§ 6. Mr. Forman
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the latest information he has on the extent of employee share ownership in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Ian Stewart
The number of all-employee share schemes has increased from less than 30 in May 1979 to over 1,200 now. Under those schemes 1.5 million employees have acquired shares or options.
§ Mr. Forman
I warmly welcome the progress that is reflected in those figures and urge my right hon. Friend the Chancellor to go further in that direction. Does my hon. Friend accept that the time has perhaps come to consider carefully some form of time-limited tax relief to give a substantial boost to this particularly attractive form of democratic capitalism?
§ Mr. Stewart
I note what my hon. Friend says. I shall not comment about the future, but on past performance the profit-sharing and savings-related share option schemes that are already in force have proved very successful and popular. Indeed, there is no let up in the flow of new proposals for them.
§ Mrs. Roe
Is my hon. Friend aware that the Stock-Exchange has recently produced information suggesting that 42 per cent. of individual shareholders are women? Since many of these will be married women whose tax position at the moment is unfair, as I think most people would accept, does not this welcome statistic emphasise the importance of the reform of personal taxation as outlined in the Green Paper?
§ Mr. Stewart
I note my hon. Friend's comments. I am delighted to hear that such a high proportion of personal shareholders are women, but matters of that kind are not for now.