HC Deb 12 July 1938 vol 338 cc1180-1

6.47 P.m.

The Solicitor-General

I beg to move, in page 52, line 35, at the end, to insert: Provided that, in a case where that person died before the commencement of this Act and no estate duty was paid in respect of the cesser of that interest before the commencement of this Act, any question as to the operation of Part I of the Finance Act, 1894, in relation to his death shall be determined without regard to the provisions of this Section. One of the subsidiary results of Clause 42 is that in certain cases the charge of Estate Duty on the specific assets representing a testator's estate would come within the operation of the Clause. As I explained on the Committee stage, that is a practice which has been in operation since 1894, but as the Clause stands at present—though not being its main object —it would deprive the subject of his rights in a particular case which is at the present moment under appeal in the House of Lords, where a particular point is being taken. If the Clause goes through as it stands the subject, in the middle of his litigation, is deprived of his rights, and one or two other individuals whose cases are waiting the decision in that case would also be deprived of their rights. In order that there may be the utmost fairness shown by the Revenue towards the taxpayer, which is always the object, and to preserve those rights in the case that I have referred to, which I do not mention by name, and the other cases which are awaiting the result of that case, I move this Amendment.

6.48 p.m.

Mr. Benson

I should like to ask when these cases arose. I am given to understand that this particular flaw in our legislation was only recently discovered and that the Government are hurrying to put it right before any litigation could appear. Have these cases arisen since the Finance Bill was published, or before?

The Solicitor-General

The case I referred to and the other cases have been going on for a long time, and, further than that, the point that we are saving here is a completely subsidiary point in the argument in that case. The point has already been decided against the litigant in the court of first instance and in the Court of Appeal, but at the present moment it is in the House of Lords. If Clause 42 is passed in its present form the point will not be open to him, but this Amendment will keep it open.

Amendment agreed to.