HC Deb 13 May 1982 vol 23 cc929-30
1. Mr. Heddle

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is satisfied with the working of the Capital Allowances Act 1968.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)

The capital allowance system is examined in the corporation tax Green Paper, which was published last January. We look forward to a wide-ranging public discussion of the issues involved.

Mr. Heddle

Does my hon. Friend agree that industrial building allowances were designed, within the context of [...] stimulate employment right across the industrial [...] he further agree that the extremely welcome measures contained in the Budget Statement translated, at least in theory, the benefit of industrial building allowances not only to manufacturing but to the service sector? In the light of the representations that he may have already received, does he accept that these welcome improvements are only cosmetic? Would he consider—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Yesterday I received complaints that we moved slowly. I blamed the length of supplementary questions. The hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Heddle) has asked two questions. The Minister is entitled to answer one.

Mr. Ridley

As my hon. Friend says, the industrial building allowance was designed to foster investment tight across the industrial front. It does that, but we do not wish to extend it into the commercial sector. However, in the Finance Bill my hon. Friend will find a new clause, to which there are two Government amendments, extending the industrial building allowance to the greatest possible extent with regard to warehousing and repair, short of purely retail activity.

Mr. Richard Wainwright

With regard to the working of some parts of the Capital Allowances Act, how long do Treasury Ministers intend to continue interfering with and intervening in market judgments in business by giving incentives to use expensive imported machinery lo do work that could often be done more cost effectively by people who are now unemployed?

Mr. Ridley

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman complains about aids to investment. I remember that he initiated a debate on behalf of the Liberal Party asking that more should be done to help industrial investment. Is he suggesting that capital allowances should be withdrawn?