HC Deb 17 February 1970 vol 796 c197
24. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he estimates would be the loss of revenue from estate duty of exempting from duty all property and assets passing on death from a man to his widow.

Mr. William Rodgers

The loss would depend upon the extent to which wills were altered as a result of such a change and could be of the order of £100 million in a full year.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is it not a trifle illogical and unfair to treat a married couple during life as one person for tax purposes and to separate them to their detriment immediately on death? Would not the figure, which the hon. Gentleman has been kind enough to give, be much reduced if account were taken of the fact that duty under this proposal would fall to be paid in full on the death of the widow?

Mr. Rodgers

I do not think that it is unfair. There are good reasons for the present principle, which is of long standing. But I will bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Would it not be just and would not the loss be minimised if the Chancellor charged a reduced rate of duty to widows who inherit small estates, many of whom are in dire need?

Mr. Rodgers

I think that my hon. and learned Friend is on a slightly different point, but I will reflect upon what he has said.