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Personal Equity Plans

Volume 173: debated on Thursday 7 June 1990

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received on his proposals to change PEPs.

The improvements in PEPs, which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced in his Budget statement, have been widely welcomed.

Does my hon. Friend agree that some of the financial institutions that at one time had deep reservations about the effectiveness of PEPs now welcome them as a most essential, important and attractive component of the savings market? Does he foresee, in respect of either PEPs or TESSAs, the possibility of a similar conversion on the part of the Labour party?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the institutions have put their whole weight behind PEPs, and that is why they are now going extremely well. I am afraid that confused messages are coming from the Opposition about such matters. Some Opposition Members say that they are in favour and some say that they are against. I do not foresee any conversion and certainly there is no uniformity of view among the Opposition.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the encouragement to small savers since the Government came to office has meant that they have increased in number from 2ยท75 million to 11 million today?

I am not sure how my hon. Friend defines small savers, but he is perfectly correct that there has been a big increase in their number. As regards personal equity plans, in the first quarter of this year the number of new plans issued was a quarter higher than in the whole of 1988. That is excellent news.