Press releases 2001
13 December 2001
EXCHANGE HARDENS RESOLVE ON STAMP DUTY
Don Cruickshank, Chairman of the London Stock Exchange, today said the Exchange would step up its campaign for the abolition of stamp duty on share transactions.
Speaking to a City audience, Cruickshank said abolishing the tax would help grow the economy. He dispelled the myth that stamp duty was a "victimless" or "painless tax". Using evidence presented to the Chancellor ahead of last month's report, Cruickshank emphasised the negative impact that stamp duty has on the productivity of UK companies at large - "an unseen cancer" eating away at the UK economy.
Cruickshank expressed his disappointment that there was no real public debate on the issue:
"Just a sign that the issue is on the table would have been a clear signal to institutional investors, for example, that this is not a cost that it needs to account for in its long-term modelling. As it is, UK companies will increasingly lose out on domestic and international investment."
He said reforming the tax could help deliver the twin objectives of incentivising the wealth creating sectors of the economy and properly resourcing public services. Drawing on his past experience as Chief Executive of both the NHS in Scotland and a listed company, he said the aims were intimately linked:
"The richer the country, the higher the proportion of its wealth it spends on health care. Britain is not a particularly rich country and it needs wealth creating investment to become one. Knowingly opting for lower investment through the imposition of stamp duty beggars belief. Every modern economy has virtually got rid of such a transaction tax. None would ever think of introducing one."
Cruickshank said abolishing or reducing similar taxes was happening all over the world - even in the People's Republic of China, which recently announced a decision to reduce the rate of stamp duty for the second time in as many years. He reflected: "no modern economy, or aspiring modern economy, imposes such a burden on its wealth producing companies."
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