§ THE EARL OF DARTMOUTH had the following Question on the Paper—
§ To ask the Secretary of State for War whether the Commissioners of Inland Revenue have ruled, for the purpose of assessing Income Tax, that "a secretary of a Territorial Force Association is not performing service of a military character," whereas section 30 (1) of the Finance Act of 1916 sets forth that "where any person, who during the current Income Tax year has served … or is in service of a naval or military character in connection with the present war for which payment is made out of money provided by Parliament," is entitled to claim relief; and will he state what is the character of the service, performed by a secretary of a Territorial Force Association if it be not of a military character as defined in the above section of the Finance Act.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I have given notice of this Question because the matter is, in my opinion, one of considerable importance. The present position of the question of the salary of the secretary of a Territorial Association is this. I believe that the Commissioners of Income Tax have expressed approval, and that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue have taken the other view. Now I understand there is a scheme for taking this point up to the higher Courts, and the reason why I have given notice of this Question and have left it so long on the Paper is that I hoped that the matter might be settled without being taken to the higher Courts at all. After all, I cannot see why the higher Courts should be troubled with a question of this kind. It is a perfectly simple one, and one that we can answer for ourselves.
§ The next point I want to emphasise is that we feel very strongly that these unfortunate circumstances concerning individuals should not be taken from one Court to another till possibly some Court will give the case in favour of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. Therefore I am raising the question to-day as the Chairman of the Council of Territorial Associations, and if any further action is taken it should be we, and not the individuals, who take it. When the Council of Territorial Associations decided to take 81 up this matter we agreed that a Question should be asked in the House of Commons, and that I should give notice of this Question in your Lordships' House. That was done, and, as sometimes happens, the answer in the House of Commons was extremely unsatisfactory. We, however, are in the more happy position in this I House of being able to elaborate a Question to any extent, and in view of the unsatisfactory character of the answer given in another place I have now brought the matter forward here in order that I might go fully into the case.
I will not trouble you with all the correspondence that has taken place. I will confine myself to two answers received by the secretary of the Council of Territorial Associations from the Finance Department of the War Office. On January 8, 1918, they wrote:
I am desired to acquaint you that it has now been decided that secretaries and assistant secretaries of Territorial Force Associations cannot be regarded as numbers of the military forces of tire Crown.
I want to point out that that question was never asked. I suppose that now we should call this camou[...]lage, but it is one of the commonplaces. I expect that over and. over again your Lordships, in the days of examinations, when you were asked a question that you could not answer, immediately put up one that you could; and from the days of the famous undergraduate who, when he was asked to draw a comparison between the major and the minor Prophets, of whom he knew nothing, endeavoured to satisfy the examiner by giving him a list of the Kings of Israel and of Judah, we have all been familiar with this kind of strategy. Well, that is exactly what has been done in this case. Of course, the secretary pointed out that nobody had ever raised this particular point of view. Then came a further reply, and I should like your Lordships' attention to this. They say that they regret the misconception on this point, and the letter goes on—
I am to say that the Council are advised that only persons who are engaged on really active service are entitled to the benefit of the reduced rate under the clause in question.
Now this suggests at first sight that it rather knocks out our case, but I think, when you have heard the lull particulars, you will agree that it rather strengthens it.
§ Who advised the Finance Department of the War Office? I expect it was the 82 Commissioners of Inland Revenue, though I do not know. What I should like to emphasise is this, that the words I have quoted, "who are engaged on really active service," do not appear in the Act of Parliament. The Act says that "any person who, during the current Income Tax year, has served or is serving as a member of any of the naval or military forces of the Crown, or in service of a naval or military character in connection with the present war for which payment is made out of money provided by Parliament," is entitled to claim relief. There are three particular classes described in this section. First, those on active service, with which we have nothing to do. The second class is the one in respect to which we are claiming that we are entitled to the benefit of the Act—that is, those who are engaged "in service of a naval or military character in connection with the present war for which payment is made out of money provided by Parliament." The words "really active service "have been introduced in order, I suppose, to satisfy the writer, and to strengthen the case of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. But I would maintain that when it comes to a question of work of a military character it is not the Commissioners of income Tax or the Commissioners of Inland Revenue that we want to go to; it is the Adjutant-General, who can tell us whether the work is of a military character or not.
§ Now I am going to try and show that the work is essentially of a military character. We have not got many things to thank the German Emperor for, but there is one for which I myself am particularly grateful, and that is the name that he has given to the Expeditionary Force—the name of "Contemptible Little Army "and you cannot pay a British soldier a higher compliment to-day than to call him "an old Contemptible." We in the Territorial Force were what was at one time considered a humble little Army, but we had our justification and our reward when, on the evidence of the gallant Field-Marshal Lord French, we were told that the Territorial Force had in the early days of the war saved the situation. I might also be allowed to quote some remarks by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane, in the early clays of 1907, which I think will show clearly what he had in mind as the particular class of duties of the Territorial County Associations. And perhaps 83 I might be permitted to say that we still look upon the noble and learned Viscount—at any rate, some of us—with a sort of parental respect as being the author of our Territorial being. Lord Haldane, in dealing with the Associations, described their functions as military—that was on January 23, 1907. He described how the command and training were to be separated from administration; that administration meant the raising of the Force, the finding of supplies, the provision of necessities for a, campaign, the payment of money, and the furnishing of weapons. I think we shall all agree that this is work of a military character. Later on in the same year the noble and learned Viscount described a Territorial Association as "a military Committee acting under the discretion of the Army Council." Therefore I emphasise the fact that it is to the Army Council to which we should look to decide whether these secretaries are doing work of a military character, and not to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, who are, of course, anxious to escape any payment of the kind
§ There is one little point in connection with the work of the County Associations which is, I think, not without importance. We have had a correspondence recently with the Secretary of State for War as to the qualifications for Deputy Lieutenants. A good many of us desired, if possible, to extend the qualification on the civilian side as well as on the military side. It was pointed out to us that to make the alteration would require an Act of Parliament, and that the qualifications for Deputy Lieutenants were of a military character; and one of the bodies specially marked out as being qualified for the position of a Deputy Lieutenancy were members of the County Associations. I think that seems to be a strong argument. And while it is perfectly true that members of County Associations are only part-time workers, we know that the secretaries are all-time workers, and, in many cases, at some time or other overtime workers. Therefore it is obvious that, if the members of the County Associations are qualified for Deputy Lieutenancies because of the military character of the work they are doing, you cannot cut out the secretaries of the County Associations from the benefits of this Act.
§ Let us consider for a moment what the work of the secretaries is. I do not know 84 that I ever heard it questioned that the extraordinarily effective character of the mobilisation of the Territorial Force in August, 1914, was one of the remarkable incidents of the war. We had had no experience. I had myself always advocated a rehearsal of mobilisation, but it was never carried out because the dislocation of business would have been too great. But when the moment came and the Territorial Force was mobilised, it was done as completely and with as little friction as was possible; and when we remember that the great weight of this mobilisation fell upon the shoulders of the secretaries of our Associations, it is mean in the extreme to try to cut them out of the benefit of the Finance Act.
§ There is only one other point. It is, I think, my strongest point of all. Therefore I have kept it to the last. There is an Army Council Instruction, No. 1741 of 1917, which deals with the promotion of officers on the Reserve of Officers and other ex-Regular officers. It goes on to refer to another Army Council Instruction, and then says that it has been decided that, in computing the service of officers on the Reserve of Officers and other ex-Regular officers for the purposes of promotion and precedence, no deduction shall be made for any period during which they have served in the Militia, Special Reserve, Volunteer Force, or "in any military appointments, or in positions closely connected with the same, such as secretaryships of the Territorial Force Associations." What I want to suggest to the noble Lord who is going to reply is that the Army Council is not going to be so foolish as to stultify itself by giving on the one hand promotion on account of military work, and on the other hand refusing benefits under the Finance Act.
§ I would say, in conclusion, that we feel very strongly that this is a matter which might be, and ought to be, settled at once, and that it should not be necessary for us to go to any Court of Law to be told what is so perfectly clear to any intelligent mind. I would ask the noble Lord to tell us in the course of his reply, if the work of the secretaries of the County Associations is not of a military character, of what character it is.
§ LORD HYLTON
My Lords, the Question which my noble friend has put upon the Paper, addressed to the Secretary of 85 State for War, is really one which does not come within the purview of the manifold duties of Lord Derby, but is purely a Treasury question. Therefore it is that I rise on behalf of the Treasury to endeavour to give an answer, which I am afraid will not be satisfactory to my noble friend, but which at all events is the only answer that the Treasury can give to him.
My noble friend spoke of the action of the inland Revenue in this matter as having been "mean in the extreme" in calling upon the secretaries of Territorial Associations to pay Income Tax on their salaries. The Inland Revenue is in the position, no doubt, of being a Public Department that has no friends. I remember some years ago the Chairman of the Inland Revenue—with whom I had the pleasure of being acquainted—telling me that a letter had once been addressed to him which merely bore the superscription "The Extortioner-General, London," and he told me that it reached him without the delay of a single post. The noble Earl is entitled, of course, to say that the action of the Inland Revenue in this matter has been "mean in the extreme." At the same time he does not, perhaps, altogether do justice to the action of the Commissioners, who obviously are guided in this matter by what, in their opinion, is their duty towards the public.
The noble Earl referred to an answer which had been given in another place to a Question similar to the one that he has put here this afternoon, and which he said was unsatisfactory. As the noble Earl did not dwell at any length upon that Question, I will tell your Lordships what happened. On January 16 of the present year this Question was asked of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—Whether the Commissioners of Inland Revenue have ruled, for the purpose of assessing Income Tax, that a secretary of a Territorial Force Association is not performing service of a military character; whether he is aware that Section 30 (1) of the Finance Act, 1916, states that any person who during the current Income Tax year has served or is in service of a naval or military character in connection with the present war for which payment is made out of money provided by Parliament is entitled to claim relief; and will he state what is the character of the service performed by a secretary of a Territorial Force Association if it be not of a military character as defined in the above section of the Finance Act?Mr. Bonar Law replied in these terms—As at present advised, I am unable to accept my hon. and gallant friend's interpretation of the 86 section referred to. I understand, however, that the matter is likely to come before the Courts for decision.That is, in fact, the state of affairs at the present moment.
The noble Earl and his friends are, of course, perfectly entitled to take their view, but it is one which is contrary to that held by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. The matter is, I understand, shortly coming before the King's Bench Division for decision, and then it will be the duty of the Court, according to the usual practice, to give its decision on the conflicting views of the noble Earl and his friends and of the Inland Revenue. I really think that in the circumstances your Lordships will be of opinion that it is not a matter which can be usefully debated at any length this afternoon. The particular section of the Finance Act of 1916 to which I have already alluded makes provision for the payment of Income Tax at a reduced rate on the pay of sailors and soldiers, and it also provides that this relief shall extend to persons who are performing duties of a naval or military character in connection with the present war for which payment is made out of money provided by Parliament. Now the assessments to Income Tax which have been made on the salaries of the secretaries of Territorial Force Associations have been generally made, as the noble Earl said, on the basis of their services not being such as to bring them within the relief afforded by Section 30.
§ LORD HYLTON
Not of the War Office. I was not answering the Question on behalf of the War Office, but giving to the noble Earl the opinion of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, with whom it is held this matter rests. It is not for the War Office to demand the Income Tax. It is entirely a matter for the inland Revenue, and in the opinion of the Board of Inland Revenue the view I have stated is the correct one for the following reasons—namely, that the duties of the secretaries of Territorial Force Associations are mainly of a clerical or secretarial nature. The noble Earl will quite understand that I am not informing the House that these are the views of the War Office. I am merely putting them forward as the views of the Department of the Inland Revenue 87 whose business it is to assess and collect Income Tax. The Inland Revenue hold that these secretarial duties are comparable, for the purpose of this relief, rather to the duties performed by the civil staff of the Admiralty and the War Office, than to duties of a naval or military character; and it is not necessary, so the Inland Revenue are informed, that the secretaries of these Associations should be or have been members of the naval or military forces of the Crown. Incidentally the Board of Inland Revenue are under the impression that the salaries of these gentlemen are paid out of the funds of the Associations, and not, at any rate directly, out of moneys provided by Parliament.
§ LORD HYLTON
Perhaps the Board of Inland Revenue are misinformed. I can only give the House what are the views of the Inland Revenue on this matter. As I said just now, a case for the opinion of the Court upon the point in question is at the present time in process of being stated by a body of district commissioners, and it will no doubt come before the King's Bench Division in duo course. I have already told the House what answer was given in another place on this subject, and I am afraid there is nothing more that I can sad.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, it is with great reluctance that I rise to take any part in a debate upon a point which is coming before the Courts, and, ii I do, it is not to, express an opinion which will or could in any degree influence the Courts, but to make sure that what I think lies at the root of this question—namely, the facts—have been before the authorities; because, if they had been fully before the authorities, it seems to me a question whether they would have considered the case one which was fit to go before the Courts. I have great sympathy with the noble Lord in saying that this is really not a question for the War Office, but one for the Commissioners of Inland Revenue and the Treasury. That is strictly so, because they cannot spend a penny of public money outside the terms of the Act of Parliament. The question, however, is what falls within the terms of the Act of Parliament, and that depends upon ascertaining the facts, and for the facts you must go to the War Office and the people who know them. 88 The whole question here is not one of relaxing the Statute or construing it liberally or illiberally. The whole question is what are the facts to which you have to apply it. I should have thought that the real authority on this question was the Law Officers of the Crown or the noble and learned Lord upon the Woolsack, and it is with a view of bringing out what are the facts which ought to be submitted to the Court—facts about which I do not think there is any doubt—that I have risen to make sure that the same statement as it appears to have framed itself in the mind of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue is not the basis upon which the lawyers are approached.
The Act of Parliament, which after all governs everything, makes an antithesis. In the first place, Section 30 of the Finance Act of 1916 is expressed to be in favour of anyone who "has served or is serving as a member of any of the naval or military forces of the Crown." Now the secretary of an Association is not within that category. He is not serving within those terms. But then comes an antithesis to that. There is a second category—namely, "or in service of a naval or military character in connection with the present war for which payment is made out of money provided by Parliament." The question, therefore, is whether he is rendering service of a military character in connection with the present war for which payment is made out of money provided by Parliament. Now, my Lords, it is on this that I wish to submit certain facts to the Government, and I will ask the attention of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, because I think these facts ought to be realised. The answers that have been given to the questions asked convince me that they have not been realised. What the Courts may think of them I do not wish to express any opinion upon. I only wish to put the facts beyond all question before the House.
When the reorganisation of the Army took place in 1907 the utmost importance was attached to far greater rapidity in mobilisation than had ever existed before, and I think the course of this war has proved that that was essential. If we had taken a couple of months to mobilise, where should we have been? The point was to reduce the time occupied in mobilisation to the utmost, and for that purpose a principle was introduced which was really latent in the Esher Report—the Order in Council 89 founded upon it—and fully developed in 1907. That principle was to separate administration from command and training. That was done with the Regular Army by appointing on the Staff of every Commander-in-Chief, whether of the Aldershot Command, the Western Command, or the Southern Command, two great Staff officers—his Chief of the General Staff and his Administrative General, the latter being a sort of Quartermaster - General. The Regular Army, therefore, had command and training separated from administration; command and training being put, under the Commander-in-Chief, in the hands of a General advised by his Chief of the General Staff, and the administration under the Administrative General.
An exactly parallel course was taken when the Territorial Force was set up, and, under the Commander-in-Chief, the County Association was detailed, in place of the Administrative General, for each county, while the command and training were given to a Regular Major-General with a Regular Staff who looked after that part of the work. The Major-General with his Staff have nothing whatever to do with administration. That was handed over to the County Association, which was put exactly in the place of the Administrative General in a Regular Command. In that way command and training were separated from administration. Separate military talents of different kinds were devoted to the two services, and lucidity in arrangement and quickness in organisation were facilitated. Now the County Associations were set up as the Administrative Generals, if I may so call them. I think there has been a sort of idea in the minds of outsiders—I am not sure that it has not been in the minds of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue—that the County Association was a sort of useful civilian association presided over by the Lord Lieutenant with a secretary who did the clerical work for it. Nothing of the kind. These Associations are military bodies. There is a military majority in them, and their character is military right through. Any noble Lord who is interested in the subject has only to read the first five Sections of the Territorial Force Act to see that in the Act of Parliament the Association is a statutory body set up for the purpose of giving effect to a plan which is to be fashioned by the military authorities in the War Office, and it is bound to conform to that plan. It has no discretion of any 90 sort or kind. It has to carry out the military purpose.
Then the Act of Parliament and the Regulations framed under it recognise that there is to be a secretary, and the secretary is made a very important person. The noble Lord did not allude to this, but I think it is a cardinal point in the case that under the Regulations the secretary is a person who communicates with the Commander-in-Chief of the Command and represents the Association for that purpose. So far from being a person with simply clerical duties to perform, as the Commissioners of Inland Revenue seem to think, he is the mouthpiece of the Association, subject to the chaff man of his Association, and the recognised channel of communication with the Commander-in-Chief in the Command. If ever anybody was appointed to perform military service—military service of an administrative kind—it is the secretary of an Association. He is not like a civil clerk in the War Office, because he is a person who is carrying out one branch of service of an Army fighting in the field—the administrative branch.
The point is then raised that the secretary's salary is not paid out of funds provided by Parliament, which is the other condition of the Statute. My Lords, that is a complete mistake. I brought in the Estimates in the other House at least half a dozen times; and we always submit the Estimates of the County Associations for approval by Parliament and for vote by Parliament of the money which is to be applied in, among other things, paying the salary of the secretary. The salary of the secretary year by year is provided by Parliament out of funds voted for the purpose in such a fashion as to give Parliament the opportunity of discussing whether the secretary has done his duty and fulfilled the functions which are attributed to him by the Act.
On these facts the Court will decide as the Courts think proper, if indeed the Government think it a case to take to the Courts. What I am most anxious about is that your Lordships and the Government should realise that the facts are very far from what has been suggested to be obviously in the minds of the writers of some of the letters to which the noble Earl has referred. The facts are as I have said. The Secretary is really in a position exactly parallel to that of the Staff Officer of an Administrative General in a Regular Com- 91 mand. He is a Staff officer of the County Association which occupies the position of the Administrative General. He is there for the purpose of communicating with the military authorities. His duties, so far from being merely clerical, extend to every kind of provision of things required for the mobilisation of the Territorial Force and for keeping it in the field when mobilised. If ever there was anybody whose services required to be carefully ascertained before giving such an answer as has been given in some of the correspondence upon this subject, it is the secretary of a Territorial Association. I am not in the slightest degree reproachingthe noble Lord, who most correctly said it is a question of law and gave us the materials which the Inland Revenue had before them. If the materials had been those, I think there would have been a great deal to be said for the view which the noble Lord took, but if I am right a far more sifting and careful inquiry into what the real status and position of the secretary of a Territorial Association is will be required before any adequate submission of the question to the Courts can take place, and I hope that after examination it may be considered that the question is not one which it is necessary to submit.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I think we owe a debt of gratitude to my noble friend opposite for having brought this subject before the House, and I hope he will see to it that the matter does not pass out of sight when this conversation comes to an end. I venture to suggest that the question is not one which it is for the Treasury to decide, nor is it a question, as has been suggested, as to whether the Treasury has been mean in this matter or has not been mean. Nor again, it seems to me, is it a question which ought to be left to the Courts of Law. The question really seems to me to be one of policy; and if the Treasury takes what I cannot help hoping His Majesty's Government will consider a mistaken view of the position of these officers, or if the legal authorities pronounce that the law as it at present stands does not permit of these officers receiving this allowance, then I think His Majesty's Government should make it their business to see that the law is altered so as to fit the requirements of the case.
I do not think there can be any doubt—I am not going to pronounce on the legal technicalities—as to the broad common 92 sense aspect of the case. These men have duties which are, as the noble Viscount opposite said a moment ago, strictly military. They work under the Army Council. The secretary is in constant correspondence with the Army Council. A great deal of his work is really very much that of a Staff officer. Unless I am quite wrong, his salary is paid out of money voted by Parliament and the work which the secretary does at the present time is most distinctly and emphatically connected with the war. It is the war which gives him so much to do, and which imposes upon him not only very onerous duties, but duties which, as my noble friend opposite truly said, oblige him to work overtime constantly. I cannot end better than by asking, as my noble friend did, if the duties of the secretaries are not military duties, what in God's name are they? I hope that my noble friend will pursue the matter further and that in the meanwhile His Majesty's Government will see to it that the question is very thoroughly reconsidered.
§ THE DUKE OF RUTLAND
My Lords, I do not want to labour this question any further on the present occasion, because I think that the remarks of the representative of the Government, of the noble and learned Viscount and the noble Marquess, as well as those of the noble Earl who originated the discussion, have so thoroughly thrashed out the matter that little remains to be said. Indeed, I do not think, from what has been stated to-day, that the Government have much more to say on the question. I fully agree with the noble Marquess that it is a great pity that this matter should be referred to the Courts. I have reason to believe that if the War Office had taken the matter in hand at once, the Adjutant-General, by a very short sentence, could have instructed the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to pay these salaries to the secretaries in full, and the whole matter would have ended there and then.
I hope that the Government will take strong steps to see that this matter does not come before the Courts. It is absolutely intolerable that the salaries of men who have done more good work for the Territorial Associations than almost anybody else should be cut down on some ridiculous legal quibble. I know something of what the secretaries have done; I have had personal experience of them all through the war. In the early days of the war, as 93 soon as the order to mobilise came down, I know of one secretary who for three weeks never slept in a bed at all. From that day on they have been in constant attendance, except with a few days' holiday in the course of the year. When you come to consider the legal point of view—as to what their duties as Territorial Association secretaries are—it appears to me to be almost incontrovertible that their duties are to a large extent purely military. It is necessary that the Territorial Association should have a competent military officer who understands what the duties of an executive officer are. It is necessary to have a man of military experience in order properly to look after the equipment of troops and their necessities. These men have to look after recruiting, they are connected with clothing, with paymaster's work, ranges, drill-halls, in fact with everything connected with military equipment and organisation; and that on a wretched quibble. of this sort—namely, that they are not engaged in military work—their salaries should be cut down at this moment is a thing that really I cannot believe any body of ordinary common sense men would recognise. I hope the Government will take steps to stop all legal proceedings in this matter, and say that Territorial Association secretaries are to have their salaries, from this time forth, fully paid up, as is laid down in the Statute.
I cannot agree with the noble Lord who answered for the Government that this is a matter which does not come within the purview of the War Office. In my opinion, it comes more within the purview of the War. Office than of the Treasury or any other authority, and it is a matter which should be undertaken by the War Office. We are spending hundreds of millions of money—I believe a certain amount of it almost unnecessarily—and cannot we spare a few thousands a year more to these men who are doing the work of the Territorial Forces of this country? It appears to me to be an absurdity, especially as I understand that the law is that they should be paid in full. I most sincerely hope that this error of judgment on the part of the authorities will be remedied on the grounds I have stated, and also on the ground that the Territorial Force has for some time past, both in France and at home—the few executive officers that are left at home—felt that there is a sort of undercurrent of feeling against them. I have letters in my pocket from battalions that have fought from 1915 until now, and 94 the whole feeling is that they are being rather put on one side in favour of other units. I remember this was brought before the noble Earl the Secretary of State for War at one of the Central Territorial Force Association meetings, and he assured us, in some wonderful phrases, that there was nothing so dear to him as the Territorial Force. But the feeling to which I have referred exists in the Force, and it will be adding an additional feeling of discontent to the people who are running it to the best of their ability if they feel that their most trusted servants and officials are being unfairly treated by the Government at the present time.
§ LORD HYLTON
My Lords, there is only one word. I should like to say in reply to some of the speeches that have been made this afternoon. One or two noble Lords in the course of their remarks have made the suggestion, I understand, that the Government should interfere and prevent in some way, by an administrative act, this question between the Inland Revenue and the Territorial Associations being submitted to a Judicial inquiry. May I suggest to your Lordships that any action of that sort is surely very dangerous. The great bodies of Civil Servants, and Departments like the Board of Inland Revenue, have hitherto in the history of the country been distinguished for the impartiality with which they have discharged their duties, and they are not, so far as I am aware, in any sense under the control of the Government. And to suggest, when a case at issue arises—as on the present occasion, when the Board of Inland Revenue holds a certain view and a body like the Territorial Associations bolds another view, and the matter is to be brought before the High Court—that the Government should step in and prevent it being brought to trial is surely a course that, whatever the consequences might be in the case before its, is fraught with dangerous consequences if carried out on a large scale. I can only speak here as the mouthpiece of the Inland Revenue. Speaking in my private capacity I wish the noble Earl and his friends every success when the case comes for trial, but on behalf of the Inland Revenue I am afraid I can add nothing further to what I have already said.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
My Lords, I do not think the answer given on behalf of the Government is very convincing. It would have afforded your Lordships more satisfaction if the noble Lord had been able to assure us that, if the case does go to the Courts, the full facts will be put before them as indicated by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane. We received no assurance from any representative of the Government on that point, and though it would be more satisfactory if the matter was settled without going to the Law Courts, it would be most unsatisfactory to have the matter sent to the Law Courts in an imperfect condition.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
May I ask one question? Will the noble Lord consider—he cannot, of course, say offhand—whether the facts as they have been thrashed out in this debate should not be put in the form of a case to be placed before the Law Officers of the Crown, or before the learned. Lord on the Woolsack, and if their advice will be, taken as to whether it is necessary to go to the Courts, or whether there might not be some amendment of the law as suggested by the noble Marquess?
§ LORD HYLTON
I will certainly see that the suggestion of the noble and learned Viscount is brought to the notice of the responsible Minister.