» Thursday, November 8, 2007

Inheritance Tax

Asked how confident the Prime Minister was that the material published by the Treasury showed unequivocally that the Government was planning to reform inheritance tax, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman told the assembled press that the Prime Minister was very confident. It was made very clear from the document published by the Treasury today, as asserted by the Prime Minister on the floor of the House of Commons.

Asked what the Government would say to the charge made by the Conservatives that the Chancellor had confirmed that inheritance tax was under discussion for the Pre-Budget Report (PBR) on the 20th August 2007, a day after Shadow Chancellor George Osbourne wrote an article in the Mail on Sunday, claiming they would reform inheritance tax, the PMS replied that it was clear from the document that the Treasury had been planning to reform inheritance tax, along the lines of the announcement made in the PBR, as long ago as January 2007.

Put that the document did not make clear whether the Treasury were planning to include inheritance tax reforms in the PBR, the PMS said that he had nothing to add to what the Treasury had announced today. Those were the facts in response to the specific FOI request received by the Treasury three or four weeks ago.
The PMS said that the document stated specifically that the Chancellor confirmed the measure was under discussion for the PBR, so there was a specific reference in the document to work in preparation for the PBR. The Chancellor had then gone on to ask officials on the 5th September to work up final proposals.

Put that the Treasury document was a long refusal to answer the FOI request on grounds of public interest and why did the Treasury refuse to publicise anything when the Prime Minister so was confident about the matter in the House of Commons, the PMS replied that the document talked specifically about final proposals and made clear that there was a series of interactions between Treasury officials and Treasury Ministers on the specific proposal over a period of time.

The PMS said that in relation to what the Treasury had released and what they hadn’t released, he thought they had set out pretty comprehensively why it was considered it to be in the balance of public interest not to publish all of the documents.

Put that the documents did not make clear at what stage a decision was made on including inheritance tax in the PBR, the PMS said that the question asked of the Treasury was of any information showing when the Chancellor or officials first considered proposals on inheritance tax. That was the FOI request and that was what the Treasury had responded to.

original source.

Briefing took place at 16:45 | Search for related news

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