Mitigation of Corporation Tax Liability of Industrial and Provident Societies and Housing Associations

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 10th July 1985.

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Photo of Mr Stuart Randall Mr Stuart Randall , Kingston upon Hull West 4:45 pm, 10th July 1985

I wish only to add a few words of support for the new clause which aims to overcome the tax penalties that emanated from the Finance Bill last year. All sorts of organisations are affected, including industrial societies and other mutual organisations such as the friendly societies and the various types of co-operatives. We have heard from both sides of the House examples of the effect of the removal of the differential rate of corporation tax on those organisations.

We had a long debate on friendly societies yesterday. Already, we have seen that the Government's action is crushing these organisations. My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) quoted Mr. Madders, the chairman of the friendly societies liaison committee, who said that the Government's action could result in friendly societies becoming extinct. That would be sad because the societies have a long-established tradition and have been in existence for about 100 years. They have served the people of Britain, especially those on lower incomes and in rural areas. The new clause would help the mutual organisations to come to grips with the severe competition with which they must contend.

The Government's line on friendly societies is that if they want to remain alive they must compete in broader areas of business where they would encounter more forms of taxation. They would have to employ staff to overcome the intricacies of tax problems. They do not have the necessary expertise or manpower. They rely on the voluntary help of people who do not have the skill or the time to deal with the complicated taxation matters which the organisations inevitably must deal with if they are to survive in the competitive areas into which Ministers suggest that they should move.

The Government's removal of the differential rate of corporation tax is an additional crushing action on the friendly societies. We argue our case not only from the economic point of view, but from the social aspect. That aspect is most prominent in my mind when considering the corporation tax treatment of friendly societies.

The local postman often plays the role of the deposit collector in rural areas, especially in the north of England. The postman does his rounds and collects deposits. He makes sure that Mrs. Smith is alive and well by checking the milk bottles on her doorstep. We must consider the friendly societies in that context. Social services have been cut; that is a broader issue and I do not wish to go wide of the point, but the social angle must be taken into account when considering the effect of last year's Finance Bill on mutual organisations.

Some hon. Members have mentioned the effect of the changes on co-operatives and much mention has been made of housing associations. I regard my constituency as a deprived area in housing terms and hon. Members who represent deprived parts of the country welcome all initiatives to help overcome the housing crisis which has resulted from the Government's crazy economic policy. It is distressing for the co-operatives to be crushed at a time of housing crisis. In my constituency there are 2,640 families in houses unfit for human habitation, houses with black fungus crawling up the wall and so on.