HC Deb 02 October 1939 vol 351 cc1663-4
25. Mr. Foot

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the refusal of the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury to remit the Death .Duties payable on the property of an officer who lost his life on His Majesty's Ship "That is "; and whether this refusal represents the settled policy of the Treasury and, if so, whether he will reconsider the interpretation placed by the Treasury on Section 38 of the Finance Act, 1924?

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Crookshank)

Accidents occurring during practice manoeuvres of a dangerous character in which no element of hostile action is involved are held to be outside the scope of the relief from duties granted by Section 38 of the Finance Act, 1924. This interpretation has been consistently followed by the Treasury ever since the Act was passed; it is in accordance with the intention of the enactment and from time to time has been discussed and reaffirmed. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not feel justified in directing that it should be abandoned.

Mr. Foot

In requiring that the element of hostile action should be present, are not the Treasury placing an extremely narrow interpretation upon the exact words of Section 38 (1) of the Finance Act, 1924, and will the Treasury reconsider the interpretation they have hitherto placed on those words?

Captain Crookshank

No, Sir. I have just said, in the reply I have given, that my right hon. Friend does not feel justified in directing that it should be abandoned.

Commander Sir Archibald South by

Does my right hon. and gallant Friend's reply mean that in the event of one of 11is Majesty's ships being lost on the way to patrol by other action than enemy action, although a war is taking place, Death Duties will be charged on the estates of the officers and men?

Captain Crook shank

I could not answer that sort of question without it being placed on the Paper. In any case, it is hypothetical.

Mr. R. Gibson

What is the amount involved in this refusal?

Mr. Foot

In view of the highly unsatisfactory answer that has been given, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the first available opportunity.