§ 3.24 p.m.
§ LORD BELSTEAD rose to move, That the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1973, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Order is a purely financial measure to effect changes in some Northern Ireland taxes—estate duty and stamp duty—which prior to the passing of the Constitution Act were normally dealt with in Northern Ireland legislation; it also contains some miscellaneous financial provisions. The most significant of the tax changes have been enacted for Great Britain in the Finance Act already; the remainder are minor amendments, also of a parity nature, to bring Northern Ireland legislation on estate duty into line with Westminster legislation. Perhaps I should just explain that the Order was made on July 27 under the urgent procedure and is already in fact in operation. Although the contents of the Order could 527 not be finalised until July because of the possibility of late amendments during the passage of the Westminster Finance Bill for which provision might need to be made in the Order, it was important that certain of the provisions in the Order—those relating to stamp duty—should be in operation on the same date on which the corresponding changes in Great Britain were to come into operation—that is August—and urgent procedure was the only means of satisfying both those constraints.
§ My Lords, on estate duty, the major change applies to shares and securities quoted on a recognised stock exchange or to holdings in authorised unit trusts. Where, in relation to deaths occurring after March 6, 1973, any person accounting for estate duty on such investments realises them within 12 months of the death, he will be able to claim that the total of the sale prices should be substituted for the values at death of the investments realised. A further important change is a provision enabling all information which a prudent prospective purchaser of unquoted shares and securities might reasonably require if he were proposing to purchase them by private treaty to be taken into account in determining the principal value of those shares and securities for the purpose of estate duty. Apart from those changes, the Order also extends the powers of the Ministry of Finance to accept objects of historic or artistic value in satisfaction of estate duty, to make provision for exemption from estate duty to be granted in cases where a member of the Armed Forces dies as a result of the aggravation by war service of previously existing disease and to preserve the operation of existing estate duty law in relation to overseas pensions formerly paid by the Governments of territories which have ceased to be British Colonies. In relation to stamp duty, companies' capital and loan capital duty are replaced by a duty on share capital chargeable at the rate of 1 per cent.
§ The more important of the miscellaneous provisions in the Order are concerned with removing doubt about the powers of the Northern Ireland Government and other Northern Ireland public bodies to borrow abroad and with removing the existing limit on the amount of investment grant which can be paid 528 in Northern Ireland to any one firm in any one year; there is no limit in Great Britain. It is also provided that attendance allowance shall be omitted when calculating reckonable income for purposes of rate rebate. Technical amendments needed to clarify references concerning the stock exchange in existing legislation and to clarify the borrowing powers of the Ministry of Finance are also provided for. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1973, be approved.—(Lord Belstead.)
§ LORD JACQUES
My Lords, I thank the Minister for his explanation of the Order. The Order has two main purposes: the first is, to extend to Northern Ireland changes in taxation made by the Finance Act 1973 which would not otherwise apply to Northern Ireland in the absence of the Northern Ireland Parliament; and secondly there are certain miscellaneous provisions. We have no questions to raise on the Order.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.