asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has now come to a conclusion on the observations of Mr. Justice Vaisey on 16th March in Sebel Products Limited v. Commissioners of Customs and Excise; and whether he will indicate his future policy with regard to the retention by the Crown of tax paid under mistake of law.
Yes, Sir. The judge expressed the view that there was no reason why, in appropriate cases, the Crown should not refuse to repay money paid voluntarily under a mistake of law, but gave his reasons for thinking that it was a defence that ought to be used by a Government Department with great discretion. The Government endorse this view, which indeed accords with the practice generally followed by Departments in the past, and the Treasury is issuing a circular to ensure that the practice of Departments continues to conform with it in the future.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman review the collection by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise of Purchase Tax on car radios, which was collected without any statutory sanction whatsoever? Will he see that that question is reviewed in due course?
I do not think it is necessary to review that again. As the hon. Member knows, it was reviewed many times.