MP, Bill Olner, today pledged to help end the scandal of secret sites which
allow wealthy people to escape paying Inheritance Tax. This important tax concession is
given in exchange for a promise to open up the land to the public. But, says the MP, too
often the access arrangements are never adequately publicised.
Speaking from Westminster, he said:
"The new Government has done a superb job in throwing a spotlight on this shady
area of tax law. In the past, some people were getting a significant tax break but they
were not keeping their side of the deal. By keeping the access arrangements secret, they
were literally getting something for nothing."
The Labour backbencher continued:
"Last years Budget ended the ludicrous practice, which some owners insisted
upon, of visitors having to make a prior appointment to view conditionally
exempt assets such as works of art, stately homes and land. And now the Inland
Revenue is gearing up to draw the veil of secrecy aside and post the 300-400 acces sites
relating to land and buildings on the Internet. This is excellent news but clearly it will
The MP added:
"Under the pervious Government, it was impossible to know how many members of the
public had exercised their right of access to exempted land because no central records
were kept. It was a bizarre state of affairs."
"This is just one more reason why I am backing Gordon Prentices Right to
Roam Bill which comes up for second reading in the Commons on 26 March. It complements the
good work of the authority within which the land is situated. It really is time to end the
scandal of the secret sites."