a really operative Clause. It is restricted now to widows and lineal descendants of the deceased man who dies serving his country. The estate of a man who volunteers to serve his country does not at present receive any concession at all unless it descends to his lineal descendants or to his widow. My Amendment proposes that should be extended to the other relatives to whom the estate may pass at that particular time. The relief is really given to the estate of the deceased man, and if the right hon. Gentleman is right that the concession was made because of the virtue of the people who went to the War, then surely this extension ought to be made. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that it was not a new idea last August. It was really an extension of what was done in 1900 with regard to those who fell in the Boer War, and I submit that this Act, which was a very necessary and proper Act in 1914, was unduly limited. Many representations have been made to me, and I think that this graceful concession to those who serve their country 1746 should apply whether their estates go to lineal descendants or any other descendants.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am bound to make another appeal to the hon. and learned Member not to press this Clause. After the rebuke which I received on the last occasion, I almost fear to raise an argument in support of my appeal, but I think that I have a very good case in asking him not to press the Clause. He speaks of "relief to the estate." We come immediately to a conflict of view. I do not understand the term "relief to the estate." I only understand relief to individuals, and I cannot regard an estate as a being who enjoys relief or suffers punishment. When you deal with the individual you have first of all the person who is serving his country and whose feelings you want to protect by some Parliamentary measure that will benefit his family. In the case of direct descendants, such as a wife or children, you have the case of a man who, when he was alive, lived with his family, who had the whole of the benefit of the father's fortune in common because there is a common enjoyment of the father's fortune. The father is killed in battle. If the State takes away from the wife and children any part of the fortune which they enjoyed in common for Estate Duty they suffer; consequently relief was given, and the relief would be likely to affect the mind of the man who was fighting.
When you get to collaterals, what do you find? You find the brother who never had the slightest expectation of inheriting. He looked forward to his elder brother marrying and having a family and leaving his fortune away from himself. He suddenly and unexpectedly inherits the fortune of the deceased soldier. Is there any ground why that brother who has inherited what he never expected should not pay Death Duties? My hon. and learned Friend says that it is cutting down the estate. Yes, it comes out of the estate, but in whose hands is it? It is in the hands of somebody who had no right or title or expectation ever to have it. That is the difference between the two cases. I hope that my argument will not have as bad a fate on the present occasion as it had on the last, but I think it is sufficient ground for asking the hon. and learned Gentleman not to press the Clause.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I certainly shall not follow the example of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Pollock). The right hon. Gentleman's argument has persuaded me more than I can say, not so much of the necessity for withdrawing the Clause as of the courtesy of the right hon. Gentleman, and of the skill with which he has made out apparently a specious case where there was absolutely no case at all. If he had not made that speech, I should not have withdrawn the Motion. The fallacy of his whole argument is this: The deceased gentleman is to have no sort of affection for his brother. When I used the word "estate," I meant the family property which has come down in the family for generations.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
No, but that is the main reason for the Clause, and that is the case which is hit hardest. The man is really anxious to keep the whole of the estate together, and it is hard when he volunteers and goes to the War, and when his brother succeeds to the whole place, that some concession should not be made to the brother. I am perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong when he said that the individual concerned is the man who volunteered to go abroad. The man who volunteers to go abroad is affected if his brother will not enjoy the family estate.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I do not quarrel with my hon. and learned Friend. I think that we are using the word "estate" in a different sense. I was using it in the technical sense of the Clause. I quite agree that in the case of what is generally called the family estate there would be a very strong sentiment, but that would be a very small proportion.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
The right hon. Gentleman appears to think it will affect money as well as land in the large majority of cases, but I think he will find it is mainly landed property. Still, he has done so well, that after the speech he has made I withdraw.
§ Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.