§ 37 Mr. Ginsburg
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in the interests of furthering a property-owning democracy, he will consider introducing a statutory restriction on the size of equity shareholding that may be sold or acquired in steel companies yet to be denationalised.
§ Mr. Ginsburg
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are extremely respectable precedents for a policy of that kind? Is he not aware that he himself sets a limit on the holdings of National Savings Certificates and that the German Government, in denationalising Volkswagen, have made a limit on the number of equity shares which can be held so that the company can be owned by the small investor and not by the large financiers?
I do not think that the hon. Member's suggestion would 1288 accomplish his objective. There are many corporate bodies, such as insurance companies and pension funds, which invest on behalf of many small investors.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman recall that Government spokesmen have given us the impression that a very large proportion of the steel industry is owned by millions of widows and very small shareholders? Is he now going back on that policy which would in fact produce a property-owning democracy of the type—at least that is the impression we have been under—which the Tories wish to create?
In denationalising account is taken of the welfare of the industry and the return to the taxpayers.