HC Deb 21 November 1961 vol 649 cc1120-1
10. Mr. H. Wilson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in his forthcoming legislation regarding a tax on short-term speculative gains on property and share deals, he will include provisions making such a tax retrospective to the date of his original announcement.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I have nothing to add to what I said in the House on 7th November on this point.

Mr. Wilson

But, quite seriously, in view of the precedents, some of them highly respectable, including the Prime Minister's retrospective activity in connection with the suspension of investment allowances back to the date of the announcement, will the Chancellor be wise and safeguard himself at this point, at any rate, by making it plain that when he introduces it he will make it retrospective to this date? Is he aware that when he does introduce this tax, which he is obviously taking a long time to work out, it will be much more difficult then to announce that it will be retrospective to the date of his original announcement?

Mr. Lloyd

Quite seriously, I think it is better not to anticipate what the provisions will be.

Mr. Nabarro

If there were any element of retrospection, would it not be just and in accord with our fiscal statutes that losses should be taken into account retrospectively as well, especially in view of the sliding downwards of the equity market on the Stock Exchange at the present time?

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly note my hon. Friend's point.

Mr. Wade

Can the Chancellor say when this legislation will be introduced?

Mr. Lloyd

No, Sir. I would add to that that it will be produced in the next Budget, if not before.

Mr. J. T. Price

When the Chancellor is giving further consideration to this matter, will he also take into account the enormous amount of social damage which is being done by holding on to large blocks of land for speculative purposes round every large city? Will he try to make some assessment of the amount of land being held in anticipation of speculative gains and bring this within the terms of his fiscal remedy?

Mr. Lloyd

I assure the hon. Gentleman that all relevant matters are being considered.