Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

man.

benefits conferred on workers, to restore the THE BUDGET, 1925.

old concessions of Life Insurances to the Income

Tax
By PHILIP SULLEY.

payer,

and thus enable him to make better

provision for the future, in which he is to The Labour Government, which last year receive no help from the State. The increased had the opportunity, left it to a Tory Govern- Death Duties, starting at £12,500, must operate ment to bring in a Socialist Budget. Increased in the lower stages very hardly on those who benefits to the many become the increased leave moderate amounts, while throughout they burden of the few. That is the effect of Mr add further to the almost insupportable burdens Churchill's Budget as it must appear to persons resulting from the death of an owner of property. with incomes of £800, or £1000, or over; and The relief of Super-Tax, declared to be correto-day £800 is truly a living wage to those who sponding and equivalent to the new Death can only in irony now be called the better Duties, may prove to be so in the main, but classes. To the professional man, whose capital certainly not in individual cases. When a is training and brains, the financial outlook has death occurs soon, or in the course of a few to-day become more difficult. Already he has years, after this change, the saving in Superto pay for so much of which he has no share. Tax cannot correspond with the capital loss Education of the working-classes and those involved by the increased Death Duties. There attending State schools, Old Age Pensions, the is a further matter in connection with this direct Dole, and other deficits of the Insurance Scheme, taxation, as to which the Chancellor may not and more is now to be added in these directions. have received full and correct information from The rebate he will receive on his own direct the official source. Has he been informed how tax may not be as good as at first sight appears, much of the great yield is due to direct payment seeing that the weekly-wage earner will now of the year's income, and how much is still the generally cease to make even a small contribu- result of the new system of running a small-tooth tion to the Income Tax, and the small trader comb over every Tax District and recovering and employee will be in the same position. fines, penalties, and back duties wherever an The trader generally, having less responsi- undercharge or a mistake has been discovered ? bility, will benefit far more than the professional This source of extra revenue cannot continue

The wide extension of the Old Age to be exploited much longer. The question of Pension, to be paid without limit as to means the re-introduction of the Gold Standard, and of the insured persons, and shortly at a lower of its effect on our position in regard to American age of sixty-five, will also increase the burden Debt and American Trade, may be left to of the Income Tax payer. Matters would financial experts, but the ordinary man would appear to be moving in such a direction that have preferred to get back his sovereign, instead the new generation may see Parliament forced of a piece of paper, when by reason of improved to make Old Age and Widows' Pensions general, trade and smaller cost of living, that little but to be applied for by all who wish. Looking much - desired object had purchasing power over the other provisions of this great Budget- more in accord with past memories. The for great it is in its proposals, and still more in Finance Bill will be very keenly and eagerly its possibilities--one sees little that will benefit scrutinised, and the Finance Act will probably the professional and similar classes. Certain shew even greater divergencies from its original articles on which reductions of duty are given form than in any ordinary year.

The Budget will, like tea and sugar last year, presumably obviously presents exceptional scope for the at once rise in price; while luxuries, if the activities of the legal profession. articles under the M‘Kenna Duties are to be While dealing with the question of taxation, 80 considered, will also advance beyond the the time is opportune for pointing out the actual amount of these duties. The reduction necessity, as well as desirability, that the present in Income Tax will clearly be very welcome, Government, so strong and fairly sure of a conand especially to those with Earned Income, tinued existence for some years, should give whether exceeding or falling short of the £1500 Scotland a much-needed new Valuation Act. at which the new limit of one-sixth is placed. There is shortly to be introduced into the The retired elderly professional man, or his Commons a Rating Act for England to provide widow, over the age of sixty-five, will certainly a general system of valuation of land and be grateful for the fact that an income from property for the whole kingdom, to supersede Investments, not exceeding £500, is to be the various methods, some of them haphazard, treated as earned, with a concession of one- which now exist. This is to apply to all sixth, by way of a small pension at sixty-five counties and burghs, London excepted, as as a balance to the workers. Before the Budget since 1869, under the Metropolis Valuation becomes a Finance Act it is to be hoped that Act, this has had a Quinquennial Valuation an effort will be made, in view of the Insurance which has proved effective and equitable, and

[ocr errors]

n

given rise to very few complications or legal anything like unfairness. Surely such a purely difficulties. For many years now, in the ad- Scottish matter should not be left to the ordiministration of this Act, the local committees nary parliamentary authorities and draughtshave had the assistance of the District Tax men, it must be the result of full enquiry and Officers. Whether this arrangement is to take discussion in Scotland. This should be by effect for the rest of the country under the new means of a Royal Commission which would Act cannot yet be stated; but as regards take evidence from owners of all classes of proScotland, there can be no question that our perty, industrial, institutions, and concerns own Act, dating from 1854, is now obsolete in for public use and benefit, which are never many respects and ineffective. It was always let, and also ascertain the view of the great deficient through its very simplicity and lack rating authorities, and presumably the Assesof sufficient direction. From 1854 right up to sors. It is understood that this question has 1895 it was possible to rent a piece of land on already been raised and brought to the notice a lease of less than twenty-one years, erect on of the Secretary for Scotland. it a small or great industrial concern, and pay rates on the rent of the land alone. While this anomaly was at last removed, the instruction in

AMERICAN PROHIBITION LAW. the Act that the value of any subject should be arrived at by ascertaining the rent, or probable Since the passage in 1919 by the Act of rent, that would be paid by a willing tenant to Congress of the National Prohibition Act, the a willing owner, has proved increasingly diffi- State District and Circuit Courts all over the cult in the case of large subjects, industrial or United States have been, and are still, busy with for public benefit. These are rarely, practi- a quite appalling number of cases in regard to cally never, let to a tenant, and the Assessors its enforcement. In due course much of the have in the Act no proper ruling or guidance litigation must pass through the Circuit Appeal in arriving at the valuation. In recent years Courts and the Federal Courts on its way to the Contractor's Principle has been relied upon the Supreme Court at Washington. It is a to a considerable, but not universal extent, and gorgeous time in all the States for the has gradually received the somewhat reluctant lawyers, and it bespeaks a golden period for acceptance of the High Court, which has re- the Scottish Bar and the solicitor branch of the peatedly stated that its sanction is given only legal profession, if and when prohibition bebecause no better method is authorised, or can comes law here. If ? at present be devised. The result to-day is a Naturally, vested interests have endeavoured mass of anomalies. Some Assessors do not by every means to assail the validity of the 1919 appear to have adopted the principle as yet; enactment. Its well-known object was to with others it would seem to depend on the prohibit the manufacture, sale, or transportaamount which the local rating authorities are tion of intoxicating liquors within, the importaprepared to expend in technical assistance to tion thereof into, or the exportation thereof the Assessors, who are neither architects nor from, the United States and all territories engineers, and usually have had no special pre- subject to its jurisdiction “for beverage purliminary training for their duties. The amount poses.” It made compulsory in every State of valuation is decided by the local authorities of the Union what many States had already sitting as an Appeal Court, whether reasonable enacted for themselves. The measure became or even considerate towards industry and em- at once intra-State and inter-State.' Its legality ployment in their area, or anxious to relieve has been, and is being, challenged in every conland and other subjects of some part of the ceivable manner, not only on the ground of heavy burden of rating by placing the fullest alleged constitutional defect on the part of weight of it on large undertakings. The result Congress to pass it, but because of the ambiguity at present is inequality and unfairness, since it in its language. is inequitable that some of these subjects should It has been argued that the Congress had no in one or more areas be rated far more highly right to interfere with the liberty of the subject than those in others. One has only to read in the matter of private commerce. through decided cases of the past five years judicial affirmance of the power of Congress in to see how great are many of these increases, the matter has been based upon the precedent and how difficult it is for Assessor, Rating of the Thirteenth Amendment of the ConstituAuthority, or Judges to arrive at a basis which tion of the United States, by which slavery could be generally accepted and applied, and was abolished after the Civil War and followhow necessary it now is in this special direction, ing upon the Emancipation Proclamation of as in many others of minor but considerable President Lincoln. Up till then importance, to have an Act with clear rulings was regarded, in the Southern States, at least, which will secure equal treatment and prevent as no more than a “chattel,”

But the

66

blacklife

à phase so

an

work on

66

66

[ocr errors]

vividly portrayed in “Uncle Tom's Cabin." place of business without any warrant, and it So, a mandatory inhibition could be passed by is no matter if what is seized is liquor of a warCongress, as its Eighteenth Amendment, for time strength. No American Magna Carta the complete annulling of the liquor traffic right is invaded. Let us conclude by the just as the traffic in slaves was vetoed in all reflection that the National Prohibition Act the States of Union.

is one of the most telling illustrations of the It has been a privilege to read some instructive power of democracy in modern times. We judgments over Prohibition prosecutions and cannot decide, however, between the Jansenists cognate matters by Judge Rellstab, of Trenton, and their friends whether the wisdom of such New Jersey, one of our distinguished American legislation is yet demonstrated.

Q. Bar visitors to this country last autumn. Closely reasoned, the constitutional question is maintained by him in favour of the validity of the Act by citations from Blackstone and

FEUDAL CASUALTIES.
Story, and from the opinions of that great
American judge, Chief-Justice Marshall. His

By WM. YEAMAN. name carries the greatest weight in the House The following article was written as of Lords. In fact, it was once the good fortune attempt to explain to the general public what of Lord Guthrie, as senior counsel, to win a feudal casualties are and what has been done by Scottish appeal by apt reference to one of Parliament to abolish them. It has, however, Chief-Justice Marshall's decisions supplied to been described as rather technical for the him by his junior, by delving into the American general reader. The inference, therefore, is that reports cited by the great Benjamin in his it may appeal to lawyers, or at least to students

"Sale." The lesson for juniors is : of law. With this warning it is brought before “Be industrious. Leave no stone (or report) the profession with apologies for all explanations unturned.”

embodied therein which lawyers do not require. But what is “intoxicating liquor"? The At the outset it should be explained that the Act states that it includes

alcohol, brandy, title of this article is not in any way connected whisky, rum, gin, beer, ale, porter, and wine, with loss suffered by a body of men or vassals and, in addition thereto, any spirituous, vinous, who fought for their superior or overlord in malt, or fermented liquor, liquids, and com- feudal times. The English dictionary gives pounds, whether medicated, proprietary, various meanings of the word “casualty," and patented, or not, and by whatever name called, the one selected for the present purpose is containing 1 of 1 per cent. or more of alcohol chance or “what happens by chance." by volume which are fit for use for beverage The law dictionary states that casualties are purposes.” " It is this definition of " } of 1 per certain emoluments arising to a superior which, cent." that absolves the enactment from the as they depend on uncertain events, are called charge of ambiguity. It is "the sting." It casualties.

” is not necessary that anyone should be inevit- At school we were grounded in the feudal ably drunk upon a beverage of such strength. system, and were compelled to learn that all It is the absolute bar on sale or manufacture the land of Scotland belonged to the King, who and otherwise that is the aim of the measure, gave grants of lands to the nobles in return for and the project is total abstinence. It may be their services in defending the throne. To enable hard

upon the subjects of the States, especially the nobles to get together a body of men whom as during the war, by the Volstead Act, the they could lead in war, the nobles in turn gave minimum strength was 3-4 per cent. in volume. grants of land to vassals of their own. The nobles

Mr Justice Harlan, of the Supreme Court of were called Crown vassals, and all superiors the United States, in sustaining the Kansas after the Crown were called subject superiors. Prohibition Law, said, as we find from one of There was no limit to the number of subject Judge Rellstab's opinions : We cannot shut superiors, and thus one could not only be the out of view the fact, within the knowledge of all, vassal of a subject superior, but also be a subthat the public health, the public morals, and ject superior oneself. In ancient times, when the public safety may be endangered by the the chief occupation of man was warfare, the general use of intoxicating drinks ; nor the fact, return to superiors for grants of land was established by statistics accessible to everyone, military service; but as civilisation progressed that the idleness, disorder, pauperism, and superiors were wont to stipulate in charters for crime existing in the country are, in some payment of a feu-duty in money, grain, fowls, degree, at least, traceable to this evil.” So, sheep, oxen, or certain services, such as cartunder the authority of the Congressional Act, ing fuel to the mansion-house or castle. The we find that intoxicating liquors, if not reported feuars were also “ thirled ” to certain mills on to the Government agents, may be seized in any the superior's estate; that is, they were bound to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

carry their grain to certain mills to be ground prove the death of the last-entered vassal, that on payment to the tacksmen of the mills of the is, the previous owner who had paid a casualty. usual perquisites called “ multures and sequels.” It was also enacted in 1874 that, in future feus, At one time superiors required to have vassals casualties or fines could only be stipulated for if on whom they could count as men-at-arms, and the charters specified the amounts thereof and accordingly when a vassal died or was killed, the dates of payment. Hence arose the name the lands he owned or held under his superior “duplicand” of feu-duty, because superiors were fell back into the hands of the latter, so that he in the habit of stipulating for payment every might make a new grant of them to another twenty years or so of two years' feu-duty or one faithful adherent. When there was no vassal year's feu-duty over and above the original in the feu it was held to be vacant, and when the feu-duty. Relief duties due by heirs and comsuperior had a vassal in the lands or the feu, positions due by singular successors still the latter was held to be “full.” It was in remained in connection with feus granted prior this connection that casualties arose. Before to 1874 unless superiors had modified their accepting a new vassal the superior stipulated legal rights, and taxed or fixed the casualties for payment of a fine consisting of a year's free at certain sums, as was done by the city of rent of the lands. As this was an occasional Edinburgh when the new town was in course of payment which only became demandable by formation. chance or at uncertain times it got the name It cannot be denied that the exaction of of " casualty.”

casualties from lands is a remnant of the ancient In the days when might was right and the feudal oppression, and for very many years they masses lived under the protection of a great have been unpopular. It was only in 1914, feudal aristocracy, these casualties would be however (a year of unhappy memory!) that paid because there was no help for it. The Parliament decreed that all casualties should feudal system served its day and generation, and be held to be extinguished and discharged withmany philosophical writers have taken the view in fifteen years from 1st January 1915, and that that casualties should not have been exacted superiors should receive certain compensation when times changed; but the feudal lords who in respect thereof. The compensation is calsat in Parliament and made the laws still culated in the manner provided in the Act, adhered to the year's rent being paid on a and to many people the arithmetical formulas vassal's death if the successor in the feu was required to bring out the compensation are what is called a singular successor—that is, a puzzling. Since the beginning of 1915 notices successor in a single piece of heritage--as dis- to feuars or proprietors to redeem casualties tinct from an heir who is known as a universal and duplicands have been sent broadcast over successor—that is, one who succeeds to all the the country. A great deal of the land of lands of his predecessor. Superiors were Scotland (which, of course, includes dwellingaccustomed to stipulate for payment of a double houses) has been already freed from the burden feu-duty in the year when an heir got what of casualties, and many law agents or solicitors is technically called an “entry” to the lands, for superiors have established special departwhich is another way of saying when he became ments in their offices in order to carry out, in the proprietor of or the vassal in the feu. The the time allotted by Parliament, the provisions payment made by an heir was called “relief of the Act called the Feudal Casualties (Scotduty,” because it relieved or freed the lands land) Act, 1914. This name is, no doubt, familiar from the hands of the superior when a death to many a benighted house-owner who has occurred. In order to relieve the lands from the despaired of understanding the sets of figures superior's hands, anyone who was not the heir furnished and the technical expressions in the of the previous vassal required to pay a year's letters accompanying them. Sometimes the rent. The heir's casualty or fine is called householder wrote an angry letter and requested “relief duty," while the singular successor's explanations in plain English. Sometimes he casualty or fine is called a composition," asserted that Parliament had no power to interbecause it is composed of the gross rent less fere with a contract made between him and his certain deductions for repairs and public superior with which he was perfectly satisfied. burdens, etc.

In the main, however, it has been conceded that Down to the year 1874 the intervention of the heritable property should be disburdened of superior was required in order to make the feu casualties or duplicands so or the fee full, but in that year it was declared transfer of land more simple, and proprietors are, by Act of Parliament that the mere registration more or less willingly, either paying of a title in the land register was sufficient to sum to their superiors or commuting such

enter the vassal or proprietor with the capital sum into an additional annual feu-duty. superior, and superiors could not obtain pay. If the capital sum be paid, the casualties are re, ment of the casualties or fines until they could ferred to as being redeemed ; but if an additional

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

as to make the

a capital

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

feu-duty is constituted, they are said to be from whom I used to get an occasional bottle--commuted

in the past ? As shewing that the feudal system can give To one bottle of aqua

12s. 6d. rise to a pretty incident, the writer would Here the honesty and simplicity are evident. remind readers of the visit of the King to the What is behind your camouflage ? " borders a year or so ago. There a certain laird A feuar with a classical bent wrote in reply presented His Majesty with a red rose in to a communication he could not understand acknowledgment of holding his lands or estate in this vein : “In the old days when we were from the Crown, and His Majesty graciously struggling to get on top of the irregular French accepted this homage from his loyal subject. verbs, solace was given by the assurance that It should be added, however, that the red rose the English language was the most difficult to was not the only return the loyal subject acquire-and this was disbelieved by 99.5 per required to make to the Crown. Lands feued cent. of the class. Your communication of the direct by the Crown are also subject to 20th inst. proves that the 99.5 per cent. were casualties, but the successors of the nobles who wrong." originally got the grants of land only require to In one case the solicitor's reference to casupay as casualties one-sixth of the old valued rent alties produced this sarcastic rejoinder : "The of their lands—a sum quite inconsiderable com-only casualties lately affecting my housepared with the free rent of lands at the present hold were minor injuries to my bicycle and day. Subject superiors have, however, not illness of my wife. The former were repaired

. meted out to their vassals the same consideration at a cost of 38., the latter at a cost of not less which the Crown is meting out to them. The than £3, and therefore I consider the latter of the Crown certainly did not calmly agree to accept more importance. I give these domestic details one-sixth of the old valued rent as a casualty, as I am under the impression that you desire and the matter was the subject of lengthy to make me your confidant and I wish to litigations in the Courts. The Crown lost, reciprocate.” mainly because the House of

Lords con

An owner of a house merely replied to the sidered that the practice of exacting a modified demand made upon him thus : Your letter casualty had gone on too long for making a surprises me. I had a notion that the feudal

I change.

system had long since lapsed." As has been indicated, sometimes solicitors receive angry letters in reply to the notices to redeem casualties, but sometimes the replies made by proprietors contain a good deal of

Letter to the Editor. humour. In the course of the last ten years the writer has collected samples of humorous

CUPAR, 21st April 1925. replies, and in the hope of brightening an article Sir, on a subject usually described as dry as dust,

Conveyancing (Scotland) Act, 1924. he gives the following extracts from replies to I think Mr Fortune has done well to call attention notices to redeem casualties and relative cover to the confusion, if not risk, likely to be caused by the ing letters.

omission in the new forms of assignations and disAlthough they can only be visualised mentally charges of bonds of a short description of the security there are two estates in land—the estate of subjects. superiority, which attracts the feu-duties and If confusion is likely to be caused in the General casualties or duplicands; and the estate of Register of Sasines, where there is a trained staff and property, which attracts the rent.

a search sheet, what is likely to happen in the Burgh

A notice, etc., having been addressed in error to Mrs“ A,” sheet, nor in many burghs, even an index of names ?

Registers of Sasines, where there is neither a search her husband replied that his wife had no separate In my own Burgh Register, although I have a complete estate"

and that he had been hunting for one index of names, I am already having considerable for himself for years.

difficulty with such deeds, and I am suggesting to It is usual for solicitors to ask house pro- the members of the profession here that a short prietors to send their title, and this request description of the subjects be inserted in such deeds.

J. L. ANDERSON. produced the reply : “My title hitherto has been I am, etc., plain ‘Mister.'

A proprietor who had been quite befogged by the technical expressions in the lawyer's letter wrote thus : “Kindly write me a letter in plain MR JAMES FRAME, a well-known Greenock English, minus legal bombast, and explain to solicitor, died on 29th April at his residence, what feu the arithmetical formula with which 32 Esplanade. Mr Frame was in his seventyyou have furnished me relates. Why cannot fifth year and had been in failing health for you render your accounts like the local grocer some time. He was a native of Lanarkshire.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »