Ceisteanna.—Questions. Oral Answers. - Stamp Duties Relief.

asked the Minister for External Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the report which appeared in the Press of the 14th instant of proceedings in the Supreme Court of Judicature of Northern Ireland in which, is a result of the observations made by the learned Judge, a power of attorney stamped in the Irish Free State with the appropriate stamp under the Stamp Act of 1891 was to be re-stamped in Northern Ireland, and whether the Minister will state for the information of legal practitioners and the public generally what the present position is as between the Irish Free State and Great Britain or Northern Ireland with regard to instruments which are chargeable with Stamp Duty both in the Irish Free State and in Great Britain or Northern Ireland and on which the appropriate Stamp Duty has been paid in the Irish Free State.

I have seen the report in the Press of the 14th instant to which the Deputy's question refers. The position as between the Irish Free State, on the one hand, and Great Britain or Northern Ireland, on the other, was settled by the provisional arrangement for relief in respect of double taxation made between the Government of the Irish Free State and the British Government in the year 1923. The provisional arrangement was confirmed in the Irish Free State by an Order of the Governor-General made on the 14th April, 1923, under the Double Taxation (Relief) Act, 1923, and in Great Britain and Northern Ireland by an Order in Council dated 29th March, 1923 (S.R.O. 1923. No. 406). Part III of the arrangement relates to stamp duty. The effect of the provisions of that part of the arrangement is clear. Where, on or after the 1st April, 1923, an instrument is chargeable with stamp duty in the Irish Free State and in Great Britain and has been stamped in one of those countries the instrument shall, to the extent of the duty it bears, be deemed to be stamped in the other country. By paragraph (c) of Part III the arrangement applies as between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland in like manner as it applies between the Irish Free State and Great Britain until the Government of Northern Ireland signify that they have withdrawn their consent to such application. The Government of Northern Ireland have not withdrawn their consent.

With regard to the observations which the newspaper report attributes to the learned judge on the occasion referred to, to the effect that he did not understand the language on the stamp which appeared on the power of attorney in question, I should like to add that specimens of all Irish Free State stamps are available in the Ministry of Finance of Northern Ireland, and that any doubt as to whether the power of attorney in the case was not duly stamped in the Irish Free State could have been removed by reference to that Ministry.