HC Deb 18 June 1952 vol 502 cc1450-2
Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I beg to move, in page 76, line 3, after "when," to insert: the following conditions were satisfied, that is to say, that. This Amendment, which I would suggest might be taken with that in my right hon. Friend's name in page 76, line 14, deals with a point which was raised by the hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman) in Committee.

The point was an important one, to which we have given careful consideration, as to whether it should not be possible to include in the concession on Estate Duty the case of a man who dies as a result of the aggravation of his disease due to war service under the specified active service conditions. On consideration, we thought it right to include such a person in the immunity given by the Clause.

4.0 a.m.

Mr. Chapman

I should like to thank the Financial Secretary for proposing this Amendment. It does very substantially meet the point I put in Committee, when taken with the Amendment in page 76, line 14. It is rather strange that the Financial Secretary has accepted the Amendment which he opposed in the Committee stage, but seems to have rejected the Amendment to which he gave a bit more of a blessing. While I think this is a good concession, I think it is inadequate for these reasons. The Chancellor has extended the ability to claim exemption from Death Duties when death is due to aggravation of a disease contracted prior to a man joining the Forces.

I wonder whether he has considered what the result will be? It means, as the Clause stands when the Amendment is accepted, that the Secretary of State for War, for example, is put in the position of judging not only when a man dies of a wound and his executors claim exemption, but when a man dies of disease that existed before and has now been aggravated. I think this is going to land the Treasury in a great deal of difficulty, because the Minister will have to decide a very great deal.

Let me give an example. What does the Minister have to consider in a case of aggravation? He has to collect proof that the disease existed before and he has to sift all the evidence of whether that disease did exist before or not. He has to question the doctor who attended the deceased before he went into the Services.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)

It seems to me that the hon. Gentleman is directing his remarks now to the first Amendment standing in his name instead of to the Amendment now before the House.

Mr. Chapman

We are on the Chancellor's Amendments to lines 3 and 14. To continue what I was saying, I am trying to suggest that, in admitting the principle of aggravation, the Chancellor is in fact laying up a store of trouble for himself. He is doing it without laying down the procedure by which the Minister's decision can be taken, and it will be awkward if it is claimed that the man's disease existed before he went into the Forces and the Minister says it did not. There will be medical evidence, and there will be a whole lot of argument on it. I should have thought that the Chancellor could have come forward not only with this Amendment but with another one, which the Financial Secretary spoke reasonably well of in Committee, setting up a tribunal——

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

On a point of order. The hon. Gentleman is now addressing his arguments to a point which may arise on his Amendment in page 76, line 20, which, in your discretion Mr. Deputy-Speaker, may or may not be called. But this does not arise on these Amendments, which relate solely to aggravation.

The Deputy-Speaker

Yes, the hon. Member is directing his remarks to that Amendment, and that Amendment is out of order.

Mr. Chapman

Having put the point to the Financial Secretary, perhaps he will deal with it at a later stage. I wish to thank him for accepting the principle of aggravation, which I think goes a long way to meet the points raised on both sides in Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 76, line 14, at end, insert: or that the deceased died from a disease contracted at some previous time, the death being due to or hastened by the aggravation of the disease during a period (whether beginning before, on or after the said twelfth day of March) when the deceased satisfied the conditions aforesaid."—[Mr. Boyd-Carpenter.]