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National Insurance Contributions

Volume 893: debated on Thursday 12 June 1975

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12.

asked the Chancellor if the Exchequer what representations he has received from self-employed people requesting that national insurance contributions be made subject to tax relief.

We have received a considerable number of representations on this matter. The suggestion was the subject of a Finance Bill amendment discussed by the House on 10th June, and I refer the hon. Gentleman to what my hon. Friend the Minister of State said in reply to that debate.

Has the Minister seen reports in today's Press that yesterday in Belgium there took place the first national strike of the self-employed—a strike that caused the interruption of many important services? Is he not slightly afraid that if the Government go on turning down reasonable requests from the self-employed, such as the one to which the Question refers, the time may not be far ahead when the same thing will happen in this country?

I have not seen the reports to which the hon. Gentleman refers. There have been many debates on the subject in this House. On 26th February my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services indicated that there was to be an inquiry into certain aspects of this matter, which would include tax aspects. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will stand on that for the moment.

Now that all contributions to the National Insurance Fund are earnings-related, does the Minister accept that there is a situation different from that which existed in 1965, when tax relief on such contributions was withrawn? Is there any chance, in this new situation, of the Chancellor's reviewing the desirability of tax relief on all such contributions?

It is not our view that there should be any change in the tax position from what now exists. However, the tax aspects of the matter can be looked at in the context of the inquiry announced by my right hon. Friend.