HC Deb 06 July 1965 vol 715 cc1421-41

The Stamp Duty chargeable under Schedule 1 to the Stamp Act 1891 as amended by section 55 of the Finance Act 1963 (Conveyance or Transfer on Sale) shall be charged by reference to the amount or value of the consideration for the sale, provided that the amount so referred to shall not exceed the amount at which the instrument is certified within the meaning of section 34 of the Finance Act 1958 at the following rates, that is to say:

  1. (a) where the amount or value of the consideration is £5,000 or under, nil;
  2. (b) where the amount or value of the consideration is over £5,000 but not exceeding £10,000 at the following rate:
  3. (c) in any other case, the rate specified in column 3 of part 1 of Schedule 11 to the Finance Act 1963.—[Mr. Younger.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

7.0 p.m.

Mr. George Younger (Ayr)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

We have discussed many matters of great importance this afternoon, all of them affecting a large number of people. This Clause affects many more people than any of the others which we have been discussing. Because of the necessity to pay Stamp Duty when purchasing a house it affects well over half the families in the country. I feel that this Clause should command support from both sides of the House, because I shall be surprised if there are any hon. Members who have not, at some time during the past year or so, received some form of representation from their constituents about the general difficulties and expense of house purchase.

I want particularly to draw the attention of the House to Stamp Duty. This duty has no instrinsic or moral merit other than the fact that it raises revenue. Nobody would argue there is anything particularly good or evil about the tax as such. But there is no argument for it other than that of raising revenue. That is its only purpose. This Clause has two main aims. First, it proposes to raise the lower limit under which no Stamp Duty is payable and secondly it intends to alter the rates of duty, with two objectives. They are first, that the rates should bear rather more lightly on the lower levels, and, secondly, that there should be a more sensible and even graduation between the various rates up to the top rates.

The present rates are, for a house costing less than £4,500, no Stamp Duty at all, between £4,500 and £6,000, 0.5 per cent., and from £6,000 upwards, 1 per cent. The disadvantages of the present rates are these. In the first place, £4,500 for the bottom limit is too low. I presume that there was a time when a house at £4,500 would have been a rather larger or better house than the average. Even supposing that the bottom level of £4,500 was right in 1963, when stamp duty was last amended, it cannot possibly be right today.

Since that time the prices have been going up. In 1963 and 1964 there was a total increase of approximately 5 per cent. in the cost of living. In 1965, up to the present time there has been a 5 per cent. rise—a very much swifter and disastrous one than last year. The total rise between the period when Stamp Duty was last revised and now is about 10 per cent. In this Clause it is proposed to raise the lower limit from £4,500 to £5,000, an increase of £500, which is just over 10 per cent. and is not at all unreasonable, purely on the ground that the cost of living has risen by that amount since the last revision.

In many parts of the country house prices have risen by more than the general rise in the cost of living, but I do not adduce that as an argument for making an even greater rise in the bottom level. It is perfectly reasonable at this stage, assuming it was correct the last time the duty was revised, to raise the lower limit from £4,500 to £5,000.

The second objective of the Clause deals with the rates of graduation for house purchases above £4,500. There are at present only two divisions, between £4,500 and £6,000, which is the lower rate, and £6,000 and upwards, which is the higher rate. There are many houses today which come between these two brackets. As such a very large number of houses is being bought by people of all income levels, it is too narrow to have only one change in duty. It makes for some rather absurd anomalies in the process.

For instance, if a house is purchased at £6,050, just over the £6,000 rate, stamp duty will be paid at the rate of 1 per cent. on the purchase price, that is, £60 10s. But if the seller is unsuccessful in getting the price up to £6,050, and he has to close at £5,950, then the Stamp Duty payable is under the £6,000 mark, and is only 0.5 per cent., which is £29 15s. Of that extra £100 which is achieved by the seller, if he sells at £6,050, £30 15s. will disappear in increased Stamp Duty.

I fully appreciate that whenever one has differences of rates occurring at certain points, one gets anomalies at those points. I do not suggest that one can cut this out altogether, there is always a point at which new rates start, and a margin on either side which will make a rather different situation, according to whether one is above or below it. My point is that to have only one change in the rate, and to have it so abrupt, between 0.5 per cent. and 1 per cent., is unnecessary and makes for considerable hardship. Those rates could be, and should be, altered with no very great difficulty.

The £6,000 house today is becoming more and more common, particularly in the south-east of England. It is still the case in Scotland, where I come from, that one can buy a house for £4,500 to £5,000, but in the southern part of the country one is very lucky to get a house at that level. Clearly, the £6,000 house, where there is this anomaly, is by no means a rich man's castle or palace. It is an ordinary person's house, and it should, therefore, command sympathy. The Clause graduates the rates much more fairly. The suggestion is that up to £5,000 there should be no duty at all and that there should be five separate rates above that starting at 0.2 per cent. for £5,000 to £6,000 houses which is substantially lower than the present amount, and going up to the rate of 1 per cent., which is the top rate at the moment, for the £10,000 house.

The graduations are fairly even, rising from 0.2 per cent. to 0.4 per cent., 0.6 per cent., 0.8 per cent. and 1 per cent. One has a very close and reasonably even graduation which will mean the minimum of anomalies. They cannot be cut out altogether, but this will reduce them to the minimum. To take the example of the house selling for £6,050, the rate of Stamp Duty paid under this Clause shows a great improvement. Sold at this price, the Stamp Duty paid would be at the rate of 0.4 per cent., which is £24.

If the house did not make £6,050, and was sold for £5,950, it would attract duty at 0.2 per cent., which is £11 18s. The difference is £12, whereas in the previous example under the present rates, the difference is £30. Leaving aside the question whether it is a lot of money, it is the difference with which I am concerned, and the difference is much less and would cause much less hardship.

So much for the details of the proposed changes. It remains for me to explain why I feel that the Government should be sympathetic to altering the position for house owners, particularly when they have to change their houses frequently. We start from what I think, certainly on the surface, is common ground between the two sides of the House. Home ownership is a desirable thing which both sides want to encourage and which is in the interests of the country to encourage by every means it can. Some of us have our doubts about whether the oft-repeated statements by the Labour Party that it desires home ownership are entirely believed by everybody, but for the purposes of this debate we must take that as being the case. We are therefore agreed that home ownership is desirable.

Secondly, there is no question that the more people who buy or build their own homes, the less cost there is on public funds and the less difficulty is caused in the housing drive which is so important for people who cannot afford to buy their own homes. For this reason, too, it is thoroughly desirable from every point of view that people should be encouraged to own their homes.

A third point which is not so often mentioned, and which is possibly undervalued, is very important. One of the great difficulties about modernising the country, as we are discovering, is the genuine trouble which people have in changing their jobs if this involves going to another part of the country. It is too easy to sit back and say, "We must close such and such an industry. The people can get jobs elsewhere. There are plenty of jobs in the South-East". But, when we get down to the detail, we often find that the real stumbling block is that people who do not own their own homes cannot easily move from one part of the country to another because they are not on the housing list or there is a housing shortage in the area to which they want to go.

However, it is also often very difficult to move to a different part of the country if one is a home owner. It is often very expensive to move from one place to another. Frequently, people cannot find suitable houses. Again, the more we can encourage people to buy their own homes, the easier it is to persuade those who lose their jobs or become redundant to go to other parts of the country where their labour is very badly needed. This is why I suggest that the Government should do anything, however small, to encourage people to own their own homes.

I have no sympathy for the view that a charge as relatively small as stamp duty has no effect. We must remember that in the current situation, when housing is difficult to obtain and prices are rising, the person who buys a house is almost always extended to the limit of his resources. This is partly inevitable because prices increase. It is partly due to human nature because people, particularly wives, always want to attain the nicest house that they think they can afford. I have pored over documents with many people working out how much they can affard in monthly repayments within their wages or salaries to get the house which they have set their hearts on. We have often reached the point of deciding that it is just possible and no more and then we suddenly remember that in the initial payment we have to make allowance for Stamp Duty, which can amount to £50 or £60 even on a comparatively ordinary house.

There are other things about which the Government should be sympathetic. Home owners were given a very great "going over" during the General Election. They were given to understand that they would get cheaper mortgages. Many people who had no party affiliations and who had no need to be swayed by party politics, genuinely believed that they would get cheaper mortgages. We all know that they have not got them; they have more expensive mortgages. This is another drain on an overstrained purse. Houses cost more. The price of building them has increased because of many things, one of which is the import surcharge. This is an extra strain on somebody whose resources are already at the limit.

7.15 p.m.

We have been hearing quite a lot recently that cuts in the building programme are taking place. Many big contractors have made rather drastic cuts in their housing programmes in the past few months. This cannot fail to make it more difficult to get houses and to increase the price of those which are available. This is another problem and difficulty which home owners face. We must also remember that, particularly if people have to change house often—and many people, particularly those in industry, have to move around a lot—this is not something which one can do at one's leisure.

Changing house and finding a new one in a new town and finding a new job is not something over which people can take months. They have an existing house which probably must be vacated. Many have wives and families who are left behind and are longing to get to the new house. Often there is a poor choice of house in the place to which they want to go. The houses may be too expensive or too difficult to find and they have to plump for a house for which, in ideal circumstances, they would not have plumped. Any help that we can give to people who own their own homes is of great value.

The factor which no doubt will exercise the Treasury Bench more than any other is cost. The cost of any concession is all too frequently the dominating factor. I suppose that we should be glad that there is a spirit of good housekeeping in these matters. But the amount of money about which we are talking is not nearly as great as the importance of passing this new Clause. The total revenue from stamp duty is about £86 million a year. The revenue from Stamp Duty on land and property is approximately £21 million a year.

The last time that Stamp Duty on house purchase was altered was in the Finance Act, 1963. According to the figures which I can find in the Inland Revenue Report, there seems to have been a loss in revenue following that of approximately £6 million. It is difficult to ascertain this from the figures, but that is the position as far as I can see. Compared with the benefit that we would give to people who want to own their homes, £6 million, even in the terms in which we are talking, is not such a major factor. It is well within the margin of error between the Budget estimates and the out-turn from Stamp Duty. For that reason alone, I should have thought that the argument that this proposal will cost too much cannot be given as much weight as is generally given in these debates.

Finally, this is a proposal which should command all our sympathy. It is desperately needed by those who have to change house, particularly those who change house often. We listened with interest to members of the Government before, during and after the election saying how much they loved the home-owner. Here is a chance for them to prove it. If they cannot accept the Clause, we can only assume that their love for the home owner is nothing like as strong as they would have us believe.

Mr. Michael Alison (Barkston Ash)

I support my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) and express the earnest hope that the Government will consider the new Clause very sympathetically and put themselves in most excellent company by continuing the tradition started by a succession of Conservative Chancellors of the Exchequer of steadily reducing the rate of Stamp Duty for house purchasers.

The House may remember that it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) who, in the 1963 Budget, introduced a proposal which resulted in the rate being reduced from 2 per cent. to 1 per cent. Indeed, he went further. On the lower cost houses—that is, those up to a limit of £6,000—he reduced the rate from 2 per cent. to ½ of 1 per cent., which was a very substantial reduction. There are excellent reasons for continuing this downward trend.

Hon. Members may remember that when my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet introduced his proposals in 1963, one of the strongest grounds for objecting to it by the then Opposition was the benefit that would be bestowed in principle upon those who were exchanging and selling stocks and shares. The point was made concerning stamp duty generally that it was introduced in 1948 by the late Dr. Dalton as a substitute for a capital gains tax, which at that stage it was too difficult to introduce. Objection was made by hon. Members opposite to my right hon. Friend's proposals for capital gains tax reasons. The objection to the reduction of Stamp Duty on those grounds has been wholly swept away by this year's Finance Bill.

In looking up the debates at that time I find that hon. Members opposite had no objection whatever to my right hon. Friend's proposals for reducing Stamp Duty as it applied to houses. I should have thought, therefore, that under the provisions of the Bill there are prima facie grounds for welcoming our proposal to reduce stamp duty in the light of the proposal for a Capital Gains Tax as a substitute for it.

The second obvious reason for reducing stamp duty on house purchase is the staggering increase in the cost of new houses. The official figure given by a member of the Government in a recent Written Answer shows that during the six months' period covering the last quarter of 1964 and the first quarter of this year, the average increase in the price of new houses was no less than 5 per cent. That staggering increase is probably one of the greatest increases ever. When this is taken in conjunction with the increase in mortgage rates, with local authorities being unable to lend at anything less than 7 per cent. and with building societies paying 4 per cent. on money loaned to them to be able to attract funds, the combination of a 5 per cent. increase in the cost of housing and the phenomenon of unparalleled mortgage rates for housing loans surely means that the time has come to give a fillip to the home buyer.

Evidence of that is to be seen in the rather alarming tendency for housing starts for the first time in many months to show a decline, reflecting the difficulty both of getting mortgages and generally of raising money for house purchase. This is a serious matter. There is no doubt that our proposal is one way in which weight could be thrown on the other side of the scales by not only the practical but also the psychological effect of reducing stamp duty.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) referred to the necessity to encourage increased mobility among home owners. I speak with feeling in this context because my constituency has a problem which will become serious. A colossal new Central Electricity Generating Board power station is about to be commenced. It will be the biggest in Europe and it will require 5,000 extra men in the area to build it. Goodness knows where they will be housed. All one knows is that private houses take exactly half as long to complete as local authority houses. If we want a boost in building for home ownership and to increase housing accommodation in a locality quickly, private housing is the way to get it. We want to encourage not only the building of houses but people in other parts of the country to be ready to sell their homes and to move into areas which have acute labour shortages.

For the three reasons which I have given—the staggering increase in the cost of houses to the purchaser, the elimination of the traditional Socialist objection to a reduction in Stamp Duty, since it serves as a form of Capital Gains Tax now that a fully fledged Capital Gains Tax is proposed in the Bill, and the need to increase mobility of labour—I hope that right hon. and hon. Members opposite will seriously consider this proposal.

Mr. MacDermot

Arguments in favour of the new Clause have been fully deployed by the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) and already the debate is showing a tendency to spread into a general debate on housing, a subject which has been debated fully by the House on a number of recent occasions. Perhaps, therefore, it would be helpful if I stated the Government's position about the new Clause. I could answer it extremely shortly in the three words, "Not this year".

Of course, we have sympathy for the motives underlying the new Clause, but this is a year in which, as a result of the economic situation which we have inherited, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has found it necessary—[Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite do not like to be reminded, when they are indulging in their airy-fairy dreams of how to give away money from the revenue, that they have left us a situation which required, as they have been forced to concede, the imposition of substantial additional taxation. In that situation they must not object too vociferously if I remind them of the realities of the Budget and its strategy.

Hon. Members opposite propose to make a reduction in Stamp Duty for house purchase. If it were confined solely to Stamp Duty for house purchase, as the title of the new Clause suggests, the cost would be £4 million this year and £6 million in a full year. I am advised that the wording of the Clause is rather wide and might be interpreted to include all Stamp Duty, including that on stocks and shares, in which event the cost would be much greater at £25 million this year and £38 million the following year. From what the hon. Member for Ayr said in moving the new Clause, however, I gather that that is not the intention. In any event, a concession of this order would not he possible.

I should like to say a few words more in deference to the way in which the matter has been argued. The present limit and the reduction of the duty from 2 to 1 per cent. was made as recently as 1963 in the Budget of the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), which, I think, was widely recognised to have been intended as a pre-election Budget. The election, it will be remembered, was deferred, but that was the Budget in which that concession was granted.

Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)

Is not the hon. and learned Gentleman out of date with his year?

Mr. MacDermot

I am not out of date. The election was 1964. The Budget to which I am referring—1963—was intended to be a pre-election Budget. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite have, perhaps, forgotten the circumstances which led to the last General Election not being held until the twelfth hour of their term of office.

Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North-West)

Is this one meant to be a pre-election Budget?

Mr. MacDermot

The figures published by the Milner Holland Committee and also, recently, by the Co-operative Building Society show that the average prices of homes in most parts of the country are well below the present £4,500 exemption limit. Even in London and the South-East, where prices are higher, the average prices arestill below the limit of the 1 per cent. rate. I remind the House that for a house at the top end of that intermediate rate—a £6,000 house—the amount of duty payable is £30. This, when viewed against the costs of house purchasing, which we would all agree are high—perhaps too high—is a relatively small element when compared with the legal charges, estates agents' fees, and so on, which are incurred at the time of house purchase.

7.30 p.m.

However, that is not the reason why I must advise the House that we must reject the new Clause. It is simply a matter of whether this is a concession which we can afford and can concede this year, and the answer is that we cannot. It is not that we have any prejudice against house purchase. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has shown his sympathy and understanding for house purchase and the need to encourage it by granting an exemption from Capital Gains Tax which is quite unparalleled in any other Capital Gains Tax; it is far beyond the exemption for home ownership under the American tax, where the extent of the concession is limited to the gain which is reinvested in the purchase of another house. Hon. Members cannot suggest as part of their arguments that there is any kind of prejudice involved in the rejection of the Clause.

The simple matter is whether the problems of the house purchaser can be afforded such priority that a concession of this order can be made now. We have debated recently the very interesting Milner Holland Report, which showed that as far as taxation benefits go the house purchaser is perhaps the one who has least to complain about. There are already very valuable concessions for the house purchaser, and it will be remembered that the Milner Holland Report stressed particularly the effects of taxation upon rented housing.

In making these remarks I am being tempted to stray into the wider field, and I suggest that the simple issue before the House is whether or not we can make such a concession this year. The answer is that I am afraid we cannot.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I had hoped that the Government would find it possible to be more sympathetic towards the new Clause than the hon. and learned Gentleman has shown them to be. I ought to declare an interest as a practising solicitor, because Stamp Duty always goes on the solicitor's bill. Clients have the idea that solicitors get it and not the Government, and time and again they have to be told that it is the Chancellor who is getting the money and not their solicitors.

I have always wondered why it is the purchaser who has to pay duty. He is being taxed for paying money rather than receiving it. There is no consistency about this, because when he gets a mortgage, he pays for receiving money as well. Perhaps the idea might be thrown out that we should move the tax on to the vendor rather than the purchaser, because the present system is not consonant with the good principle of the capacity to pay.

I do not put the case for the new Clause as high as saying that stamp duty prevents anyone purchasing a property, but it comes at a time when he has to meet such heavy expenses as the deposit, if he is seeking an advance by way of mortgage. He has to pay for the furnishing of the house, and he has to pay removal costs. If he is a wise purchaser, he has to pay survey fees. Then there are alterations and decorations to the house, legal costs, and Land Registry fees. The Government want to encourage land registration, I understand, so more and more will be paying not only stamp duty but Land Registry fees. All these expenses come at the same time, and stamp duty on conveyances is like rubbing salt into an open wound.

The second point my hon. Friend made in moving the new Clause was the extreme jump of 1 per cent. for the £6,000 purchase. Whether or not the hon. and learned Gentleman can accept a reduction in duty, I cannot see how he can refuse a system of graduation now that it has been called to the attention of the House. The application of Stamp Duty without a graduation is something unknown in other duties and taxes. We have graduation in almost every other field, as the full tax falls. But here there is this sudden jump, and my hon. Friend has put forward a system for graduating Stamp Duty in a very reasonable way. If the Government cannot accept a reduction of some £6 million in revenue during a year, surely they can give very serious attention to the graduation of the duty.

It is no argument to say that the average price of houses is below the figure at which stamp duty starts. If the average is below, then there are a good many houses purchased above that figure. That is an obvious statement to make, because if one takes an average, there are obviously many above the average and many people who are hit by Stamp Duty, and there should no longer be a penalty on the purchase of an ordinary home.

Mr. Heath

My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), moving the new Clause in a lucid and persuasive speech, set out the reasons why it should be accepted by the Government. It is a perfectly logical conclusion of the policies followed by successive Tory Governments from 1951 onwards, and the object is to make it easier for people to buy their homes and to encourage a property-owning democracy. In 1952, the Stamp Duty was reduced to 1 per cent. and 1½ per cent. respectively for houses in the price range of £1,500-£3,000 and £3,000-£4,550. That was the first stage. The second stage was in 1956 and 1958, when the duty was abolished on houses costing up to £3,500 and reduced on houses up to £6,000. Then, in 1963, the occasion to which the Financial Secretary has called attention—apparently having been in a state of continous excitement about a possible election—the duty was abolished on houses up to £4,500. So to move it now to £5,000 is a logical continuation.

There are a number of arguments in favour of doing this, of some of which I should like to remind the House. On the question of the average prices, I differ from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. The information I have is that in London and the South-East the average price for existing houses and for new houses in the last quarter of 1964 is already above £4,500. My information is that for existing houses it is £4,743, and for new houses it is £4,867.

Mr. MacDermot

That accords with what I said. I said that in London and the South-East it is well below the £6,000 mark.

Mr. Heath

We are raising the limit from £4,500 to £5,000, and that is why we have taken the average price of a house.

Mr. MacDermot

The right hon. Gentleman was suggesting that his information differed from mine, whereas it tallies with it.

Mr. Heath

Apparently I misunderstood the point the hon. and learned Gentleman was trying to make from it. Therefore, we are agreed that in London and the South-East, an area containing nearly 20 million people, the figures are already above the present limit of exemption. That seems a powerful argument for raising the limit to £5,000.

A second argument is that £5,000 is the limit fixed by the Greater London Council for granting mortgages. This seems to be the decision of a Labour authority of what the level should be up to which special help should be granted, and it reinforces my hon. Friend's argument that £5,000 should be the figure at which action ought to be taken.

The main reason for doing it is to encourage people to buy their own houses. Although it may not seem a considerable sum when taken in the context of buying a house, the point has been made already that this is a considerable proportion of the initial payments one has to make when buying a house. This is its real importance, and the real argument for reducing it.

My hon. Friend has drawn attention to the sudden jump over £6,000, but there is also a very sudden jump over £4,500. If a person buys a house for £4,450, instead of being exempt, he is immediately required to pay £22 15s. in this tax. This seems to be unjustifiable, and, on looking at the whole situation, it is difficult to understand why the graduated process has not been introduced earlier. I think it is due to the fact that we concentrated on moving the upper limit, but I suggest to the House that the time has come when, in addition to moving the upper limit to £5,000, the general approach to the tax ought to be a graduated one. If a person buys a house costing just under £6,000, he pays £30 by way of tax, but if the house costs just over £6,000, he pay £60 under the present arrangement. This, therefore, is why my hon. Friend's Clause covers both the maximum limit which it is justifiable to raise by £500, and also graduation between the amounts which are shown here.

What did the hon. and learned Gentleman say in reply? He started by saying that he would like to do it, but not this year. The country is getting used to this sort of thing from the present Administration. We had it at the time of the General Election, when innumerable promises were made by the party opposite. In particular, they promised to help house-owners, but now we are told, "Not this year".

The hon. and learned Gentleman then put forward all the detailed arguments set out in his Treasury brief as to why it was not justified to make this change. In kindness to the hon. and learned Gentleman we will overlook that bit and deal only with his statement that he wants to do it, but not this year. He then said that the reason for not doing it was the state of our national finances. The hon. and learned Gentleman complained about my hon. Friend widening the debate, but he has widened this into a debate on the whole economic situation, the disastrous record of the present Administration, the crisis of confidence, and everything else that is responsible for the situation in which the Government find themselves.

The hon. and learned Gentleman said that he wanted to remind the House of realities. Standing there, he is a continuous reminder of the realities of the Budget. This is a reasonable Clause, and its acceptance will cost only £4 million this year, and £6 million in a full year. It will encourage house ownership, and help those who are about to buy their houses. Can the hon. and learned Gentleman bring himself to accept it? Not on your life. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that he is not prejudiced, but what proof does he produce? He says that the Government whacked an enormous Capital Gains Tax on property and then, under pressure from the Opposition, they made exemptions which affect house-owners, and this is, therefore, a great concession to a property-owning democracy. The idea seems to be, "First you damage people, and then when you stop hitting them you say, 'Look how good we are. We are trying to encourage you all the time'".

We hear the same sort of thing from the Chief Secretary, who says that he wants to encourage saving, but then he does his utmost to prevent it. The Financial Secretary says that he wants to encourage house ownership. The opportunity to do so has been offered to him on a plate, and he has refused to accept it. This shows that the Government are not prepared to do anything to help those who want to buy their own homes or to encourage a property-owning democracy. The Government are concerned only with encouraging local authorities to build houses, and persuading as many people as they can to go into them.

For these reasons, I believe that the Clause is fundamentally sound, and I congratulate my hon. Friend on puttting it before the House. If the Financial Secretary is still recalcitrant, as he has been so often in the past, I suggest to my hon. Friend that, in the interests of the people who want to buy their houses, he should force this matter to a Division.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie (Rutherglen)

I apologise for intervening at this late stage of the discussion. I attempted to do so earlier, but, unfortunately, due no doubt to my position in the Chamber, I was not seen by the Chair.

I hope that my hon. and learned Friend the Financial Secretary will think not of the Clause, but of some of the anomalies which have been created by the imposition of stamp duty. The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) dealt with the problems of home ownership. I am sure that both sides of the House want to encourage home ownership, but when we talk about it we must consider not only the cost of the house. We must remember that buying a house involves not only paying the cost of it, but paying in addition what in my part of the country is a very heavy burden on the new owner, the cost of conveyancing, solicitors' charges, and feu duties. These account for a perceptible part of the purchase price, and Stamp Duty is an added irksome charge.

I was disappointed that the hon. Member for Ayr, when stressing the cost of houses in Scotland, did not deal with the factor which has really increased the cost of houses. I am referring to the high cost of land, particularly in the west of Scotland which is entirely due to the Town and Country Planning Acts of the last 10 years. The increase in the cost of labour and materials over the past seven months is not new. We have been faced with a similar situation for more than a decade, and it seems strange that these problems should be aired only at this stage.

May I say that it is strange how a person alters his position when he becomes a Member of the Opposition. I should have liked to have heard the right hon.

Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) make the speech that he made tonight a year ago. I should have liked to have heard him make his impassioned plea for those who have to pay this burden of Stamp Duty. I look forward to the day when there is no stamp duty at all. Judging from what the right hon. Member for Bexley said tonight, I am surprised that I did not hear him express that opinion, when it really mattered.

The Clause does not appeal to me, because I do not think that it has been properly drafted. If a person buys a house costing £4,499, he pays no Stamp Duty at all, but if he buys a house costing £4,501 he pays duty on the total figure. I hope that in the Future consideration will be given to whether a person should pay Stamp Duty—if there is to be such a thing at all—only on the sum in excess of £4,500. I cannot accept the point which has been made that it is not really a graduated approach. I would rather have a ½ per cent. for one figure, which, I think, would be very much easier to deal with. I hope that the Chancellor will clear up this anomaly, if not this year, certainly next.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 270, Noes 274.

Division No. 235.] AYES [7.47 p.m.
Agnew, Commander Sir Peter Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Currie, G. B. H.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Bruce-Gardyne, J. Dalkeith, Earl of
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Bryan, Paul Dance, James
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Buchanan-Smith, Alick Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Bullus, Sir Eric d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Burden, F. A. Dean, Paul
Astor, John Butcher, Sir Herbert Digby, Simon Wingfield
Atkins, Humphrey Buxton, Ronald Dodds-Parker, Douglas
Awdry, Daniel Campbell, Gordon Doughty, Charles
Baker, W. H. K. Carlisle, Mark Drayson, G. B.
Balniel, Lord Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Cary, Sir Robert Eden, Sir John
Barlow, Sir John Channon, H. P. G. Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Batsford, Brian Chataway, Christopher Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)
Bell, Ronald Chichester-Clark, R. Emery, Peter
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Eyre, Reginald
Berkeley, Humphry Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Farr, John
Berry, Hn. Anthony Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Fell, Anthony
Biggs-Davison, John Cole, Norman Fisher, Nigel
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Cooke, Robert Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)
Black, Sir Cyril Cooper, A. E. Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)
Blaker, Peter Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Foster, Sir John
Bossom, Hn. Clive Corfield, F. V. Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford Stone)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Costain, A. P. Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)
Box, Donald Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Gammans, Lady
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J. Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Gibson-Watt, David
Braine, Bernard Crawley, Aidan Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan
Brewis, John Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Crowder, F. P. Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Cunningham, Sir Knox Glover, Sir Douglas
Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry Curran, Charles Glyn, Sir Richard
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'n C'dfield) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Goodhart, Philip Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Goodhew, Victor Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Gower, Raymond Longden, Gilbert Ridsdale, Julian
Grant, Anthony Loveys, Walter H. Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Grant-Ferris, R. Lubbock, Eric Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Gresham Cooke, R. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Roots, William
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) McAdden, Sir Stephen St. John-Stevas, Norman
Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick) Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty) Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Gurden, Harold Mackie, George Y. (C'ness & S'land) Scott-Hopkins, James
Hall, John (Wycombe) McLaren, Martin Sharples, Richard
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Shepherd, William
Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain Sinclair, Sir George
Hamilton, M. (Salisbury) McMaster, Stanley Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) McNair-Wilson, Patrick Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John
Harris, Reader (Heston) Maginnis, John E. Spearman, Sir Alexander
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Maitland, Sir John Speir, Sir Rupert
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Stainton, Keith
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Marten, Neil Stanley, Hn. Richard
Harvie Anderson, Miss Mathew, Robert Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Hastings, Stephen Maude, Angus Studholme, Sir Henry
Hawkins, Paul Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Talbot, John E.
Hay, John Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Meyer, Sir Anthony Teeling, Sir William
Hendry, Forbes Mills, Peter (Torrington) Temple, John M.
Higgins, Terence L. Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Miscampbell, Norman Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Hirst, Geoffrey Mitchell, David Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Monro, Hector Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Hooson, H. E. More, Jasper Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Hopkins, Alan Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Hordern, Peter Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Tweedsmuir, Lady
Hornby, Richard Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh van Straubenzee, W. R.
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P. Murton, Oscar Vaughan-Morgan Rt. Hn. Sir John
Hutchison, Michael Clark Neave, Airey Vickers, Dame Joan
Iremonger, T. L. Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Walder, David (High Peak)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Onslow, Cranley Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Jennings, J. C. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wall, Patrick
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Walters, Dennis
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Osborn, John (Hallam) Ward, Dame Irene
Jopling, Michael Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Weatherill, Bernard
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Page, John (Harrow, W.) Webster, David
Kaberry, Sir Donald Page, R. Graham (Crosby) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Kerby, Capt. Henry Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Whitelaw, William
Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge) Peel, John Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)
Kershaw, Anthony Percival, Ian Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Kilfedder, James A. Peyton, John Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Kimball, Marcus Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth Wise, A. R.
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Pike, Miss Mervyn Wolridge-Gordon, Patrick
Kirk, Peter Pitt, Dame Edith Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Kitson, Timothy Pounder, Rafton Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Lagden, Godfrey Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Woodnutt, Mark
Lambton, Viscount Price, David (Eastleigh) Wylie, N. R.
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Prior, J. M. L. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Langford-Holt, Sir John Pym, Francis Younger, Hn. George
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Quennell, Miss J. M.
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Litchfield, Capt. John Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin Mr. G. Johnson Smith and
Mr. MacArthur.
Abse, Leo Bradley, Tom Cullen, Mrs. Alice
Albu, Austen Bray, Dr. Jeremy Dalyell, Tam
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Darling, George
Alldritt, Walter Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan) Davies, Ifor (Gower)
Atkinson, Norman Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.) Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)
Bacon, Miss Alice Buchanan, Richard de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Delargy, Hugh
Barnett, Joel Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Dell, Edmund
Baxter, William Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Dempsey, James
Bence, Cyril Carmichael, Neil Diamond, Rt. Hn. John
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Chapman, Donald Dodds, Norman
Binns, John Coleman, Donald Doig, Peter
Bishop, E. S. Conlan, Bernard Driberg, Tom
Blackburn, F. Corbet, Mrs. Freda Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank Dunn, James A.
Boardman, H. Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Dunnett, Jack
Boston, T. G. Crawshaw, Richard Edelman, Maurice
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Cronin, John Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S. W.) Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony English, Michael
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S. Ennals, David
Ensor, David Ledger, Ron Rees, Merlyn
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Richard, Ivor
Fernyhough, E. Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Finch, Harold (Bedwellty) Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lipton, Marcus Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Loughlin, Charles Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Floud, Bernard Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Foley, Maurice McBride, Neil Rose, Paul B.
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) McCann, J. Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) MacColl, James Rowland, Christopher
Ford, Ben MacDermot, Niall Sheldon, Robert
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton) McGuire, Michael Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Freeson, Reginald McInnes, James Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Galpern, Sir Myer McKay, Mrs. Margaret Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)
Garrett, W. E. Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
George, Lady Megan Lloyd McLeavy, Frank Silkin, John (Deptford)
Ginsburg, David Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)
Gourlay, Harry Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Gregory, Arnold Manuel, Archie Skeffington, Arthur
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mapp, Charles Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Marsh, Richard Small, William
Griffiths, Will (M'chester, Exchange) Mason, Roy Snow, Julian
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Maxwell, Robert Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank
Hale, Leslie Mayhew, Christopher Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mellish, Robert Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Mendelson, J. J. Stonehouse, John
Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.) Mikardo, Ian Stones, William
Hannan, William Millan, Bruce Straus, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Miller, Dr. M. S. Stross, Sir Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Hart, Mrs. Judith Milne, Edward (Blyth) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Hazell, Bert Molloy, William Swain, Thomas
Heffer, Eric S. Monslow, Walter Swingler, Stephen
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur Morris, Charles (Openshaw) Symonds, J. B.
Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Morris, John (Aberavon) Taverne, Dick
Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town.) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Sheffield Pk) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Holman, Percy Murray, Albert Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Horner, John Neal, Harold Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Newens, Stan Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Thornton, Ernest
Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Tinn, James
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Norwood, Christopher Tomney, Frank
Howie, W. Oakes, Gordon Tuck, Raphael
Hoy, James Ogden, Eric Urwin, T. W.
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) O'Malley, Brian Varley, Eric G.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.) Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Orbach, Maurice Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline) Orme, Stanley Wallace, George
Hunter, A. E. (Feltham) Oswald, Thomas Warbey, William
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Owen, Will Watkins, Tudor
Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Padley, Walter Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Jackson, Colin Page, Derek (King's Lynn) White, Mrs. Eirene
Janner, Sir Barnett Paget, R. T. Whitlock, William
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Wigg, Rt. Hn. George
Jeger, George (Goole) Pargiter, G. A. Wilkins, W. A.
Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.) Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Parker, John Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stetchford) Parkin, B. T. Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Pavitt, Laurence Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pentland, Norman Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Perry, Ernest G. Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Popplewell, Ernest Winterbottom, R. E.
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Prentice, R. E. Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Kelley, Richard Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Woof, Robert
Kenyon, Clifford Probert, Arthur Wyatt, Woodrow
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Randall, Harry Zilliacus, K.
Lawson, George Rankin, John
Leadbitter, Ted Redhead, Edward TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Harper and Mr. Grey.