HC Deb 16 January 1992 vol 201 cc1091-2
11. Mr. Ian Taylor

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has had any recent representations about ways of encouraging wider utilisation of qualifying employee share ownership trusts.

Mr. Maude

I have received a small number of such representations, from my hon. Friend the Member for Esher (Mr. Taylor) among others.

Mr. Taylor

Despite the considerable progress that has been made under this Government in encouraging employee share ownership, will the Minister take careful note of the recent KPMG Management Consulting report which shows ways in which the qualifying employee-share option trusts can be made more flexible and therefore likely to be more widely used by companies and available to more employees in subsequent years of Conservative government?

Mr. Maude

I have seen the report and am considering its implications carefully, but it is just worth pointing out that in 11 of the past 12 Budgets we have taken steps to encourage employee share ownership to the extent that by the end of March last year about 2.25 million employees had benefited under all employee share schemes and had received options or shares with an initial value of £6.5 billion. It is a highly desirable development and we hope to see it continued.

Mr. Nicholas Brown

Does the Minister recall that when we discussed these matters during the passage of the Finance Bill the then Financial Secretary, now Chancellor of the Exchequer, expressed passionate enthusiasm for workers' control? In the light of that enthusiasm is the present Financial Secretary able to tell us how many employee share ownership trusts have been set up under the statutory provisions?

Mr. Maude

As I said, by the end of March 1990, 2.25 million employees had received shares or options under approved share schemes. Employee share ownership trusts are a relatively small part of the Government's provision of tax relief for employee share ownership, but it would be very nice to hear the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown) express on behalf of the Labour Front Bench wholehearted enthusiasm for what we believe in, which is giving employees in companies real ownership of the companies that they work for.