HC Deb 04 March 1976 vol 906 cc1522-3
14. Mr. Mackintosh

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the report of the interdepartmental committee on the impact of capital taxation on agriculture.

Mr. Dezil Davies

It is not the usual practice to publish reports of interdepartmental committees. The Government are still considering when, and in what form, the results of the report will be made known.

Mr. Mackintosh

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Would not publication of the report before Budget plans are announced help in discussions of the important subject of the impact of capital taxation on agriculture?

Mr. Davies

The Government have not decided in what form to publish the results of this report.

Sir T. Kitson

In view of the intended legislation on hereditary tenancies, what discussions has the Chancellor of the Exchequer had with the Minister of Agriculture about how capital taxes can be relaxed?

Mr. Davies

There has been, and always is, constant discussions between my right hon. Friend and the Minister of Agriculture on these matters. The interdepartmental committee dealt with and considered the impact of capital taxation on agriculture.

Mr. Watkinson

Will the Government conduct a searching analysis into the effect of capital transfer tax on forestry? Is he aware that we import nearly £2,000 million worth of products per year, a sum which is a drain on our balance of payments? Is it not necessary to do something to stop the serious decline in the planting of trees?

Mr. Davies

I accept the importance of forestry to the economy. I do not accept that the decline in tree planting has resulted from the bringing in of the capital transfer tax, or any other form of taxation. If we were to carry out a searching inquiry, we should discover that substantial tax concessions are given to forestry under the present legislation.

Sir G. Howe

Do not the questions asked by both Labour and Opposition Members underline the extent to which forestry, farming, and the small businesses mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell) are all beginning to see the first signs of the grave damage that will be caused by the imposition of capital transfer tax by this Government?

Mr. Davies

I do not accept what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said. Indeed, the worst damage inflicted on farming in the last 25 years occurred when the Conservative Government, of which he was a member, sought to print money, thus causing farm prices to shoot up in the period 1970 to 1974. That action caused a great deal of harm to agriculture.

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