HC Deb 03 July 1928 vol 219 cc1301-6

There shall be added to Section eight of the Finance Act, 1894, the following additional Sub-section: A copy of the inventory of the estate upon which Estate Duty has been paid shall be incorporated as part of the grant of probate."—[Mr. Couper.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I should like to say that the intention of this Clause is to arrive at uniformity of administration of the collection of the Estate Duty throughout the United Kingdom. The peculiarity about this Clause is, that it is not one which suggests to the Chancellor of the Exchequer any reduction of any sum that he requires for the Exchequer of the country, but is rather to direct his attention to a means of collecting what is really due under the prevailing law which has not been pressed south of the Border. The law as it stands is the same both for Scotland and for England, but in Scotland the law is so administered that the inventory of the estate on which duty has been paid is attached to or is incorporated in the probate granted to the executors of a deceased person, while in England no such inventory is required to be attached, and consequently there is the possibility of the evasion of the payment of dues to which the Exchequer is rightly entitled. I, therefore, suggest in this Clause that it should be made an instruction that A copy of the inventory of the estate upon which Estate Duty has been paid shall be incorporated as part of the grant of probate. In that way all that is intended to be carried out is, that all Estate Duty will be paid to the revenue authorities where it is intended that it should be paid. I have no wish to suspect, nor am I one who has any doubt or suspicion of, anyone, but I think we are entitled not to put temptation in the way of anyone to evade payment. At the present moment the administration of estates in England is such that temptation is put in the way of the executors or the legal authorities who are administering the estate, while in Scotland—and I do not put Scotland on a higher pedestal—the legal authorities have no such temptation put in their way, because every estate, in being administered, has to produce an inventory, duly certifying that every item has already had Estate Duty paid upon it. I, therefore, suggest that this would be an enormous asset to the Chancellor of the Exchequer I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not present, because I have had conversations with him at different times on this subject. In his-speech last year he commented on the fact that he intended on every occasion to close whatever loophole there might be for evasion of Estate or Death Duties. He said that he would make arangements to prevent any such evasion, but until now such arrangements have not been made. I suggest that by the addition of this new Clause there would be no possible chance of any such evasion.


I fear that on Home Rule grounds it will be necessary for me to resist this new Clause. We may desire in Scotland that the English law should be assimilated to ours, but we cannot expect the English to take an absolutely identical view. It is true that our more suspicious minds might suggest that if a chance for evading the law, especially in regard to money, is presented to executors of estates, they will take it; bat I am assured that the leakage in England is very small and is, indeed, negligible. The proper place for such an Amendment would be in the law of probate, and that would meet with opposition on the part of the whole legal fraternity. An alteration of the law of probate can only be demanded on grounds of a far more serious leakage. I am advised that that serious leakage does not take place, and I must ask the Committee not to accept the proposed new Clause.


I am sorry to hear the reply of the Government. This is a common-sense proposal that might well be accepted by the Government. Years before I ever thought that I should be a Member of this House, I well remember, going back some 27 or 28 years to the days when I was first a chartered accountant, I was given the probate of a will to register in the books of a private company of which I was secretary. I looked at the probate, which gave a statement that the estate had been proved at a certain figure, and that duty of a certain amount had been paid and that probate had been granted to so-and-so, the executors named therein. I looked through the probate to see if there was any reference in it to the shares belonging to the deceased which were registered as his property in the company, of which I was acting as secretary. I little thought that 27 years afterwards I should be in this House dealing with that point. It seems to me only a matter of common sense that there should have been attached to that probate a copy of the Inland Revenue affidavit showing the detailed investments of the testator on which probate duty had been paid, and which were registered in the books of

the company. There is every reason why the new Clause should be accepted. I can see nothing against it. Only a fortnight ago, when this new Clause appeared on the Paper with my name associated with it, I had probate to register in respect of a company of which I am secretary, and there was a statement that the testator had left £100,000; that he was the possessor of 2,000 shares in the company, but there was no proof whatever that the 2,000 shares had been included in the Inland Revenue affidavit. It has been done in Scotland and there is no reason why we should not add it to the English law. If there is not even a penny of evasion it is only a matter of common sense that such an inventory should be added in order to make the inventory complete.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 134; Noes, 226.

Division No. 232.] AYES. [10.26 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Riley, Ben
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Ritson, J.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Hardle, George D. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Ammon, Charles George Harris, Percy A. Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)
Attlee, Clement Richard Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hayday, Arthur Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Barnes, A. Hayes, John Henry Saklatvala, Shapurji
Batey, Joseph Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Scrymgeour, E.
Briant, Frank Hirst, G. H. Scurr, John
Broad, F. A. Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Sexton, James
Bromfield, William Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Bromley, J. Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) John, William (Rhondda, West) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Buchanan, G. Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Cape, Thomas Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Sitch, Charles H.
Charleton, H. C. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Cluse, W. S. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Smillie, Robert
Connolly, M. Kelly, W. T. Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Cove, W. G. Kennedy, T. Snell, Harry
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Kirkwood, D. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Crawfurd, H. E. Lansbury, George Stamford, T. W.
Dalton, Hugh Lawrence, Susan Stephen, Campbell
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lawson, John James Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Dennison, R. Lee, F. Strauss, E. A.
Duckworth, John Lindley, F. W. Sutton, J. E.
Duncan, C. Lowth, T. Thurtle, Ernest
Dunnico, H. Lunn, William Tinker, John Joseph
Edge, Sir William MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Tomlinson, R. P.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Varley, Frank B.
England, Colonel A. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Viant, S. P.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) March, S. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Fenby, T. D. Maxton, James Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Gardner, J. P. Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley) Wellock, Wilfred
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Montague, Frederick Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Gibbins, Joseph Murnin, H. Whiteley, W.
Gillett, George M. Naylor, T. E. Wiggins, William Martin
Gosling, Harry Oliver, George Harold Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Palin, John Henry Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Greenall, T. Paling, W. Windsor, Walter
Greenwood. A. (Nelson and Colne) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Ponsonby, Arthur TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Groves, T. Potts, John S. Mr. Couper and Mr. Radford.
Grundy, T. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Forrest, W. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Foxcroft, Captain C. T. Pennefather, Sir John
Albery, Irving James Fraser, Captain Ian Penny, Frederick George
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Galbraith, J. F. W. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman Gates, Percy Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Perring, Sir William George
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Goff, Sir Park Philipson, Mabel
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Gower, Sir Robert Pitcher, G.
Astor, Viscountess Grace, John Power, Sir John Cecil
Atkinson, C. Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Pownall, Sir Assheton
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Preston, William
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Price, Major C. W. M.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Grotrian, H. Brent Raine, Sir Walter
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Ramsden, E.
Bennett, A. J. Hacking, Douglas H. Rees, Sir Beddoe
Betterton, Henry B. Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Reid, Capt. Cunningham(Warrington)
Bevan, S. J. Hamilton, Sir George Remer, J. R.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Hammersley, S. S. Rentoul, G. S.
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Hanbury, C. Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)
Blundell, F. N. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)
Boothby, R. J. G. Harland, A. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Harrison, G. J. C. Ropner, Major L.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Hartington, Marquess of Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Brassey, Sir Leonard Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Salmon, Major I.
Eridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Briggs, J. Harold Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Briscoe, Richard George Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P. Sandeman, N. Stewart
Brittain, Sir Harry Henn, Sir Sydney H. Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. I. G. Sanderson, Sir Frank
Brown. Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Holt, Capt. H. P. Savery, S. S.
Buchan, John Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie
Buckingham, Sir H. Hopkins, J. W. W. Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)
Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N. Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)
Burman, J. B. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Butt, Sir Alfred Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Shepperson, E. W.
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, whitsh'n) Skelton, A. N.
Campbell, E. T. Hume, Sir G. H. Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Carver, Major W. H. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Hurd, Percy A. Smithers, Waldron
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Iliffe. Sir Edward M. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Sprot, Sir Alexander
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Iveagh, Countess of Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.
Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth. Cen'l) Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Clarry, Reginald George James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'etand)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Jephcott, A. R. Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Storry-Deans, R.
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Kindersley, Major Guy M. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Conway, Sir W. Martin King, Commodore Henry Douglas Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Cooper, A. Duff Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Cope, Major Sir William Knox, Sir Alfred Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Cowan, Sir wm. Henry (Islington, N.) Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Loder, J. de V. Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Long, Major Eric Waddington, R.
Crookshank, Cpt. C. de W. (Berwick) Lougher, Lewis Wallace, Captain D, E.
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Curzon, Captain Viscount Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Warrender. Sir Victor
Dalkeith, Earl of McDonnell. Colonel Hon. Angus Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H. McLean, Major A. Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Watts, Sir Thomas
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) MacRobert, Alexander M. Wayland, Sir William A.
Dawson, Sir Philip Manningham-Buller. Sir Mervyn Wells, S. R.
Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert Mason, Colonel Glyn K. White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple
Drewe, C. Meyer, Sir Frank Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Eden, Captain Anthony Milne. J. S. Wardlaw- Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Edmondson, Major A. J. Mitchell, S. (Lanark. Lanark) Withers, John James
Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington) Moles, Rt. Hon. Thomas Womersley, W. J.
Elliot, Major Walter E. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Wood, E. (Chest'r. Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
Ellis, R. G. Moore, Sir Newton J. Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.) Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South) Nelson, Sir Frank
Fairfax, Captain J. G. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Falls, Sir Bertram G. Nuttall, Ellis Major Sir George Hennessy and
Fanshawe, Captain G. D. O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton) Captain Margesson.
Fielden, E. B. O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh