I would ask the members of the Seanad to listen to this very short section, which reads:—
Sub-section (1) of Section 8 of the Finance Act, 1925 (No. 28 of 1925), shall be construed and have effect and be deemed always to have had effect as if after the figures 1918 now contained therein there were inserted the words and figures "or under Rule 18 of the General Rules applicable to Schedules A, B, C, D and E of the said Act."
That is not a reading of hieroglyphics. It is not an algebraic equation. It is intended to be the ordinary English in an Act of Parliament which people are supposed to understand. In order to understand what that sub-section means you have to tread your way first through the Act of 1925 passed in the Oireachtas, and then you have to go back to the English Finance Act of 1918, and after treading your way around that English Finance Act of 1918, you have to go through the rules and regulations passed under the 1918 Act, and then if you are a first-rate lawyer you will understand something of what is meant here. I do not pretend to be a first-rate lawyer, but this matter has come under the purview of some first-rate lawyers, and I now venture to tell the House what is really the meaning of that mysterious section. The point is this: the English Act of 1918 authorised assessments to be made, returns to be made, and inquiries to be made for a period of three years.
The Act of 1918 said nothing in relation to the case of a man who died within the three year period, but the rules and regulations passed under that Act authorised assessments to be made on the personal representatives of persons who were dead. That is done under Regulation 18. After that there came along the Act of 1925. The revenue officials, who I had occasion to say on one or two occasions in this House, are men of the very greatest ability, and the best of officials—that is my definite opinion—are very ruthless and hard-hearted, but thoroughly efficient. The three year period was not enough for them, and in 1925 you passed an Act here whereby you authorised an inquiry to be pursued over a period of six years. But in 1925 you forgot to provide, just as in the Act of 1918, they had forgotten to provide, that the inquiry should be made in the case of a man who was dead as against his personal representatives. That was forgotten. But though it was forgotten in the Act of Parliament the very efficient revenue men continued to make their assessments against the personal representatives of dead men. They have succeeded in getting £100,000 to which they were not entitled.