HC Deb 28 January 1941 vol 368 cc420-1
54. Mr. Mander

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, with a view to preventing profiteering by land speculators in bombed sites, he will consider introducing legislation to compel all profits made on land sales above the 1939 value to be handed over in full to the Treasury, thus imposing a 100 per cent. war profit tax.

Sir K. Wood

Under the present law, a profit arising from sales of land may be a revenue profit or a capital gain according to the circumstances of the particular case, the broad distinction being between the carrying-on of a trade or business and the realisation of capital assets. In the former case the profit would be taken into account in computing profits for the purposes of the excess profits tax, and as at present advised I am not prepared to introduce extended legislation on the lines suggested.

Mr. Mander

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that profiteering of this kind is being prevented at the present time, and, if not, will he undertake to introduce legislation in the next Finance Bill with a view to stopping it?

Sir K. Wood

I do not accept, in the first place, the major premise laid down by my hon. Friend that such profiteering is taking place. He is asking me to investigate certain circumstances, and I shall have to look into them in the light of such information as hon. Members may be able to give me.

Sir Hugh O'Neill

Has the right hon. Gentleman any information as to whether there is in fact any selling of these plots?

Sir K. Wood

That is what I have already intimated I would like to have information about.

Mr. Leach

Is it the Chancellor's intention to circumscribe the definition of "capital gain" in his next Budget?

Mr. Loftus

Will my right hon. Friend make inquiries as to whether there is speculation going on in bombed area sites in the East End of London?

Sir K. Wood

As I have already said, I should be glad to receive any details with which my hon. Friends could supply me.