HC Deb 26 October 1966 vol 734 cc1233-4
Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move Amendment No. 44, in page 28, line 9, to leave out from "party" to the end of line 42.

This Amendment looks rather formidable in that it cuts out practically the whole Clause, but it makes a very nice simple Clause. If the Amendment is accepted, the Clause will read: Stamp duty shall not be charged on any instrument to which the Commission is a party …

I am sure the Minister has his instructions from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to accept this Amendment and facilitate the workings of the Commission.

If the Amendment is not accepted, the Clause starts off by saying that the Commission shall be relieved of Stamp Duty on its documents. Then it makes a lot of exceptions and goes to the extent of charging duty on the counterpart when the Commission is let off on the original. There are many stupid provisions which will not bring the Chancellor a lot of money. Far better make a clean sweep of the thing and say that any instrument to which the Commission is a party shall be free from Stamp Duty. If the Commission has to pay Stamp Duty, it is only taking the money from one pocket and putting it in another.

The Clause relieves the Commission in most cases, but it is rather unfair if, when the function of the Commission is being carried out, just because the Commission is purchasing property, no Stamp Duty is payable, but when it is carrying out its functions and disposing of property the purchaser has to pay Stamp Duty. It is far better to wipe out Stamp Duty altogether, and simplify the Clause to the two lines as I suggest.

Mr. Willey

The hon. Gentleman, I know, has an allergy towards Stamp Duty. He does not, of course, expect me to accept this Amendment. He has given the reasons why the Land Commission is exempt, but he has not given any reasons why anyone else should be exempt.

Mr. Rossi

This is not right. We have had great play made of the fact that we have here a generous Land Commission which will sell off crownholds and grant concessions worth goodness knows how much money, and here in this Clause the Commission is asking for five bobs on the counterparts. It is silly. I submit that there is a reasonable basis for this Amendment.

It is extremely petty to ask for these little bits of Stamp Duty. It may well be that the Minister has to placate the Treasury and that it does not want to see too much Stamp Duty lost. But when, with one breath, he says he is going to give concessions to people and then, with the other, that he is going to charge Stamp Duty in doing so, the whole thing becomes nonsense. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will have another look at this.

Amendment negatived.