HC Deb 03 August 1961 vol 645 cc1630-1
18. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the price of 31 per cent. War Loan on 1st October, 1951; and what was the price on 1st August, 1961.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Anthony Barber)

8613/16 and 529/16 respectively.

Mr. H. Hynd

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, according to the tape today, the price has gone down further to £51 5s.? I have no personal interest to declare in this matter, but is he aware that the people who patriotically lent their money at a time of national emergency are suffering as a result of Government mismanagement? What is he going to do about it?

Mr. Barber

I have on a number of occasions dealt with this matter, and I repeat that I am well aware, as is my right hon. and learned Friend, of the difficulties facing people who hold this stock. For the reasons I have explained at length before, particularly on 7th December last, there is no way in which we can take special action to help.

Dame Irene Ward

Most unsatisfactory.

Mr. Jay

is the hon. Gentleman entirely happy and content with a situation in which Government credit stands at the lowest levels ever recorded in the history of this country?

Mr. Barber

No, Sir. It is clear from my answers, now and previously, that we are not content with the hardship which is being suffered by individuals as a result of what has happened. But, for the reasons I have explained frankly to the House, I do not see how we can help.

33. Mr. C. Royle

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the estimated cost to the Revenue of extending to holders of 3½ per cent. War Loan a similar concession to that whereby the first £15 of Post Office Savings Bank interest is exempted from Income Tax.

Mr. Barber

I am afraid that it would not be possible to answer this Question without information that is not readily available about the sizes of holdings by individuals and the tax liabilities of present holders.

Mr. Royle

Is it not a fact that the figure must be quite a small one? In view of the supplementary questions which have been asked earlier this afternoon on this subject, will not the hon. Member now recommend to his right hon. and learned Friend that these patriotic investors should be given some relief in the somewhat difficult situation in which they find themselves because of the low standing of this stock?

Mr. Barber

For the reasons that I have given the House I think that the hon. Member will agree, on reflection, that it is not possible to give even a rough estimate. But in any event I do not think that it would be right to depart from the general rule that tax reliefs should be related to the amount of the taxpayer's income and his personal circumstances, and should apply generally to all taxpayers whose incomes and circumstances qualify them, and not depend upon the possession of a certain stock.

Mr. Royle

Is there not some parallel here between Post Office savings and War Bonds? Cannot the Minister do something to bring them into line?

Mr. Barber

No, because the reason for the relief given in respect of Post Office savings is as an incentive to savings, whereas what the hon. Member is asking for is on grounds of relieving hardship resulting from holdings of a certain stock.