HC Deb 01 July 1935 vol 303 cc1666-8

10.54 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 24, line 26, at the end, to insert: (2) An annuity of less than one hundred and four pounds which would, but for the fact that it exceeds fifty-two pounds, be exempted from estate duty under the provisions of the said sub-section as amended by this section, shall be chargeable with estate duty as if it were an annuity of twice the amount by which it exceeds fifty-two pounds and as if the said provisions were not in force. In the Finance Act, 1894, Section 15 (1), provision was made that estate duty should not be paid in respect of a single annuity not exceeding £25 paid by the deceased or by himself or in concert with some other person. The present Bill makes a distinct advance on that and provides, in this Clause, that the limit of exemption shall be extended to £52. This raises a serious situation. I ask the Chancellor to take into consideration the serious nature of the jump that would be made in the case of an annuity which was £53, or slightly in excess of the exemption which the Clause provides.

I am asking that in the case of annuities in excess of £52 but not exceeding £104, the amount to be assessed should be twice the figure in excess of the £52 and under £104; that is to say that an annuity becoming liable to Estate Duty under this Clause would, say in the case of an amount of £60, be liable to assessment for Estate Duty on the difference between £52 and £60, that is twice £8, or £16, and so on as the amount increases, until the limit of £104 is reached. The concession made in the Clause will, I am sure, appeal to the Whole House. It shows generous consideration for a class of people who become entitled to these small annuities, and I think the House in all quarters will appreciate the action of the Chancellor. But it would certainly add immensely to the feelings of satisfaction if the Chancellor could see his way to accept the Amendment. I have had an opportunity of discussing the matter with my right hon. Friend, and I venture to hope that with his usual appreciation of reasonable propositions he will be prepared to accept my proposal. It would give very great satisfaction to a large class of people who otherwise might have to suffer serious inconvenience in the payment of Estate Duties if there were a sudden jump from £52 to £65, whereas by graduation of the assessment in the way I suggest by the time the £104 was reached no sense of injustice could arise.

11.4 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I do so with pleasure. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said a good deal this afternoon about gestures. I hope that this Amendment is one which will appeal to him and be outside gestures. The fact that this Clause is in the Bill shows that the Chancellor fully realises the difficulty of people who have small means and who are inheriting something that may be of value. On the other hand, I do not think there is any one who would resent more the lack of fair play which may occur unless such an Amendment as this were carried.

11.5 p.m.


When I inserted this Clause in the Bill, I recognised that there might be some hardship in making a sudden jump from total exemption at £52 to the full duty at £53. I thought, however, that though some people might be affected, the actual amounts in question were not important enough to make it necessary to put in what is technically known as a "jump" provision. This matter was touched upon by the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) in moving an Amendment during the Committee stage and I also received letters from the Association of Superannuation and Pension Funds and the National Federation of Insurance Workers, who represented that a "jump" provision ought to be added to the Bill. I think the Amendment brought forward by my hon. Friend will meet the case, and I shall be very happy to accept it.

Amendment agreed to.