§ The rates of Estate Duty were also in creased in this year's Finance Act by 10 per cent. on estates exceeding £50,000 in value, with an exception, which the Committee will remember, in regard to the agricultural value of certain estates. I must make a further modification here. I now propose that, in relation to deaths taking place after to-day—
§ Sir J. Simon
It is only-half past four in the afternoon so I have provided a locus penitentiae. After to-day, the duty on estates exceeding £10,000 but not exceeding £50,000 will be increased by 10 per cent. and on estates over £50,000, on which I put 10 per cent. in the spring, the increase will be 20 per cent. instead of 10 per cent. The maximum rate of Estate Duty applicable to the largest estates will thus be 60 per cent. The yield of this further increase is estimated at £6,000,000 in a full year and £1,500,000 in the current year.
I think the Committee has realised this fact: thatthese proposals for increased direct taxation, taken together, represent an unprecedented burden which nothing but the sternest necessity could justify. I take this course because the situation calls for these severe sacrifices, the heaviest yet which the direct taxpayer in this country has ever had to bear, but no more, I believe, than he is prepared to bear as part of a balanced scheme which calls for contributions for war expenditure from citizens of every kind and fortune.
I now turn to indirect taxation. Here, again, I must ask for a very substantial contribution by the increase of certain taxes of Customs and Excise. Before every Budget, suggestions come in from many quarters for devising new imposts, and there are novel proposals which are well worth examination; but taxes which require a new machinery or which assume results which have never been 1372 tested by experience, are not the most suitable for an emergency Budget which has to be constructed in a week or two. Accordingly, without prejudice to these ingenious suggestions for the future, we are relying, on this occasion, on a range of expedients, the working of which is already well known to His Majesty's Customs and Excise.