Pepper v. Hart

I received a flyer last week from BIALL (British and Irish Association of Law Librarians) announcing a course on “Parliamentary Debates on Legislation: how to do ‘Pepper v. Hart’ research.

The session will be taught by Guy Holborn, of Lincoln Inn’s Library, and the flyer indicates it will cover the following three topics:

• Background on statutory interpretation, the rule in Pepper v Hart (1993 HL) that allows citation of Hansard in court, and developments since it was decided in 1992.
• Parliamentary procedure, including recent developments affecting Pepper v Hart research.
• Bills, Hansard and other parliamentary materials: how to find them and use them
• Debates on private bills and on statutory instruments

I’ve been doing some preliminary research in Canada on this, and although we don’t strictly follow the limited rule in Pepper v. Hart, we do allow legislative matterial (hansard, committe reports, etc.) , the legal research text (including mine) don’t mention this nor does it seem that students are really instructed how to do this.

The only website I have seen that aids this kind of research is LEGISINFO from the Library of Parliament.

I’m pretty sure I’m on the right track on this, but I would like to hear some other ideas on this.


  1. Hi,i would just like to get the facts about the case Pepper vs Hart for law class. thanks

  2. Mr Hunter was the bursar of Malvern College, which operated a concessionary fee scheme enabling members of staff to have their sons educated at the school at reduced fees if surplus places were available. Tax was payable by Mr Hart on ‘the cash equivalent of the benefit’, but the statutory definition of that expression was ambiguous. During the committee stage of the Finance Bill in the House of Commons the financial secretary to the Treasury indicated that the basis of taxation for certain benefits in kind would remain the cost to the employer of providing the service. When pressed he interpreted this as being, in effect, the extra cost caused by the provision of the benefit in question. In Mr Hart’s case the actual additional cost to the employer was negligible, because boys educated through the scheme were filling places which otherwise would have been empty. However, relying on the wording in the Act, the Inland Revenue had taxed a proportion of the total cost of providing the services.
    At the appeal before the Special Commissioner the evidence was restricted mainly to a consideration of the facts surrounding Mr Hunter’s son Bruce.{[1990] S.T.C. 6 at 8.} Bruce attended the school throughout the year of assessment 1983-84, for which his father paid fees amounting to only one-fifth of the amount charged to parents who were not on the school staff. Mr Hunter was assessed to income tax for that year as having received a notional emolument in respect of the reduction in the school fee. The charging provisions were contained in the Finance Act 1976 ss. 61(1) and 63(1) and (2). They are now contained, with immaterial variations, in the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 ss. 154(1) and 156(1) and (2).
    The House of Lords decided that clear statements made in Parliament concerning the purpose of legislation in course of enactment may be used by the court as a guide to the interpretation of ambiguous statutory provisions. The Lords held such use of statements did not infringe article 9 because it did not amount to questioning a proceeding in Parliament.