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Life Funds (Capital Gains)

Volume 115: debated on Thursday 30 April 1987

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has received representations concerning his plans to change the treatment of capital gains in the life funds.

A number of representations have been received and are being considered. I have also discussed the matter with the Association of British Insurers. There will be an opportunity for detailed debate in Committee on the Finance Bill.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the life industry is concerned that his proposed changes in the capital gains of life funds will be at the expense of the savings of existing policyholders, who will as a result be put at some disadvantage against other forms of collective savings such as unit trusts?

I note what my hon. Friend has said. Obviously, there will be further discussions about this. I do not necessarily accept that life policy holders will be disadvantaged compared with unit trust holders, because there are advantages for them too. For example, a unit trust holder will pay income tax up to his marginal rate and will pay capital gains above the threshold. We believe that the impact of the changes will be minimal, but, of course, we shall listen to what is said.

Is the Financial Secretary aware that this is of critical importance to mortgage holders? Is he also aware that 50 per cent. of new mortgages last year were endowment mortgages? Can he confirm that more than £1,500 will be lost on the payout from an ordinary £30,000 endowment mortgage if the Government's proposals go through? Why are the Government hitting millions of small investors with higher rates of tax, while leaving their friends in the City untouched?

The impact on particular policies will vary according to different companies. I do not accept the figure that the hon. Gentleman mentioned. Some companies have said that there will be practically no effect. We estimate that the extra tax that would have been paid in 1985 on those policies would have been less than £20 million. That compares with the policyholders' funds of some £70 billion, so the impact will be very small.