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National Savings Stamp

Volume 885: debated on Thursday 30 January 1975

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5.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has now received regarding his intention to phase out the national savings stamp.

10.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received on the Government's decision to discontinue the national savings stamp.

Since I announced the Government's decision to discontinue the national savings stamp we have received 256 letters, and I have received a deputation from the leaders of the movement for England and Wales.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the least we might have hoped that a decision would be forthcoming to reverse the previously announced intention to phase out the savings stamp? Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed the large number of hon. Members from both sides of the House who have signed Early-day Motion No. 3 which has this aim in mind? In view of the announcement yesterday that television licence fees are to be increased and of the fact that old-age pensioners have used the savings stamp as a way of saving up for the licence fee, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to think about this again?

The hon. Gentleman's supplementary question shows that he cannot have studied in full what the Government are proposing. We are proposing that before the stamp is phased out there should be a television licence fee scheme for the very purpose he has mentioned. As for reversing this decision, I do not think that would be sensible, because what has happened since the decision was announced is that the savings movement in England, Wales and Scotland has turned to the task of redirecting its efforts in what I think will be a much better route.

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that the statistics he has given represent only part of the feeling on this matter? Is he aware that many of us are concerned about the way in which people who have used this useful form of savings are now to be deprived of it? Is he further aware that many of us feel that his answer does not accurately reflect the facts but rather reflects the switching which has been necessary because of the decision he has taken? Will he reconsider this matter and, if necessary, persuade his right hon. Friend the Chancellor to accept the will of Parliament if this is brought before the Houseā€”as the right hon. Gentleman so signally failed to do last night?

The stamp is used as a short-term budgetary device. It is not used for saving in the way that was originally intended. A small proportion of the stamps is used for that purpose. As a short-term budgetary device there are alternatives which are more secure, which do not involve the same dangers of loss as stamps and on which people can receive interest. I can assure the hon. Member that although there has been some feeling about this, which I can understand and with which I have sympathy, if the Government were to reverse this decision it would deflect the savings movement again from what are certainly more profitable directions which will encourage savings.