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Customs And Excise (Legal Judgment)

Volume 463: debated on Monday 21 March 1949

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asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered the judgment of Mr. Justice Vaisey in reference to Sebel Products Ltd. v. Commissioners of Inland Revenue; and whether he will give an undertaking that Government Departments will refund moneys wrongly collected by them, whether through an error of fact or an error of law.

I presume that the hon. Member is referring to the case of Sebel Products Limited v. Commissioners of Customs and Excise. The effect of this judgment on the practice of Government Departments is being considered.

While I thank the right hon. Gentleman, will he say whether it will ever be right for the State to do what would be considered most dishonest in a private person?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a somewhat artificial distinction in the law between mistakes of fact and mistakes of law and that frequent injustices arise as a result of the application of that distinction? Will he have this branch of the law looked into with great care with a view to avoiding these injustices in future?

I have said that the effects on the practice of Government Departments is being carefully considered. I am sure that those considering them will take into consideration the remarks of the hon. Gentleman.