Clause 29. — (Stamping of Foreign Bills of Exchange.)

Part of Orders of the Day — FINANCE (No. 2) BILL – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th June 1967.

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Photo of Mr John Nott Mr John Nott , St Ives 12:00 am, 12th June 1967

I support my hon. Friend the Member for the Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. John Smith). I am delighted at the rapid progress which we are making in this country. First, bills of this type had ad valorem duty, and then it was changed to a 2d. duty. Then there was a period when bills had to be stamped at the Stamp Office. That was changed, and they no longer had to be stamped at the Stamp Office. Then there was a period when it was possible to buy a 2d. stamp, lick it and stick it on the bill. That was great progress, too. Now we have reached the stage when the Commissioners agree that banking houses dealing in foreign bills of exchange may compound the 2d. duty, and this, of course, is even more convenient than the previous concessions made.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will tell us how much is involved in foreign bills of exchange. I doubt that it is much more than £100,000 in revenue. I may be wrong and, perhaps, it is a bit more than that, but the fact that people are delirious with joy now that they may compound the 2d. duty on foreign bills of exchange is an indication of the state to which this country is coming. The Government are congratulated on concessions of this kind, but, surely, the duty could be abolished altogether, thereby enhancing international business of this sort. The Clause is a sad reflection, although progress of a sort is being made, on the way that we in this country are unable to cut through the jungle of stamp duty law and bring some sanity into the situation.