By Jonathan Isaby
He outlined his concern at the lack of support for long-term share ownership:
“What concerns me most is the lack of support for long-term share ownership that is eminently displayed by the current capital gains tax regime, which, ironically, now seems to be based on principles that are at odds with how we are to treat banker bonuses whereby an increasing proportion of their compensation is compulsorily taken in shares of their employing parent company. That has the quite admirable aim of encouraging actions that have at their centre the long-term interests of the companies for which they work. This is commendable.
“Less commendable is the loss of taper relief, which encourages long-term share ownership and investment. Surely many on both sides of the House see the retention of taper relief as desirable. Also less commendable is the loss of indexation relief. Following a change introduced by the previous Government, payers of capital gains tax will continue to be taxed on illusory gains. A simple example might help to explain my concern. Let us say that the average price for a pint of beer is £2.50. Instead of buying a pint, one could invest that £2.50. If inflation averages 7% per annum for five years and the investment keeps pace, the beer will have risen in price to £3.50, as will the value of the investment. The investor would therefore expect that the investment would still buy a pint, except that it would not, because 28% capital gains tax would have to be paid and the investment would therefore be worth only £2.50 net of tax. That is clearly inequitable. Given the widespread acceptance that short-termism from investors is a problem faced by businesses up and down the country that are trying to attract capital for start-up funding, working capital and expansion, surely that is short-sighted.
“I know that this matter is important to a number of people who are resident and work in the city of Lincoln. My fellow constituents are industrious and hard-working, and many of them either own their own business, want to start their own business or work for a small family-owned business. They know the importance of access to capital as an owner, a manager or an employee. Enabling measures that encourage investment is surely what this House should be about. What we have in place now enjoys the invidious merit of achieving the exact opposite and I hope that my senior colleagues will rethink these issues at the earliest opportunity. I know that we are where we are because of the utter mess bequeathed to us by Labour in the last Government, so I hope that as soon we have rebalanced the nation’s finances, we can reverse these measures, if we cannot do so now.”