HC Deb 13 February 1992 vol 203 cc1099-100
8. Mr. Cran

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many taxes have been abolished since 1979; and if he will list them.

Mr. Mellor

We have abolished six taxes—investment income surcharge, national insurance surcharge, development land tax, the tax on lifetime gifts, capital duty and composite rate tax. We plan to abolish a seventh—stamp duty on shares.

Mr. Cran

Has not my right hon. and learned Friend conclusively convinced the House that only a Conservative Government have the courage to reduce taxation on the one hand and to get rid of taxes on the other, in contradistinction to nearly all other Governments before them, and especially the one between 1974 and 1979 who found endless ways of leaching money out of other people's pockets? How many new taxes would the Opposition introduce if they were in government?

Mr. Mellor

We know that the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) proposes a number of additions to existing taxation and a number of new taxes, including the reappearance of investment income surcharge. I return to the question that we shall level continually at the Labour party: what is the basis for thinking that there is any answer to the country's problems through increasing the burden of taxation?

Mr. Ashton

How many welfare benefits have been cut and how many freezes have been imposed to pay for taxation cuts?

Mr. Mellor

On the contrary, the level of benefits paid has never been higher. It has risen sharply in real terms, as the hon. Gentleman knows only too well.

Mr. Allason

I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on the abolition of composite rate tax. Is he aware that the 0800 free number is of enormous benefit, especially to pensioners who have had tax deducted from their gross income from their investments in banks and building societies? Has he any plans to extend the free 0800 number to other taxes which could be reclaimed by pensioners and others?

Mr. Mellor

I have no announcement to make on that matter at this stage, but I shall bear in mind the representation that my hon. Friend has made.

Mr. Skinner

If all those taxes have been abolished since 1979, why is it that the average family, starting out in 1979 with a debt of 45 per cent. of income after tax and insurance, reached the end of 1991 with a debt of 102 per cent? The abolition of those taxes has not done the average family any good, has it, or those at Lloyd's?

Mr. Mellor

During the lifetime of this Government the average family the hon. Gentleman talks about has had increases in disposable income of unprecedented levels, in excess of £50 per week, while the hon. Gentleman well knows that from 1974 to 1979 their standard of living bumped along without showing any significant increase.

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