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Capital Taxation

Volume 974: debated on Thursday 29 November 1979

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received concerning any changes in capital taxation which may affect agriculture.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
(Mr. Jerry Wiggin)

I have seen the detailed proposals which the main agricultural interests have submitted to my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They stress the need to adjust capital taxation to allow for the effects of inflation and to extend tax reliefs to private owners of let land comparable to those available to owner occupiers. I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend will be taking full account of these proposals in his review.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on what he has just said, but does he accept that is is important for the Ministry of Agriculture to add to those representations and ensure that the Chancellor is aware of the need to reduce capital taxation? That will ensure not only that changes in inflation are taken into account but that the landed estate is retained as an entity and facilities for the landlord-tenant relationship are improved.

I assure my hon. Friend that communications between my Department and that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer are excellent. He is well aware of our views.

Has it occurred to the Minister that every time the Chancellor grants extra tax relief to farmers and landowners it harms the industry by bringing more speculative money into the land market and forcing up the value of farmland?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, as a landowner, will appreciate that the question of capital taxation should be considered as a whole. That is what my right hon. and learned Friend is doing.

Does my hon. Friend recall that during the election we made the point that the family farm was threatened by the capital taxation proposals and actions of the previous Administration? It was not reasonable to expect that problem to be dealt with in the previous Budget, but we on these Benches look forward to such steps in the next one.

The problem of farms and, for that matter, businesses, is one that I know my right hon. and learned Friend is considering in his review of all capital taxation.