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Mortgage Interest Payments

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 15th July 1997.

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Photo of Professor Ross Cranston Professor Ross Cranston Labour, Dudley North 8:45 pm, 15th July 1997

One can say only a limited amount in one's election address, as hon. Members well know. I told the House that I wanted the Government to consider the matter in coming years.

Finally, I want to deal with the amendment. I have never seen such a pathetic attempt at an amendment. Its intention is clear—the change would not come into effect until interest rates had fallen below a certain level—but it is badly worded. It talks about the average mortgage rate coming down, whatever that means. My hon. Friend the Member for Workington referred earlier to the tables of mortgage rates that appear in The Sunday Times, and other organisations, such as the Halifax, also publish such tables. It behoves the Opposition to explain what is meant by the phrase "average mortgage rate".

One should bear in mind the uncertainty that would be created if the amendment were carried, not least because it would not be put into effect until some time in the future which we cannot identify, and which is not identifiable from the proposed legislation. One of the important principles of tax law is certainty, and the amendment would lead to a great deal of uncertainty. I shall certainly oppose it.