The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14
An Important Exemption from the Death Duties
An Important Exemption from the Death Duties.
According to Sir Arthur Hobhouse ("The Dead Hand"—Chatto and Windus), the number of charitable foundations in the United Kingdom can only be guessed at, and their income baffles calculation. Mr. Gladstone, in 1863, placed the latter at £3,000,000 per annum, varying from a few shillings up to £55,000 a year, but none of it subject to ordinary taxation. Lord Brougham's Commission reported on 29,000 endowed charities discovered by them, but an immense number escaped the commission. Sir A. Hobhouse puts the present number at not less than 40,000 foundations.
The so-called Statute of Mortmain, passed in 1736, did not apply to many classes of institutions or to all property. It dealt with a single abuse, the re-endowment of religious bodies with the lands of the kingdom which had been stripped from them in 1535-1540. In the former year it is somewhat significant that the first Poor Law was found necessary, though Hallam denies that the Dissolution of Monasteries and the enactment of Poor Laws stood in the relation of cause and effect. Bequests for merely religious uses were forbidden, but anything that could call itself charity seems to have been favoured, not only then but all along by the judges of the land.
Abstract of Parliamentary Return (1882) of all Real Property held in Mortmain, or for Charitable, Public, or Perpetual Uses, or in any such way that no Succession Duty is payable thereon.
|Counties.||Estimated Extent.||1880-81 Annual Value charged, Schedule A, or Gross Estimated Rental of Properties not charged, Schedule A.|
|Yorkshire, East Riding||44,656||0||143,596||8|
|Yorkshire, North Riding||43,412||0||98,186||0|
|Yorkshire, West Riding||60,259||1||460,577||11|
|England and Wales||1,581,258||3||8,789,313||8|
The only means by which the Inland Revenue Department could furnish the above Return was by examining the last Assessments under Schedule A of the Income Tax Acts, and extracting therefrom the particulars of all real property in each district apparently held in mortmain, or for charitable, public, or perpetual uses by corporations, trustees, and other such persons.
|1.||Any university or college.|
|2.||Any dean or dean and chapter.|
|3.||The Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England and Wales.|
|4.||Any London livery company.|
|5.||Any inn of court.|
|6.||Any corporation, municipal or otherwise (not including property of incorporated trading companies, such as railway, banking, mining, gas, water, canal, and other joint stock companies; but where gas or water works are the property of public corporations, and the profits are applied in aid of the rates, their property is included, as also the property of boards of health, burial boards, and such like).|
|7.||Any vestry, churchwardens, or trustees, for church purposes, or in ease of the rates, or for charitable or public purposes.|
|8.||Any trustees acting on behalf of any religious body, the rents being applied for the purposes of such religious body.|
|9.||Any trustees or managers of any public school.|
|10.||Any board of guardians of the poor.|
|11.||Any friendly or industrial and provident society.|
|12.||Or any other bodies of a like character having a perpetual succession and existence.|
It does not follow that the full annual value is in all cases the sum payable for rent to the owners, inasmuch as the assessment may include the value of beneficial occupation by the tenant.
The "estimated extent" of land has been inserted as a part of the description in cases where such information is available, but some Poor Rate assessments do not contain the quantities of land, which could not therefore be given in this Return. The value stated is not the value of the lands only, but includes the annual value of buildings, if any, upon the lands.
Glebe lands and parsonage houses are included in the Return, but not tithe rentcharges, neither are cathedrals, churches, chapels, and places of public worship, which are not rated.
Leasehold properties belonging to public bodies and corporations, but rated and charged in the Income Tax assessments in the names of the lessees, are not included in the Return, as the assessments do not contain the means of identifying such properties, and the value of their ground rents, &c., is not known.
By successive Royal Commissions, on Charities, on Poor Laws (1834), and on Education (1861), these endowed Charities have been denounced as a public evil, but it is characteristic of our semi-aristocratic Parliaments and Governments that nothing efficient has yet been done to stop or even check their wide-spreading mischiefs. Meanwhile, not only do vast sums of money run to waste that might be applied to educational and other beneficent purposes, but masses of people and entire districts are pauperized by the compulsory doles of dead and gone fanatics. These Charity Trusts should be taxed, nationalized and removed from what Hobhouse calls the "sport of 40,000 chance-medley wills," and their property finally declared to be "not the property of the dead but of the living." To quote Lord Bacon, "Gifts and foundations are like sacrifices without salt, but the painted sepulchres of alms which soon will putrefy and corrupt inwardly. Defer not charities until death, for he that doth so is rather liberal of another man's than his own."