Orders of the Day — FINANCE (No. 2) BILL

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th May 1965.

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Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 12:00 am, 10th May 1965

No, they were not. The minority were and the majority were not. If the hon. Member had listened I said that whatever their views on the Capital Gains Tax, both the majority and the minority were against giving an allowance for inflation—in relation to other kinds of taxation. Hon. Gentlemen opposite will have plenty of time to read the Royal Commission's Report in the weeks and months ahead.

I come to the subject of the gilt-edged market. The flexibility of the gilt-edged market is an argument that is certainly seriously held by a number of people and would think that there will be perhaps a little less switching, at any rate immediately, than there has been in the past. But, whatever importance one attaches to this, I think that the degree of switching will undoubtedly increase again as people find opportunities for profitably doing so, especially the institutions. I think that the institutions will be quick to seize their opportunities.

When one considers the gilt-edged market and analyses the holdings in it, one sees that about £20,000 million, or a substantial percentage of the total stock, will not have their tax position changed by the Capital Gains Tax. This will be so for a number of technical reasons, into which I need not go now. I am sure that they are well known to many hon. Members. Thus, I do not think that the degree of flexibility, which many people seem to think is required, will be impaired to anything like the degree written about. Moreover, there are other ways in which the gilt-edged market acts, into which I need not go now. I would not myself regard this as a serious obstacle to the introduction of the Capital Gains Tax on gilt-edged securities.

Then it is suggested that we are making a breach of faith here. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) wrote one of his famous letters in The Times in which he said that the proposal to tax capital gains on gilt-edged made him feel sick. It is an astonishing phenomenon. The last time he felt sick was when he was talking to Mr. Harold Macmillan. He gets sick about the oddest things.

I do not follow that sort of argument and—[Interruption.]—in any case, it was a fairly cheap letter, to be truthful. I do not follow the argument that when a Government decide to change taxation arrangements they must except gilt-edged from their taxation changes. This argument has been used about nothing else. Of course we are entitled to change the taxation arrangements. Any Government are and many Governments have. There is simply nothing in the argument that this is a breach of faith. [Interruption.] I have expressed my point of view. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are entitled to hold a contrary view if they wish.