HC Deb 21 June 1938 vol 337 cc886-7
50. Mr. McGovern

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the late Duke of Devonshire turned his estates into a company, named the Chatsworth Estates Company, for the sole purpose of preventing the Exchequer from drawing the legal and necessary taxation and, in consequence, the State will receive only a few thousands instead of £1,000,000; what steps he proposes to take to prevent this form of evasion of taxation; and whether he intends taking any action against the persons concerned in this case?

Sir J. Simon

I am aware of the case to which the hon. Member refers, but I am not prepared to accept the conclusions he draws in regard to it. I would remind him that the charge of Estate Duty in cases where property has been transferred by a deceased person to a company was the subject of legislation in 1930, the operation of which is under constant observation by the Inland Revenue.

Mr. McGovern

Can the Chancellor of the Exchequer state the amount of money involved in this form of evasion, and is he aware that there is grave discontent among a large section of the working-class that they should be penalised continually for small things in relation to the means test, while rich men, who belong to this Government, are evading, by legal means, their obligations to the country?

Sir J. Simon

I must not be understood to subscribe to the view that in every case where there is a transfer of this sort, what follows is evasion. The Act of 1930, passed by the Government of that day, was directed to the very purpose of preventing that, and, as I have already said, this case and all other similar cases are very carefully examined from that point of view.

Mr. Maxton

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that that sort of thing is quite proper?

Sir J. Simon

I do not know the circumstances of this case other than what I have stated, and I am not aware that an investigation of the facts would show anything to the contrary.

Forward to