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Revenue Appeals

Volume 236: debated on Tuesday 4 March 1930

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his attention has been drawn to the judgment in the final Court of Appeal on the 25th February last, wherein useless appeals by the Crown to the detriment of the taxpayer were referred to; upon whose ad- vice was that particular appeal prosecuted; and whether he will take steps in the future to prevent cases involving no question of principle being taken to the final Court of Appeal?

I have seen newspaper reports of Lord Dunedin's remarks, and I confess to finding great difficulty in understanding what prompted them. Judgment had been given for the Crown by a High Court Judge of exceptional experience in taxation cases. It is true that this judgment was overruled by the Court of Appeal, but the case was one in which over £200,000 was at stake, and an important point of principle was in issue. The Crown was contending for the maintenance of a long-established practice, and that practice was one which in the vast majority of similar cases is more favourable to the taxpayer than what has now been declared to be the true interpretation of the law. I may add that since the beginning of 1929 nine appeals in Inland Revenue cases have been heard by the House of Lords. Seven of these were appeals by taxpayers, and two by the Crown. Judgment was given for the Crown in all the cases but one. No further defence of the Crown's advisers seems necessary.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that, when doubtful points have to be settled in this way, the Crown reimburse the taxpayer as regards the costs of the proceedings, since otherwise it is impossible for an ordinary individual to have a point of this kind decided?

That is a matter which is very often raised, but I am not prepared to give a decision on an important matter like that in answer to a supplementary question.