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Mr. Philip Hammond: I can assure the right hon. Lady that I feel unable to do any such thing, having heard no such thing.

Let me deal with a couple of specific points. The right hon. Lady suggested that it was bizarre that such issues were being raised now and asked why they had not been raised in greater depth during the consideration of the Finance Act 2004. She will have information to hand, but I understand that form IHT205 and the guidance notes for completing it were published only in November 2004, after the Finance Act 2004 had completed its passage. On the basis of what we have seen published, what we have seen in practice and what practitioners and, indeed, non-professional executors are reporting, we have sought to raise the issue today.

The right hon. Lady told the House that new clause 8 would give the Revenue the option to require a return. In response to my attempt at a point of order, Mr. Speaker advised me that I should address this question in my closing remarks. Perhaps the best thing that I can do is to read out the opening paragraph of regulation 6 of the Inheritance Tax (Delivery of Accounts) (Excepted Estates) Regulations 2004, as it would be amended by new clause 8, and let the House decide whether or not she is correct. Paragraph (1) would say:

6 Jul 2005 : Column 321

That does not suggest any doubt at all to me that the option lies with the taxpayer, not with the Revenue.

The right hon. Lady has confused the question of the change to treatment for what were approximately 30,000 excepted estates under the old rules—those estates that fell just below the inheritance tax threshold of between £240,000 and £275,000. I acknowledged quite readily in my opening remarks that the compliance burden on those estates has been reduced, by allowing them to complete the shorter—everything in terms of Inland Revenue forms is relative—form, IHT205, rather than the full return form, which is IHT200.

The right hon. Lady has deliberately ignored the fact that the definition of an excepted estate has been widened to include all estates above £5,000, which require probate. The practical effect is that, while 30,000 estates will enjoy a reduction in the compliance burden, some 270,000 estates, according to the most recent year's figures, will suffer an increase in the burden by having to make a return using IHT200.

Contrary to what the right hon. Lady says, the minimum number of questions required is not set out. I have already listed the questions that must be answered: details of the deceased's occupation and surviving relatives; gifts that the deceased has made; pensions; assets overseas; cash, including money in the bank, building society and national savings; value of household and personal goods; quoted and unquoted stocks and shares; insurance policies; bonuses; mortgage protection policies; money owed to the person who has died; residences; partnerships and business interests; debts of the deceased; and funeral expenses. That is not the minimum information required.

We understand the need for a return of information for estates that are just below the margin, but in broadening the scope of excepted estates under the 2004 regulations to include all estates that require probate which are below the inheritance tax threshold, the right hon. Lady has, deliberately or otherwise, swept into the net hundreds of thousands of very small estates and created a huge new burden, however she seeks to dress it up today.

By interchanging the old definition of an excepted estate, which refers only to the 30,000 estates just below the IHT threshold, and the new definition, which includes some 300,000 estates that require probate and are below the IHT threshold, the right hon. Lady has effectively thrown up smoke around the debate, but she has not answered the challenge that we have put to her.

The right hon. Lady says that all that is being asked is that people make a return to show they have done the calculation. Of course people must do the calculation before asserting that an estate is not chargeable to tax—a prudent person would always expect to do so—but sadly, for many small estates people will not have to spend very long computing whether the estate is worth £275,000; the question will be whether the estate is worth £10,000 or £12,000. In those cases, the imposition of completing such a form is an unnecessary and onerous burden at what will be a very difficult time for bereaved families dealing with these matters. I intend to ask my hon. Friends to support the new clause in the Division Lobby.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time—

The House divided: Ayes 181, Noes 276.
6 Jul 2005 : Column 322

Division No. 30
[1.38 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Bercow, John
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, Philip
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donaldson, Mr. Jeffrey M.
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Forth, rh Mr. Eric
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Mr. Nick
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Mr. Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Laws, Mr. David
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
McCrea, Dr. William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Paice, Mr. James
Paisley, Rev. Ian
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Price, Adam
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Russell, Bob
Salmond, Mr. Alex
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simpson, David
Smith, Sir Robert
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Gregory Barker and
Mr. Mark Prisk


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Begg, Miss Anne
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Mr. Russell
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Connarty, Michael
Cook, rh Mr. Robin
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Ms Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacDougall, Mr. John
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh Mr. John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Miliband, rh Mr. David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thornberry, Ms Emily
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Alan Campbell and
Mr. John Heppell

Question accordingly negatived.

6 Jul 2005 : Column 325

New Clause 4

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