Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd March 1972.

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Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames 12:00 am, 23rd March 1972

If my right hon. Friend is adding the £15,000 to the £15,000 I must add the £15,000 to the £50,000 and make it £65,000. The comparable figures, taking in the free allowance if my right hon. Friend wishes—I want to be considerate this afternoon—are £30,000 and £65,000.

Our friends in Europe have always regarded our sentimentality about animals as rather comic, but if as a matter of public policy we are seriously to lay down that in social terms it is apparently slightly more than twice as worthy to leave one's property to a cats' home than to one's widow, they will think that we are carrying our eccentricity to extremes. I welcome the help for charities, but I hope that in Committee someone will try to remedy this anomaly.

It is no answer to say that the whole matter will be looked at by a Select Committee on the Green Paper. I know that it will, but every year people are dying, every year the personal problems posed by estate duty on death arise, and I do not think it is very sensible to leave the matter in this quaintly anomalous, if highly British, position.

I do not want to detain the House very long, and therefore I pass over the many matters on which I should like to do nothing but applaud, such as the abolition of the voluntary restraint on investment in the developed countries of the sterling area, which is long overdue and extremely welcome, as are many of the tax changes.

What is most impressive is the grip that my right hon. Friend has taken on our whole system of taxation. This part of the Budget is closely related to the other. We shall always have to carry a substantial burden of taxation, but the way in which we carry the load is crucial to our economic activity. The easy analogy is a soldier's pack. If it is properly adjusted, he can carry with ease a load which, when the straps are badly adjusted, will weigh him down. That is true of the taxpayer. Therefore, my right hon. Friend's tax reform is not separate from but is part of the comprehensive whole of the Budget, modernising our tax structure for the present age.

I have not heard, in my time in the House, a Budget which seemed so ambitious, so comprehensive and so well thought-out an attempt to modernise tax arrangements, many of which, like the estate duty to which I referred, go back many years. So I believe we have before us a historic Budget which will point the way to a considerable advance for this country.

I have known a number of Chancellors. Without exception, they have been people of high ability and great devotion to their duty. But my right hon. Friend, who has, I think, many more good Budgets in him, has produced two quite outstanding ones in the past two years. I hope that I shall be acquitted of presumption if I say that he is on the way to being a very great Chancellor, and that in due course he will achieve what I suppose all of us in public life would admit to be our ambition, in the words of Gray: To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,And read their history in a nation's eyes.