Mr Jack Diamond: No, Sir; I could not possibly subscribe to that statement. I recognise and affirm that it is regrettable that many people have lost money on this stock, though many others have gained money. But one has to stick to the terms on which the stock was issued and on which people knew for certain that they would subscribe.
Mr Jack Diamond: No, Sir. This matter has been considered most sympathetically by me and by many of my predecessors. Every time everyone has reached the identical conclusion, that it is not possible to deal with it along the lines suggested.
Mr Jack Diamond: No doubt the hon. Gentleman knows that the stock originally had a redemption date, and there was a conversion offer made, which was accepted by those who went into the stock. Therefore, everyone did it with his eyes wide open. I share everyone's regret—I did my best when on the other side of the House to give voice to it—and I looked into the matter most sympathetically, but I reached the...
Mr Jack Diamond: I am grateful to my hon. Friend; he seems, as in most other things, to have managed his affairs a good deal better than I do; I bought at a very different price.
Mr Jack Diamond: I am aware that substantial gains may be made as a result of industrial mergers. Tax avoidance schemes in this field, as in others, are kept under review, and amending legislation will be introduced if required.
Mr Jack Diamond: My hon. Friend knows that I am unable to deal with the affairs of any individual taxpayer.
Mr Jack Diamond: The Government of the Irish Republic have made representations which we shall be discussing with them later this month.
Mr Jack Diamond: The exact position as regards the E.F.T.A. decision is contained in the communiqué of the meeting of 6th–7th November, which said: While welcoming the recent evidence of improvement in the economic situation of the U.K., expressed concern at the continuation of the import deposits scheme. The Ministers instructed the Council at official level, which had already been charged with keeping...
Mr Jack Diamond: I am including governmental and inter-governmental, if I may so refer to E.F.T.A., representations.
Mr Jack Diamond: No, Sir. I think this would lead to confusion.
Mr Jack Diamond: I do not know whether my hon. Friend was making the point that this is a sweet-smelling rose, but the fact is that it is not a tax on value-added, although I agree with him, and we are grateful to him for pointing out, that there are many similarities.
Mr Jack Diamond: I will try to recollect everything that the hon. Gentleman has said so that I can convey it at a suitable time to my right hon. Friend. Meantime, I cannot accept what he says about the effect on exports.
Mr Jack Diamond: The original exemption limit of £2,000 was reduced to £500 on 3rd November, 1941, following complaints of unfair competition. Allowing for the change in money values the current equivalent of £500 in 1941 is estimated to be rather more than £1,400. Despite this change, my right hon. Friend is satisfied that £500 is still the appropriate level for this exemption, whose purpose is to...
Mr Jack Diamond: The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right that if those circumstances applied it would be foolish to incur an uneconomic cost. I can assure him that the matter has been looked at. There is no uneconomic cost in collection at the present level. Even at the present level, we get objections by manufacturers on the ground of unfair competition.
Mr Jack Diamond: I am always prepared to accept compliments to Treasury Ministers, but I thought that your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, ruled that any compliment to a Treasury Minister was distinctly out of order.
Mr Jack Diamond: The North East Development Council made a number of representations to me on these lines. I have replied that I do not think S.E.T. is a handicap to the development of commercial services of the kind which the council is particularly anxious to attract to the region.
Mr Jack Diamond: I share my hon. Friend's view that there can be a over-concentration in London. Certainly the Government have set a pattern, which I should have thought others would be happy to follow, of dispersal wherever it is possible and appropriate.
Mr Jack Diamond: I am always anxious to listen to advice from those who are on the spot. As the hon. Lady knows, preferential assistance to the Northern region is running at about £75 million a year, and there has been considerable success in attracting manufacturing industry to the area. I can only conclude, therefore, that the situation would be worse if the Government had not adopted these policies.
Mr Jack Diamond: I am sure that my hon. Friend will recognise that if we attract manufacturing industry which provides the greater measure of employment. exhypothesi the proportion of services is smaller than it would be otherwise.
Mr Jack Diamond: No, Sir.