I should not have thought that the fact that there was delay was a sufficient argument. That, of course, will always be an argument every year, and anyone would have to face it in any year in which he was considering a Budget.
I listened very carefully to the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) and the serious case he put forward in favour of the companies. I found his argument about dividends a little confused, because he was at pains to point out how difficult it was for companies not to pay increased dividends because if they refrained from doing so somebody came along and bid up the shares—there was a take-over bid. I think that there is a lot in what he says, and that that will happen.
In the course of last year, the total amount of the remission of taxation to companies amounted to£80 million, which was exactly the figure of the increase in dividends. We believe that there is a connection between the two, and that that is what will happen. In any case, there is bound in the long run to be substantial ultimate gain to shareholders in the increased value of then-shares, in the capital gain still remaining untaxed.
We take the view, therefore, that this remission of taxation to companies, on which I am concentrating at the moment in order to save time, is not justified on the scale on which it is now being carried through. It does not mean that we are not appreciative of the vital importance of the private sector, but that does not lead to the conclusion that every tax concession to companies must be better than if the money were given somewhere else. Quite frankly, we are fully convinced that the Chancellor's proposal will not have any of the benefits on the economy which the Chancellor suggests, and we are satisfied, from the point of view of the effect of the proposal, that it is totally unjustified.