asked the Prime Minister (1) what initiatives Her Majesty's Government are pursuing to promote wider share ownership;(2) what initiatives Her Majesty's Government are pursuing to promote the wider ownership of capital and property.
Extending direct ownership is an integral part of our commitment to an entrepreneurial and dynamic economy.Privatisation has already probably doubled the number of individual shareholders in the United Kingdom and has meant that over one third of a million employees have acquired shares in the companies in which they work. We have given individual investors preferential treatment in recent share sales. The tax treatment of profit sharing schemes has been improved and new tax reliefs for share option schemes have been introduced, benefiting over half a million employees. Other tax changes including the abolition of investment income surcharge, reduction of stamp duty and other tax measures will promote wider ownership of shares, capital and property. In the City, far-reaching changes which will increase the opportunities for individual investors are under way. And under our right to buy policies, extended last year, and other initiatives to support low-cost home ownership, three quarters of a million council and public sector tenants have brought their own homes, and the number of home owners has increased by over 1·8 million.Our policies in all these areas are deliberately designed to spread ownership and to encourage employees to participate in the success of companies in which they work. I have no doubt that they are succeeding and will continue to do so.