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Volume 205: debated on Friday 13 March 1992

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13.—(1) Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for the appointment and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons.

(2) A Committee appointed to draw up Reasons shall report before the conclusion of the sitting at which it is appointed.

14. In this Order "the proceedings", in relation to the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill includes proceedings on any further Message from the Lords on the Bill, on the appointment and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons and on the Report of such a Committee.

The timetable motion provides for debates on the Finance Bill to be concluded within four hours from now. We have already had three full days of debate. Indeed, we finished early on Tuesday night. Four hours should give sufficient further time for us to demolish the Opposition's criticisms of the Budget and to demonstrate, yet again, that Labour is a party with a fundamental belief in high taxation for everyone. It will also enable the House to get on the statute book some of the key points of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor's Budget.

The motion also provides for the consideration of Lords amendments to the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill within one hour immediately following the proceedings on the Finance Bill. Again, I believe that that arrangement is right for the country. Just as with the Bill relating to England and Wales, the Scottish Bill is already widely welcomed by further and higher education institutions. It will continue the Government's reforms in further and higher education, which have brought about a vigorous expansion in the places in higher education being taken up by our young people.

We heard yesterday from the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) the predictable dirge about the use of the guillotine. I wholly reject his charge that we are ending this Session with our legislative programme in disorder. The truth is quite the opposite, as the facts show. The hon. Gentleman is never very good with facts, but I shall give them to him. We are, in fact, ending this Session as we began it, with our legislative programme under firm control and in excellent order. It is yet another example of good, effective and successful Government.

I was about to give the facts, but I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman.

I invite the right hon. Gentleman to give the philosophy behind the facts. If, as he claims, the Government's legislative programme is in good order, is not that because he applied guillotines to so many Bills, as he is now doing again? Are there any circumstances in which he thinks it inappropriate to put a timetable on a Bill from the beginning and without consultation?

I have already made it clear—and it is a personal view—that I believe it right to timetable Bills. I have said that the way in which that is done is still a matter for discussion. The principle of timetabling is good because it enables us to have effective consideration of legislation. No one could argue that the way in which we conducted our practices on some Bills in the past, where there has been filibustering, has been effective in ensuring proper scrutiny. I am glad that the Select Committee under my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling) has followed that through.

I shall explain how that has worked in this Session. The Gracious Speech mentioned 12 Bills. I hope that, by the conclusion of business on Monday, 21 Government Bills will have been enacted. Very few Bills will not reach the statute book. If the Asylum Bill is one of those, it will be because the opposition parties have opposed various parts of that important piece of legislation, which I believe the country wants on the statute book.

I think that my right hon. Friend is interrupting what I was about to ask him. He is very perceptive. Does he agree that whatever the result of the general election—and we are buoyant by the prospect of another Conservative victory—and whichever Government come to the House, the Asylum Bill will have to be one of the first measures to be reintroduced?

Mind reading is one of my hobbies, but my skill does not extend to interrupting something that my hon. Friend had not yet said. I agree with him about the importance of having the Asylum Bill on the statute book. If that cannot be by Monday, I trust that it will be done soon thereafter. I hope that at least 21 Government Bills and a number of private Members' Bills will be enacted by the close of business on Monday. The Government are full of new ideas, and our first programme in the new Parliament will include many measures to build on our achievements since 1979.

There are two main reasons why we must proceed with speed, so that the Finance Bill receives Royal Assent before the House rises. First, the Bill contains a number of measures that it is essential to have in place on the statute book. The changes in excise duties contained in resolutions that the House approved last night must be enacted in a Finance Bill, otherwise the extra tax collected would have to be repaid.

The Finance Bill provides also for the renewal of income tax and for the continuation of tax relief on mortgage interest, which are also essential. If the powers to collect income tax are not renewed by 5 May, no income tax could be collected for the financial year ahead. — [Laughter.] That might be attractive to some of my hon. Friends and to many in the country. We have been working to ensure throughout our period of government that taxpayers pay less income tax, but I do not imagine that any right hon. or hon. Member expects no income tax at all to be collected. Also, mortgage payers would not thank us if we could not continue interest relief.

The Finance Bill makes provision for value added tax monthly payments on account, to put beyond doubt the legal position on VAT monthly returns that are currently subject to judicial review.

The Finance Bill provides also for the introduction of the new lower rate of income tax of 20p for the first £2,000 of taxable income, and for the halving of car tax—both highly desirable measures that the country wants implemented and operating as soon as possible.

I hope that the whole country notes that—as I understand last night's vote and that which we expect today—the Opposition oppose the 20p reduced income tax band. That will be an important issue during the forthcoming election.

The Leader of the House must be disappointed with the public's reception of the Budget, as shown by opinion polls and City reaction.

Not at all. Like all good things, people will come to appreciate the Budget's provisions better the more that they study them.

I can give my hon. Friend some interesting information. In a by-election in my constituency yesterday, the Conservative candidate came top of the poll, 400 votes ahead of the runner up, and neither Labour nor the Liberals bothered to contest the seat.

The longer that we debate the Finance Bill and our tax and expenditure policies, the more support we will gain during the general election campaign.

If a 20p tax band is such a good idea, why did the right hon. and learrned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe), as Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer, get rid of it in 1980? Is it not the case that the Government are reintroducing it as a bribe? The electorate understand that a 20p tax band is being reintroduced just prior to a general election to give the impression that the Tories are helping them out. If that tax band had been any good, we would have had it for the past 11 years.

At the beginning of this Government's first term, we faced a need to reduce a truly horrendous public sector borrowing requirement. I will make very clear later in my speech the relative position of the PSBR now. Today, the position is wholly different. The 20p band continues our policy of bringing down direct tax rates and of achieving the long-term target of a basic rate of income tax of 20p in the pound. The reference by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) to a bribe is very revealing of Labour's philosophy. The suggestion that one can bribe people by enabling them to keep more of their earnings demonstrates Labour's thinking, which is, "We can spend your money better than you." That is why Labour is a party of high taxation, and why it will never understand that the electorate do not believe that they can be bribed by being allowed to keep more of their own money.

The debate of the past three days has clearly shown how wide of the mark are Labour's criticisms of the Budget. The Opposition attempt to give the impression that because the Budget contains nothing specific about capital spending and training, nothing is being done about them, but they know very well that under the present system—which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has indicated will be changed anyway—decisions on capital expenditure and training for the year ahead were announced earlier. It is not the case that those decisions—and they are substantial—are announced in a Budget.

We plan capital expenditure of about £30 billion next year, on top of steadily increasing capital programmes. We will take no lessons from the Opposition on capital expenditure. We have steadily increased it, whereas Labour cut that expenditure during its period in office.

Since 1988, capital spending on roads and transport increased by more than one third. British Rail's capital expenditure has nearly doubled, and London Transport's has trebled. Expenditure on training is in real terms two and a half times more than when we took office, which is additional to the high levels of training expenditure undertaken by industry, totalling some £20 billion. Next year's public expenditure programmes include a substantial proportion devoted to capital spending.

Lancastrians have not forgotten that the last Labour Government cut all hospital and school building in the county. It has been catching up steadily under a Conservative Government, but Lancastrians will not forget in a hurry the policies of the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey).

My hon. Friend is right. We plan for the country as a whole a programme of more than 600 new hospital buildings. Schools capital expenditure has risen by 35 per cent. in the last two years. It is nonsense for Labour to claim that the PSBR is being devoted to income tax cuts. One can split the expenditure programme whichever way one likes.

Labour claims also that we are doing nothing for business and investment—ignoring the fact that commerce and manufacturing industry are encouraged to invest by the right economic framework, confidence in Government policies and long-term strategy, low corporation tax and good profitability. Those are the policies which ensure a good level of business investment.

We have provided all these and that is why we have seen an unparalleled investment boom. Investment in plant and machinery increased by almost 50 per cent. from 1979 to 1991 and business investment increased by almost 45 per cent. from 1986 to 1989, the fastest three-year growth since the war. Business investment in 1992 is forecast to be a third higher than in 1979. There is substantial business investment and it has been brought about by the policies that we have created.

The Labour party has ignored the fact that about £6 billion in cash flow is coming into business as a result of interest rate reductions over the past 18 months. There is a further £1 billion as a result of last year's corporation tax reduction. There is also a significant improvement in business cash flow as a result of action already taken. That is why it is right to claim that the Budget, as a Budget for business, adds to what has already been done.

The Labour party does not understand that business men's confidence to press the button to implement new investment plans depends in part on their sales forecasts. Labour behaves as if there is something deeply wrong in giving a modest boost to consumer expenditure through the tax cuts that we propose. There is no black-and-white choice between encouraging investment and encouraging sales. It is not either/or. We need a balance.

I shall use the example of the motor industry, an industry in which there is no shortage of capital investment. Indeed, over recent years it has been massive. That is why there has been a greatly improved export record over the past few years. However, the industry needs a boost to its sales. The halving of the car tax will help business and business investment, not the reverse.

I shall illustrate the public's reaction to the Budget and in so doing take up some of my right hon. Friend's remarks. Yesterday, there was a by-election in my constituency, one ninth of which was involved. In the ward there is almost exactly a 50–50 split between what might be described as private property and the public sector property. We, the Conservative party, took 50 per cent. of the vote and won the seat comfortably. Councillor Tim Bowler will be a great addition to the city council. That was the public's verdict yesterday in my Nottingham constituency.

My hon. Friend's return to the House will be of great benefit to his constituents, as his presence has been in the past.

The result of the by-election in Nottingham illustrates that the Labour party's approach—that a tax cut does nothing to help the economy or to help business confidence—reflects a complete misunderstanding of business investment. It is important to have increased sales and that was illustrated recently in the results of a survey that was undertaken by Goldman Sachs International Ltd. The likelihood is that between £2·5 billion and £3 billion of potential extra spending power will come into the economy between the end of December 1991 and April of this year as a result of the reduction in mortgage interest rates. The fact that about 40 per cent. of mortgages are based on annual interest rate adjustments will have a considerable impact and the adjustments are taking place now. As a result of the measures that we have taken, there has been a considerable boost to business confidence within the economy.

Because of our policies, the results of many surveys, including that of the Anglo-German chamber of commerce, which is composed mainly of German companies that are investing in the United Kingdom and of those who have invested in the United Kingdom—inward investors—demonstrate that investors believe that the United Kingdom is an attractive place in which to do business. That is the result of the Government's policies. That is also the answer to the Labour party's charge that the Budget is not one for business and that we have not been pursuing policies that are attractive to business.

The Confederation of British Industry and many other organisations have supported the approach that we have taken throughout. I noted the other day the result of a survey of the top 200 companies that was undertaken by James Capel and Co. When the companies were asked whether they thought that a Labour victory would be good or bad for the economy, 86 per cent. said that it would be bad. That is the reaction and judgment of business on the alternative policies that will be put to the country in the general election.

Criticisms about the public sector borrowing requirement come ill from the Labour party when we recall both its record in government and its published spending commitments. It is worth reminding the country, as we shall be doing constantly, that when the last Labour Government were in office, the equivalent PSBR as a proportion of gross domestic product—this is an average —was £40 billion. In the Labour Government's worst year it was the equivalent of £55 billion. Our PSBR still remains, as a proportion of GDP, the lowest within the European Community, apart from that of Luxembourg. That is why we can rightly claim to be the party which has pursued sound finances.

We have heard little from the Labour party about how well the Budget is targeted on other groups, such as the small business group in which I take a particular interest. I regret that it has not been possible to include some of the very welcome measures in the Finance Bill that were proposed by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget statement. We shall certainly be including them in legislation as soon as we return after the election.

The targeting on pensioners helps to increase spending and is important for pensioners on income support who, from October, will see an increase in their incomes of at least £5·70 a week. In some instances, it will be as much as £10·70.

I come to the crucial element of the debate, which is the shrillness of the Opposition's reaction to the proposed 20p rate for the first £2,000 of taxable income. The reaction—

Order. There is a disturbance coming from the Opposition Front Bench, but the debate has hardly been about the guillotine motion since it began; it has been wider than that. I have been rather tolerant this morning.

I am grateful, Madam Deputy Speaker. To judge from the interventions in my speech, the House wants to debate the motion.

The Opposition's reaction to the 20p proposal reveals them in their true colours. The proposal is worth £100 a year to almost 21 million taxpayers. It is skilfully targeted to give the most assistance proportionately to the lower paid. Seventy five per cent. of the benefit will go to those on below average earnings. The marginal tax rate will be reduced for nearly 4 million taxpayers.

The right hon. Gentleman has made a rather important point. He said that 75 per cent. of the benefit will go to people on below average earnings. Is that now the Government's definition of the lower paid?

No, because I was talking about skilful targeting to those on lower incomes. I was simply making a point about what the impact of the measure would be.

Does my right hon. Friend think that the casual disregard of £100 is because it would not even pay for the first course of the gala dinner in Park lane?

My hon. Friend makes his point.

It was interesting that the Opposition got into a muddle in their reaction to the 20p proposal, as they do on every other tax matter. The hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Garrett) described it as a good idea. The hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) said that he would support it. The hon. Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek) was quoted in the Liverpool Daily Post as saying:
"There may be a way we can accept this tax band because we believe the lower paid pay too much tax already."
As always, the Labour party got into a muddle and tried to retreat. In truth, it believes in and stands for higher taxes, not only for those on higher incomes, but for those on middle and lower incomes. That is demonstrated by its attitude to the 20p proposal and by everything that it says about taxes generally.

The country will be able to judge from the way in which Opposition Members vote whether the Labour party is for or against lower taxes, for or against directing the benefit of tax cuts to the least well off and for or against an economy that is competitive with other countries. We Conservatives know that the role of government is to get economic fundamentals right, to keep them right, to create conditions for growth and opportunities for enterprise and to provide scope for freedom of choice. As the Finance Bill demonstrates, we know that the money that Governments spend comes from taxpayers. We believe it right to leave people with as much of their own money to spend as is possible.

We believe in reducing taxes, increasing incentives and enhancing opportunities for all our people. The Labour party does not believe in any of those things. It will be demonstrating that again today by voting against our proposals. The country will soon judge. I have no doubt that its verdict will be the same as it has been for the last 13 years.

9.59 am

I hope that I do not embarrass you, Madam Deputy Speaker, if I say that we think we heard a note of irony in your voice when you reminded us what the debate is about. I shall return to that point in a moment, but I begin by saying genuinely to the Leader of the House that, in so far as he has been involved in work on House of Commons affairs, he has been a good Leader. I thank him for his courtesy to me personally in the way that we have tried to work together to improve matters in the House of Commons—but there, I am afraid, the felicitations must end.

As you said, Madam Deputy Speaker, with a note of irony in your voice, when you reminded us of the nature of the debate and why we are here, the reason why we are here this morning is that the Leader of the House is asking us to agree to the guillotining of three Bills. In round numbers, that means that in this Parliament the Government, with their large majority, will have guillotined about 40 measures—more than twice the number of guillotines used by the Labour Government between 1974 and 1979, when we did not even have a majority in the House of Commons.

The Government will finish as they began—unable to persuade people by argument and debate, but determined to railroad their ideas through Parliament regardless. At least two or three Conservative Members are in the Chamber today who, in the past, had the courage and conviction to stand up and oppose in principle the guillotining of Bills and also to vote against measures such as the poll tax when that, too, was guillotined. The Government have never learnt from their mistakes throughout this Parliament in the way that they have approached the business of the House.

This morning's proceedings are unprecedented. The Budget debate has been curtailed and we face the savage guillotining of the Finance Bill through all its stages in a few hours today. No Government of any persuasion, however great their difficulties, ever conducted proceedings on the Finance Bill and the Budget in such a way. The right hon. Gentleman leaves this Parliament with an unenviable record in that regard, as well as in some others, to which I shall turn later.

The Leader of the House says that we have to have a Finance Bill. He is absolutely right. Despite what he said yesterday, we recognised that need from the outset—but we did not have to have a Finance Bill in these circumstances and we did not have to have a Budget debate in these circumstances. We could have had the Budget a week earlier or we could have had the general election a week later. Either way, the Government simply messed it up.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer—he was here a few moments ago, but has vanished again, no doubt having put on his Vatman cape—and the Prime Minister were responsible for fixing these dates and this timetable. What we now see clearly is that they made a complete mess of fixing the dates. The result is the guillotining of the Finance Bill today.

We see a flight from responsibility by the Government. They deny that the recession has anything to do with their policies. They deny that homelessness has anything to do with their policies—it is the fault of the homeless. Unemployment is the fault of people who do not have jobs. The recession is the fault of the Americans. The Government accept no responsibility for anything. Even after 13 years in office, with large parliamentary majorities and advantageous world circumstances, and with oil revenues in excess of £100 million, the Government leave the nation's affairs in a shambles. They leave Parliament in a shambles, too.

The Finance Bill is the most important measure to be guillotined this morning, but the Education (Schools) Bill is also guillotined, as is the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill, even though we have expressed our acceptance of the Bill in its present form. I assume that the Leader of the House is guillotining it because he is concerned about the Scottish Nationalists, but as they are not here I am not sure what he is worried about. He is guillotining that Bill without the Labour party opposing it.

The Leader of the House said that the Government's conduct of the final aspects of their business was orderly, so whatever happened to the Asylum Bill? I hope that the right hon. Gentleman was not implying, or trying to convince the House, that the Asylum Bill is not here because we oppose it. The truth of the matter is that the right hon. Gentleman was offered a compromise on that Bill by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) but the Government rejected it. The real reason why the Asylum Bill is not in the House now is because the Government have signally failed to convince the other place—a combination of Tory peers, Cross Benchers and others—that it should be allowed through. That is why the Asylum Bill has not come back from the other place—it has nothing to do with obstacles in the House of Commons and it is quite out of order to suggest anything to the contrary.

The reality is that the Government are staggering through these last few days of Parliament, desperate to get out of here before even their last act of folly—their Budget —is rumbled. They have even missed the boat on that. Their timetable has gone wrong on that, too. As reactions from the City and from people around the country show, the Budget has had a big thumbs down. The great launch for the Tory campaign has stalled. The rocket motor has fizzled out like a damp squib. How can any Conservative Member or anyone else in the forthcoming campaign believe that the person on £70 a week, whom the Chancellor told us he had in mind when he made his tax changes, will be delighted by the proposals? The tax reduction offered to that taxpayer is just under 19p per week. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) said, that is equivalent to the price of a box of matches. Anyone who thinks either that that will motivate voters to support his discredited Government or that it will electrify the economy must be living in cloud cuckoo land.

In a moment.

The truth is that even before my right hon. and learned Friend the shadow Chancellor unveils his alternative budget next week, our own proposals on child benefit, a minimum wage and attendant policies will do far more for the low paid than anything in this Budget.

If the Labour party is voting against the lower band of income tax, will it consider most carefully the fact that the main reason for it is to give every possible incentive to the unemployed to get into work? Due to the poverty trap, there has been no incentive for them to take low-paid jobs. Is this not the best way to bring about a fall in unemployment?

The hon. Gentleman must be absolutely confused about the position of people who are out of work. They are out of work as a result of the Government's policies. If he thinks that 19p per week is all that is stopping people who are out of work from getting jobs, he is fundamentally mistaken. I can tell him from my experience throughout the country, and in particular from my experience in my own constituency of Copeland, that what he says is incorrect. There are 3,000 people out of work in Copeland. If I include the unemployment in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), there are between 6,000 and 7,000 people out of work in west Cumbria. An extra 19p a week will do nothing to create additional employment in west Cumbria. Indeed, a further unemployment calamity is coming to west Cumbria due to the running down of the nuclear industry's construction programme and a further 3,000 people will lose their jobs in my constituency. The hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Dover) knows the building and construction industry. He knows that it is in a calamitous state across the country. Nothing in the Budget—certainly not the 19p reduction for an employed person earning £70 per week—will resolve the problems. The hon. Gentleman knows that.

I have not given way, but as the hon. Gentleman has been so courteous, I will do so now.

Will the hon. Gentleman assure the poor people of Cumbria that a future Labour Government would take a positive attitude to the nuclear industry and the construction thereof?

Yes. I did not want to be diverted to the subject of nuclear power, but, as the hon. Gentleman has mentioned it, I can say that it is important in my constituency, where it employs 14,000 people directly. The Government took office 13 years ago, full of bold, brave things to say about nuclear power, but what is their record? They started but did not finish even one nuclear power station in 13 years.

The hon. Gentleman says, "Thank goodness." He is entitled to his point of view, but for the Government to talk as though they are the saviours of the nuclear industry is one of the long-running myths of this and previous Parliaments. If we take into account the privatisation of the electricity industry—

Order. We are straying too far by talking about privatisation measures. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is about to return to the motion on the allocation of time.

That shows that I should not have been tempted to allow an intervention by the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor). However, to conclude the point, the privatisation of the electricity industry above all wrecked the prospects of the industry to which the hon. Gentleman referred. That was another of the Government's terrible mistakes.

I deal again with the reason for the guillotine as you rightly reminded me to do, Madam Deputy Speaker. The motion is intended to force through the Budget proposals with the claim that somehow at the 59th second of the 59th minute of the 23rd hour, as the Government stagger out of office, they have suddenly become concerned about lower-paid people. That is absolutely bogus. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) has said, in one of their first Acts the Government abolished the lower rate. Now, 12 years later—just before a general election—they are reintroducing it.

What has happened in the intervening decade? What has happened since Conservative Members voted to freeze child benefit? Were they thinking about low-income families then? Of course they were not. What happened when they trooped through the Lobbies to impose the poll tax on low-income families? Where was their concern for the low paid then? What were they thinking when they agreed to legislation that, for the reasons that we advanced, no political party in any other democracy would support? When they agreed to introduce the poll tax, what did they think about sending poll tax bills to people who had no income? That is the Government's record on taxation—to say nothing of the 2·5 per cent. increase in VAT in the last year's Budget to buy off poll tax anger.

I thought that we had come to hear about the guillotine.

The hon. Gentleman did not come here for that purpose—he knows that and so do we.

As I was saying, that is the Government's record, not to mention imposing the highest tax burden in history on all of us as they leave after 13 uninterrupted years in office. The Government have got the Budget wrong, and they have got it wrong for 13 years. If they have not got it right in 13 years, they never will.

That is what people think. At the end of the debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) will remind hon. Members of the comments of City analysts on the Budget. They said that it was a flop and gave it the thumbs down. One Thatcherite supporter in the City gave it one out of 10. It was remarkable to sit here while the Chancellor introduced the Budget and to observe the look and demeanour of the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher). She looked absolutely livid throughout the whole performance.

I asked the Leader of the House yesterday about the Conservative campaign guide for the coming election. I do not know whether Conservative Members have seen it, but if they would like to come to my office afterwards, they can have a copy. The guide is already out of date because it contains figures that are nonsensical. It talks about a PSBR of £10·5 billion, which is already 50 per cent. too low. It says nothing about the PSBR of £28 billion for the coming financial year or one of £32 billion for the year after that.

What happened to sound money? What happened to balanced Budgets? What about the chairman of the Conservative party who said that large borrowing was simply deferred taxation, a burden for future generations? All those arguments have gone out of the window—whoof!—because there is a general election on the way. That is what the Budget is all about, and that is why the Government have made such a reckless economic misjudgment. As my hon. Friends have said, and as the polls show today, the Budget was also a huge political misjudgment. People do not want it. It means nothing to them in the face of higher tax bills, higher poll tax bills, higher charges for electricity, for gas and for water, and higher petrol prices. Those higher prices will override any benefits to low-income families which might have resulted from these policies.

I will give way in a moment.

The Budget will not wash. Even the people who are struggling, as I know from my constituency experience —who are faced with schools without sufficient text books or learning materials for their children, and with the appalling circumstances which led to the tragic death of Georgina Norris—would rather have borrowing for investment, to build for the future. They know that investment for the future is the best way to get a better deal for themselves and their families, rather than a tax bribe a few weeks before a general election.

The hon. Gentleman is attacking the Government for their imprudent level of borrowing. Will he let us into the secret of the shadow Budget to be published tomorrow? Will the level of borrowing under a Labour Government be lower or higher than that which we propose?

I cannot let the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) in on the secret of my right hon. and learned Friend's Budget to be revealed tomorrow because it will be revealed next week. All will be revealed. My right hon. and learned Friend made it clear in the Chamber that we shall have to work within the circumstances that we inherit. [Interruption] Hon. Members say that we shall have to stay with it. Of course, an incoming Labour Government—and that is what we shall have—will have to work within the circumstances that they inherit. I suspect that, as in the past, the mess of the nation's finances will be even worse when we open the books and take a thorough look, but we shall have to deal with that. The hon. Member for Chichester must contain himself for a few days more. He will discover that my right hon. and learned Friend's alternative proposals are better not only for individuals but for Britain as a whole.

The hon. Gentleman has just talked about capital spending in the national health service, with the implication that somehow or other Labour would do better. During the forthcoming election campaign, will he keep reminding the electorate that the Government have increased capital spending on hospitals by 76 per cent., compared with the 30 per cent. cut made by the Labour Government in that same capital spending?

Indeed, I am more than happy to respond to the right hon. Gentleman's challenge that we should debate the circumstances of the national health service during the election campaign. We know that people are deeply unhappy about the Government's policies and, notwithstanding what the right hon. Gentleman says about expenditure, he and his right hon. Friends must explain why wards are continuing to close, why emergency beds are not available and why desperately ill children are turned away from hospitals. Why is that happening, if the Government's record on health is so wonderful? Why is the number of beds available for private patients who need urgent treatment increasing while the number of beds available to NHS patients is declining? Why is that happening if the Government have made such a good job of their health service reforms?

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that we have substantially increased spending on the health service in real terms, by about 55 per cent. overall. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not enough."] Labour Members, say that that is not enough. How, then, do they explain what the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) is clearly saying to the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook)—that the Labour party would not be able to spend more on the health service and that, because of its policies on a national minimum wage, on pay beds and on prescription charges, it would substantially reduce the amount actually spent on patients within the health service?

We are right at the nub of the dispute between us. This is the choice which people face. They must choose whether the money that is still available, even in these desperately difficult financial circumstances—the mess that the Tory Government are leaving—should be spent on tax cuts or on investments. That is the clear choice which we shall put to the people and we are happy to put it in those clear terms. I am quietly confident that people will see the difference and make the choice—and that choice will be for Labour. The evidence emerges again and again from the debate.

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House how much the Labour party, in a quite revolting fashion, has spent on advertising which exploits the death of a child?

The tragedy of Georgina Norris, who was twice taken to hospital to have an operation and twice sent home, is appalling. It is a stain on a civilised society that that child should have died in those circumstances.

I know very well what the circumstances were, and we stand by what we have said —the child's parents wanted the nation's attention drawn to what happened to their little girl as a result of the Government's mismanagement of the national health service. For the hon. Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale) to suggest otherwise is a deliberate attempt to mislead the House and the country. I have all the correspondence here and he is welcome to see it all if he wishes.

Order. I shall not allow further discussion on an individual case. We are discussing principles.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker —I might have known that that was the kind of intervention that the hon. Member for Thanet, North would make.

On this penultimate day of our deliberations, the Government are desperate to get their fag-ends of legislation through—desperate to get their bribes on to the statute book—so they are guillotining our procedure. They have used the guillotine a record number of times. The Leader of the House smiles. I do not think that he should smile, because, as well as being fed up with the Government's economic and social policy failures the people are fed up with the abuse of Parliament which has been a recurring feature of the Government's term of office. The Government are concluding their term of office with another abuse of Parliament—and that, too, will count against them in the ballot box on 9 April.

10.26 am

The debate has ranged rather widely, but its subject is rather narrow— whether it is wiser for us to carry on discussing the Finance Bill in detail for a week or to rush on with the election now. The evidence so far suggests that it would have been better for us to go on for another week on the Finance Bill, because the signs for the election campaign appear rather depressing. There are a few exceptions—the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), who has just spoken, is an obvious exception. I asked him a straight question and he gave me a straight answer. I hope that that will be a sign of what will happen in the campaign.

I asked the hon. Member for Copeland simply whether a Labour Government would be in favour of expanding a nuclear power programme and he said, "Yes." Presumably, that would be at the expense of coal-fired power stations. There are some such subjects on which it is good for politicians to give a straight answer. We know that some people feel that we should have more coal-fired power stations, while some favour gas-fired power stations and some want to cut the nuclear construction industry. At least we have had a straight answer from the hon. Member for Copeland. That is the sort of thing that we should have. There have been other signs that are not so good.

I understand that the Leader of the Opposition will be in Scotland today. We always regarded him as one of our staunch friends in the battle against all the nonsense about devolution—but now he seems to be one of its greatest supporters. It is tragic that, during the election campaign, nonsense will be talked by people who used proudly to support strong policies.

I shall ask the Leader of the House three questions. He will know that many Back Benchers have strong feelings on taxation issues and that they want to bring those feelings before the House when debating the Finance Bill. Yet it seems that, because of the guillotine, we shall be denied that opportunity. If, as we hope, the Conservative Government are re-elected, will there be an early opportunity to consider various tax anomalies?

I want to talk about simple things—for instance, beach huts, which, as my right hon. Friend probably knows, are important to the tourist industry. Suddenly, in the course of last year, beach huts became liable to VAT. That was done not by primary legislation but by some funny order that went to a Committee and it is obviously grossly discriminatory against the leisure and tourism industry. It is unfair and people are fed up about it.

We wondered how we could resolve the matter and we thought that we would be able to do so in the Finance Bill— but now we shall not be able to, which means that a great injustice to seaside areas, including Southend-on-Sea, will continue for another year unless we can have a detailed discussion on the subject.

Another great anomaly concerns the sale of secondhand furniture. It is ridiculous that, although almost every other industry pays VAT only on added value, sadly, on second-hand furniture the gross amount must be paid. That is unfair to the industry, especially to the minority of people in it who are registered for VAT.

Another anomaly concerns people with working wives. If someone who is unemployed has a working wife, it will be almost impossible to get the mortgage paid, whereas if the wife is not working the mortgage can be paid. That is the kind of anomaly which we would like to discuss on the Finance Bill, but we shall not be given the opportunity. I simply ask my right hon. Friend whether, if we approve the motion, there will be another opportunity for considering detailed points about unfairness and distortion in tax legislation.

Secondly, I believe that it would be best if, in advance of the election, the Leader of the House introduced a simple motion outlining issues on which all the parties could agree. The motion could be discussed for about three hours and those issues could be left out of party politics. We could send them for local decision making.

That is not a silly idea. Hon. Members from all parties are aware that whenever there is a general election many people face total uncertainty. I shall cite one little example, which concerns the 2,500 children in Southend-on-Sea who attend grammar schools. There are arguments for and against grammar schools. I believe that if grammar schools are abolished, the people who will suffer will be able children from working-class areas. That is a political argument which is not relevant to the motion.

What is terrible is that, at this election, the next election and the election after that, the children, teachers and parents face uncertainty. They know that if one party wins, the grammar schools will be closed. If another party wins, the schools will stay open. Is it not possible to get some agreement between the parties before the election that there are some issues that we all agree should be left to the decision of local people? That is not an attack on the Labour party or on the Liberal Democrats: it is simply a suggestion that there must be some issues that we could agree to leave to local decision making.

I hope that the House will consider that possibility instead of using the motion. I hope that the House will decide to have short discussions with all the parties to see which issues we could leave to local decision making. We should not then have this terrible position of total uncertainty.

The Labour party used to believe in nationalisation and we had terrible problems. Industries did not know where they were, the employers did not know where they were and the workers—

I have some sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman says about local decision making. However, we have had 13 years of a Tory Government who have continually undermined local democracy, local accountability and local decision making. I should have liked to hear the hon. Gentleman's voice raised more sternly when local accountability was effectively being removed by the House.

I am trying terribly hard not to be political. Even if the hon. Gentleman were absolutely accurate, even if the Conservative party were a crowd of rascals who wanted to interfere with everything—I do not think that they are, because some of them are very nice blokes—surely we should not go further.

Why does the hon. Gentleman think that it is right that a political party should say what kind of educational arrangements there should be in an area? Why not leave it to the local people? If they want to change, let them change.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) will remember that when his party used to believe in nationalisation, which it does not believe in now, the same uncertainty applied to many jobs and many industries. Happily, the Labour party has moved away from that position and from many of its former policies. Would it not be sensible to have an arrangement whereby the parties could say, "Let the people decide locally and do not let the centre do so"?

As we shall not have a lengthy discussion of the Finance Bill, people like me—I call us a growing minority—who feel that all the parties, unfortunately, are being prevented from going ahead with more flexible economic policies because of their commitment to the exchange rate mechanism, are unable to ask the Government whether there is anything in the Bill which will remove the freedom of a Conservative, a Labour or a Liberal Democrat Government to withdraw from the ERM if they wish.

Only about 11 Conservative Members voted against the decision, but the Leader of the House will be aware that there has been a big change of opinion. The Times has changed greatly and now says that it is in favour of a free pound. That is wonderful. It is rather like getting the Church of England to say that it is opposed to fox hunting. It is a major change in opinion which has spread throughout the House and elsewhere. There is a growing belief that, if one tries to create an artificial price for anything, one simply creates distortions elsewhere.

We see the same problems arising under the EC agricultural policy, which we cannot discuss under the motion. As artificial prices are created, one has distortions—

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman oblige me by relating what he says far more to the motion? He is now straying quite far away from it.

You are quite right, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am trying to speak briefly.

I am simply trying to say to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House about the motion, which cuts the time for discussion on the Finance Bill, that we should be allowed just a little more time to answer my simple, clear question, to which I want just a yes or no answer. Is there anything in the complicated Bill, which I have just seen, which removes the freedom of future Governments of any party to withdraw from the ERM if they wish to do so?

The Government have made it abundantly clear that they do not want to withdraw. Their commitment is firm. We simply want an opportunity, which I hope we may get, to be given the answer yes or no. My right hon. Friend may find that increasing numbers of people are moving towards my position. It would be terrible if we lost our freedom.

I hope that we shall be given positive answers to my three questions before we vote on the motion. I hope that, in the forthcoming election contest, all people from all parties will give clear, decisive and positive answers—as the hon. Member for Copeland did when I asked him a simple and clear question about nuclear power. Let us hope that all the answers and questions will be as clear and decisive during the election.

10.34 am

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) has had his chance already, because he was on television last night. He is a bit upset because I have got in before the Liberal Democrats. It is a great day and I am all in favour of it. The hon. Gentleman talked a bit about the guillotine a bit last night on television and he made it plain that the 20p band was going down like a lead balloon.

The atmosphere in the House today is different from the atmosphere on Tuesday. All the euphoria on the Conservative Benches has gone. I admit that when I heard the Chancellor say that he was introducing the 20p band for the first £2,000, I got out my little Labour party pocket book and I saw that the proposal was still there. Many things have been whittled away in Labour party policy reviews over the past few years, yet that policy still remains. I thought, "Here the Conservatives are, stealing our clothes. Ain't it smart?" I decided that it would not worry me, because I vote against Labour party policy from time to time.

Outside this place, within seconds, people were not taking the view that the 20p rate that many Conservative Members and some Labour Members took. I have another answer. I would have added another 5 per cent. to the 50 per cent. tax band and got the money back that way. That is still a threat if I get the job of Chancellor of the Exchequer, although I do not think that I am in line for it. It is a pointer.

The whole environment in which we debate today has changed completely. The Leader of the House talked about having to get the matter dealt with by 5 May. I must tell my hon. Friends who were not here before that if we do not get the Finance Bill on to the statute book by 5 May, all the taxes that should be collected will not be collected. If I can find a parliamentary procedural way in which to keep things going beyond 5 May, I shall be a bigger hero than Robin Hood. I am working on that one. Are any by-elections pending?

I am not so sure about mine. It is important that, after the initial bout of enthusiasm, the markets and the stock exchange took a completely different view. The problem that the Government must face in their dying days is not only the level of the public sector borrowing requirement at £28 billion, but the dramatic increase over 12 months.

The Leader of the House referred to the large PSBR between 1974 and 1979. He forgot to mention that part of it was due to the quadrupling of oil prices just before the Labour Government were elected. He forgot to mention that we inherited a bigger PSBR, in percentage terms, in 1974 than we left. I hope that all my hon. Friends remember that. When the Conservatives talk about the PSBR, we must realise that, in the middle of Labour's period of office, the PSBR went up dramatically, but if we take into account the beginning and the end, the PSBR was less than the PSBR that we inherited.

Over the past 12 months, the PSBR has increased from £14 billion to £26 billion. The Government have now added another £2 billion. The City is saying that that is a dangerous and dramatic increase. That is its verdict. Those in the City are also bearing in mind the fact that the Government have picked up £100 billion-worth of North sea oil tax receipts and another £42 billion-worth of privatisation receipts. It is almost incredible that a Government who have had £142 billion extra should have managed to end up with a public sector deficit of £28 billion after 13 years in which they have had all that money from North sea oil. That is the difference between the 1980s and the 1970s.

We could have done a lot with that 2 billion quid. Only 4·75 million people are now engaged in the manufacturing industry—the lowest figure ever. This year, fewer people will be engaged in manufacturing than will be working in hotels and shops. I am not knocking people who work in hotels and shops, but we must remember that Britain imports about 50 per cent. of its food. We now have a net deficit on manufactured goods and there is no way in which we can allow the manufacturing capacity of Britain to continue as it is and pay for that imported food—let alone imported coal, imported oil and imported manufactured goods; it is impossible.

My hon. Friends on the Front Bench who will inherit the positions of those on the Treasury Bench in a month's time can forget about the £28 billion, because when they open the books they will find that matters are dramatically worse than that. That is the position and there are people out there in the City who know it. They are closer to reading the books than we are and they have friends on the Conservative Benches who tell them things—some of the dries in the Tory party who may not even be voting Tory at the election. I shall not name names, but a few of them are not looking forward to the Government getting back into power. They know, and their friends in the City know, that the situation is dramatically worse than it appears.

The £2 billion could have been used to boost manufacturing industry. It could have been used to boost housing. The state of housing in Britain after 13 years of Tory government is a crying shame. They called 1979 a bad year for Labour, yet in that year we built 80,000 public sector houses. My hon. Friends and I used to complain that that was not enough; we wanted 160,000 or 280,000, but we only got 80,000. Last year, only 8,000 public sector houses were built—8,000.

There are elderly people waiting for bungalows and other forms of accommodation. I am talking not just about London, although in parts of London homelessness is worse than it is anywhere else. I am also talking about places such as Bolsover, where the housing waiting list is longer now than when I was first elected in 1970. Every one of us knows that there is a crying need for houses.

The £2 billion could have been used to kick-start the housing economy and get rid of cardboard city, which is an utter scandal. We ought to have a party political broadcast showing people in door holes in the Strand, showing the piles of bricks at the London Brick Company and the 250,000 construction workers who do not have jobs. It does not take a Pythagoras to put those three things together and put roofs over people's heads.

Yet the Tories have the cheek to talk about putting £100 per annum into the pockets of Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers—because that is where the money will go, despite all the talk about its going only to the lower-paid. Let us get the facts straight: if people are on family credit, the money will be taken away from them pound for pound. The 3 million people who are unemployed will not get a penny piece out of this bribe of a Budget. We have housing squalor all around us and that is one of the things that the next Labour Government will have to sort out.

There is also the question of education. Some £4 billion needs to be spent on repairs to educational establishments, but nothing has been done in that regard either.

What else could we international socialists have done with the money? We could have used some of it to help pay off some of the debts of the third-world countries. We could have used a little of it to double the amount of money that we pay in overseas aid to some of those impoverished nations. Instead, the Government have chosen to line their own pockets and the pockets of their friends out there in the City.

The hon. Gentleman is right that the £2 billion could have been well used in ways that would have helped low-paid people more than the £100 tax cut, which many of them will not get. But he has spent it several times. If he is to tackle education, investment and overseas aid and kick-start the economy, he will either have to borrow more or raise more revenue—and on that, those on the Labour Front Bench seem a little hesitant.

I am merely giving examples of the way in the which the money could have been used. There are many options. I am not saying that we would need all the £2 billion to kick-start the housing economy. I think that the hon. Gentleman knows that. We could start to do that by using some of the capital receipts that are held by the local authorities. Then we would not even need to start on the £2 billion. But as the hon. Gentleman is an economist, he has probably missed that point. It is early in the morning and I understand his problem. He is probably having to prop up Paddy Backdown or Captain Mainwaring or whatever they call him now. I understand his difficulties.

The public know—the voters know—that we could have done a lot with that money. We could have used it for child benefit or to help the old-age pensioners. We could use it to help implement the Elimination of Poverty in Retirement Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn). All those issues need to be dealt with, but instead the Government said, "Let's introduce the 20p band. That'll embarrass the Labour party. It's in their little pocket book document." Somebody said to them, "Do you remember that we got rid of it in 1980?" The reply was, "Did we?" "Yes. It was the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East." "Oh, we're not bothered about him. He's going; he's on his way. Nobody will remember anyway. They'll not think about it on the Labour Benches."

The Government abolished the 20p tax band 1 I years ago. They introduced a poll tax to hammer the low paid. They cut social security benefits to hammer the low paid. They took away the death grant, the maternity grant, income support for 16 and 17-year-olds to hammer the low paid. Every time they walked into the House of Commons, they did something else to hit the low paid. Then, a few weeks before a general election, some tin-pot ideologue said, "Let's introduce a 20p band and trap the Labour party." They might have done that momentarily, but the people out there understand it for what it is: it is a dirty, stinking Tory bribe, and they will pay the penalty for it at the general election.

10.47 am

The House has just heard a vintage performance from one of its favourite performers. I remember the day when I had to congratulate the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) on his maiden speech, and I did so with great sincerity. I forecast then that the House might hear from him occasionally in the future.[Laughter.] That prediction was absolutely right and I am sure that many Treasury forecasters would like to be able to emulate its accuracy.

I want to say a few words about the guillotine motion, you will be glad to hear, Madam Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), who has a nice line in affable invective, began his speech by paying a graceful tribute to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. As I have served on a number of House of Commons Committees, I should like to associate myself with those words. For a very long time, the House has not had a Leader of the House who has devoted more time to its affairs. My right hon. Friend has been a particularly effective Leader of the House and I should love to see him in the job again after the general election, although he deserves promotion because of what he has achieved. The hon. Member for Copeland has been an excellent shadow Leader of the House and I wish him many happy years in that position.

We had the usual synthetic rhetoric about guillotine motions. I have never been an enthusiast for guillotine motions introduced by either party, as the hon. Member for Copeland knows, but this is one occasion on which I speak quite gladly in support of such a motion. I have one reservation: we have been given only four hours. In common with hon. Members on both sides of the House I have cancelled all my constituency engagements, so I could willingly have managed another two.

That reservation notwithstanding, I support the guillotine motion. The hon. Member for Copeland and other hon. Members know that all we are concerned about now is to tidy our business, make sure that the Finance Bill is passed, and get to the hustings. We are anxious to put the respective cases of the various parties. I am glad that the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Grocott) is nodding his head. It is absolutely necessary. It is important that we get back to the country. Dissolution must take place on Monday. I, for one, am delighted to pursue a vigorous campaign in support of policies in which I have great faith.

It has not always been the case—the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) is right.—but I am delighted that it now is.

The sooner we can conclude our business tidily and in good order, the better. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has my full support. In spite of all that the hon. Member for Bolsover said a few moments ago with great eloquence, fervour, passion and sincerity, as the House has heard from me and my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo), yesterday these were two tests of public opinion in by-elections. They are real tests of real voters' feelings. In both cases there was a resounding victory for the Conservative party.

I have great faith in the policies that we will put forward in the general election. I want to get to the hustings as quickly as possible. The sooner we can finish our business today and wrap up the formalities on Monday, the better. The hon. Member for Copeland, for all his invective, knows that I am absolutely right and he, in his heart, agrees with every word.

10.51 am

We probably could have finished our business a couple of hours earlier if we had not had this timetable motion. We could have got on with dealing with the Finance Bill instead of spending several hours discussing whether we should discuss it and, if so, at what length. The fact that we have it illustrates the attitude which the otherwise genial and affable Leader of the House displays to the conduct of parliamentary business. One of his phrases should chill any support of democracy to the bone. He said to his hon. Friends, "If we do not have the Asylum Bill here today and do not have it on Monday, it is because Opposition parties are opposing some parts of the Bill." I thought that that was what we were here for—to find out what features of Bills will not work very well or were wrong in principle, and oppose them, make it difficult for the Government to get them through, and subject them to the most careful scrutiny. The fact that somebody has thought of engaging in that act—in some cases the people involved, horror of horrors, are actually Conservatives: in this case, Conservatives in another place—has caused the Government such apoplexy that they produce a reason not to proceed with the Bill.

When Governments are brought under pressure as at the end of a Session, it is normal for them to try to seek accommodation, rather as the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor), to see whether parties can agree on parts of the Bill that are important and should go ahead and it is in the general interest that they should go ahead. That process has gone on at the end of every Parliament I have served in. I have taken part in discussions with Ministers in previous Parliaments. It is funny that, all of a sudden, what the Liberal Democrats think becomes terribly important because the Government have realised that they cannot get their Bill through if we subject it to any scrutiny. Under previous Governments there were discussions designed to get maximum agreement between the parties on what could go ahead. That could have occurred in respect of these proceedings.

The timetable motion is particularly vicious. It is a "Heads I win, tails you lose" motion. It contains the provision that the proceedings
"shall he brought to a conclusion four hours after the commencement of the proceedings on this Order."
The object is quite simple. It is to escape the requirement that the House of Commons has traditionally had, that if a Government are to timetable a Bill there should be some obstacle to their doing so. The obstacle is removed, because if we discuss the timetable motion all the time taken is lost from the discussion of the Bill.

I favour the timetabling of Bills. It is a sensible way to proceed. I was a member of the Committee chaired by the right hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling), to which the Leader of the House gave evidence. I was also a member of the Procedure Committee, chaired by the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery). Both Committees recommended that there should be a timetable procedure for all Bills, but one based on a mechanism of consultation which ensures that the Government do not have total control over the amount of time available and the way in which it is divided, because if they have such control it is too easy for them.

There is nothing in the proceedings of the House to prevent the Government from coming forward with a motion such as this, saying that proceedings on the Finance Bill shall end five minutes after they have begun —indeed, five minutes after the order to discuss the timetable has began. There is absolutely nothing to prevent them from doing so, other than the possibility that there may be more than a handful of determined democrats on the Conservative side of the House.

Whenever such issues arise, and whenever we criticise timetable motions, the Leader of the House says how valuable the Bill is and that everybody agrees what a good Bill it is. That is not the point. Parliament must ensure that legislation on the statute book has been properly discussed and considered and is in a fit state of law to be put on the statute book. That will not happen if parliamentary procedures can be manipulated by the Government to suit their own convenience. That is what they are able to do with such a motion. That is why I oppose the motion, both the way in which it is being used and its form.

The Leader of the House has explained that the motion is necessary in order to consider the Finance Bill. It is the thinnest Finance Bill I have ever seen. I am accustomed to sitting on Finance Bill Committees and carrying around a half inch thick Finance Bill and endless notes on clauses. This is a slight document. We could have disposed of the Bill fairly quickly. Perhaps there could have been a case for the timetable motion which set aside reasonably short periods in which we could have dealt with Second Reading, the principal clauses of the Bill, enabled hon. Members to vote against one or two features of it, and end the proceedings in perfectly good time. The Leader of the House chose not to do that because he prefers the nice easy device of saying, "I decide how long it is. Nobody else has any say in the matter. If they dare to challenge the timetable, that will be taken off the time available to discuss the Bill."

That is a disgraceful way to run a Parliament. The next Parliament will not accept that treatment. That is because there will be plenty of Liberal Democrats who will be determined that Parliament should not be run in that way. I hope that members of other parties will feel that that is not the way to run Parliament and will take on board the recommendations of the Committees which have examined the matter in detail, and ensure that we do not consider business in this way in future.

What I say applies not only to the dying days of the Session, but to the way in which the Government handle business all the time. These proceedings are much like those that we have had on many other Bills. Far from being in a hurry to have an election, the Government were putting the election off for as long as possible. They had all the time in the world. The Prime Minister did not want an election date. It used to be said that one of the Prime Minister's great advantages is being able to choose the date for the general election, but I get the impression that lately it has been one of the Prime Minister's main handicaps. He has had to go to bed each night wondering, "How can I put off having a general election? I wish that I did not have that awful decision." That has ceased to be one of his principal advantages. The Government are organising a closing-down sale: "Everything must go. Buy now before the end of today's business."

The Government Whip, the hon. Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight) says, "Get on with it." The Government Whip is responsible for the timetable motion which ensures that, if any hon. Member actually wants to debate the details of the Bill, there is no provision to enable him to do so. Coming from the cesspit of the Government Whips office—[Interruption.] I am almost quoting the Prime Minister's words from the Dispatch Box yesterday. He said that Mr. Speaker seemed remarkably untainted by the years he spent in that evil institution. That is only the slightest of paraphrases. When hon. Members get into the Whips Office and into the office of the Leader of the House, they spend their lives devising ways of making sure that matters are not discussed and that there is no trouble. It is like a fire brigade equipped with a foam that is blown over the proceedings of Parliament with the sole objective of ensuring that the Government get their business through with as little proper consideration as possible.

We are considering a measure which has been introduced at the end of a Parliament and at the end of a term of office of a Government who chose to get rid of the same measure in the early years of their office. How can they come before the House today and say that we must hurry up and introduce a low tax rate band without any detailed discussion of its disadvantages because there are only a few minutes left in which to do it? They have had 12 years in which to explain why they were wrong in 1980. The Government have had 13 years during which, if a lower rate tax band would have been a great advantage, they could have allowed all the low-paid workers whom they believe will benefit from it to enjoy it—but no, it is simply part of the last minute closing down sale.

During the debate there has been much discussion about the public sector borrowing requirement and the need to resolve matters today in the light of what the future PSBR might be. Here there is a problem for the Labour party. The Government are spending £2 billion on the lower rate band. The Labour party and my party agree that that is not a good way to behave in the present circumstances and that the measure is not an effective way of helping the low paid. The Labour party could spend that £2 billion on education, on investment to kick-start the economy or on the national health service, but it could not spend it on all three. If it did, the effect on any one of them would not be significant.

It is our judgment that education needs an injection of about £2 billion to make up just some of the current deficiencies and shortcomings. It is our view that a great deal more than £2 billion needs to be injected in the way of investment in the economy to bring us quickly out of recession. We believe that such an injection could bring us out of recession if it got the construction industry moving, but it is not possible to spend the same £2 billion three times over, so the Labour party is faced with the prospect of borrowing more—not allowing the Conservative Government to choose the borrowing requirement for it —or raising more revenue by increasing taxes, or possibly both.

The Labour party has an added problem. The Finance Bill and the Budget contain provisions for receipts from privatisation, which flow through every year and are part of the Government's assumptions about their borrowing requirement. I reckon that the Government will take about £1 billion per year from selling shares which they now hold in industries that they have already privatised. That is a significant sum of money.

Presumably, the Labour party will not have that money from selling shares. Presumably it would not sell shares in the already privatised industries. In that case, it would have not £2 billion but £1 billion to spend. It would save only £1 billion by not introducing the tax reduction and could use only that sum for spending purposes.

So the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) has a great deal to think about between now and Tuesday if he is to find some way of making £1 billion stretch over all the problems that he has correctly identified, and on which I agree with him. The huge gap in the fabric of our society which we have to repair in the ways that I outlined last night, needs to be filled. It will not be filled by the Finance Bill. Those who would most benefit if we attended to creating jobs in the economy and getting out of recession would be the very low paid, who will benefit to only a limited extent from the key feature of the Finance Bill.

If we had time to discuss the lower rate band in detail today, to obtain evidence from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, or to consider the leader in today's Financial Times, we would see what an inadequately and ineffectively targeted measure it is. The Finance Bill is fairly pathetic. We could have disposed of it in a couple of hours, without the need for the guillotine motion.

11.3 am

I shall be brief. There is a procedural point, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), on which we must have an assurance from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. We must have an assurance that this guillotine motion does not set a precedent. Following the report of my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling), the Chairman of the Select Committee on Sittings of the House, there is a strong body of opinion in the House that we should move towards allocation of time for all legislation.

It is fairly unusual—although not an absolute precedent—for a Finance Bill to be guillotined. The Procedure Committee and the Select Committee on Sittings of the House have accepted that the allocation of time for legislation should ensure that all clauses are properly debated. As Chairman of the Procedure Committee, I stand absolutely by that premise. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will endorse that when he replies. This allocation of time motion does not ensure that all clauses will be properly debated.

The House understands—as, I believe even the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed accepts—that there is a desire to finish up the business, ensure that taxes can be collected and get on the hustings. That is a fair excuse and a good reason for the allocation of time motion. However, we must ensure, and I must ask my right hon. Friend to give an undertaking, that this motion will not be taken as a precedent for allocation of time motions in normal circumstances. It may be claimed that any allocation of time motion is not normal. If we are to move towards some allocation of time for all or most legislation at the start, we must ensure that it does not follow the precedent set today.

I congratulate the shadow Leader of the House, who has been almost revolutionary in moving towards reform of the procedures of the House. I am grateful for the support that he has given to the Procedure Committee. Of course, I have thanked my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House on more than one occasion for the excellent way in which he has attempted to ensure that our procedure is more reasonably and properly carried through.

However, it cannot be accepted that an allocation of time motion should form part of the time scale that it allocates to legislation. That is the danger of this motion, if it were copied in any other circumstances. The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed made that clear. It is possible that at the end of four hours we would not be able to debate any clause of the Finance Bill. That has not happened because, under the terms of the motion, the opening speeches and most of the other speeches have been allowed to go much wider than the allocation of time and to deal with the whole of the Finance Bill. Procedurally, that is not what an allocation of time motion ought to be about. Therefore, in procedural terms, such motions should not be emulated.

It could easily happen that a Government legitimately believe that an Opposition party intend to frustrate the proceedings on a Bill—say, the Finance Bill. The Government could therefore table a timetable motion such as this one. Government Back Benchers who did not want the Bill to be discussed could then deliberately occupy the whole of the time allocated by the timetable motion, thereby preventing discussion on the Bill.

In theory, that is right; but the opposite case is that so long as the Chair does not call successive Members from one side, the opportunity is given, even with this allocation of time, for Opposition Members to raise any matter on the Finance Bill that they wish. Although in theory what the hon. Gentleman says is true reductio ad absurdum it is not correct in practice.

As it is possible to debate the Finance Bill, I shall spend two minutes on an aspect of the 20 per cent. band which has not been discussed. It is important in my constituency and many parts of the south-west. The 20 per cent. band is normally talked about in relation to low-wage earners. Another section of the community willl benefit considerably from that band—pensioners who have saved all their lives and put by a little money. They paid taxes on that saved money and hope to have a little extra in addition to their pension from their savings after they retire. They often have a decreasing income as a result of the ever-increasing cost of living and they will welcome the 20 per cent. band. It is a direct benefit to some extent to those pensioners who have saved and live on their pension and their savings. It will be of particular benefit to many people in the south-west.

That argument has not been mentioned in the House and it ought to be understood and appreciated. In closing, will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House give us his assurance that this type of allocation of time motion will not he used as a precedent in any move forward associated with the recommendations in the reports of the Select Committees on Procedure and on Sittings of the House?

11.9 am

The hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) need have no fears. The Government have had their time—13 years—and it is up. That is why they come to the House today as a Government on their uppers—buffetted, battered and bewildered. We can see that by the state that the Financial Secretary is in. They are bewildered by the reception that their Budget has received throughout the land, and especially within the square mile.

I have here a little list which follows something that the hon. Member for Honiton said. The Leader of the House has a fair amount of responsibility for much that is on it, because it is a list of all the Bills that have been truncated by the Government since they took office in 1979 and back to 1945. When one examines the list, one realises that this is only the third time in the history of the House that a Finance Bill has been truncated in this way. We are to be allowed four hours, while in 1968—when the House first truncated a Finance Bill—three days were spent on recommittal, four days on Third Reading and there were 10 sittings in Committee.

In 1975, my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) spoke in such a debate—about 17 years ago almost to the day—when four days were allowed for Third Reading. In all those other instances there was an opportunity for the House to consider the substance of the Bill, an opportunity to peruse it and to study it.

I was amused, as were other Opposition Members—and, I fancy, some Conservative Members—at the opening words of the Leader of the House, because he told us that the Budget was a document which improved with the reading. That was the explanation of why it has taken so long to receive wider appreciation. We know that this morning the Government trail three points behind in the polls. We know that the Budget has been poorly received wherever it has been read. If it is a document that improves with study, why are we not being given more time to study it? Surely, if one uses that argument, the more we study it the better the Government will do in the opinion polls and the greater will be their opportunity to win the next general election, or so they believe. It does not make sense to truncate the Bill in this way.

The Leader of the House went on to say that another reason why the Bill should be pushed through in this way is because we had an opportunity to consider it during the two-day debate on the Budget. Anyone who believes that any contribution that we heard from the Treasury benches and the Conservative side of the House assisted that debate in any way, has not heard the speeches that we heard.

We only have to recall the lamentable performance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night. His speech consisted of a number of readings from a variety of responses by Tory hacks, posing as industrialists, up and down the land. They were Tory to a man—there was not a woman among them, because no woman reading the Budget would see anything in it for her. His quotations from those Tory hacks were reminiscent of a fading impresario. That was the guise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last night—a fading impresario, knowing that his production was dead in the water, seeking by selective quotes to talk it up, in the hope that more people would attend the show.

I wish that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had read a little more widely. I wish that he had opened the Financial Times the morning after the Budget to read the little item that I have here. I am anxious that the Leader of the House should have the opportunity to see and to study it. Indeed, I intend to give it to him so that he can respond appropriately when summing up. It says simply: "Economists give their ratings". Six exconomists—a broad cross-section of the City, none of whom could be described as "youthful scribblers"—

We shall let them know about that. Mr. Bill Martin, a well-known supporter of many of the Government's policies in the past, gives the score "1 out of 10". He said:

"The budget will not act as a significant stimulus to the economy. The budget deficit is almost certainly out of control."
Mr. Kevin Gardiner of S. G. Warburg Securities gave it "4 out of 10" and said:
"The chancellor was neither bold nor coherent. It was rather a mismash."
So it goes on, and it does not get any better.

However, one has to be fair, so let us look at one higher mark. Mr. Gavyn Davies of Goldman Sachs gave the Government "6 out of 10", saying:
"It falls between every conceivable stool. It does not put Labour on the spot and it does not transform the Conservatives' electoral position."
The Budget's contribution to that has been to make them slip further in the polls. Those were the reviews in the City on the following day. Is it any wonder that the Government want to truncate the debate?

I did not hear any response to the valid constitutional argument of the hon. Member for Honiton and the valid constitutional arguments of my hon. Friend the shadow Leader of the House. There has been no response from the Government Benches about the propriety of what they are seeking to do.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover will remember—he was on the Government Benches at the time—the nature of the contribution made by Conservative Members during the debate in March 1975 on the truncation of the Finance Bill. I have read his contribution—

I shall not embarrass my hon. Friend by reading it, out, save to say that it is well worth reading. Conservative Members made a number of contributions —a number are voices from the past. Two former Chancellors spoke during that debate. The right hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) was among them, as was his predecessor. They spoke against the use of a guillotine on Finance Bills. They produced a variety of constitutional arguments why it was totally improper and absolutely wrong ever to use such a guillotine. They are figures of the past. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover said, to some extent they can be put to one side, because that is precisely what their party has done to them.

One other person spoke with great force and vigour in that debate against the Government of the day for introducing a guillotine motion in relation to the Finance Bill. Who might that have been? Let me say this: he is a former chairman of the Conservative party.

The right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) is another figure from the past. We can discount him. This person is still hanging around. That is surprising, bearing in mind the muddle and confusion that he has created in every Department of state that he has ever sought. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] My hon. Friends recognise the person, and I suspect that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen will also recognise the person. In those days, that person was going under the guise of the hon. Member for St. Marylebone. Since then, he has been translated into the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker). Yes, I speak of no less a person than he.

The right hon. Gentleman is very much around and will undoubtedly be very much in evidence on the hustings during the next few weeks. I hope that he is very much in evidence, because every time that man shows his face on the hustings or on television, it is another vote for us. The more the Tories put him forward, the better it will be. He should be a member of the A-plus team, because he can only benefit our campaign.

What did the right hon. Gentleman have to say on 4 March 1975 during the allocation of time motion on the Finance Bill? He said:
"I end very much as I started"—
that is not something that he always does or says in a speech—
"by regretting the need for guillotine motions in general: but the particular character of this guillotine motion makes it unique. Since the war only one Finance Bill, that in 1968, has been guillotined. I believe that that was a very regrettable precedent because the unique power that we have"—
blah, blah, blah. He went on in the usual vein:
"It is because we have the right to deny the executive of the day, whether Tory, Liberal or Conservative, Supply before there has been adequate debate or redress of grievance."
Characteristically, the right hon. Gentleman, by talking about "Tory, Liberal or Conservative" omitted altogether the Labour party. Indeed, he was subsequently taken to task by the House for that omission—a characteristic omission, because for him, we on this side of the House have no rights. Those who represent the interests of the people are not to be regarded. It was a Freudian slip.

The right hon. Gentleman continued:
"If we surrender that right we are surrendering one of the very reasons that have brought us into being as a legislative House. For these reasons I very much oppose this guillotine measure."—[Official Report, 4 March 1975; Vol. 887, c. 1331.]
That is the right hon. Member for Mole Valley. We look forward very much to seeing in which Division Lobby he will pass in a few moments' time. Will he adhere to his principles? Will he stand firm and fast? If he does, it will be the first time we see him do anything of the sort. I suspect that he will vote to impose a guillotine on this Bill. In doing so, he will deny the British people redress for their grievances.

Not at the moment.

The right hon. Gentleman will deny the homeless, the jobless, mothers of young children who want an increase in child benefit and pensioners the opportunity to have their grievances properly aired in this Chamber today. But we will go out and about on the hustings and do more, much more than truncate the timing of this debate: we will truncate for the foreseeable future the political future of that discredited and redundant Government opposite.

11.23 am

I thank the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) and my hon. Friends the Members for Staffordshire, South (Mr. Cormack) and for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) for their kind remarks about me in my role as Leader of the House. I am glad to have this opportunity to thank the hon. Member for Copeland for the courteous and constructive way in which he has made it possible for us to work together on the affairs of the House. We have made considerable progress in several directions, and I pay tribute to him for the part that he has played in that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) asked whether there would be some opportunity to discuss other detailed points of taxation, including the taxation of beach huts. I cannot promise him that beach huts will feature immediately in the next Finance Bill, but when the House returns we shall have the opportunity to have a second Finance Bill which will implement the other areas of the Budget and no doubt my hon. Friend will wish to table his amendment on beach huts then.

My hon. Friend the Member for Honiton raised a procedural point on this allocation of time motion, and the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) made heavy weather of it. My hon. Friend made a fair point. It is fairly obvious to the whole House that this Finance Bill is being considered in rather unusual circumstances. That destroys the whole of the hon. Gentleman's argument when he complained about my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. My right hon. Friend's remarks were made in relation to a large Finance Bill well ahead of a general election, so the position is not comparable.

It was interesting that the hon. Gentleman wanted to continue debating this Finance Bill. I suspect that that is because at the back of his mind he would rather postpone going to the country at this election. He has every reason to do so from his point of view. I hope that that is an appropriate answer to my hon. Friend's question.

The point I wanted to make to the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) was that the debate in March 1975 was followed by an election. The Labour party lost its first by-election when it was in government, and virtually every other by-election until 1979. Labour Members should therefore be rather more careful about their approach to finance and taxation.

As I must be brief, I shall not respond to my hon. Friend's point.

In response to the hon. Gentleman's comments about the reactions to the Budget, I have a whole string of favourable responses from large sections of industry, including the CBI, which I do not have time to repeat but which put it in the right context. Just as the hon. Gentleman's response was a travesty of the general reactions to the Budget, so were the remarks of the hon. Member for Copeland about the economy as a whole.

During the overall period of Conservative government, the United Kingdom economy has grown faster than that of almost every other economy in Europe for most of the 1980s. GDP, investment in manufacturing and productivity have grown faster than in Germany or France in the 1980s. There has been an increase in real take-home pay for a married couple on average earnings with two children. It is up by £78 a week at today's prices. The majority of pensioners have seen an increase in their real living standards of over one third and there has been a heavy concentration of Government resources on less well-off pensioners, including £700 million to the over-80s on income support. We have seen 4 million families buying their home for the first time. There are a third more businesses than there were in 1979. We have seen an increase of more than 1·5 million in the self-employed. A higher proportion of the work force is in employment than in any other European country, except Denmark. Our manufacturing industry has taken a greater share of world trade in each of the past three years.

I have already referred to the massive increase in business investment, capital investment and training. One aspect of that is inward investment. The right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) in his speech on Wednesday fantasised about the thoughts of Japanese business men and what they say about the economic policies that we have been pursuing. He does not need to fantasise. We see what they think from their reactions in surveys when they have invested here and, above all, in their practical actions and the amount of inward investment that they have made here, accounting for more than half of all Japanese investment into the European Community in the latest year for which figures are available.

Those are the actual reactions of business men to our economic policies. It is that solid record of economic achievement that has led the CBI to say that Britain is now incomparably better placed to met the competitive challenges of the 1990s than it was at the start of the 1980s. This Budget carries that process on.

My hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South refered to yesterday's local by-elections, in which we saw a good response. That also shows that the contortions that the Labour party has performed over its tax proposals and spending commitments in recent weeks mean that the people of this country do not trust Labour. They can be sure that the Labour party is the party of high spenders, high taxers, high borrowers and high inflation. That is why I have no doubt what the response will be when we go to the hustings. The Budget will help us in that process.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 321, Noes 149.

Division No. 110]

[11.30 am


Adley, RobertAllason, Rupert
Alexander, RichardAmess, David
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelAmos, Alan

Arbuthnot, JamesFarr, Sir John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Fenner, Dame Peggy
Ashby, DavidField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Aspinwall, JackFinsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Atkins, RobertFishburn, John Dudley
Atkinson, DavidFookes, Dame Janet
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Forman, Nigel
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Batiste, SpencerForth, Eric
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bellingham, HenryFox, Sir Marcus
Bendall, VivianFranks, Cecil
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Freeman, Roger
Bevan, David GilroyFrench, Douglas
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnFry, Peter
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterGale, Roger
Body, Sir RichardGardiner, Sir George
Bonsor, Sir NicholasGill, Christopher
Boscawen, Hon RobertGilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Boswell, TimGlyn, Dr Sir Alan
Bottomley, PeterGoodhart, Sir Philip
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaGoodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n)Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Bowis, JohnGorst, John
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesGrant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGreenway, John (Ryedale)
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGregory, Conal
Brazier, JulianGriffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bright, GrahamGround, Patrick
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterGrylls, Sir Michael
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Hague, William
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie
Buck, Sir AntonyHampson, Dr Keith
Budgen, NicholasHanley, Jeremy
Burns, SimonHannam, Sir John
Burt, AlistairHargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Butler, ChrisHargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Butterfill, JohnHarris, David
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Haselhurst, Alan
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hawkins, Christopher
Carrington, MatthewHayes, Jerry
Carttiss, MichaelHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Cash, WilliamHayward, Robert
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs LyndaHeath, Rt Hon Edward
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHeathcoat-Amory, David
Chapman, SydneyHicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Churchill, MrHicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth)Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hill, James
Clark, Rt Hon Sir WilliamHind, Kenneth
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Colvin, MichaelHowarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Conway, DerekHowarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir JohnHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Cormack, PatrickHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Couchman, JamesHunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Cran, JamesHunter, Andrew
Critchley, JulianIrvine, Michael
Currie, Mrs EdwinaJack, Michael
Curry, DavidJackson, Robert
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Janman, Tim
Davis, David (Boothferry)Jessel, Toby
Day, StephenJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Devlin, TimJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dickens, GeoffreyJones, Robert B (Herts W)
Dorrell, StephenJopling, Rt Hon Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesKellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Dover, DenKey, Robert
Dunn, BobKilfedder, James
Durant, Sir AnthonyKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Dykes, HughKirkhope, Timothy
Eggar, TimKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Emery, Sir PeterKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Knowles, Michael
Evennett, DavidKnox, David
Fairbairn, Sir NicholasLamont, Rt Hon Norman
Fallon, MichaelLatham, Michael

Lawrence, IvanRost, Peter
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelRowe, Andrew
Lee, John (Pendle)Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkSackville, Hon Tom
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Lightbown, DavidSayeed, Jonathan
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Shaw, David (Dover)
Lord, MichaelShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Luce, Rt Hon Sir RichardShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasShelton, Sir William
McCrindle, Sir RobertShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Shersby, Michael
Maclean, DavidSims, Roger
McLoughlin, PatrickSkeet, Sir Trevor
McNair-Wilson, Sir MichaelSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Malins, HumfreySoames, Hon Nicholas
Mans, KeithSpeed, Keith
Maples, JohnSpeller, Tony
Marland, PaulSpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Marlow, TonySpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Marshall, John (Hendon S)Squire, Robin
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)Stanbrook, Ivor
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Mates, MichaelStern, Michael
Maude, Hon FrancisStevens, Lewis
Mawhinney, Dr BrianStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Sir RobinStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir PatrickStewart, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Mellor, Rt Hon DavidStokes, Sir John
Meyer, Sir AnthonySumberg, David
Miller, Sir HalSummerson, Hugo
Mills, IainTapsell, Sir Peter
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mitchell, Sir DavidTaylor, Sir Teddy
Moate, RogerTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Monro, Sir HectorTemple-Morris, Peter
Montgomery, Sir FergusThompson, Sir D. (Calder Vly)
Morris, M (N'hampton S)Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Morrison, Sir CharlesThorne, Neil
Morrison, Rt Hon Sir PeterThornton, Malcolm
Moss, MalcolmThurnham, Peter
Moynihan, Hon ColinTownend, John (Bridlington)
Neale, Sir GerrardTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Nelson, AnthonyTracey, Richard
Neubert, Sir MichaelTredinnick, David
Newton, Rt Hon TonyTrotter, Neville
Nicholls, PatrickTwinn, Dr Ian
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)Viggers, Peter
Norris, SteveWaldegrave, Rt Hon William
Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyWalden, George
Oppenheim, PhillipWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Page, RichardWaller, Gary
Paice, JamesWalters, Sir Dennis
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilWard, John
Patnick, IrvineWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Patten, Rt Hon JohnWarren, Kenneth
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyWatts, John
Pawsey, JamesWells, Bowen
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethWheeler, Sir John
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Whitney, Ray
Porter, David (Waveney)Widdecombe, Ann
Portillo, MichaelWiggin, Jerry
Price, Sir DavidWilkinson, John
Raison, Rt Hon Sir TimothyWilshire, David
Rathbone, TimWolfson, Mark
Redwood, JohnWood, Timothy
Renton, Rt Hon TimWoodcock, Dr. Mike
Rhodes James, Sir RobertYeo, Tim
Riddick, GrahamYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasYounger, Rt Hon George
Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm

Tellers for the Ayes:

Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn

Mr. John M. Taylor and

Roe, Mrs Marion

Mr. Neil Hamilton.

Rossi, Sir Hugh


Allen, GrahamJones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Anderson, DonaldKumar, Dr. Ashok
Archer, Rt Hon PeterLeadbitter, Ted
Armstrong, HilaryLeighton, Ron
Ashley, Rt Hon JackLestor, Joan (Eccles)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Lewis, Terry
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Litherland, Robert
Barron, KevinLivingstone, Ken
Battle, JohnLofthouse, Geoffrey
Beckett, MargaretLoyden, Eddie
Beith, A. J.McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Bell, StuartMcWilliam, John
Benn, Rt Hon TonyMadden, Max
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Mahon, Mrs Alice
Benton, JosephMarek, Dr John
Blunkett, DavidMeacher, Michael
Boateng, PaulMeale, Alan
Boyes, RolandMichael, Alun
Bradley, KeithMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Caborn, RichardMorgan, Rhodri
Callaghan, JimMorley, Elliot
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Mowlam, Marjorie
Cartwright, JohnMullin, Chris
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Murphy, Paul
Clelland, DavidOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Clwyd, Mrs AnnO'Brien, William
Cohen, HarryO'Hara, Edward
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Corbyn, JeremyOwen, Rt Hon Dr David
Cousins, JimPatchett, Terry
Cox, TomPendry, Tom
Crowther, StanPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Cummings, JohnPrescott, John
Cunliffe, LawrencePrimarolo, Dawn
Cunningham, Dr JohnQuin, Ms Joyce
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Radice, Giles
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Randall, Stuart
Dixon, DonRedmond, Martin
Dobson, FrankRees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Duffy, Sir A. E. P.Richardson, Jo
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethRobinson, Geoffrey
Eastham, KenRooker, Jeff
Edwards, HuwRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Enright, DerekRowlands, Ted
Evans, John (St Helens N)Ruddock, Joan
Faulds, AndrewSedgemore, Brian
Fearn, RonaldSheerman, Barry
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Fisher, MarkShore, Rt Hon Peter
Flannery, MartinSkinner, Dennis
Flynn, PaulSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Foster, DerekSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Fraser, JohnSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)Spearing, Nigel
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnSteinberg, Gerry
Golding, Mrs LlinStraw, Jack
Gould, BryanTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Grocott, BruceTurner, Dennis
Hain, PeterWalley, Joan
Hardy, PeterWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Haynes, FrankWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Henderson, DougWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
Hinchliffe, DavidWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Winnick, David
Howells, GeraintWise, Mrs Audrey
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)Young, David (Bolton SE)
Hoyle, Doug
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Tellers for the Noes:

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Mr. Eric Illsley and

Janner, Greville

Mr. Robert Wareing.

Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)

Question accordingly agreed to.


That the following provisions shall apply to the proceedings on the Finance Bill and the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill:—