§ 1. Mr. Kenneth Carlisle
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many profit-sharing and share ownership schemes have been set up by businesses since the introduction of the provisions of the Finance Act 1980.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)
I should like to apologise on behalf of my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer for his absence today. He is in Washington attending the development committee of the World Bank.
At the end of last month, the number of employee share schemes approved by the Inland Revenue since April 1980 was 442. This total is made up of 227 profit-sharing schemes and 215 savings-related share option schemes, but it does not include schemes set up outside the provisions of the Finance Acts 1978 and 1980.
§ Mr. Carlisle
I welcome what the Government have done to spread profit-sharing schemes, because they can contribute to good industrial relations. Will my right hon. Friend do two things: first, get the Government to persuade more businesses to enter profit-sharing schemes; and, secondly, re-examine the possibility of extending the tax advantages of those schemes to small businesses, as at present they are available only to large companies?
§ Mr. Ridley
First, I have made pilgrimages to many cities to spread the good news about those schemes and I shall continue to do my humble best, as my hon. Friend has asked.
Secondly, there are three additional and major improvements in the Finance Bill, which I know my hon. Friend will support. I think that we have now provided a favourable regime. There is no impediment for small companies. The impediment is how to value the shares of small companies. The arrangements for the purchase of own shares in last year's Finance Act are a considerable help in that respect.
Mr. J. Enoch Powell
With reference to the Minister's introductory words, is he aware that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be better occupied in the House answering questions than in Washington fixing up loans to sustain unsustainable regimes and unsound economies?
§ Mr. Ridley
The right hon. Gentleman knows full well that although that question may arise from the answer, it does not relate to the original question.