I beg to move, in page 46, line 14, after "annuities," to insert:
or the business of issuing policies of life insurance.
This Amendment and the Amendments proposed to lines 16 and 47 are somewhat technical. As the Committee knows, Clause 31 authorises the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to make agreements with insurance companies under which they pay over the total amount of Stamp Duty on annuity contracts periodically in a lump sum instead of having to send the documents to the Revenue for additional stamps to be impressed on them.
The point which has come to light since the publication of the Bill is that this will really only go part of the way to meet the need at which the Clause is directed because the provisions of Clause 31 apply only to annuity contracts. Therefore it will not cover the majority of group policies because those so frequently provide life insurance as well as annuity benefits. The intention of these Amendments is to extend the scope of the Clause so as to permit Stamp Duty on life insurance benefits to be paid over to the Revenue in the same way as that on the annuity benefits; There is no loss of revenue involved. It will be a considerable saving of trouble to everybody if these Amendments are accepted and I hope they will prove entirely uncontroversial.
I have only two questions to ask the right hon. Gentleman about this Clause. The first is a very simple one. Have any representations—authoritative or very authoritative—been made to the right hon. Gentleman to induce him to make this change, or did he think of it himself?
The second question is a little near the mark. The right hon. Gentleman will know, or he will find if he looks it up, that there is a rather similar difficulty about marine insurance policies, large numbers of which cannot be stamped at present under existing legislation. I merely express the hope that at some time or other that question will be considered and the marine insurers of this great centre of commerce be relieved from the probably illegal conspiracy in which they have been engaged for so long. He will find authority for that from Lord Atkin.
I trust the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) will forgive me if I do not put to sea with him at this hour of the morning and pursue his marine insurance policies. As to the other question, certainly this has been brought to our attention from various quarters. I know that he has attempted to insinuate to the Committee at earlier stages that there is something sinister in the Government paying attention to representations, but I must say that I have often had deputations brought to see me—authoritative deputations introduced by hon. Members opposite—and I do not think that the Government could go on unless we exposed ourselves to receiving representations and deputations and heard what they said; but, ultimately, we have to make up our minds and we have done so on this Bill.
Further Amendments made: In page 46, line 16, leave out from "on" to "the" in line 19 and insert:
grants or contracts for payment of such annuities or on policies of life insurance should be charged and paid on such instruments issued by the body in the course of that business
In line 47. at end add:
(7) This section shall have effect from the first day of August, nineteen hundred and fifty-six; and any agreement made before that date under section seventy-two of the Finance Act, 1948 (which in relation to industrial assurance policies makes provisions similar to those of subsections (2) to (5) of this section), shall be treated as having been made under this section. [Mr. H. Brooke.]
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.