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Probate Registry Fees

Volume 624: debated on Tuesday 18 April 2017

5. What representations he has received on the Government’s proposals to increase probate registry fees. (909620)

As the hon. Gentleman may be aware, the Ministry of Justice recently ran a consultation on this issue and received 853 responses in total. The Government response to the consultation was published on 17 March and is on gov.uk. They have since laid the statutory instrument to implement the changes set out in that response.

The majority of the responses to the consultation were against the proposals because, in a civilised democracy, access to justice should not depend on being rich. Unfortunately, this Government do not agree; they are intent on lessening access to justice by greatly increasing court fees. The increase in probate fees is another stealth tax and one that will affect almost half the estates in England and Wales. It is an attempt by the Government to hide the massive cut in inheritance tax for their rich friends. Will this dying, cut-and-run Government abandon their tax on access to justice?

I certainly do not recognise that characterisation of the fee structure. These fees are about helping to sustain an effective justice system that supports some of the country’s most vulnerable people and victims. It is fair to ask those who can afford to do so to support it. In fact, more than half the estates in England and Wales will pay no probate fees at all.