Capital Transfer Tax

Part of Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th November 1974.

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Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , Staffordshire South West 12:00 am, 12th November 1974

So did I. I am glad that the hon. Lady and I marched shoulder to shoulder on that occasion.

However, when we come to some of the other things in the Budget, it seems to me that the Chancellor was throwing out the odd sop to his brethren on the far Left of his party—the Scan-geld of British political currency. I was appalled when the Chancellor said that he would reverse the decision of the House about the £10 million. That was so grotesquely irrelevant to the crisis which faces the nation as to be an insult to the intelligence of every hon. Member. It will not wash for him to do that and then to talk in terms of national unity.

I come to the capital transfer tax. There are very few who would welcome more than I do the abolition of estate duty and its replacement by something more sensible and comprehensive. But so much of this scheme is motivated by envy and malice. It is all very well for the Chancellor to talk in terms of the need for a profitable sector, but how on earth shall we have a profitable sector without profitable people? How shall we have a profitable sector without giving proper incentive and encouragement to people to aspire to earn more and to own more? As to its being any answer to our problems today, tomorrow and for the next five or ten years, it is totally irrelevant and should have played no part in this Budget.

In so far as the Chancellor talked of some relief for agriculture, we welcomed it. It will not be enough, and I hope that, at the very least, he will extend those provisions to cover forestry. There was no mention of forestry in the Chancellor's speech. Forestry is of vital importance to our economy and to anyone who regards for a moment the beauty of our environment.

When the Chancellor came to his peroration and talked in terms of what he had done, he skilfully avoided reiterating that enormous borrowing requirement. At a time of national crisis, to have stood at the Dispatch Box and talked of uniting the people, having produced a Budget which will increase the borrowing requirement by £800 million, is a black comedy, a grotesque farce. We should not be presented with a Budget which will increase the borrowing requirement at a time such as this, let alone by £800 million.

The Chancellor is banking on oil very much. I believe that we are all making a mistake when we talk of North Sea oil as though it will be the panacea for all our ills and the solution to all our problems. Apart from the territorial claims being wielded so effectively by the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart), there are other considerations. The oil will be very expensive to get out. What will happen when we are getting it out if the Arabs drop their prices astronomically, as they could? Our oil might not be quite the great national benefit that we hope it will be. For the Chancellor to base his judgment on this sort of thing coming right in three, four, five or six years time is wrong.

The Budget has unked the main issues. The Chancellor has not faced up to the crisis confronting the country. We have had a Budget which has not given ordinary people the opportunity to realise that we all have our backs to the wall. I predict that the Chancellor will be back at the Dispatch Box in six months' time, if he is still in office then, with even more severe measures. I hope that the next time he comes to the Dispatch Box, if we are still facing the sort of crisis to which he has probably added today, he will at least have the courage to produce measures which will bring home to ordinary people the fact that if as a united nation we are to face our problems we must, as a united nation, make individual sacrifices.