My Lords, in the absence, through indisposition, of my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in his name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is their desire to encourage widespread shareholdings in private and public companies and, if so, whether they will reduce the 2 per cent. stamp duty generally or on small transactions.]
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (THE EARL OF DUNDEE)
My Lords, the Government recognise the economic and social importance of the wider ownership of industrial shares, and it would be in keeping with our policy to take such steps as may from time to time be reasonable to remove obstacles from the path of the small investor. I will pass on the noble Lord's suggestions to my center honourable friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I should, however, point out that proposals for abolishing or reducing the 2 per cent. stamp duty in the case of small share transactions have been considered in the past but have been rejected as impracticable, since there would be no effective means of ensuring that the relief was confined to bona-fide small transactions.