Skip to main content

Smith Institute

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

3. On how many occasions the Smith Institute has held meetings at No. 11 Downing street since 1997; and if he will make a statement. (130441)

No. 11 Downing street is used for official meetings, engagements with external representatives and charity events. The Smith Institute applied for permission to use it on a monthly basis in 1997, and sometimes more regularly. That has been the basis of its usage since then.

We heard last month how the Smith Institute was up into the wee small hours trying to enliven the Budget and brighten up the image of the Chancellor, who is now frowning. He has forgotten how to smile. Yet, following the Budget, the population know that it was a con and the Labour party has dropped one point. Is No. 11 now going to evict it?

The basis on which the Smith Institute uses No. 11 is exactly the same as for everybody else. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will press his colleagues on the Front Bench to tell the House whether they will support the public spending projections that we published in our Red Book. That is what people will want to know. Will the Tories fund public services adequately, as we are committed to doing in future, or not? That is the critical question, and we are waiting for an answer from his Front-Bench colleagues.

Does the Chief Secretary agree that publications such as those on social enterprise, diversity in Britishness, and restorative justice produced by charities and voluntary organisations, including the Smith Institute, help to produce more intelligent government, and that we should listen to those organisations?

I do agree with that, and it has been valuable to open up No. 11 Downing street to use by charities—well over 60 of them—over the past 10 years. They have all contributed to improved policy in that period.

I agree with the Chief Secretary on that point. Would it not be a good idea to have a seminar on tax at No. 11 Downing street in the near future, so that the Government could explain more clearly why they were right to introduce a 10p tax rate in 1999, and right to abolish it in 2007?

I can tell the hon. Gentleman very clearly why that happened: it is because we introduced the 10p rate before the tax credit system was in place. Now that it is in place, it is doing the job that needed to be done.

The Chief Secretary’s first answer was extremely helpful, so let us try another question on him. How many of the monthly events to which he referred did the Chancellor attend? We do not need the details; we just want to know how many he attended.