HC Deb 21 June 1960 vol 625 cc203-4
23. Mr. Denzil Freeth

asked the Attorney-General when he expects to present to the House a Bill to consolidate the law relating to Estate Duty.

The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)

I have nothing to add to the Answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Holland with Boston (Sir H. Butcher) on 3rd March.

Mr. Freeth

Will not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that this is one of those cases in which a consolidation Bill would be of immense benefit to the executors and relatives of many people, especially at a time when they are feeling least able to try to cope with the difficulties of the law spread over many Finance Acts? Will he, therefore, do something to try to expedite the presentation of such a consolidation Bill?

The Attorney-General

I am by no means sure that there is very much point in consolidating Estate Duty enactments, because in many cases the incidence of duty depends on the state of the law at the time of the death and earlier events, so that consolidation of this branch of the law might not be very helpful to the executors. There are many good books, some of which are in the Library, on Estate Duty law.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that the time is over-ripe for an amendment of the law relating to Estate Duty, particularly with regard to small estates which should be relieved of some of the burdens which they now bear?

The Attorney-General

No doubt the hon. and learned Gentleman will distinguish between consolidation and amendment. Amendment of the law with regard to Estate Duty is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.