HC Deb 27 April 1971 vol 816 cc213-4
9. Mr. Meacher

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he estimates to be the annual loss to estate duty revenue through the use of discretionary trusts, gifts inter vivos and various life assurances.

Mr. Higgins

I am not sure what the hon. Member has in mind.

Mr. Meacher

Since the hon. Gentleman does not understand what I am at —that the use of these devices sheerly for the purposes of tax avoidance, flagrantly contrary to the clear word of Parliament, costs the Exchequer several hundred million pounds a year—will he not accept that it is the myopia of the politically one-eyed to set up a committee, as this Government have done, to investigate the abuse of the social service benefits without letting it also investigate the much greater and far more costly incidence of abuse through tax avoidance and tax evasion?

Mr. Higgins

The hon. Gentleman is at times inclined to confuse evasion with avoidance, but I have carefully studied his recent writings on this subject and correspondence in some of the newspapers. I am bound to say that it is the hon. Gentleman who is seeking to make merely trivial party political points rather than serious contributions to analysis.