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Customs And Excise (Legal Judgment)

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1949

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered the observations of Mr. Justice Vaisey on 16th March in Sebel Products Limited v. Commissioners of Customs and Excise; and if he will indicate his future policy with regard to the retention by the Crown of tax paid under mistake of law.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Ivor Thomas) on Monday, 21st March.

As the Prime Minister then said that the matter was under consideration, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say when a decision is likely to be reached; and will he agree that, in view of the increasing complications of the law, this is a matter of increasing importance?

I am afraid I cannot say when a conclusion will be reached; I can only say that the matter is still under consideration.

Is it not a fact that a mistake in law was first made by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise and that the firm only assented to it under protest, and is this not a thoroughly discreditable piece of work of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not be guilty in his private life?

I do not think it is at all a discreditable piece of work. I think it arose out of a desire to arrive at an accurate conclusion in the matter.