HC Deb 17 November 1960 vol 630 cc524-5
3. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will amend those forms used by the Estate Duty Office which need to be sworn before a commissioner for oaths or other person authorised to administer an oath so as to substitute in the relevant footnote a list of persons so authorised, in place of the reference to certain Acts of Parliament.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Edward Boyle)

Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend's suggestion will be adopted when these forms are reprinted.

6. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many forms in connection with Estate Duty currently require to be sworn; and for what reason he considers it insufficient for persons completing such forms to sign them in the presence of a witness instead of swearing them.

Sir E. Boyle

Thirteen different types of form in England and Wales, seven in Scotland. The form which has to be used in a particular case varies according to the circumstances. The requirement of verification on oath is statutory. Most of these forms are not simply required for Estate Duty purposes; they are also part of the machinery of clothing an executor or administrator with his title to administer a dead man's estate.

Mr. Johnson

Does not my hon. Friend think that it would be reasonable for my suggestion to be adopted, in view of the fact that transfers of shares involving, sometimes, very large sums of money require only signature in the presence of a witness?

Sir E. Boyle

I will certainly bear that in mind and I hope that my Answer showed that we are responsive to my hon. Friend's suggestion. We must, however, bear in mind that legislation would be necessary if certain requirements concerning verification on oath were to be dispensed with. This is a matter at which we should look carefully before proceeding.