HC Deb 24 October 1972 vol 843 cc976-8
15. Mr. Edward Taylor

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the net increase in National Savings in the most recent annual period for which figures are available; and what were the comparable increases or decreases in the same period three, five and seven years previously.

Mr. Higgins

In the 12 months to the end of September, 1972, the amount invested in National Savings increased by £928 million. This compared with a decrease of £30 million in 1968–69, an increase of £110 million in 1966–67, and an increase of £150 million 1964–65.

Mr. Taylor

Does my hon. Friend agree that these figures are quite outstanding and encouraging? Does he further agree that to give a further boost to National Savings and to protect the funds invested he should give serious consideration to introducing a savings certificate or savings bond, the repayment terms of which were linked to the cost of living?

Mr. Higgins

That would normally be a budgetary matter. I have noted my hon. Friends suggestion. It might be helpful to spell out the sequence of figures, not in the order my hon. Friend asked but as they actually happened, from 1964 to 1972. The figures then run: plus £150 million; plus £110 million; minus £30 million up to the end of the period of office of the last Government; and then plus £928 million, which is the latest figure. This reflects substantially the efforts which the Government have already made to increase savings. I do not think that there is a case at this stage for introducing the particular kind of savings certificate my hon. Friend suggests. As to the measures taken by the Government—

Mr. William Hamilton

You have read enough.

Mr. Higgins

—we have taken steps to increase both consumer expenditure and savings.

Mr. Skinner

Have these savings done any good or have they all gone into land speculation?

Mr. Higgins

I believe that these savings, which have gone into National Savings, have done a great deal of good in helping to achieve a high level of investment.

Mr. Pavitt

In view of the Government's desire to increase all small savings, will the hon. Gentleman have a look at the possibility of exempting from income tax the small savings of ordinary working people who put their money into co-operative societies, to the extent of £20, as is done elsewhere?

Mr. Higgins

I have noted the hon. Gentleman's suggestion. I do not think that in present circumstances and in the situation I have described it would be appropriate to do more because the performance is an extremely fine one of which the National Savings movement is rightly proud.