HC Deb 06 December 1979 vol 975 cc601-2

12. Mr. Hordern asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he has to encourage the wider ownership of shares.

Mr. Biffen

It remains our intention, as we made clear in our election manifesto, to encourage employee share ownership and to ensure that our tax policies generally will provide incentives to save and build up capital. We are examining possible methods of achieving these aims.

Mr. Hordern

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the wider ownership of shares goes much further than employee share-ownership? Does he also agree that the wider ownership of shares is just as important a part in forming a property-owning democracy as is the ability of a tenant to buy a council house? Will he look with particular interest at the schemes that are practised in France, and the other proposals which have been put to him? Will he urge his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor to bring forward suitable proposals in his Budget Statement?

Mr. Biffen

I agree with my hon. Friend that the concept of industrial democracy must extend to the widest possible spread of share ownership. Like him, I have noted with interest the experience in France from the loi Monory. All those and other relevant considerations will be taken into account by my right hon. and learned Friend when he frames his Budget.

Mr. Robert Hughes

As the record level of minimum lending rate has led to a remarkably high level of mortgage interest and as an average borrower of, say, £8,000, has to find an additional £1 for every working day, can the right hon. Gentleman say where people will obtain the money with which to purchase shares?

Mr. Biffen

That raises more general topics on the economy which were debated yesterday. I do not think that they arise from the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham and Crawley (Mr. Hordern).

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