HC Deb 09 February 1984 vol 53 cc1009-10
7. Mr. Hill

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce legislation to provide income tax relief for those who invest in the businesses for which they work.

Mr. Peter Rees

The Government are committed to encouraging people to share in the ownership of the companies for which they work. Measures have already been introduced to do this, including improved tax incentives for employee share schemes. These are proving successful.

Mr. Hill

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that employees who purchased shares in the National Freight Corporation Co. Ltd., Associated British Ports and British Aerospace made a very significant investment? Is it not now time to ensure that all employees who purchase shares in the public or private company for which they work, and who retain them for a certain period, should be given some form of income tax relief which is fairly simple and which everyone can understand?

Mr. Rees

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will have taken note of that general proposition. No doubt my hon. Friend and the House will take considerable encouragement from the fact that when we took office in 1979 there were only 30 share incentive schemes with income tax provisions, and that there are now more than 660. Therefore, there has been a considerable advance.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Chief Secretary aware that some people have found ways of escaping paying tax for a considerable length of time? Not so long ago we were told about Lord Vestey and his group not having paid any tax for decades or more. The other day I read in the local newspaper that the Duke of Devonshire had discovered another way of not paying tax on his whole Chatsworth estate. Why do we need any more schemes?

Mr. Rees

I find it difficult to comment on the affairs of individual taxpayers. However, I note the hon. Gentleman's concern. He will be aware that the Finance Bills of this and previous Administrations have taken good care to stop up loopholes where they have been disclosed.

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