Mr Jack Diamond: I recognise that it is in the national interest that restraint should be exercised on all sides. Perhaps I could report—I think that it has already been made clear to the House—that the total aggregate amount of dividend paid during 1968 was less than the figure for 1965 and 1966, less than 103½ per cent. of the figure for 1967. In short, we are below target all the way through.
Mr Jack Diamond: The position remains exactly the same until the end of December. If the hon. Gentleman has any particular problem in mind the Treasury has always been willing to try to assist by discussion. We have found at the end of the day that every single company has been able to subscribe to the scheme.
Mr Jack Diamond: I have answered that question twice, but I will answer it a third time. I find it sufficiently onerous to exercise my responsibilities as a Treasury Minister without exercising the responsibilities of the whole of the Government. My right hon. Friend the First Secretary would be only too glad to answer the question if the hon. Gentleman puts it to her.
Mr Jack Diamond: I will certainly bear the second part of the question in mind. What the right hon. Gentleman said about investment falling, and the statement by the Chancellor yesterday, is quite inaccurate. Dealing with the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's question, when he asked me whether this is the end of legal restraint, that was covered precisely in my statement, when I dealt with the extent...
Mr Jack Diamond: The Government are always doing something sensible.
Mr Jack Diamond: I do not think such an investigation would be useful.
Mr Jack Diamond: No, Sir. My hon. Friend asks me in the Question whether an investigation will be helpful. I do not think that it would be. My hon. Friend is quoting cases of which he is aware without investigation and which reflect to a certain extent the market rates.
Mr Jack Diamond: We were aware of those circumstances, and the result is contained in what my right hon. Friend said in answer to the previous Question.
Mr Jack Diamond: I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave to the hon. Gentleman on 20th May, 1969.—[Vol. 784, c. 222-3.]
Mr Jack Diamond: Appeals in respect of relief for management expenses by management and investment companies lie only to the Special Commissioners. The number of such cases settled by the Special Commissioners in 1967 and 1968 is not readily available.
Mr Jack Diamond: No, I would not. I do not see the relevance of that. This is a matter of what expenses are appropriately deductible for tax purposes.
Mr Jack Diamond: Departments have not kept a detailed record of their work on this question, but I estimate that the total cost was rather more than £3,000.
Mr Jack Diamond: The hon. Gentleman asked me what was the cost to public funds, and I have given him the answer —the cost to public funds. Therefore, I have not to deal with the other irrelevant points he has just put to me.
Mr Jack Diamond: I cannot accept responsibility for everything which has gone on in this House over the last 17 years.
Mr Jack Diamond: The new group will be concerned with standardisation and variety reduction in public sector purchasing. Further progress in these fields should itself be of benefit to exports, but I do not think it would be useful to extend the group's terms of reference as suggested.
Mr Jack Diamond: I do not know whether they could easily do so. I certainly share the implicit view of my hon. Friend that they should endeavour to do so.
Mr Jack Diamond: The answer to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's question is "Not yet". I certainly undertake to do what he asks in the second part of his question.
Mr Jack Diamond: I have nothing to add to what my hon. and learned Friend the Financial Secretary said in reply to a similar Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Barnett) on 29th January, but I would not seriously quarrel with the figure of 8,000 given in the N.E.D.C. report on a broad estimate of the numbers required by Customs and Excise to operate a tax stopping at the...
Mr Jack Diamond: It is no more odd than many of the other suggestions made by that party.
Mr Jack Diamond: That would depend on the rates and coverage of the tax.