Cookies: We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. By continuing to use the site you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
House of Commons Hansard
x
Finance (No. 3) Bill
19 November 2018
Volume 649

(Clauses 5, 6, 8 to 10, 15, 16, 19, 20, 22, 23, 38 to 42, 46, 47, 61, 62, 68 to 78, 83, 89 and 90, schedules 3, 4, 7, 8, 15 and 18 and certain new clauses and new schedules)

[1st Allocated Day]

Considered in Committee

[Sir Lindsay Hoyle in the Chair]

Clause 5

Basic rate limit and personal allowance

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I beg to move amendment 6, page 2, line 24, leave out subsection (4).

This amendment would take out provisions removing the legal link between the personal allowance and the national minimum wage.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clauses 5 and 6 stand part.

Clauses 8 to 10 stand part.

Clause 38 stand part.

That schedule 15 be the Fifteenth schedule to the Bill.

Clauses 39 to 42 stand part.

New clause 1—Additional rate threshold and supplementary rate—

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, no later than 5 April 2019, lay before the House of Commons a distributional analysis of—

(a) the effect of reducing the threshold for the additional rate to £80,000, and

(b) the effect of introducing a supplementary rate of income tax, charged at a rate of 50%, above a threshold of £125,000.”

New clause 2—Impact of provisions of section 5 on child poverty and equality

“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact of the provisions of section 5 and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider the impact of the changes made by section 5 on—

(a) households at different levels of income,

(b) people with protected characteristics (within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010),

(c) the Treasury’s compliance with the public sector equality duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010,

(d) different parts of the United Kingdom and different regions of England, and

(e) levels of relative and absolute child poverty in the United Kingdom.

(3) In this section—

‘parts of the United Kingdom’ means—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland;

‘regions of England’ has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.”

New clause 3—Review of the effectiveness of entrepreneurs’ relief

“(1) Within twelve months of the passing of this Act, the Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the effectiveness of the changes made to entrepreneurs’ relief by Schedule 15, against the stated policy aims of that relief.

(2) A review under this section must consider—

(a) the overall number of entrepreneurs in the UK,

(b) the annual cost of entrepreneurs’ relief,

(c) the annual number of claimants per year,

(d) the average cost of relief paid per claim, and

(e) the impact on productivity in the UK economy.”

New clause 7—Review of changes to entrepreneurs’ relief

“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact on investment in parts of the United Kingdom and regions of England of the changes made to entrepreneur’s relief by Schedule 15 to this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider—

(a) the effects of the provisions on business investment,

(b) the effects of the provisions on employment, and

(c) the effects of the provisions on productivity.

(3) In this section—

‘parts of the United Kingdom’ means—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland;

‘regions of England’ has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.”

This new clause would require a review of the impact on investment of the changes made to entrepreneurs’ relief which extend the minimum qualifying period from 12 months to 2 years.

New clause 8—Review of geographical effects of provisions of section 9

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the differential geographical effects of the changes made by section 9 and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.”

This new clause would require a geographical impact assessment of income tax exemptions relating to private use of an emergency vehicle.

New clause 9—Report on consultation on certain provisions of this Act

“(1) No later than two months after the passing of this Act, the Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay before the House of Commons a report on the consultation undertaken on the provisions in subsection (2).

(2) Those provisions are—

(a) section 5,

(b) section 6,

(c) section 8,

(d) section 9,

(e) section 10,

(f) Schedule 15,

(g) section 39

(h) section 40,

(i) section 41, and

(j) section 42.

(3) A report under this section must specify in respect of each provision listed in subsection (2)—

(a) whether a version of the provision was published in draft,

(b) if so, whether changes were made as a result of consultation on the draft, and

(c) if not, the reasons why the provision was not published in draft and any consultation which took place on the proposed provision in the absence of such a draft.”

This new clause would require a report on the consultation undertaken on certain provisions of this Act – alongside new clauses 11, 13 and 15.

New clause 18—Review of public health and poverty effects of Basic Rate Limit and Personal Allowance

“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the public health and poverty effects of the provisions of section 5 to this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider—

(a) the effects of those provisions on the levels of relative and absolute poverty in the UK,

(b) the effects of those provisions on life expectancy and healthy life expectancy in the UK, and

(c) the implications for the public finances of the public health effects of those provisions.”

New clause 19—Personal allowance

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, no later than 5 April 2019, lay before the House of Commons an analysis of the distributional and other effects of a personal allowance in 2019-20 of £12,750.”

This new clause would require a distributional analysis of the effect of increasing the personal allowance to £12,750.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

What a pleasure it is, Mr Deputy Speaker, to speak first in this debate. I very much appreciate the way the selection has worked out in my favour today. I rise to speak to amendment 6 and new clauses 7, 8, 9 and 19 in my name and the names of my SNP colleagues. For the avoidance of doubt, should the Opposition press new clause 1, new clause 3, or new clause 18, we will support them.

As I am sure that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and those on the Treasury Bench will be unsurprised to hear, I would like to start by raising my concerns about the process. It is the case that the personal allowance is reserved while matters relating to the upper limit of basic rate taxation are devolved. I therefore have issues with the way that clause 5 is constructed. I request, as I did on Second Reading, that in future years these two sections of the Finance Bill are split and considered separately. I hope that the Minister and officials will take that on board in drafting future Finance Bills. It would make the debate cleaner and easier to follow for MPs and for those outside the House. As I have said previously, there are real issues with the way that the House scrutinises both tax and spending measures, and this would be a simple change that would ensure that better scrutiny could be brought to bear on these matters.

Amendment 6 would take out provisions removing the legal link between the personal allowance and the national minimum wage. The legal link between the two was put in place to kick in in years where the personal allowance was below £12,500. I have two concerns with the removal of this link. First, we have no guarantee that the personal allowance will not in future be reduced to less than £12,500, because this House cannot bind a future House of Commons and a future Government might decide to reduce, rather than increase, the personal allowance.

Secondly, the minimum wage that is in place still discriminates on the basis of age. It is not fair that those under 25 are paid less than those over 25, yet the UK Government are backing this age discrimination. I do not believe that an over 25-year-old can live on the minimum wage as it is set, and neither does the Living Wage Foundation. I also do not believe that a 16-year-old who might reasonably have the same outgoings as somebody over 25 can live on £4.35 an hour. It is also depressing to note that 16 and 17-year-olds have had an increase of only 3.6% in their minimum wage while the rise for those aged over 25 is 4.9%. I do not understand how the UK Government can justify that, and I think they should remove the age discrimination in relation to the minimum wage so that everybody is paid a fair wage and the minimum wage is enough to live on, instead of being at a level that people cannot live on.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I of course support my hon. Friend’s point on increasing the minimum wage for under-25s. Is she aware that the gap between the rate for 16 and 17-year-olds and the higher rate has widened over the past three years?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am not surprised that that has happened, because any Government who believe that a 16-year-old can live on less than an over 25-year-old are not going to make rational decisions in relation to pay for those at the younger end of the age spectrum. It would be a very good move if the UK Government were to change their policy and move to a situation where 16 and 17-year-olds, and those all the way up to 25, and in fact those over 25, were paid an amount they could actually live on, rather than an amount that does not enable them to buy the day-to-day essentials.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

This is a small, but I think important, point: does the hon. Lady accept that that minimum level is exactly what it says—a minimum level? Many people, including my apprentice, earn far more than that, but if we set the level much higher, we are likely to reduce the number of opportunities available to 16 and 17-year-olds.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I do not believe that that is true. I know somebody who went for a job interview, and at the end of it they were offered the job. The person offering them the job actually said, “How old are you, because I want to see how little I can pay you?” Those decisions are being taken because of the discriminatory nature of the way the minimum wage is set. What we should have—and this is an argument I have made to the Government on a huge number of occasions on a number of different things—is a situation where those on the bottom of the pile are protected first, and then we should get rid of discriminatory practices where people might discriminate against 16 and 17-year-olds. I would raise the bar, rather than lower it; that is generally an argument I have made to the UK Government.

New clause 19, which we hope to push to a vote today, proposes that the Chancellor brings forward a report that analyses the distributional and other effects of a rise in the personal allowance to £12,750 in 2019-20. It is Scottish National party policy that the personal allowance be raised to £12,750. Given the increasing, and staggering, levels of in-work poverty, given the UN report criticising the UK Government’s implementation of austerity, and given the fact that millions of families across the UK have savings of less than £100, increasing the personal allowance even by a small amount will have an impact on the individuals and families who are struggling the most.

It is no incentive to work if we know that when we work we will still not be able to get out of all-consuming poverty. We need a UK Government who recognise that those who earn the least are suffering the most. In Scotland, the SNP has recognised that and we have made progressive changes to the tax system.

I do not want to live in a country where children are going hungry. The UK Government have got their head firmly in the sand on this issue. I do not understand how they can continue along this track when we are having people come into our surgeries in tears because they have not eaten in days.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Lady is right. There are probably between 3 million and 4 million people in this country on poverty wages and a large number of them are driven to use food banks. Food banks were introduced for people waiting to get their refugee status sorted out, not for this purpose. Does the hon. Lady agree that they have, however, now become an institution in this country?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I absolutely agree and will come on to food banks, but on refugees and those seeking leave to remain in the UK, these are the people I see in my surgeries in the highest levels of poverty. They cannot work because the UK Government are not allowing them to, even though they have a valid immigration application. Concerns have been raised with me about individuals whose children are literally starving as a result of the UK Government saying that they cannot work or have recourse to public funds. This is a hostile environment that is impacting directly on the lives of children. The UK Government need to rethink. The bar should be set where children are not starving as a result, and then we can take action against those who are trying to swizz the system.

The only decent meal that some children receive is the meal that they have at school. The UK Government cannot continue to say that food bank use is increasing in European countries too, as if that somehow makes it okay. They have a responsibility to step up and to change the tax system, the minimum wage and the social security system to ensure that no child ever goes hungry.

Our new clause 7 would require a review of the impact on investment of changes to entrepreneurs’ relief, which extend the minimum qualifying period from 12 months to two years. Given that we have Brexit hanging over us and the massive uncertainty that that brings, putting another hurdle in the way of businesses is probably not the right course of action. Both the Chartered Institute of Taxation and the Association of Taxation Technicians have raised concerns about the unintended consequences of the change. I believe that a review is the only sensible option going forward. The Treasury regularly makes tax changes, but it does not regularly review their effectiveness, even after they have been in place for a number of years, and when it does it rarely makes those reviews public. It is all well and good to think that something may have a certain effect, but it is necessary to check whether the intended effect has come about. If such changes are made, a review should be undertaken regularly—certainly in the following two years—and it should be made public, in the interests of transparency and good policy making, so that everybody can see not just that the change has taken place, but what its effect has been, so that we are up front and honest and everybody is clear.

New clause 8 concerns the geographical effect of clause 9. The UK Government often fail to recognise the rurality of many of Scotland’s communities, and I am not clear that this change will not have a significant effect on those in our most remote communities. These are places where it is hard to get the staff we need for our life-saving services and where depopulation is a real and ever-present concern. They are also places that will be hit incredibly hard by ending freedom of movement. Given the hit to our crofters over the convergence uplift that was supposed to be given to rural communities in Scotland but was allocated elsewhere, it is clear that the UK Government are not prioritising our rural communities. They need to sense-check any such proposals and change them to ensure that they do not cause further difficulty for those living in our most remote areas, not just in Scotland but in other areas of the UK where being far from centres of population is an issue.

New clause 9 would require a report on the consultation undertaken on certain provisions of the Bill. Glyn Fullelove, the chair of the Chartered Institute of Taxation’s technical committee, has been critical of a number of measures in the Bill that were not previously consulted on, saying:

“The effects of inadequate scrutiny in the past are visible in the amount of tinkering in the new Bill”.

That is something I raised on Second Reading. He goes on:

“would all these tweaks have been necessary if there had been adequate consultation and more thorough scrutiny in the first place?”

If the Government intend to take back control, they need to ensure that control is in the hands of MPs, with adequate advice provided by expert stakeholders. It cannot be appropriate for tax changes to be drafted by officials and put into a Bill by the UK Government, with no opportunity for stakeholders to give oral evidence, no amendment of the law resolution and a total lack of a review of these clauses. That is not a sensible way to run anything, let alone a country. I have severe concerns about this part of the Bill. My concerns are mostly about transparency and process, as well as the lack of scrutiny of many of the measures.

In relation to the changes to personal allowance, the Government have not been progressive. We would expect that from a Conservative Government, but if they look up the road in Scotland, they will see that the changes that we have made have benefited the people at the bottom of the pile. The UK Government need to do more to benefit those people.

Lastly, the UK Government need to take seriously the fact that the personal allowance is not devolved to Scotland but the basic rate is, and changes need to be made. I would appreciate it if the Minister committed to considering making changes in the drafting of the Bill to separate out the devolved and reserved issues, so that we can have proper debates and better read-across, so that we can have transparency in the discussion of tax and spend in this place and so that we can make better laws as a result.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is an enormous pleasure to speak in this Committee stage of the Finance (No.3) Bill, and it is an even greater pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) in today’s debate. There are always many responses to a Budget and a Finance Act, and people often look at them and pull them apart over time. In this case, however, I think most people would say that the Budget and Finance Bill have been tremendously well received among financial commentators and many pressure groups. One of the areas that have been most well received is the bringing forward by a year of the increases to personal allowances. The increase to £12,500 for basic rate taxpayers and £50,000 for the higher—40p—taxpayers will make a direct impact on the lives of 32 million of our fellow residents.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Is my hon. Friend absolutely delighted, as I am, that this means that a basic rate taxpayer is paying some £1,200 less in tax, on an annual basis, than they were in 2010?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is correct. The very recent change will benefit basic rate taxpayers to the tune of £120 a year—a direct tax cut for millions of hard-working Britons—and that is to be welcomed.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend—I nearly called him my right hon. Friend, but he is not yet; perhaps he will be in the future—agree that the difference in the figures is stark? The personal allowance was £6,475 when this policy kicked in in 2010, and it has gone way up to £12,500. Surely, that is of huge benefit to the people we want to give more money to.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank my hon. Friend for that short intervention. She makes a really good point, and it is almost the next point that I was going to make. The personal allowance will have nearly doubled in just eight short years. That is against a backdrop of trying to get the public finances under control from a debt of £152 billion a year—11% of GDP—which is an astronomical level outside wartime. It represents a real achievement for the Government to have been able to put this amount of money into the pockets of millions of hard-working Britons each year, so that their living standards can rise, despite the difficult decisions we have had to make.

Members from all parts of the House will probably know that I am no particular lover of the Liberal Democrats, and I am pleased to say that in my constituency of Solihull, we are now 24,000 votes ahead of them. However, I pay tribute to them in one respect. In the 2010 coalition agreement, we took on board what the Lib Dems had been proposing, and it was an excellent idea. I am pleased that the Conservative party was open enough to take on that idea and follow it through, from the coalition agreement, to raise those standards of living and raise personal allowances. I pay tribute to that sort of ideas process from the coalition. We have carried it on, as we see it as a key way in which to reduce inequality and expand opportunity.

The £50,000 higher rate tax threshold is also being delivered a year early. Opposition Members often criticise the new threshold, saying it is a tax cut for wealthier people and so on, but it will be taking many thousands of people whom one would not think should be paying the higher rate out of paying 40% income tax. For example, deputy headmasters and headteachers often earn more than the £50,000 threshold. It is wrong that so many hard-working public and private sector workers are dragged into the higher rate of tax. Furthermore, that has a damaging effect on the overall productivity of the economy, because someone who could earn extra by doing extra overtime, taking on a second job, or doing consultancy or freelance work is less likely to do so if they think the tax authorities would take half the money they would earn by doing so. This measure is therefore eminently sensible, to prevent the most productive in our economy from being penalised in this way and to allow them to continue to earn. We have seen fiscal drag in this country over the past 17 years, since the end of the first Blair Government’s sticking to the Major Government’s financial strategy. Since then, the fiscal drag has meant that more and more people who should not have been paying the 40% rate of tax have been dragged into it. I am pleased that has been acknowledged by this Government with this measure, and I am happy to support it this evening.

Labour Members have also talked about reducing the advanced rate threshold to £80,000, which is a fool’s errand. We know from history that, in general, when we penalise at the top end, our tax take comes down. Putting dogma aside, we know there is a sweet spot in the taxation system, where we should try to maximise our revenues while supporting productivity and ensuring there are sufficient incentives in the tax system. The placing of the original advanced rate was a political move in itself; for some 98% of the time that Gordon Brown was Chancellor or Prime Minister, he kept the rate at 40% and did not increase it, because he saw the reality of the situation, which is that the more we allow people to keep of their own money and the more they can keep in their pocket, the better it is for the economy more widely and the greater the tax take. This was political manoeuvring in advance of the 2010 election in order for my party to fall into a bear trap by suggesting we would not decrease the advanced rate of tax.

I should make another point about reducing the advanced rate to £80,000. The amount of money that that would raise would be negligible, if not actually negative, and the number of spending commitments tied to that proposal are disproportionate to any sort of potential income that could be raised, even in the best-case scenario. So the tax allowances as they stand in respect of the basic rate and the advanced rate strike the right balance for our economy in the future.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend talks about the incentives created by reducing the tax on individuals, but does he agree that this has an impact on businesses, too? Where high street businesses such as my local ones in Cheltenham now have a lower tax burden, with one third coming off their business rates, that provides an incentive for them to take on new employees, grow their business and deliver a more prosperous high street?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is completely correct. The realities are that the more tax people keep in their pockets—the more of their earnings they keep, without that money going through the Government filter—the more efficient it is, the better it is for the economy, and the better it is for what is known as the multiplier effect through a local economy. My hon. Friend’s on-the-ground view, reported here in Committee, is testament to why the process really benefits high streets and wider local economies.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend has not yet touched on this, but the Government have kept down the corporation tax rate. Does he agree that in areas such as the south-west, where productivity is on average lower than it is in the rest of the country, it is crucial that we leave more money in local businesses so that they can invest, which will help with skills and eventually raise productivity?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. Not only does cutting corporation tax increase the tax take, as we know, but in the round it allows companies to employ more people—I think that it has made a major contribution to the jobs miracle in this country—which then feeds through the taxation system and the multiplier and into the economy more widely, thereby boosting growth and productivity, plus the tax take down the line.

The abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers of shared ownership properties worth more than £300,000 is an important step for our economy and for strivers in our country. We all know the difficulties that come about in respect of home ownership. I got my first home when I was 31—many years ago, I hasten to add—but I had to buy outside London to get on to the ladder. Even then, people were making enormous sacrifices to find their way on to the property ladder.

Frankly, the situation that I faced is nothing compared with what younger people face now. Not only is it now more difficult in respect of having the income required to get the amount of loan needed to buy, but many people have to rely on what is known as the bank of mum and dad. All that has a damaging effect on equality in our society and the passing down of wealth through the generations if we end up in a situation where those who gain housing wealth do so only if their fathers or mothers had that housing wealth themselves.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is giving an important speech. Does he agree that in this context it is extremely important that we have embarked on the biggest programme of house building since the 1950s?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That is exactly right. The point may not be specifically germane to the amendments we are debating, but my hon. Friend is absolutely correct that about the context. This is just part of one strand of the strategy that we have to bring about an increase not only in home ownership but in the number of properties available to rent and basically for housing throughout the country. We know from the number of households that are forming that we need to build much more than we are building. This measure is part of considering the issues in the round, so I congratulate the Government in that respect.

We are now seeing the effects of things such as Help to Buy and of measures that—pardon the pun—build on Help to Buy, such as the abolition of stamp duty for shared ownership properties worth more than £300,000. According to the Financial Times—such an august newspaper that it never actually employed me—the rate of home ownership among first-time buyers is now at its highest in a decade. There is a long way to go before we get anywhere near where we were in the 1980s, for instance, but it has been a remarkable turnaround compared with where we were in 2010. The abolition of stamp duty for these properties sends a strong message, not only to people in shared ownership homes but to people more generally, that opportunities are out there and that we will help them by not imposing stamp duty.

Let me turn to tax fairness for individuals, which, I think, overarches the clauses and amendments to the Bill. We would not know this from hearing some of the arguments in this place, but the tax gap in the UK is one of the lowest in the developed world. That does not mean that there is not more to be done. Although we took some first steps in this Budget with internet companies and with organisations such as Amazon, everyone recognises that we need to go further, and we hope to move together in an international context to ensure tax fairness.

Since 2010, we have seen a cracking down on evasion—for example, in film investment schemes and schemes that collectively invest in property to avoid stamp duty. There has been a real concentration by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Treasury Ministers to ensure that people are aware that everyone should be paying their fair share in society. The hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) mentioned tax equality and how much people are paying at the top end. I find it very telling that the top 1% in our society currently pay 28% of the tax, whereas the top 10% pay 60% of the tax. People would not believe that given the discussions that go on so often. However, this Government have done more towards closing that tax gap and towards ensuring equality in the tax system than anyone else in my lifetime. They have been very laser-like in their focus, and they should be congratulated on that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that gap will get wider if answers to my written questions are correct? In answer to a parliamentary question that I tabled, the Government admitted that the majority of their tax cuts would go to upper-rate taxpayers. Is that not exactly why we need the Government to publish the distributional impact of the tax cuts they are making?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am afraid that I really do not see the hon. Lady’s point. What I do see is the fact that we are giving tax cuts to 32 million people across the board, and, instead of being so churlish, the Labour party should welcome that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the hon. Lady should check Hansard to see my question of a few moments ago in which I said that, since 2010, a basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,200 less in tax, which clearly shows that this Government are on the side of the hardest working?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend answered the hon. Lady’s intervention better than I did, so I do welcome what he said.

Let me sum up. In its treatment of tax thresholds and stamp duty, the Bill lays out a fairer tax system. It is a tax system predicated on a better society, and it is a system where people who can pay have to pay their fair share, but where that is achieved without being punitive and without, frankly, trying to put dogma over the reality of the situation.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am glad to have this opportunity to debate the issues surrounding new clauses 1, 2 and 3 in my name and the names of others in the Committee of the whole House, and to discuss them in the context of the Government’s attempts to distract attention from their woes. We have just had a lesson in voodoo economics from the hon. Member for Solihull (Julian Knight).

Members need to pay attention to Labour’s proposals in relation to new clauses 1, 2 and 3, but I must first point out that, in response to the Government’s authoritarian restrictions on amending this Bill, we had asked whether the entire legislation could be debated on the Floor of this House. That would at least have ensured a scintilla of constructive discussion among Members on the whole Bill. Alas, our request was denied by the Government, and we are left yet again asking for reviews and assessments as set out in our new clauses. It is important none the less to get these issues about child poverty out into the open. The Government increasingly seek to implement their austerity agenda—for that is what it is—behind closed doors. They will no doubt see our new clauses as an irritant that would highlight the differences between a slash-and-burn approach to public services by the Government juxtaposed with a policy of investment, renewal and rebuilding from this party based on a fair taxation system, as identified in our new clauses.

The Government have practised their manoeuvres in Committees that they have stitched up to give themselves the majority, which they do not deserve, and they do not have the guts to allow proper amendments to their Bill. No Minister has had the decency to defend that position and it is pretty pathetic. The electorate did not give them that mandate, but they arrogantly take it in any event, so it is important that we debate and tease out the issues that we have set out in new clauses 1, 2 and 3.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman mentions tax cuts. Will he describe whether the Opposition support the tax cuts laid out in the Bill?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman was that busy talking about sizzling sausages and Marxism last week that he did not hear what I had to say. Now, it is not for me to constantly repeat myself—although I know the Tories do it all the time—so I suggest he reads last week’s debate in Hansard.

Luckily, I am pleased to see that even these mendacious measures are not enough to prevent this Government from a slow-motion collapse. The twists and turns continue. If the weekend reports in the media—specifically The Sunday Times—are anything to believe, if this House votes against the deal, No. 10 has a

“dark strategy to twist arms.”

So what is the cunning plan? Well, No. 10 seeks to

“encourage a crash in financial markets after losing a first vote in the hope this stampedes MPs into voting for it a second time”.

This is ordinarily known as extra-parliamentary activity. The fact that the media are actually putting that scuttlebutt into print, however bizarre, simply shows the desperation in No. 10, so it is important that we do tease out the issues, as we will with new clauses 1, 2 and 3, but this situation bears witness to the siege mentality now at pathological—some might even say clinically obsessive—levels in Downing Street.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am sure that my hon. Friend, like me, was glued to the television at 10 o’clock last night, watching a documentary “A Northern Soul”, about a man called Steve living in poverty in Hull and his inspiring work to help the children living in that city. I therefore give my hon. Friend my wholehearted support in particular for new clause 2, which would provide for a tax impact assessment to look at how we can genuinely help people like Steve who have suffered so badly under this Government.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is right. I am afraid that the Government are in denial over the question of child poverty; I will come back to that point shortly.

Quite simply, the Prime Minister and those around her have lost the plot; and there have been plenty of plots recently. This Government would not know progress if it stared them in the face, which is why we need new clauses 1, 2 and 3. It is little wonder that the Government have presided over eight years of economic ineptitude that have seen our tax system and society becoming increasingly unequal.

As I said on Second Reading, Labour will not stand in the way of any change that would put additional income into the pockets of low and middle earners. Maybe that answers the question of the hon. Member for Aldershot (Leo Docherty), so he might not have to look at Hansard. Low and middle earners have borne the brunt of the economic failure of this Government and we will not take that cash out of their pockets. However, we believe that the richest in our society and those with the broadest shoulders should pay more tax to help support our public services and finally end austerity. This is not a controversial view, at least among the morally orthodox.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman mentions tax increase. If Labour were to put in its plans for a wholesale renationalisation of major parts of our economy, how much extra tax would the average British taxpayer be paying?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Dear, dear—none. The hon. Gentleman really has to take his nose out of the Tory voodoo economics book, widen his horizons and look at Labour’s “Funding Britain’s Future”.

One only needs to look at our European neighbours to see that the rate of tax on higher earners in this country is relatively low compared with Germany, France, Sweden and even Ireland. To set the ball rolling, Labour’s new clause 1 would require the Chancellor to lay before the House a distributional analysis of the effect of reducing the tax threshold for the additional rate to £80,000 and introducing a 50% supplementary rate for those earning more than £125,000 a year.

These are Labour’s policies, committed to in Labour’s very, very popular manifesto of 2017. They will put—[Interruption.] I know that Government Members do not like to hear this, but these policies will put the country on a much fairer fiscal footing, ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share for the restoration of our social fabric, which is crumbling after eight years of gruelling Tory austerity.

The fact is that since the financial crash a decade ago, the very rich have only become richer. The Institute for Fiscal Studies identified that the top 1% have received an increase in share of total income from 5.7% in 1990 to 7.8% in 2016. In response to the hon. Member for Aldershot, it is no wonder they are paying more taxes—they have had the biggest share of total income.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that this Government are determined to tackle these important issues of income inequality, to the point where income inequality and inequality of disposable income are now at their lowest level since before the financial crisis, when his party were managing the economy?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Well, they are not making a very good job of it—there are 4 million people in poverty. That is the fact. Conservative Members can deny that until they are blue in the face, but that is the reality.

Let us move on to the issue of infant mortality. Infant mortality has risen for the first time since the 1990s, when the Tories were last in government, and, as I indicated, there are 4.5 million people living in poverty. That is a fact, and they should not pretend otherwise. They should at least have the guts to admit that their policies have got us into this situation.

This stark contrast in living standards has been driven by the Government’s remorseless austerity agenda, which has chopped away at our fiscal checks and balances. By narrowing the tax base while continuing austerity, they have entrenched poverty and inequality across the nations and regions, leaving vulnerable groups—particularly women—worse off.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is making a really important point, and it is reflected in the changes to life expectancy that we have seen over the last eight years. Life expectancy for the poorest women in Sheffield has fallen by four years since the Conservatives came to power in 2010. Is that not a further reflection of the devastating impact of austerity on inequality in this country?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Quite simply, it is shameful—it is as simple as that.

New clause 2 would require the Treasury to undertake an equalities impact assessment of the changes to the personal allowance and its impact particularly on child poverty. This assessment will include households at different income levels, groups protected by the public sector equality duty and the regions and nations—this is the Labour party speaking for the whole of the United Kingdom.

Such an assessment is needed now more than ever. The Social Metrics Commission recently found, as I indicated before, that 4.5 million children are living in poverty in the United Kingdom. That is shameful. The Government claim that none of this matters as long as parents are finding work, which ignores the fact that work is no longer a sustainable route out of poverty. Indeed, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that more than two thirds of children in poverty live in a working family.

We know that the assessment set out in new clause 2 will further justify the United Nations special rapporteur’s investigation into this Government’s policy of austerity last week. The poverty envoy found that the policies of austerity had inflicted “great misery” on our citizens, and he went as far as to say that the “fabric of British society” is falling apart as a result. That is absolutely damning.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman is talking a lot about the politics of austerity. The United Kingdom last lived within its means in 2001. Under a Labour Government, when would the United Kingdom next live within its means?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I do not accept the premise of these trumped-up ideas from voodoo economics presented by the Tory party. The reality is that the report was absolutely damning. It was absolutely devastating, and Government Members should be ashamed that somebody from the United Nations should come to this country and objectively lay out the facts as they are.

Sadly, in true Trumpian style, the Government chose to ignore the UN special rapporteur. Live on “Channel 4 News”, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury buried his head in the sand, saying

“there is a…strong push to reduce poverty”.

Well, it is not getting pushed hard enough. The Financial Secretary refused to acknowledge that there are 1.5 million people living in destitution, despite repeated questioning. A cursory look at this Government’s policies demonstrates that, for eight years, they have felt it was reasonable to punish the poorest to let the bankers off the hook. How can this Government be so out of touch?

I now turn to new clause 3. According to HMRC’s own statistics, over £400 billion a year is spent in tax reliefs. Entrepreneurs’ relief costs £2.7 billion a year alone, and benefits only 52,000 people.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman is very generous in giving way a second time. If Labour Members were to get back into power, would they change the tax system so that people had to pay tax from £6,750, as in 2010? Does he agree that that would cost working people an additional £1,000-plus a year?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I suggest that the hon. Gentleman reads the shadow City Minister’s article on LabourList, which sets that out very clearly.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I’ll send you a copy.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend will send the hon. Gentleman a copy and he will sign it—and Conservative Members might actually learn something. I know it is difficult for my hon. Friends to grasp the concept that Conservative Members might learn something, but they actually might.

Entrepreneurs’ relief costs £2.7 billion a year alone, and benefits only 52,000 people. This bloated relief—and it is bloated—is overwhelmingly spent on a small number of wealthy individuals, with 6,000 claimants receiving relief on gains of over £1 million. I will repeat that: 6,000 claimants receive relief on gains of £1 million. It is no wonder then that the IFS and the Resolution Foundation have called for it to be scrapped. Clause 38 and schedule 15 represent yet another Conservative half-measure.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As a former entrepreneur, as in my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, I did not benefit from this particular relief, but many in that community do benefit from it. Does the hon. Gentleman believe that this should be scrapped, which would penalise people who start businesses in this country and go on to employ people who then pay taxes and put food on the table for their families? Is the position of the Labour party to be completely anti-entrepreneurs?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Treasury has not reviewed the relief and does not know whether it is working, but it has chucked £2.7 billion—I repeat, £2.7 billion—at a relief that affects only 52,000 people. There is something not quite right with that. I get that and my hon. Friends get that, but Conservative Members are in denial about it, as they are about child poverty.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Given that the hon. Gentleman is against relief for entrepreneurs, will he tell the Committee whether he is also against small businesses being relieved of their rates, with business rates being slashed by one third? [Interruption.]

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Out of courtesy I will respond to the hon. Gentleman. What we want is a fair taxation system, which is completely and utterly alien to the Government. It is as simple as that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend pointed out that the Government are in denial on child poverty. That is absolutely clear in my constituency in Barnsley, where 6,000 children live in poverty. Does he agree that poverty is a political choice caused by the Conservative party?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is right, and for the Tories that choice comes first, second and third, and it always will.

On one hand the Government are lengthening the qualifying time for investors from one year to two, but on the other hand they are ensuring that shareholders will be protected from falling below the 5% threshold needed to claim the relief when a company is sold. It is hard to see how this confused measure will tackle the growing cost of the relief.

Naturally, the Opposition, the Resolution Foundation and the IFS are not the only ones who have found this measure perplexing to say the least. The Chartered Institute of Taxation has raised deep concerns about its retroactive nature, its lack of clarity and the likelihood that the reforms will hit small businesses the hardest—the businesses that the hon. Member for Redditch (Rachel Maclean) no doubt had in mind in her intervention. Far from making the relief more equitable, this measure will instead insulate wealthier claimants who can rely on expensive tax advisers to navigate red tape, ensuring that the cost of the relief will continue to bloom.

The cost of corporate welfare has risen steadily under this Conservative Government. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is the one form of welfare that Government Members support. In contrast, the Labour party is committed to undertaking a full and comprehensive review of corporate tax reliefs when—not if—we reach government. That is why we have tabled new clause 3, which would require the Government to undertake a full review of entrepreneurs’ relief. The review would consider the overall number of entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom, the annual cost of the relief, the cost per claim and the impact of the relief on productivity in the UK—productivity that is 15% below our comparators in the G7 and 35% below the Germans. The Government should be getting to grips with that fact, not fiddling around with entrepreneurs’ relief.

Government Members should ask themselves how they can justify the amount of money going to 52,000 people while our public services are falling into disrepair. This relief is clearly in need of urgent review to ensure that the taxpayer is not being ripped off. They should be clear that if they choose to vote against new clause 3, they are voting against the interests of taxpayers across the country. Again, this is £2.7 billion for 52,000 people.

I hope that Government Members will support our new clauses 1, 2 and 3, for the reasons that I have outlined. This authoritarian Government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich have lost all credibility to manage the affairs of this country. They no longer know what they stand for, nor do they have the courage to find out. This Bill of broken promises takes us no further forward in meeting this country’s mounting challenges, so I call on Members throughout the House to support Labour’s proposals to create a fairer society and a fairer tax system. If we are unable to change the Government’s course, we will challenge the Bill at every step of the way, notwithstanding the authoritarian shackles put on us by this authoritarian Government, and we will use it to put an end to this aimless and divided Government.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd), although there were moments during his speech when I found myself wondering whether history was being rewritten in a remarkably creative way.

The changes that the Government have proposed come against a background of remarkable achievement in cutting the deficit by four fifths, reducing the unemployment rate to its lowest since the 1970s, giving 32 million people tax cuts and taking 1.7 million out of income tax altogether. Some of those things were denied by the hon. Gentleman, who claimed at one point that the rich were only getting richer. I think it therefore falls to me to offer a few statistics to put his comments into context.

The first comes from the Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis of what went on under the previous Labour Government. The hon. Gentleman, who is chuntering with his colleague the shadow Chancellor, should focus on that IFS analysis. The independent analysis from the IFS shows very clearly that on most measures income inequality during the 13 years of the previous Labour Government went up. Part of the reason for that was explained, helpfully, by the hon. Member for Norwich South (Clive Lewis) in an interesting interview with The Guardian the other day. He pointed out that the attitude of the previous Labour Government was, to quote the former deputy Prime Minister, Lord Mandelson, “intensely relaxed” about the filthy rich. The hon. Member for Norwich South rightly went on to say that during the 13 years of the Labour Government:

“The huge fortunes of those at the very top…were left almost untouched.”

That is why the work done by this Government, which for example includes scrapping child benefit in 2013 for those earning over £50,000, has led to the lowest tax gap for a very long time. The percentage of income tax paid by the top 1% has doubled under the Conservative Government. The hon. Member for Bootle therefore needs to think hard about that IFS analysis. Income inequality went up under the 13 years of the Labour Government and it has gone down in eight years under the Conservatives.

There are other points worth highlighting. For example, people on lower and middle incomes actually have more money in their pockets now than at the start of the financial crisis under the previous Labour Government. The gap, as I pointed out, between those on the lowest and highest incomes is lower than it was when the Labour Government left power in 2010. In fact, income inequality is now close to its lowest point since 1986. That is a remarkable achievement. Over the past 30 years, which include 13 of a Labour Government, income inequality narrowed sharply under this Conservative Government.

Labour Members have made a lot of points about employment, so it is worth highlighting that the growth in employment benefits most the poorest 20% of households. The employment rate is now up by more than seven percentage points on where it was before the financial crisis under Labour in 2007. Thanks to the national living wage, the income of the lowest earners has actually grown by almost 5% since 2015, higher than at any other point across the earnings distribution. The actual situation today in our economy for those working is therefore very different to that painted by those on the Opposition Benches and by the hon. Gentleman.

A crucial and major difference between the Labour party and the Government is on taxing business. The uncomfortable truth for Opposition Members who would like to tax business more is that since the Government cut corporation tax in 2010 receipts have gone up by 50%, generating an extra £20 billion in 2016 over what was generated in 2010. The extra £20 billion we found for the NHS above inflation for this five-year period does not come from nowhere; it comes from increased receipts and growth in the economy. That extra £20 billion raised from corporation tax, as a result of cutting corporation tax, is one of the critical economic differences between those on the Government side of the House and those on the Opposition side. The Opposition still believe that if they tax businesses more they will get more tax. The truth, however, is that if we tax businesses less we incentivise business and entrepreneurs, generating more tax receipts to put into our vital public services.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend recognise that £20 billion happens to be exactly the same amount of extra money that the Government have pledged to put into our national health service?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Exactly. The figures are a coincidence, but my hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight that we are putting the same amount of extra money into the NHS—the largest ever amount invested into our national health service.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is painting a very lucid picture of how the Government differ to the Opposition with regard to tax, but does he agree that that also applies to our approach to private property? The discussion that the Labour party is having about the wholesale renationalisation of major parts of our economy is deeply alarming, and it should come clean to the public about how much that would actually cost.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The remark made by the shadow Chancellor earlier that the public—all our constituents—would have to pay zero extra to fund the widespread nationalisation of all the utility companies, the train companies and anything else was really quite extraordinary. To be honest, I would be surprised if somebody did not raise that on a point of order in terms of misleading the House and the nation, because clearly those figures are a mile away from what independent analysts have calculated.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Has the shadow Chancellor not been on record stating that it does not matter if his sums do not add up, and that it is largely irrelevant, which demonstrates my hon. Friend’s point?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. As she knows well, the truth of the last Labour Government—during their 13 years—was that although they promised no more boom and bust, they gave us the biggest bust in peacetime history as a result of wildly overspending. I am afraid the net result of that is, as always, that the poorest feel the effects worst. In my constituency of Gloucester, 6,000 people lost their jobs during the great recession under Labour. Only since the Conservative Government came back have we seen employment rise sharply and youth unemployment and unemployment fall sharply.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I will not repeat the debate that we always have about a global financial crisis not being solely contained in the UK, but on the earlier intervention that the hon. Gentleman took, the shadow Chancellor is not on the record as saying that his sums do not add up and that that does not matter. Let us remind the Committee that the only party who published costings of its policies at the election was Labour. It is genuinely misleading the Committee to claim that the shadow Chancellor said anything other than that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but will he confirm to the Committee what I heard the shadow Chancellor say earlier in answer to a question from one of my colleagues? He said that there would be zero additional cost to the taxpayer from the enormous, widespread renationalisation policy of Labour; will the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) confirm that there will not be a single penny of additional cost?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The shadow Chancellor did not speak from the Dispatch Box. I think the hon. Gentleman is thinking of the shadow Chief Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd)—the two should not be confused. On nationalisation, I think the point that my hon. Friend was trying to make is that we can simply look at British history to see how this works. If we take an asset into public ownership and the return from that asset is greater than the cost of the borrowing to take it on, there is no net cost to the taxpayer, and certainly, income tax will not have to rise to cover that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Order. We are not having a debate on party policy. We have amendments and clauses before us and we are straying from them—I know you wanted to get through your speech very quickly, Mr Graham.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

You are entirely right as always, Sir Lindsay. It was helpful to have it exposed that there is clearly a significant difference of opinion between the shadow Chief Secretary and the shadow Chancellor on whether there will be any additional costs from the policies of the Opposition—[Interruption.] I have taken a lot of interventions, so I will cease from taking them so that I can come, as you suggested Sir Lindsay, to a rapid closure, which I am sure will be welcomed by Opposition Members.

Having made the crucial point on our approach to investment in business, let me finish on the annual investment allowance, which is a crucial part of the Budget and the clauses under discussion. This is important because it encourages businesses to invest in expensive technology that, over time, will allow them to grow and employ more people. I could give a dozen examples from my constituency of where this has been true. To give it some flavour, I will highlight just one area. The hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde will know, having visited China with me last week, how far we have gone in increasing our exports to China. From Gloucester alone, we are exporting a huge number of manufactured goods, including the landing gear on all Airbus aircraft.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

If the hon. Gentleman is so sure of his position, what is wrong with providing for a review of the effectiveness of entrepreneurs’ relief, as new clause 3 would do?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman is kind to mention that, but the fact is that we on the Government side of the House believe strongly in incentivising the entrepreneurs. They are the ones producing the technologies of the future—Fintech, Edtech, every sort of tech—and the reason why this country has seen more investment in technology in London alone in the last year than Germany, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands and France put together. These incentives to businesses are what generate the additional tax revenue I highlighted earlier.

The changes to gambling tax are among the most significant measures proposed. These are fundamentally about what is morally right, and I am delighted that the Government have found a way to do the right thing, not just by reducing the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2, but by introducing it rapidly and by raising the remote gambling duty from 15% to 21%. If I could make one request of the excellent Minister, it would be that he consider other ways to reduce the amount of online gambling advertising and to raise more tax revenue from it.

This is an important discussion. Some of the facts offered earlier by the Opposition were completely astray from reality, and I strongly support what the Government are doing to incentive business, encourage more people into work and, above all, benefit the lowest earners. It is worth finishing with one last statistic from the OECD: the proportion of jobs that are low-paid is at its lowest level in this country for at least 20 years. That is a significant achievement on which we can hope to build yet further in the future.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I wish to say a few words about amendment 18, which would remove clause 5. I spoke on this at length on Second Reading, so I do not need to say a great deal.

The difficulty with clause 5 is that it combines two very different measures, the first being to lift the low earners threshold. As the hon. Member for Solihull (Julian Knight) reminded us a few minutes ago, this was a policy that I and my colleagues pursued in government, and it is not something I at all disagree with. The second, however, is a much more substantial measure to lift the tax threshold for middle earners. I do not pretend for a moment that people at the higher rate threshold are rich people—at the bottom end, they are paid less than Members of Parliament—but we need to get beyond the headlines and look at the actual numbers.

The lower threshold is to be lifted by £650, and 20% of that is £130, so the people solely on standard rate tax will get £130 in their pocket as a result of this measure. Of course, that is welcome. It is about a 2% increase, which is roughly in line with inflation, and is unquestionably a good thing. For the high earners threshold, however, we are talking about much bigger sums of money—a £3,650 increase in the threshold. Multiplied by 20%, and we are talking about £730, but of course high earners also benefit from the standard rate threshold increase. Add the two together and we have got £860. This measure, which is badged as a measure to help low earners, helps low earners to take home £130 a year and high earners £860 a year. On no conceivable measure could that be described as some enlightened policy for helping the low paid.

Having said that, I should add that there are things that the Government could have done as part of the policy of reducing fiscal drag. I fully understand the need at the margin to stop people being dragged into higher tax rates, and something could have been done to offset that. The Chancellor himself has acknowledged that there are extremely expensive and lavish tax reliefs on pension contributions for upper earners, which cost the country about £25 billion a year. I think that if he had chosen to offset the upper-rate threshold measure by some reduction in pension tax relief for the high paid, such that it neutralised it, many of us would have thought that that was quite a reasonable way of making progress, but he did not, despite the urgent need for revenue.

In an ideal world we would be looking at tax cuts for everyone, but we are not in an ideal world. There are issues of priorities. As several Conservative Members have reminded us—former Chancellors, among others—we are living in a world of severe fiscal restrictions, despite the proclamation of the end of austerity. There are other purposes for which the money could have been better used. We are talking about £2.8 billion in the first year, tapering to about £1.7 billion a year, of which roughly half is for the upper rate threshold. We can all think of many, many ways of spending that money, but for me the priority would have been fully restoring the cuts in universal credit that were made two years ago. The Government have partly done that, but with the additional sum of £1.3 billion, the Chancellor could have returned universal credit to the levels at which it was placed two years ago, in the Osborne Budget. The money could also have been used to end the benefits freeze a year early. The continuation of that freeze means that the poorest 30% in the population are being dragged down as a result of the Budget, but ending the freeze a year early could have offset that. Obviously there are many other purposes for which the money could have been used, but those would have been my priorities.

This measure, politically, was obviously intended to enable the Chancellor to proclaim that the end of austerity is not just about public spending, but about cutting taxes. There is nothing wrong with that general proposition, but the problem is that it is dishonest: that is not what is actually happening. The revenue line in the Red Book shows clearly that as a result of revenue measures, council tax will rise by £6 billion over the next five years—that it will rise by considerably more than income tax is being cut. What, essentially, is happening is that as a result of the reduction, or the freezing, of spending on support for local councils, the councils are making up their revenue through council tax increases to the maximum extent allowed. The Government, according to their own numbers, believe that council tax revenue will rise by £6 billion to about £40 billion. That, as I have said, more than cancels out the income tax cuts, most of which in any case accrue to higher-rate earners. So this is not a tax-cutting Budget at all. It is, indirectly, a tax-raising Budget, and I hope that that will be pointed out to members of the Government when they use such rhetoric in future.

I simply wish to move my amendment, and we will seek to oppose clause 5 stand part.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is an honour to follow the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir Vince Cable).

I welcome the Bill. As we consider the amendments, we are faced with a stark choice that faces all politicians and members of the public when they consider the basic question of how we manage our economy and how we manage tax and spending. It is the stark choice between responsibility and recklessness. If we cast our eyes back over the last eight years, we see the benefits of the responsible, balanced approach of the Conservatives. Since 2010 the deficit has decreased by 80%, and the economy has grown for eight consecutive years, by a total of 17%. Unemployment is at its lowest rate since 1975—the year before I was born—and the Government are managing to boost public spending while simultaneously cutting tax. I am particularly pleased about the almost doubling of basic-rate tax relief: those on the basic rate are paying £1,205 less every year than they were paying in 2010, which is a tremendous step forward.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The increases in the minimum wage and the living wage have also had a fundamental impact on the earning capacity of people at the lower end of the income scale in our society.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Absolutely, and the bottom line is that that allows more people to spend more of their own money doing what they want. That is what this Government deliver.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does not the rise in the tax-free allowance from £6,475 to £12,500 also mean that the tax collector will no longer have to waste time chasing and trying to track down people who are earning the basic salary to secure very small amounts that probably cost more to collect than they constitute in receipts?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My right hon. Friend has made a very good point. The rise is not just good for the taxpayer, but good for the Government.

This balanced, responsible approach is in stark contrast to the reckless and ideologically driven approach of the Opposition. Members will probably need no reminding that in 2016 the shadow Chancellor declared, “I am a Marxist”. He pursues—well, let us call it a policy of half-based Marxism mixed with 1970s-style union militancy.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend recall that, along the same lines, the Labour Opposition were preparing for capital flight and a run on the pound, and does he share my alarm at that prospect?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Order. May I share my wisdom with you both? The debate is about the clauses and new clauses before us. Members tried to go down this route once before. The new clauses are quite clear, and the clauses are quite clear. I am sure Mr Docherty wishes to stick to that, and I am sure Members will not tempt him again.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

You are absolutely right, Sir Lindsay. I certainly will not be tempted to stray from the clauses and new clauses that we are considering.

It is, of course, important to consider the approach to ownership of private property that the shadow Chancellor and his party laid out last year in a document that Members can obtain from the Library, entitled “Alternative Models of Ownership”.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Why is this relevant?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is relevant because it puts renationalisation at the front and centre of the Labour party’s economic policy. Regrettably, there are no figures in the document. That is because the cost of renationalisation, calculated by the Centre for Policy Studies, would be £176 billion: £6,471 for every single household. That is a deeply alarming fact.

That approach was given further voice when, just last week, the shadow Chancellor made a speech at an event hosted by Red Pepper. He discussed his broad economic approach, and his approach to tax and private property. He promised that the Labour manifesto would be even more radical than the last. This is relevant because, referring to Labour’s approach to the private ownership of land, the shadow Chancellor said:

“One of the big issues we’re now talking about is land, how do we go about looking at collective ownership of land”.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Order. We have strayed completely from where we should be. If the hon. Gentleman wants a debate on the Opposition, he needs to wait until the right moment. Today is not that moment. This is about the new clauses that we are discussing, and what he is talking about is not relevant. I have allowed him a little leeway, but we have now strayed too far. I would like him to concentrate on the new clauses.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am grateful to you, Sir Lindsay. I will come back more pertinently and conclude by bringing the debate back to the effect on small businesses. I hugely welcome the cut in business rates in the Finance Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Enterprise relief is the subject of one of the amendments. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is wrong-headed to say that only 52,000 people would benefit from the said changes proposed in the Bill? Does he agree that we should take account of the fact that many employees and others will benefit from entrepreneurs bringing about these businesses, and does he therefore support the changes to enterprise relief?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am wholehearted in my support for the changes to entrepreneurs’ relief. I was in my constituency of Aldershot on Friday, visiting one of the many small and medium-sized enterprises that are the backbone of our economy there. Gemini Tec is one of the leading manufacturers of short circuit boards in the country, and that business is successful because of the entrepreneurs who have been driving it forward for the past 40 years. They do not ask any special favours from the Government. Indeed, they want the Government to keep out of their way and let them thrive. However, if the Government can in some way create an ecosystem and an atmosphere, through measures such as entrepreneurs’ relief, that is wholeheartedly to be commended. We have a tradition of tremendous innovation and creativity—not least in Aldershot, north Hampshire, the Blackwater Valley and Farnborough—and this drives a lot of the job creation that we are now seeing in this country. As I have said, this has led to the lowest rates of unemployment since 1975, the year before I was born.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does the hon. Gentleman believe that money to support entrepreneurs is being well spent through the Government giving an average of £450,000 in entrepreneurs’ relief each to just 6,000 entrepreneurs? Does he acknowledge that the Government will take £1.5 billion off the 300,000 small businesses that will lose out through the universal credit minimum income floor, which the Government are driving through?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

This is not a debate on universal credit. This is actually about job creation. That is the more important point when it comes to entrepreneurs’ relief.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

New clauses 3 and 7 both ask the Government to say exactly what the effect of entrepreneurs’ relief will be. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it would be best for reliefs to be targeted to ensure that the most jobs are created, the most people benefit and the most businesses can grow as a result of the changes? Does he therefore agree that it would be good for the Government to explain why their proposal is better than any other proposals?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Of course the best way to measure the effect of this is in employment growth. I expect these changes to further deepen the positive impact and the positive growth in employment that we have seen recently. Having considered these amendments, I am delighted to welcome the Bill wholeheartedly. Government Members must be confident about supporting our balanced approach, in contrast to the reckless and ideologically driven approach of the Labour party. We must consider this not just in economic or fiscal terms, but in human terms. Free-market capitalism has been one of the greatest forces that the world has ever seen. It has lifted 1.5 billion people out of poverty in the past 30 years. We should be confident about that, and we should be confident in our balanced and responsible approach. I am delighted to welcome the Bill this evening.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Before I speak to my new clause 18, I want to gently chastise the hon. Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham). He is not in his place at the moment, but I am sure that someone will respond to this for him. He very inappropriately raised quite selective data on inequalities, a subject that I spent nearly 20 years working on before I came to this place. He should know that we are the seventh most unequal country of the 30 developed countries in relation to income inequality. By some measures, we do worse than others, but overall, economic equality is not just about income; it is also about pay and wealth. We need to be mindful of this fact, and selectively reporting data is not a practice that we should be indulging in.

I should like to declare an interest as the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for health in all policies and as a fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, following more than 20 years of national and international work in this field prior to becoming an MP. It is lovely to see you in the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker. New clause 18 would require the Government to commit to undertaking an assessment of the effects of the personal taxation measures in the Budget—including changes in the personal allowance and the higher rate threshold—on poverty, on the public’s health, including their life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, and in turn on public services.

The reason I have tabled this new clause is that, over the past eight years or so, I have seen the gains made under the previous Labour Government being totally reversed by this Government. Those gains included the reduction in the number of children and older people living in poverty and the improvements in health including an increase in our life expectancy and reductions in health inequalities. As the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said on Friday, the cuts and reforms introduced in the past few years have brought misery and torn at our social fabric. He went on:

“British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited and callous approach”.

As I mentioned in my point of order earlier, I am afraid the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng) demonstrated this exact point in his comments on the “The Andrew Marr Show” yesterday. The lack of humanity he showed in his response to the plight of Emily Lydon, who is being forced to sell her home because of issues with transitioning on to universal credit, shamed not only himself and the Government of which he is a Minister, but this whole House.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the massive cuts in the public health budgets that are now controlled by local authorities have simply made matters considerably worse in the public health field?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is totally right. Those budgets were ring-fenced to start with, but they are now absolutely emaciated. This is stopping us doing the prevention work that we should be doing. We made massive investments in public health, and they were having a real impact in terms of health gain. I am afraid that that is now going by the bye.

We know that there are 14 million people living in poverty in the United Kingdom, 8 million of whom are working—the highest level ever. It is fine for Conservative Members to speak on a positive note about employment rates, but they should be asking themselves why we have such high levels of in-work poverty. That, too, brings shame on us. Two thirds of the 4 million children living in poverty are from working households. How on earth are young people expected to learn and to excel at school if they are constantly hungry?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Lady might not have had a chance to read it yet, but the all-party parliamentary group on infant feeding and inequalities, which I chair, produced a report that came out last week. It found that even working families are now struggling to meet the cost of infant formula, so they are having to stretch it out, to the detriment of their children’s health. So this problem is starting even before children go to school, because babies are not getting the nutrition that they need.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That is absolutely right. I will come on to some of the really worrying figures about how, from birth, our children are being affected because of the poverty that they are experiencing.

What about disabled people? Disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people because of the extra costs that they face around their disability. We have seen their social security support become absolutely emaciated. Given that we are the fifth richest country in the world, that is shocking—absolutely shocking. Four million disabled people are already living in poverty, with many now continually finding that they are becoming more and more isolated in their own homes.

Since 2015, as analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and others has shown that those who are in the lowest income decile have lost proportionately more income than any other group as a consequence of personal taxation and social security changes. That is the important thing. My new clause is not just about taxation. We cannot see that in isolation from how we then ensure, as a country, that we are supporting people on low incomes—and that support is completely inadequate. What was put forward in the Budget does not go anywhere near repairing the damage that was done in the summer Budget of 2015.

Last month’s Budget produces only marginal gains to the household income of the poorest, while reducing the number of higher-rate taxpayers by 300,000. The Government’s regressive measures have done nothing to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. When cuts to household incomes are combined with the cuts to public spending and services, the impact is even more dramatic, and again with disproportionate cuts to Government funding to towns and cities across the north, as evidence has repeatedly shown.

The effects of all this on life expectancy are now being seen, with health gains made over decades now falling away. Life expectancy has been stalling since 2011, and it is now flatlining, particularly in older age groups and for older women. In the same week—the very same week—that these data came out last year, the Government actually increased the state pension age. We know that our life expectancy is flatlining. For women—think about the 1950s-born women—it is going backwards, yet we are still putting up the state pension age. What is going on?

On top of this there are regional differences in how long people will live, with these health inequalities reflecting the socioeconomic inequalities across the country. Life expectancy for men in Windsor and Maidenhead stands at 81.6 years, while in my Oldham and Saddleworth constituency it is 77. Even within these areas, there are differences in how long people will live. Again, in the Windsor and Maidenhead local authority area, the life expectancy gap is 5.8 years for men and 4.8 years for women, while in my constituency it is 11.4 years for men and 10.7 years for women. These health inequalities are reflected right across the country. The gains Labour made in reducing health inequalities are now being reversed.

Similarly, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health reported last month that infant mortality has started to increase for the first time in 100 years. Four in 1,000 babies will not reach their first birthday in the UK, compared with 2.8 in the EU. These are the unacceptable consequences of austerity. I welcome the Department of Health and Social Care commissioning Public Health England to investigate the causes of this declining health status, but it is very late in the day. Public health specialists—renowned epidemiologists such as Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Professor Martin McKee and many others—have been calling for this for the past 18 months. We already know from the work that they have been doing that they are pointing the finger towards austerity. It is imperative that in addition to stopping austerity, and the misery and poverty that is being wrought, we tackle the inequalities within and between regions and communities.

An analysis of the effects of the Budget’s personal taxation measures is part of this, but it should not be seen in isolation. This would be outside the scope of the Bill, but the Government should be doing an analysis of their social security and public spending cuts. Reducing the gap between the rich and the poor is not just good for the economy. As evidence from totemic reports such as “The Spirit Level” shows, life expectancy then increases, as well as educational attainment, social mobility, trust, and much more. Fairer, more equal societies benefit everyone. Inequalities are not inevitable—they are socially reproduced and they can be changed—but to tackle them in all their forms takes commitment, it takes courage, and it takes leadership.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is a pleasure to speak in this part of the debate. I really do think that this is the best Finance Bill that we have seen in some years. I return to the point that I made on Second Reading: Governments do not have their own money, only taxpayers’ money. It is absolutely imperative to remember that and to remember that taxes are paid in the expectation that they will be spent wisely and necessarily. Where the Government can find a way to enable taxpayers to keep more of their own hard-earned money, they should do so.

Helping families in constituencies like mine better to meet the costs of living is absolutely critical. I am therefore a strong supporter of clause 5, raising the personal allowance for us all and the scope of the basic rate to more of the middle earners who have previously been dragged into higher rates of taxes than they should have faced. These are not the top earners, but will often be the likes of middle management, senior nurses, or lower-rank inspectors in the police, and they have previously been penalised by this punitive higher rate of tax.

The increase in the personal allowance is the latest in a line of such increases. This will mean that a typical basic-rate taxpayer will pay £1,205 less tax in the next tax year than they did in 2010-11. Importantly, the increase to £12,500 comes a year earlier than planned. That can happen because the public finances are in a better shape than had been predicted, thanks to the hard work of the British people and the sound fiscal management of my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary, and the Ministers on the Front Bench. They know that taxpayers’ money is taxpayers’ money, and they have rightly allowed taxpayers to keep more of it as soon as it has been possible to do so, as we see in these clauses. This is combined with inflation coming back under control and wages rising again in real terms. The lowest paid have not only been taken out of income tax altogether but enjoy an increased national living wage.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I share my hon. Friend’s thoughts about the increase in the personal allowance. Does he agree that one of the very significant positive things in this Finance Bill is also the—I am sorry; I will let him continue.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments.

As I was saying, allowing taxpayers to keep more than it would have been possible to do previously is combined with inflation coming back under control and wages rising again in real terms. The lowest paid have not only been taken out of income tax altogether but enjoy an increased national living wage, thanks to this Government. We are seeing the lowest paid paying less tax but also bringing home more money. The annual earnings of a full-time—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that the national living wage is not actually a wage that one can live on, and that it does not apply to those under the age of 25? In fact, the gap for those aged 16 and 17 has been going up every year.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The national living wage is a critical part of ensuring that some of the lowest paid in our society earn much more and take home more pay. Earnings for a full-time minimum-wage worker will have increased by £2,750 since it was introduced in April 2016.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

rose

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend can have a better go this time.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way and giving me another chance. He mentioned inflation. Does he share my view that the fact that the annual deficit has been reduced by 80% since 2010 is another very significant piece of progress with regard to inflation?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I agree with my hon. Friend’s comments, which show the responsible approach we on this side of the House have taken to the economy, compared with the approach the previous Labour Government took.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

rose

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

And now the hon. Gentleman is going to tell us about Labour’s future approach if they ever get back into office.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As the hon. Gentleman is talking about borrowing, does he agree that the Tory party in the last eight years has borrowed more money than all Labour Governments put together?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman will have seen the figures that show that debt is now coming down to lower levels than ever before, and we have seen the deficit back under control after the failings of the previous Labour Government who got us into an horrendous mess that working families in this country ended up paying for.

We are now seeing the numbers of low-paid workers at a record low, and we are seeing low taxpayers now paying record low levels of tax. The astonishing turnaround achieved in making work pay, not least through tax measures like those before us today, means that the Office for Budget Responsibility has now revised up its assumptions for the trend labour market participation rates and revised down its estimate of the equilibrium rate of employment. As the Treasury rightly highlights in the Red Book paragraph 1.15, both of these revisions raise the level of potential output, which is good news for the sustainability of the labour market boom which has undoubtedly been the greatest achievement of the policies pursued by this Conservative Government.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree with the Institute for Fiscal Studies that the cumulative impact of personal tax and benefit reform since 2015 has been that the bottom two thirds of society is far worse off and that the only people who are better off under this Government’s policies are the top third?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I totally disagree. We have seen increases in the national living wage and reduced tax in this Budget, and further measures in this Budget to support UC.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the fact we should be looking at is the fact reported by the OECD that the proportion of jobs that are low paid is at the lowest level for the past two decades? We should be celebrating that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That is absolutely right. We should be looking at those figures, not some of the figures being used by Opposition Members, who want to keep people on a level of pay that is lower than it would ever be, because they want to keep people out of work and keep people in the workless society we saw under the previous Labour Government.

We on this side of the House have made work pay, and the long-term benefits of doing so are clear in the expansion of our non-inflationary production potential. The last time unemployment was so low, 40 or more years ago, there were massive peaks in inflation. The contrast with today is stark and we should be proud of our work as a country in digging ourselves out of the mess left by the Labour party.

For people in Stoke-on-Trent making work pay has added to the renaissance of our fine, proud city and its industries, and the situation is the same in once-forgotten manufacturing towns across the country, which are seeing a revival in real jobs for real levels of take home pay. Indeed the ONS estimates that real household disposable income per head was 4% higher in quarter 2 of 2018 than at the start of 2010, and the OBR expects it will increase by a further 3.2% by the end of 2023. At the same time, income inequality is down, and is lower than it was in 2010. To refute a number of the claims made from the Opposition Front Bench, the number of children in absolute low-income poverty has fallen since 2010.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but if he is so convinced of his policies in relation to the issues he is talking about, why will he not support the provision in section 5 of this Act of an impact assessment on child poverty and equality? What has he got to fear?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The reason is that the facts show that the number of children living in absolute poverty has fallen since 2010 and will continue to fall, because of the policies of this Conservative Government.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend agree that for every £1 those on low income pay in tax, £4 of public spending goes towards them, whereas for those on higher income, for every £5 they pay in tax they receive only £1 back in public spending, and that is because we are a fair society, which means that well-off people contribute to helping those on lower incomes?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank my hon. Friend for those comments, which show that the highest earners are paying their fair share, while the lowest paid in society are being supported as much as we can. That is what this Government have been doing: reducing taxes for the lowest paid in society and ensuring that the lowest paid can be paid more.

I reject many of the views of the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams). She made some comments about statistics and then used statistics in her own way. I will also refer to the G7 by saying that only in the UK and Japan have the lowest paid seen their wages grow in that time, and income inequality is lower than it was previously.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

On a point of order, Dame Eleanor. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton) suggests that I have used statistics inappropriately. I can cite all my sources of evidence; can he?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Order. The hon. Lady knows that that is not a point of order for the Chair; it is a point of debate, and, as I have said many times in here—and so has Mr Speaker—fortunately it is not the duty of the Chair to decide between one set of statistics and another. It all depends on how one applies the statistics, and the hon. Lady is perfectly at liberty to intervene on the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton), as is he to take an intervention from her, where they can continue the argument between them, but I will take no part in it.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Thank you, Dame Eleanor. The statistics I have used show that income inequality is lower than it was before the crash, and this is all alongside our continuing to reduce the deficit and debt, and meeting our targets three years early, while continuing to invest more in our vital public services. This responsible approach to public finances has seen our economy and the number of jobs boom, compared with the spiralling-out-of-control economy under Labour.

I was pleased that the Minister with responsibility for high streets—the Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Jake Berry)—visited my constituency on Friday and talked about some of the measures we are taking in this Budget to support towns like Longton and Fenton in my constituency, helping to address some of the issues on the high street. I hope we can get some of the £650 million pot announced in the Budget to convert many of their empty premises back into use and help with business rates to ensure that retailers with a rateable value of under £51,000 will receive relief, as that will be hugely welcome by the smallest retailers in our towns.

I also want to comment on some of the views expressed by Opposition Members about entrepreneurs’ relief. I was shocked that some of the views were so anti-business and anti-enterprise. We must condemn those views, which are damaging businesses in constituencies up and down the country.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

rose

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Can the hon. Gentleman answer that one?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman must not misquote. We are looking for an assessment of entrepreneurs’ relief, and if he believes that what he suggests is good value for money for taxpayers he would support a review of that relief. What is wrong with that?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I just wanted to talk about the relief in Stoke-on-Trent as well. Entrepreneurs’ relief in my constituency will help many businesses that are starting up. We have some fantastic retention rates in Stoke-on-Trent; we have some of the highest new business start-up retention rates in the country, and that relief is critical in helping those businesses.

The measures introduced in the Budget to increase the time period from 12 to 24 months will help to ensure that it is businesses that are genuinely contributing to our economy that will receive the relief, making a huge contribution to the development of new technologies and innovation that we so much support in our economies throughout the country.

The proposed reductions in corporation tax in the Budget and the relief on capital allowances, which my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) spoke about, will also be a huge support for many of the businesses in my constituency, particularly manufacturers. Around 15% of the economy in Stoke-on-Trent is made up of manufacturing businesses. Those measures will be a huge support for those businesses, increasing the amount of machinery and equipment that they can buy. Increasing relief on capital allowances and the investment allowance up to £1 million will help more of those businesses to buy new equipment and invest in the plant in their factories. I welcome that measure, which will help not just those manufacturing businesses, but the huge number of businesses up and down the country that produce that machinery and the workforces in those industries, which are so valued up and down the country.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend agree that when we are talking about support for businesses, through entrepreneurs’ relief and all these other measures, we are talking not just about the people who own those businesses, but about the people working in them who have a job because of these measures?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Absolutely, and we want to see the number of those workers and the opportunities and jobs in those industries continue to grow. That is why it is so shocking to hear views from the Opposition that would damage the jobs miracle that we have seen over the last few years in this country.

Wages are rising, inflation is stable, unemployment has been so low for so long that the Office for Budget Responsibility believes that the equilibrium rate has fallen, income inequality is down and disposable income is up. This is the extraordinary record of making work pay. It is a huge economic success story, after the financial meltdown that the Labour party presided over. I want to see the success continue, and I know that to do so this House must support the Bill. I shall continue to do so, not least because of the concrete measures it contains for putting money in the pockets of Stoke-on-Trent’s very many hard-working people.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I begin by reflecting on the purpose of our society—the purpose of our communities, locally and nationally. The great Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee said:

“No social system will bring us happiness, health and prosperity unless it is inspired by something greater than materialism.”

I agree with Clement Attlee. To me and many others in this House, the aspiration is to create and be part of a community and society that cares for one another and enables everyone to succeed in life, in whatever form success takes—a society that is safe and secure from cradle to grave and that provides accessible healthcare, quality housing, outstanding education and secure employment. A Government’s ultimate goal should be the wellbeing of its citizens, and there is much evidence to suggest that higher levels of wellbeing can lead to higher levels of job performance and productivity and greater job satisfaction. That is the society I want to live in.

Unfortunately, to say that that is not a reality under the current Government is an understatement. This Finance Bill does nothing to deliver the people of this country’s wellbeing. On new clause 2, a UN report just last week told us that the Government have inflicted “great misery” on our people, with

“punitive, mean-spirited and often callous”

austerity policies, driven by a political desire to undertake social re-engineering rather than by economic necessity. This is from the United Nations poverty envoy. We are told that levels of child poverty are

“not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and economic disaster”.

The Budget was an opportunity to make some attempt to right those wrongs. Did it offer full and fair funding for our teachers and education service? No. Did it offer reassurance for those suffering the consequences of the cruel and callous roll-out of universal credit? No. Did it attempt to put an end to the causes of homelessness and destitution? No. Did it commit to funding our police services to help halt the massive increase in violent crime? No. Did it commit to funding our local councils, suffering 50% cuts, which are damaging the very fabric of our society? No. Did it do anything to relieve the hardship felt by so many women across our country? No.

Some 14 million of our citizens—our people; a fifth of the population—are living in poverty. One and a half million are destitute, with no money for even basic essentials. Up to 40% of children will be living in poverty by 2022. This Finance Bill is about lip service and rhetoric—pretending to care about the poor and vulnerable, but doing nothing substantial to address the misery and suffering felt by so many in our society. There is so much poverty and inequality in our country, and our country has never been more miserable or divided—divided geographically, generationally and economically. We have poverty in our cities, towns and villages, but under this Government there is a poverty of compassion, a poverty of empathy and a poverty of insight into what real, ordinary people’s lives are like.

My mum said to me a few years before her death, having lived through the depression in the 1930s and survived the Manchester blitz in the second world war: “I’m glad I’m at the end of my life and not at the start when I look at what this Government are doing to our society. They’re punishing people for being poor”. Enough now. The people of this country have had enough. Labour will keep up the pressure and fight for those who are stuck in poor quality housing, those who are struggling to feed their families and those who are not yet old enough to understand what poverty is and how it may impact their life. They deserve better.

I would like to finish with a quotation from the philosopher Thomas Paine:

“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.”

It is interesting that the Government are currently facing so many questions and inquiries, both within this House and beyond.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is an honour to speak in this debate and to follow the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Thelma Walker).

One of the most striking things about the Chancellor’s Budget speech was the moment in history that it reflected. As the Committee will know, in 2010 the Government—the coalition Government, as then was—inherited the largest peacetime deficit in our history, yet the Chancellor was able to stand at the Dispatch Box and say that the deficit had fallen by four fifths, from just under 10% to 1.9%, and that it would be less than 1% by 2023-24. This is an extraordinary achievement, not of this House or even this Government, but of the British people, who, yes, have had to cut their cloth to make it happen. However, it has been an essential task, yet sometimes, listening to some hon. Members, we can be led to believe that it could have been wished away, that it did not matter or that it was something that the Conservative party invented.

But that is not so. The deficit is a real, serious thing. The deficit is the debt that we pass on to our children and to our children’s children. It is the debt that we have not cleared ourselves. We have a responsibility to the future. We have a responsibility to pass on a natural environment that is not polluted and we have a duty to pass an economy that is not polluted.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am listening to my hon. Friend’s opening remarks with great interest. He is right to talk about the importance of tackling the deficit, yet we sometimes hear comments from the Opposition about debt going up. If they are so concerned about the level of debt, can he confirm to me how many deficit reduction measures he believes they have supported?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. I believe that the answer to his question is none, but I stand to be corrected.

Alongside the Budget, we heard the remarkable news last week that wage growth is at its highest level for a decade. That welcome return to growth benefits people in my constituency and around the country. In addition, we have the best employment figures in my lifetime. Sometimes, we are given the impression that such figures are idle statistics that mean nothing—that the Government are just chirruping on about that silly little thing, employment—but employment is not a marginal thing. Employment is what gives our constituents the opportunity to work, to support their families, to play their part in society and to have independence and choice. It is the greatest gift that the economy can bestow.

I always enjoy Finance Bill debates, because I am a genuine fan of the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd). I assure Hansard that I am not being sarcastic when I say that I genuinely enjoy his company and his speeches. Over the years we have shared in the House, we have enjoyed some debates on the Beatles, on Plutarch and on sausages. Today, I shall add to that list by picking him up on voodoo economics.

The hon. Gentleman has accused us of voodoo economics when it comes to reducing corporation tax and thus bringing greater revenue into the Exchequer. I encourage him, in the spirit of friendship, to go and talk to some of the businesses that have onshored to the UK to take advantage of our extraordinarily competitive corporation tax rates. That is why people are coming to this country to do business. It is why they are choosing to raise revenue here and pay taxes here. That is good for them, it is good for our economy and it is good for the people who use our public services. I respectfully suggest that if anyone wants an example of voodoo economics, they should look to the attempt to dig up the dead and rotting corpse of socialism, reinvigorate it with magic spells and have it wandering the streets, looking to bring rack and ruin. We find real voodoo economics in the suggestion that it will cost nothing to renationalise a range of utilities and services. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Leo Docherty) has pointed out, it will not cost nothing; it will cost at least £176 billion. Contrary to what the shadow Chancellor says, it will not pay for itself. It will be paid for by British taxpayers.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is making an eloquent speech. He is right to point out the voodoo economics surrounding the Labour party’s plan for nationalisation. As he has said, we are not simply talking about the fact that it will cost £176 billion across the whole country; if we divide that up per household, my constituents in Aldershot are deeply alarmed at the prospect of having to pay £6,471 for this madness.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I imagine that they are; they have every right to be very concerned—nay, furious—about it.

Several clauses in the Finance Bill have been misrepresented. They put more money in people’s pockets and make more money available to businesses, not for the sake of some blind ideological exercise, but because Conservatives know that growth matters most to our economy. We would all like to have more money for public services today, but if we get that additional money by raising taxes, there will be less money in the economy and, ultimately, less revenue, so less money for public services. The only way to increase the size of the slice of the pie that goes to public services is by increasing the size of the pie. The only way to do that effectively is by giving people opportunities to spend more of their own money, and by giving businesses opportunities to set up, survive, grow, employ people and share wealth.

For that reason, I fully support the measures in clause 5, which provide an opportunity to take yet more people out of income tax, building on the work done by the coalition Government. To return to a point made earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Solihull (Julian Knight), it is very easy to create fiscal drag by having people pay higher taxes. Reducing those taxes reduces the drag and increases the amount of money in the economy. More people spend more money, which helps businesses to employ more people and creates a virtuous cycle from which we all benefit.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman refers to things being virtuous. I am sure that he believes that new clause 1 is virtuous, in that it sets out an assessment of the effect of reducing the threshold for the additional rate to £80,000, which is the Labour party’s policy. If he wants the facts and the evidence, why does he not support new clause 1, which will enable us to get all the facts and the evidence? Then we can have another debate, in which we can talk about Plutarch and Cicero until the cows come home.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I would certainly take up the hon. Gentleman’s offer to talk about Cicero, but I am sure that I would be ruled out of order.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

For the sake of clarity, no—Cicero is always pertinent to everything.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Cicero, as the hon. Gentleman knows, was one of the great minds of the Roman senate, and I can say with full certainty what he would have made of new clause 1. He would have said that it was a waste of time. We can rely on the Treasury to keep us informed of all the ins and outs of Government policy. We do not need additional laws and additional bureaucracy to achieve that. I know that the hon. Gentleman is a great lover of reviews. We have sat in many Committees together over the years, and he has tabled amendments calling for review upon review, which Parliament has always, sadly, declined to accept.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am very much enjoying my hon. Friend’s speech. Does he agree that many analyses must have been done in the Treasury between 1997 and 2010 about why it was sensible to keep the tax rates as they were? The highest earners now pay slightly more, in terms of percentage rate, than they did throughout most of Labour’s 13 years in government, except for the last couple of months. It is quite strange to hear Labour Members’ enthusiasm for this type of taxation now that they are in opposition.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As ever, my hon. Friend puts it extremely well. “Wise after the event” might be one of the Labour party’s mottos.

I am pleased to welcome, in clauses 41 and 42, further improvements to stamp duty to help more people to get on the housing ladder and buy the homes that they so richly deserve. Those measures will put more money into the system and encourage the building of more homes, to allow us to progress down the route of building what must be built for the home owning democracy.

Alongside that, I was pleased to see an additional £1.7 billion being put into universal credit, to give the poorest people in society more money in their pockets—money that benefits them and flows straight into the economy. I take this opportunity to thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Ms McVey), who is not in her place, for her service as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. She did her job extremely well. It was under her leadership that a number of improvements were made to universal credit and this decision to put an additional £1.7 billion into the service was concluded. That Secretary of State bore her unfair share of personal criticism while she was in that job; the person rather than the issue was often played. Although I fully take on board the remarks made by the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Thelma Walker) about the desire of that great Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee for a caring society, when I have seen and heard some of the slander thrown at my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton, I have had to wonder whether all parts of the left are really as caring as Clement Attlee would have had them.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend agree with Cicero on this point: when you have no basis for argument, you should abuse the plaintiff?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend quotes Cicero far better than I ever could, and I regret only that she did not do so in the original Latin—we can hope for such things next time.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am not going to quote Cicero, although I am perfectly able to do so, but I think the debate needs to progress as it should do. Is the cut in stamp duty, particularly for shared ownership schemes, going to have a major impact? Has my hon. Friend done any assessment of how much that is going to affect the people who are trying so desperately hard to get on to the housing ladder in his constituency and in mine? Does he have anything to support this argument?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have no doubt that a cut in stamp duty will help homebuyers across the country, in his constituency and in mine. I am lucky to represent a constituency in Essex, near London. Our area has much to recommend it, but the price of housing is high. We are going through a programme of home building, reflecting the Government’s broader ambitions. I know from knocking on doors and speaking to young people and their parents that it is difficult to get on that housing ladder. Every incremental improvement that this Government can make on things such as stamp duty helps to make the dream of home ownership a reality for those young people and their families.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

On my hon. Friend’s point about incrementalism, does he recognise that the welcome cut in stamp duty for first-time buyers comes on top of ending the crazy slab-based system of stamp duty land tax which was built up under Gordon Brown? This Government got rid of it, so that we no longer had a situation where paying £1 more for a house triggers a tax increase that could be worth thousands and thousands of pounds.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is too modest; I know not only that it was an excellent reform brought about under a Conservative Administration, where we went from the LEGO building-block approach to stamp duty that he described to something much smoother and more pristine, but that he was working in the Treasury at the time and was instrumental in bringing about that excellent reform. It has made stamp duty not only fairer, but much more sensible for anyone seeking to buy a property.

Let me turn to business, clause 38 and the necessary additional relief being given to entrepreneurs. As a number of hon. Members have made clear, these are people who are looking to start businesses, so as to employ people, and to create an economic dynamism in their communities and their areas. I go back to remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton) about how he has seen employment and business growth in his area. I was having a conversation earlier with another hon. Friend from the north-east, where, the Conservatives again have seats in Parliament—that is no accident. We have seats in Parliament in the north-east because of the record levels of jobs growth and business growth that have happened in those constituencies since 2010. Voters understand success and successful policies when they see them, which is why people such as my hon. Friend are capable of winning seats such as Stoke-on-Trent South. This happened because of the enormous benefits of Conservative policy since 2010.

A measure in the Budget that has meant a great deal to my area has been the substantial improvement in business rates. As I say, Brentwood and Ongar is a hive of Thatcherite prosperity. It has a huge number of small, medium-sized and large enterprises within its boundaries, most of which have been built by the sweat of local people, and are the product of good, old-fashioned British graft and nous. People in my area are proud of their high streets and want to see them do well. They want their local retail areas to be bustling and thriving. These measures are an enormous shot in the arm for those smaller businesses, which add not only vibrancy and character, but employment and economic opportunity to our local areas. I cannot praise them highly enough.

In conclusion, this is a Budget to help the people who drive the economy. It is a Budget for the businesses that help drive the economy. It offers dynamism to the economy. It will help deliver the growth we need to grow our revenues and our public services, and offer a future for our children which has jobs and is not shackled by an enormous debt left by the previous Government.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

With such disagreement on statistics between hon. Members on both sides of the House, it would be helpful to refer to an impartial observer from the United Nations who has spent the past two weeks going across the United Kingdom and looking at our levels of poverty and the associated political choices. It is a damning indictment of not just our country but our Government that he concluded:

“The experience of the United Kingdom, especially since 2010, underscores the conclusion that poverty is a political choice. Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so. Resources were available to the Treasury at the last budget that could have transformed the situation of millions of people living in poverty, but the political choice was made to fund tax cuts for the wealthy instead.”

I find that absolutely shocking in this day and age, given that there is so much evidence on this, not just from the likes of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, but in every region and on every street in our country. I live in a relatively affluent constituency, but I have had thousands of constituents come to me suffering from poverty.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning this, because the rapporteur came to my constituency last week and I sat through a harrowing three hours listening to the testimonies of people who are really in need and suffering. So I am genuinely grateful to her for raising this issue now.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I find it hard to believe that any of us, as Members of Parliament who are seen to be compassionate and caring people who represent our constituents, do not have struggling constituents coming to them. A single parent came to me who has had to give up his job because his child is disabled. He has found that he is going to lose the disability element of child tax credit and will be £1,500 a year worse off. He said, “This Government says that it will protect the most vulnerable in society. If they cannot protect disabled children, who is more vulnerable? Who are these people that they claim to be protecting?” Answers are there none.

As I said, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that since 2015, the overall impact of tax and benefit reforms has hit the poorest two thirds of the population. They are the ones who have lost out—the poorest have lost out by a shocking 10% of their income. The only section of society to have gained is the richest third. The only difference the Budget will make to the incomes of the poorest 10% is that instead of their losing 10% of their income, they will now lose 9.8%. I am sorry, but when we are the fifth richest economy, that is just not good enough.

The previous speaker, the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Alex Burghart), praised the previous Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the right hon. Member for Tatton (Ms McVey). Admittedly, she argued for Budget redistribution to people on universal credit, but the increase in the work allowance gives £630 a year to 2.4 million families. That will not make anyone better off: 3.2 million families were due to lose an average of £2,500 a year; now, those families will lose an average of £2,100 a year. The Budget will not make those people better off; it will make them very slightly less worse off.

When 14 million people—a fifth of the population—are in poverty, what do the Government have to say to them? What do they have to say to the 4 million people who live 50% below the poverty line, or to the 1.5 million who are destitute? Are they proud of those figures? Are they proud to meet people like my constituent Billy, who is doing his best? He suffers from a disability and has taken on some self-employed work, with tax credits. He has done his very best and recently took on an afternoon shift with Royal Mail, delivering the Christmas post. He has just found out that when that job ends after Christmas, he will be put on to universal credit. Because of the minimum income floor, he will have absolutely no income whatsoever to see him through until the months when he can work again as an entertainer. What do the Government have to say to people like Billy? How is he supposed to get by? He has sought to do his best and to do what the Government have asked people to do—go out and get a job—but people like him are punished for it.

When 8 million working people are in poverty, that is not a benefit to them. Two thirds of children living in poverty are in working households. Does the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar think that their parents’ employment is a gift? These children are still in poverty. Employment is a benefit only where it can lift a household and children out of poverty.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I fully respect the hon. Lady’s position on welfare—I often think it is a gift to the Government that she does not serve on the Front Bench—but it is slightly absurd to suggest that people are not better off in work. They are better off in work. We would all like people to earn more money in work, but to suggest, as Opposition Members often do, that work is no benefit is ludicrous. Work does help. It is a route out of poverty. The first stage of getting into work is not the conclusion of the journey.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am afraid that for constituents like mine, about whom I was speaking earlier, work is not a route out of poverty. For them, trying a temporary job and moving into work is a fast route on to universal credit and into absolute poverty.

In spite of all the promises made to the House when cuts to universal credit were forced through after the 2015 Budget, not everyone will be protected as they move from legacy benefits to universal credit. Not even half the people who transfer from legacy benefits to universal credit will be protected from the average £2,100-worth of cuts. Managed migration has been delayed and reduced, and the criteria for transferring people from legacy benefits to universal credit have been widened so much that 4 million people will move on to universal credit naturally, with no protection whatsoever. Fewer than 3 million people will move over under managed migration. That is contrary to the promises that were made to the House when those cuts were brought in.

Some absolute anomalies in universal credit will seriously increase the amount of child poverty, which is why at the very least the Government have a duty to measure the impact of the provisions in their Budget. Some 3.2 million children are due to be affected by the two-child limit, and 1.4 million of those children live in families with four children or more, who will lose an average of £7,000 a year. That is a huge amount of money, which no family with children can afford to lose, much less the poorest and those households bringing up children on such low incomes. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, £3.2 billion will be taken off people with disabilities by 2023.

What about the self-employed? The Government claim to support entrepreneurship, but their entrepreneurs’ relief enables 6,000 people making profits of more than £1 million on the sale of their business to benefit by an average of almost half a million pounds each. That costs this country and its economy £2.7 billion. People starting out in self-employment, on low earnings, such as my constituent Billy, are among the 430,000 who will lose an average of £3,000 a year, mostly because of the minimum income floor.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Is the hon. Lady calling for entrepreneurs’ relief to be completely scrapped?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I believe that the relief should be reviewed, which is what new clause 3 would require. We could then see its impact on the most well off and on the poorest, and in particular its impact among those who aspire to be entrepreneurs and who aspire to bring themselves out of—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

So you don’t know.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That is what the new clause would require. If the Government wanted us to abolish entrepreneurs’ relief and had given us a Finance Bill that we could actually amend, and if they had the courage to put their policies to votes on the Floor of the House and to give us any alternative, other than to amend the Bill to require reviews, we would gladly do so. Perhaps the Minister could indicate from his sedentary position whether he is prepared to allow the Committee to make such an amendment to abolish entrepreneurs’ relief.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

rose—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Order. It is not for the hon. Lady to ask questions of the Minister at this point. When the Minister is speaking, she might wish to try to intervene at that point, but she cannot require the Minister to answer her question at this point. She can expect him to answer it when he addresses the Committee later. Having said that, if the Minister wishes to jump up at this point, I will not stop him. It is an interesting matter.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I was just going to say that, as the hon. Lady will know, all amendments need to be in scope and that that is ultimately a decision for Mr Speaker. I am sure that he has taken the appropriate decisions in this case—[Interruption.]

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) has just said from a sedentary position that the Government have set the parameters for the scope of amendments in this Bill. The same happened with the previous two Finance Bills that they brought to the House. They have not allow any substantive amendments to the Bill. They will not allow their policies to be tested on the Floor of the House, because those policies have been found wanting in terms of redistribution of wealth from the best off in our society to the poorest. It is actually the poorest who pay 42% of their income, while the richest pay just 34%. How is that fair?

This Budget has done nothing to support the poorest people. After raising VAT to 20%, the Government have doubled insurance tax and are raising council tax across the country by 5% a year, hitting the poorest in our society and hitting those who can afford it the least. They are also hitting those who are homeowners with universal credit. We have heard that the Government aspire to support homeowners, so why is it that, under universal credit, 74% of people who lose out are actually homeowners? They have seen their clawback of income nearly doubling from 39% under the Labour Government to 63% under this Government, and it is going up to 75% for taxpayers.

If the Government disagree with our analysis that this Budget is not helping people in poverty and that it is actually entrenching the serious divides and the serious destitution and poverty within our society, they should prove their case by supporting our amendment for an equalities impact assessment. But they have form on this. I have been calling for an equalities impact assessment of universal credit changes since 2015 and since I first came to this House, and it has been refused. They are now refusing to hold one in this Budget. Anyone would think that this Government had something to hide. I know from people around my constituency, which is relatively affluent, that it is not just the poorest people who are appalled at the level of food bank use, the level of homelessness and the level of evictions that are being inflicted on the poorest people in our society. People across my constituency are writing to me, imploring me to stand up for the poorest, because otherwise we are poorer as a society.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for High Peak (Ruth George). I rise to speak in favour of the Bill and against the Opposition amendments. I will start by correcting a comment that I made earlier. Just to correct the record, let me say that I incorrectly said—I apologise to the House—that the shadow Chancellor was on record saying that the fact that Labour’s numbers did not add up was largely irrelevant. I offer my apologies as it was not the shadow Chancellor who said that, but a Labour party adviser who wrote it in a book that was endorsed by the shadow Chancellor.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The actual author of that article called the Prime Minister a word that would be unparliamentary if that is what he said. He called her that particular word. If the author is calling the Prime Minister a particular word, should the hon. Lady not accept the fact that the author did not say that?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Order. The hon. Gentleman is rightly respecting parliamentary language. Rather than refer to language that is unparliamentary, if he simply wants to say that the alleged author of those alleged words denies them, he is at liberty to do so.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Thank you very much, Dame Eleanor. That is precisely what I wanted to say.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but I fear that we are getting bogged down and dragged into areas that I do not wish to go into, given that I do not have very much time. I merely wish to make the point that Labour’s record demonstrates its disregard for managing public finances responsibly. What it also does, as we have heard from Members, particularly from those on the shadow Front Bench, is helps us to see their approach to entrepreneurs—those people who sacrifice and work, sometimes for decades, to start businesses. They seek to attack and punish those people who often put their lives on the line and who often take considerable sacrifices to start businesses. Those entrepreneurs up and down the country may not be paying themselves for many, many years because they have to meet the payroll of their workers. We see the approach from the Opposition to those people. We are talking about entrepreneurs’ relief that will come to fruition only when that entrepreneur wishes to sell or dispose of part of a business that may have lasted over a lifetime during which they have paid tax, contributed to our economy and created jobs.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

rose

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am sorry, but as much as I enjoy debating with the hon. Gentleman, I will not take any more interventions because I do not have much time and I have taken one already.

We have heard a lot of philosophy tonight. I will not quote Cicero again, but I will draw the House’s attention to the Jewish philosopher Maimonides who said more than 2,000 years ago that the greatest form of social justice and charity is to start a business and to create jobs. Therefore, I reject the Opposition’s amendment on the entrepreneur’s relief. However, we should definitely keep it under review, and I am absolutely sure that the Treasury will do so because we on the Government Benches want to ensure value for taxpayers’ money in all the things that we do. We recognise that we are spending not the Government’s money, but our constituents’ money, and we need to do that carefully.

I now wish to address the movement on the tax thresholds, because this relates to a fundamental Conservative value.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Will my hon. Friend give way?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am sorry but I will not give way. I only have a couple of minutes left. Please forgive me.

The movement on the tax thresholds is a fundamental point at the heart of our Conservative philosophy, which is freedom of the individual to spend their own hard-earned money how they wish. What this Budget and this Finance Bill are doing is taking people out of tax. A basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,205 a year less than in 2010, when Labour left office, and that is, effectively, a pay rise for those people, leaving them with more money in their pockets.

Let me say this to the Opposition: they often talk about how they want people to pay more tax. Well, people are free to pay more tax voluntarily, but, surprisingly enough, that is not often what people do. What we do see as a result of our tax policy of lowering tax rates is a greater tax take coming into the Exchequer. We see that fundamental principle illustrated time and again because of the policies advocated and enacted by the Government. It is right to lower the tax thresholds for low and middle-income earners. In fact, the shadow Chancellor and the shadow Chief Secretary do not even oppose that; they agree that we should keep those tax thresholds low. We need look no further than corporation tax, as those receipts are up 50% to £53.6 billion because of the lowering of the rate that has happened under this Government. That is £53.6 billion more for this Government to spend on strong public services up and down the country.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Surely, the hon. Lady is aware that just about every analysis that has been done regarding the reason for the increase in corporation tax revenue says that it is due not to the reduction in rates, but to factors such as the banks’ return to profitability after the financial crisis, so it is not right to link the two.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I do not accept those comments because we have seen new businesses in my constituency and in the constituencies of many other hon. Members. In Redditch, we have record rates of business start-ups because of measures in this Budget, this Finance Bill and other Budgets. I am a great supporter of the Bill because it will drive more revenue into the Exchequer that I would like to see spent on strong public services in Redditch.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

May I say what a pleasure it is to serve under your chairmanship, Dame Eleanor?

Let me first pick up on some of the comments made by the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman), speaking from the Scottish National party Front Bench. She raised the issue of the higher rate threshold in clause 5 and asked whether the Bill might be organised in a slightly different manner. The most important thing is that we have put forward the information in a simple and straightforward way. As I am sure she is aware, the rise to the basic rate limit is dealt with in clause 5(1), with the amendment to £37,500 in the Income Tax Act 2007. That of course gets added to the personal allowance. The higher rate threshold is UK-wide for both dividends and savings income, which is what the amendment to the Income Tax Act deals with and focuses on.

Clause 5(2), Dame Eleanor—as I know you and other Members of the House will be aware, having read this Bill in significant detail—deals with the rise in the personal allowance to £12,500, which once again is a UK-wide scope. Therefore, it is appropriate that it is in a clause that is not subject to the provisions of English votes for English laws.

Clause 5(4)—I notice the hon. Member for Aberdeen North looking at this quite closely—also breaks the link between the personal allowance and the national minimum wage, which is once again a UK-wide measure. On the hon. Lady’s very specific point, it is appropriate that all these measures are contained within one clause.

The hon. Lady also mentioned the national minimum wage and the level at which it is set for those aged 16 to 24. She will know that a review is currently being conducted by the Low Pay Commission, which will report in spring 2019, although the commission has said in the past that increases up towards the level of the national living wage—which is what I think the hon. Lady is seeking—may have a detrimental impact on the level of employment. Of course, this Government have overseen a halving of the level of youth unemployment since 2010, something of which we are justly proud.

The hon. Lady brought up the issue of raising the personal allowance to £12,750, in line with her party’s new clause 19. The important point is that we have been able to raise the personal allowance from around £6,500 in 2010 right the way up to £12,500, taking about 4 million of the lowest paid out of tax altogether. That comes at huge cost, and the estimated cost of going still further, to the level that hon. Lady suggests, would be of the order of £1.5 billion. For that reason, we believe that the very significant rise that we have put in place is proportionate and should be welcomed by many of the lowest income earners, who the hon. Lady quite rightly seeks to protect.

The hon. Lady raised the issue of poverty, as did a number of other hon. and right hon. Members. I remind the Committee that there are 1 million fewer people living in absolute poverty than in 2010, including 300,000 children. It is also the case that there are two thirds of a million fewer children living in workless households. We have heard a great deal about the importance of employment and our record on employment, with virtually the highest level of employment in our history and the lowest level of unemployment since the mid-1970s. Work is a very important route out of poverty and we have a strong record in that respect.

A number of Members mentioned entrepreneurs’ relief. The hon. Member for Aberdeen North suggested that the shift from the one-year to the two-year qualifying condition might actually impose a hurdle to entrepreneurship—I think that was the expression she used—but we see it as important that we at least have entrepreneurs who are not in and out within a period of 12 months, but who are actually there for the longer term. Of course, the Labour party seems to be entirely hostile to the whole notion of an entrepreneurs’ relief, which is not surprising given the general approach it seems to take towards business.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Will my right hon. Friend comment on the fact that entrepreneurs’ relief is aimed at securing longer-term investment? This country has been very used to short-term investment, but it has done nothing for us. We need people to invest in the longer term.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is exactly right. This is why we also have the enterprise investment scheme and the seed enterprise investment scheme, and why we have made this change to entrepreneurs’ relief. An interesting fact is that of those who benefit from the entrepreneurs’ relief, around a third go on to reinvest in further businesses, so those tax savings are being reinvested in further economic activity.

I turn to the comments of the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd), who made a number of important points—or, should I say, he made a number of points about important matters? That might be slightly more to the point. However, I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Alex Burghart), who is no longer in his place; I have a great affection for the shadow Minister, particularly the Plutarch and Cicero quotes of which he is most fond. In fact, I will share one with him that does not apply to him in any way, of course:

“Any man can make mistakes, but only a fool persists in his error.”

I think that is probably more appropriate to the leader of his party than to the hon. Gentleman himself.

The hon. Gentleman raised the issues of the amount of tax burden shouldered by the wealthiest in the country. I remind him that under this Government the wealthiest 1% pay a full 28% of all income tax; it was about 24% when the Labour party was in power. As my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) pointed out, the lowest 20% of earners have benefited the most since 2010, from the combination of changes to tax, the national living wage and other factors.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the UN rapporteur and my appearance on Channel 4. I have to point out that the rapporteur produced, I think, a 24-page report based on around two weeks’ fact-finding in this country. The Government’s view is that the conclusions drawn were disproportionate to say the least. The hon. Gentleman suggested that I did not answer the questions put to me on that particular occasion, which I dispute. However, it is indisputable that he failed to answer the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) as to exactly what the Opposition would do with the personal allowance, given the exception that they are taking to our tax measures in the Budget.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Can the Minister recollect whether there has been a UN report in the last eight years that this Government have agreed with?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Well, I am not here to debate UN reports of any description and whether the Government agree with them, other than to make the point that this particular report is rather disproportionate, given the remarks that I made earlier about what has happened to absolute poverty and children of workless households and so on.

The Budget reported on the remarkable achievements of this Government and the British people in cleaning up the aftermath of the recession, with eight straight years of economic growth, over 3.3 million more people in work, regular wages growing at their fastest pace in almost a decade, an economy back on its feet again and austerity coming to an end. It is thanks to the hard work of the British people and this Government’s careful management of the public finances that the Chancellor could set out a series of measures in the Budget to help families and businesses right across Britain. The clauses in this group legislate for some of those measures by cutting taxes, making it easier for first-time buyers to purchase a home and cheaper to switch to greener transport, and making the tax system for businesses and charities simpler and fairer.

At the heart of this Government’s strategy on living standards is the principle that hard-working people should keep more of their money and that the best way to help families is to cut taxes, not raise them. Our record speaks for itself. When we came into office, the personal allowance was £6,475 and the higher rate threshold was £43,875. Last year, the Chancellor increased the two thresholds, and now this Government have gone all the way to £12,500 and £50,000 respectively, meeting our manifesto commitment. Clause 5 of the Bill delivers on that promise one year early, meaning that a typical basic rate taxpayer will pay £130 less in income tax in 2019-20 than this year, and meeting our manifesto commitment at the earliest affordable opportunity.

These changes mean that compared with 2015, we have cut taxes for 32 million people, over 1.7 million people will pay no income tax at all and nearly 1 million fewer people will pay the higher rate of income tax. As well as raising the thresholds a year early, clause 5 sets out how we will maintain our low-tax policy for the rest of this Parliament. We will keep the personal allowance and higher rate threshold at the same levels in 2020-21, meaning a tax cut in that year as well, with 32.3 million individuals paying less tax in 2020-21 compared with 2015-16.

Once the personal allowance reaches £12,500 next year, current legislation means that it will be linked to increases in the national minimum wage. That was intended to ensure that someone working 30 hours a week on the national minimum wage would not pay income tax, but in fact, increasing the personal allowance to £12,500 means that someone on the national minimum wage will already pay no income tax next year and will pay no income tax in every year of the forecast period. Clause 5 restores the link with indexation by the consumer prices index, meaning that the value of these allowances is not eroded by price increases over time and the value of the personal allowance continues to be higher than if we maintained the national minimum wage link.

Amendment 6 attempts to prevent that change. Making the personal allowance equal to the relevant national minimum wage for 2019-20 would mean that the personal allowance was actually lower than £12,500 in every year of the forecast period. I know that the SNP like to raise taxes—indeed, they have done so by exercising their newly devolved tax powers in Scotland—but I have no idea why they would wish to increase the tax burden in that way. To be fair, I am sure that that was not the intention behind the amendment, so I urge the Committee to resist it.

New clauses 1 and 19 would require the Government to publish a distributional analysis of the Opposition’s income tax policy and of a £250 increase to the personal allowance. That is unnecessary. This Government are more transparent than any other, publishing a detailed distributional analysis at Budget 2018. We do not need further analysis to know that the Opposition’s proposals would be an inefficient, economically distortive way to try to raise revenue by raising taxes for over 1.5 million people.

The impact of the Opposition’s income tax policy is immediately obvious to anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of economics. Soaring tax rates and lower thresholds would raise taxes on millions of people, harming wealth creation and making the UK a less competitive country. The Labour party’s draconian plans would drive away investment and erode our ability to raise revenue to fund our vital public services. Their plans would also destroy jobs, as every Labour Government in history have done—[Interruption.] I know that the hon. Member for Bootle will remind me of Ramsay MacDonald in 1924, but it was a minority Labour Government, and rather a long time ago.

Further analysis of increasing the personal allowance by £250 is also unnecessary. The Government could increase the personal allowance to £12,500 a year earlier than planned only because of our careful management of the public finances. Raising the personal allowance by a further £250 would cost an estimated £1.5 billion, in addition to the £2.8 billion that we are already spending in 2019-20 on lowering the burden of taxation on more than 32 million people. We do not need further analysis of a policy that is unaffordable in the context of our balanced fiscal approach. I therefore hope that Members will not press the new clauses to a vote.

New clauses 2 and 18 would require the Government to provide analysis of the impact of clause 5 on a range of different protected characteristics and health impacts. As I have stated, the Government have been completely transparent. We published a detailed distributional analysis at Budget 2018, which shows that the poorest households have gained the most as a percentage of net income since this Chancellor and Prime Minister took office. The Government carefully consider the impact of their decisions on those sharing protected characteristics, in line with our legal obligations and our strong commitment to promoting fairness.

As well as cutting income tax, the Bill takes further steps to help with the cost of living, making it easier to get on the property ladder. The last Finance Act permanently abolished stamp duty land tax for many first-time buyers. From its introduction until June 2018, the relief has been claimed on 121,500 property transactions, with an average saving of £2,300 per transaction. The changes made by clause 41 will allow those paying SDLT in stages, such as through shared ownership schemes, to claim first-time buyers’ relief. Previously, only those who elected to pay their SDLT on the whole market value of the property could do so.

The tax system should back hard-working people to switch to all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars, paving the way for an economy fit for the future. Clause 8 delivers on that. Clause 9 will ensure that police officers, firefighters and ambulance crews are not unintentionally subject to a tax charge on the private use of their emergency vehicles.

New clause 8 would require HMRC to publish a report into the geographical effects of clause 9, but clause 9 will be applied in the same way across the United Kingdom, so there is no need for that.

I want to leave a minute for the hon. Member for Aberdeen North to speak, so I will conclude. The clauses that we have debated today deliver on this Government’s commitment to cut red tape, to deliver effective tax relief and to cut taxes for over 32 million hard-working people—a commitment to cut taxes that stands in stark contrast to the reckless hikes proposed by the Labour party. Their plans are laid bare by their proposed amendments to the Bill, which place an ocean of true blue water between our drive to get tax down and theirs to let it rip. Of course, Labour will say, as they have in this debate, that only the wealthy will pay and that the ordinary taxpayer will be left alone, but their plans will see 1.5 million people clobbered, including headteachers, consultants in our health service and the great creators of enterprise and wealth from whom we all benefit.

We know the age-old truth, that Labour will not stop there. Their recklessness would consume far more than they profess. Just like their predecessors, they will not stop with the so-called privileged few. In time, they will widen the net, broaden the base and drag more and more into punitive taxation to feed the habit of the wanton and the insatiable. Labour’s true message to the millions of hard-working people up and down our United Kingdom is that in the end, they will come not just for the better off; they will come for you. We will continue to stand up for hard-working families up and down our country, with plans that work and an economy that delivers. I commend these clauses to the Committee.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

This has been an interesting and wide-ranging debate, although I cannot say that I share the enthusiasm of the First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dame Eleanor Laing) for Cicero.

I want to pick up the comments of Government Members about hard-working people. They regularly use that term to mean people who are earning above the higher rate threshold, and it sounds as though they are saying that people who are on the minimum wage—people who are retail workers, hospitality workers, carers, cleaners—do not work hard, when in fact they do. They work incredibly hard, and our lives would not be the same if it were not for those people working incredibly hard on the minimum wage. We will push new clause 19 to a vote for that reason.

Lastly, I beg to ask leave to withdraw amendment 6.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Division 258

19 November 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 292
Noes: 10

Question accordingly agreed to.

View Details

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

More than three hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings, the proceedings were interrupted (Order, 12 November).

The Chair put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83D).

Clauses 6, 8 to 10 and 38 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 15 agreed to.

Clauses 39 to 42 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 1

Additional rate threshold and supplementary rate

‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, no later than 5 April 2019, lay before the House of Commons a distributional analysis of—

(a) the effect of reducing the threshold for the additional rate to £80,000, and

(b) the effect of introducing a supplementary rate of income tax, charged at a rate of 50%, above a threshold of £125,000.’—(Peter Dowd.)

Brought up.

Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill.

Division 259

19 November 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 262
Noes: 293

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details

New Clause 2

Impact of provisions of section 5 on child poverty and equality

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact of the provisions of section 5 and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider the impact of the changes made by section 5 on—

(a) households at different levels of income,

(b) people with protected characteristics (within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010),

(c) the Treasury’s compliance with the public sector equality duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010,

(d) different parts of the United Kingdom and different regions of England, and

(e) levels of relative and absolute child poverty in the United Kingdom.

(3) In this section—

“parts of the United Kingdom” means—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland;

“regions of England” has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.’—(Peter Dowd.)

Brought up.

Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill.

Division 260

19 November 2018

divided:

Ayes: 287
Noes: 292

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details

New Clause 19

Personal Allowance

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, no later than 5 April 2019, lay before the House of Commons an analysis of the distributional and other effects of a personal allowance in 2019-20 of £12,750.”—(Kirsty Blackman.)

This new clause would require a distributional analysis of the effect of increasing the personal allowance to £12,750.

Brought up.

Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill.

Division 261

19 November 2018

divided:

Ayes: 34
Noes: 290

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details

Clause 68

Carbon Emissions Tax

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clauses 69 to 77 stand part.

Amendment 10, in clause 78, page 51, line 32, after “may”, insert—

“(subject to section (Review of expenditure implications of Part 3))”.

Antecedent to new clause 10.

Clause 78 stand part.

Amendment 14, in clause 89, page 66, line 30, at end insert—

“(1A) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, no later than the date provided for in subsection (1C), lay before the House of Commons a statement of the circumstances (in relation to the outcome of negotiations with the EU) that give rise to the exercise of the power.

(1B) The statement under subsection (1A) must be accompanied by—

(a) an assessment of the fiscal and economic effects of the exercise of those powers and the circumstances giving rise to them;

(b) a comparison of those fiscal and economic effects with the effects if—

(i) a negotiated withdrawal agreement and a framework for a future relationship with the EU had been agreed to, and

(ii) the United Kingdom had remained a member of the European Union;

(c) a statement by the Office for Budget Responsibility on the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the assessment under paragraph (a) and the comparison under paragraph (b).

(1C) The date provided for in this subsection is—

(a) a date which is no less than seven days before the date on which a Minister of the Crown proposes to make a motion for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 and after the passing of this Act, or

(b) a date which is no less than seven days before the date on which a Minister of the Crown proposes to make a motion for the purposes of section 13(6)(a) of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 and after the passing of this Act, or

(c) a date which is no less than seven days before the date on which a Minister of the Crown proposes to make a motion for the purposes of section 13(8)(b)(i) of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 and after the passing of this Act, or

(d) the date on which this Act is passed,

whichever is the earliest.”

This amendment requires the first use of the powers intended to modify tax legislation in the event of a no deal Brexit to be accompanied by a statement of the circumstances and a comparative analysis of their impact, accompanied by an OBR assessment.

Amendment 15, page 66, line 30, at end insert—

“(1A) No regulations under this section may be made until the Chancellor of the Exchequer has laid a statement before the House of Commons setting out—

(a) a list of the powers in relevant tax legislation that the Treasury has acquired since June 2016 in connection with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union,

(b) a list of the powers in relevant tax legislation the Treasury expects to acquire if—

(i) a withdrawal agreement and a framework for a future relationship with the European Union have been agreed to, or

(ii) the United Kingdom has left the European Union without a negotiated withdrawal agreement.

(c) a description of any powers conferred upon the House of Commons (whether by means of the approval or annulment of statutory instruments or otherwise) in connection with the exercise of the powers set out in subsection (b).”

Amendment 22, page 66, line 30, at end insert—

“(1A) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, no later than a week after the passing of this Act and before exercising the power in subsection (1), lay before the House of Commons a review of the following matters—

(a) the fiscal and economic effects of the exercise of those powers and of the outcome of negotiations for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union giving rise to their exercise;

(b) a comparison of those fiscal and economic effects with the effects if a negotiated withdrawal agreement and a framework for a future relationship with the EU had been agreed to;

(c) any differences in the exercise of those powers in respect of—

(i) Great Britain, and

(ii) Northern Ireland;

(d) any differential effects in relation to the matters specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) in relation between—

(i) Great Britain, and

(ii) Northern Ireland.”

Amendment 7, page 67, line 1, leave out subsection (5) and insert—

“(5) No statutory instrument containing regulations under this section may be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the House of Commons.”

This amendment would make clause 89 (Minor amendments in consequence of EU withdrawal) subject to affirmative procedure.

Amendment 20, page 67, line 2, at end insert—

“(5A) No regulations may be made under this section unless the United Kingdom has left the European Union without a negotiated withdrawal agreement.”

Amendment 2, page 67, line 13, at end insert—

“(7) This section shall, subject to subsection (8), cease to have effect at the end of the period of two years beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.

(8) The Treasury may by regulations provide that this section shall continue in force for an additional period of up to three years from the end of the period specified in subsection (7).

(9) No regulations may be made under subsection (8) unless a draft has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the House of Commons.”

Clause 89 stand part.

Amendment 8, in clause 90, page 67, line 16, after “may”, insert—

“(subject to subsections (1A) and (1B))”

This amendment is antecedent to Amendment 9.

Amendment 9, page 67, line 18, at end insert—

“(1A) Before proposing to incur expenditure under subsection (1), the Secretary of State must lay before the House of Commons—

(a) a statement of the circumstances (in relation to negotiations relating to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union) that give rise to the need for such preparatory expenditure, and

(b) an estimate of the expenditure to be incurred.

(1B) No expenditure may be incurred under subsection (1) unless the House of Commons comes to a resolution that it has considered the statement and estimate under subsection (1A) and approves the proposed expenditure.”

This amendment would require a statement on circumstances (in relation to negotiations) giving rise to the need for, as well as an estimate of the cost of, preparatory expenditure to introduce a charging scheme for greenhouse gas allowances. The amendment would require a Commons resolution before expenditure could be incurred.

Clause 90 stand part.

New clause 10—Review of expenditure implications of Part 3

“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the expenditure implications of commencing Part 3of this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) No regulations may be made by the Commissioners under section 78(1) unless the review under subsection (1) has been laid before the House of Commons.”

This new clause would require a review within 6 months of the expenditure implications of introducing a carbon emissions tax. It would prevent Part 3 coming into effect until such a review had been laid before the House of Commons.

New clause 11—Report on consultation on certain provisions of this Act (No. 2)

“(1) No later than two months after the passing of this Act, the Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay before the House of Commons a report on the consultation undertaken on the provisions in subsection (2).

(2) Those provisions are—

(a) sections 68 to 78,

(b) section 89, and

(c) section 90.

(3) A report under this section must specify in respect of each provision listed in subsection (2)—

(a) whether a version of the provision was published in draft,

(b) if so, whether changes were made as a result of consultation on the draft,

(c) if not, the reasons why the provision was not published in draft and any consultation which took place on the proposed provision in the absence of such a draft.”

This new clause would require a report on the consultation undertaken on certain provisions of this Act – alongside new clauses 9, 13 and 15.

New clause 17—Review of the carbon emissions tax (No. 2)

“Within twelve months of the commencement of Part 3 of the Act, the Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the carbon emissions tax to determine—

(a) the effect of the carbon emissions tax on the United Kingdom’s carbon price in the context of non-participation in the European Union emissions trading scheme, and

(b) the effect of the carbon emissions tax on the United Kingdom’s ability to comply with its fourth and fifth carbon budgets.”

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

In these parts of the Bill, we make sensible preparations for our exit from the European Union. While right hon. and hon. Members across the House may well disagree on Brexit, I would hope that all would wish to see us prepare as carefully as possible so that we can maintain the stability of the tax system; provide as much certainty for the taxpayer as possible; in respect of carbon pricing, meet our commitments to the environment; and do all those things in all eventualities, including in the event of no deal, which is clearly not the Government’s preference but remains a possibility.

At Budget, the Government announced essential provisions to ensure that the tax system can continue to function in any outcome.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Minister talks about preparations for no deal. In the OBR’s “Blue Book”, it quoted assessments made by economists who suggested that the economy had already shrunk by between 2% and 2.5% since the referendum, and the Library has suggested that that has cost the UK economy anywhere between £40 billion and £50 billion. Does he agree with that assessment, and what work has been going on the Treasury to account for it?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

What I can tell the hon. Gentleman is that the economy has been growing for eight years—for five years, in every successive quarter. Unemployment is at its lowest rate in my lifetime and employment is at its highest. The British economy is sound and robust, and that is exactly why in the Budget the Chancellor was able to make the tax cuts for 32 million of our citizens and the increased spending on the NHS.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

rose

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I will not give way again at this stage, but I could come back to the hon. Gentleman later.

The changes that we have outlined in these clauses will, I hope, signal that the UK is committed to maintaining stability and certainty for taxpayers and for businesses across the economy, especially in respect of the environmental tax provisions that I will talk about in a moment. Clauses 69 to 78 will allow the Government to introduce a carbon emissions tax to replace the EU emissions trading scheme—the ETS—in the event of no deal. Clause 90 will allow for essential preparatory expenditure to begin work on a domestic emissions trading scheme in the event that one is required. Clause 89 will introduce a power to make minor technical amendments to UK tax legislation—essential for maintaining the continued effect of the tax system.

Let me turn first to clauses 68 to 78 with respect to the carbon emissions tax. These clauses will take effect only if the UK leaves the European Union in 2019 without a deal. The clauses will give the Government the power to introduce a no deal carbon emissions tax. The rate for 2019 would be set at £16 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent, and the tax would cover the same electricity generators and industrial businesses that currently participate in the EU ETS. The tax would provide the same protections against carbon leakage as the EU ETS. Operators would pay the tax only on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted above an allowance set for each installation in advance of the tax year. This is in line with the EU ETS system of free emissions allowances.

In effect, the carbon emissions tax would seek initially to replicate the effects of the EU ETS as closely as possible, in the event of no agreement. This is important, as I hope hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree, for two reasons: first, because we want to provide certainty for businesses and for the energy industry to enable them to make investment and business decisions with confidence, as the industry has asked us to do; and secondly, because maintaining a carbon price is a key component of meeting our legally binding climate change commitments.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does the Minister accept that now that the Government have greater freedom of operation, this is fairly timid? We have an emissions crisis in this country, as we do across the rest of the world. Why are the Government not being more ambitious in trying to bear down on emissions, as seen in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I appreciate the point the hon. Gentleman makes, but perhaps he has missed the argument I have tried to make, which is that this is not prejudging the later outcome of how we should handle our carbon pricing as we leave the EU; it is trying to ensure that in the unlikely event, which the Government wish to avoid, of a no-deal Brexit we can maintain the system as close as possible to the present one. We chose the price of £16 because that is broadly the same as where the EU’s floating price has been in recent months. Of course the price has floated very widely from as low as £6 to as high as over £20, so making that assessment is not a precise exercise, but we believe that £16 is a reasonable figure to maintain stability, and that seems to have been well received by the industry and environmental groups.

Clause 90 is about preparatory expenditure. Alongside preparing for no deal, the Government are developing long-term alternatives to the EU emissions trading scheme. As set out already in the outline political declaration on the future relationship between the EU and the UK, we are considering options for co-operation on carbon pricing, including, if possible, linking a UK national greenhouse gas emissions trading system with the EU ETS. Clause 90 will allow Departments to begin preparatory expenditure on a UK ETS, which is included in the Bill, to prepare for a linked or unlinked domestic trading scheme. It does not mean, as I said earlier, that a final decision has been made as to which option to implement, but it does ensure that all the options are kept open and we can proceed with the kind of planning that one would expect.

I shall now turn briefly to amendments 8, 9 and 10 and new clause 10 tabled by the SNP. Amendments 8 and 9 propose that the Government must table a statement on the circumstances that require expenditure in the case of clause 90 and an estimate of the expenditure to be incurred and that the House would come to a resolution to approve that expenditure. New clause 10 and amendment 10 would require the Chancellor to review the expenditure implications of the carbon emissions tax and lay a report of that review before the House within six months of the passing of the Bill, and no regulations could be made by the commissioners unless that had taken place.

A statement of circumstances, as required by amendments 8 and 9, is in our opinion unnecessary. We are legislating because the UK is leaving the EU, and as part of that we have to prepare a domestic ETS, as mentioned in the outline political declaration, and for a carbon emissions tax only in the event of no deal.

More importantly, with all these amendments, the Finance Bill is not and has never been the place for detailed questions of expenditure. The Finance Bill is primarily a Bill about tax. Parliament gets other opportunities to review and vote on departmental expenditure, and if that is important to the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman), I suggest that she direct her scrutiny to the estimates process when it arises in due course.

New clause 17 would require the Chancellor to review the carbon emissions tax to determine its effect on the UK carbon price and the UK’s ability to comply with its fourth and fifth carbon budgets. We are confident that the carbon emissions tax would be similarly effective to the EU ETS, and I can assure Members that there are already robust requirements to report on progress towards the UK’s emissions reductions targets. For example, the Climate Change Act 2008 provides a world-leading governance framework that we certainly support. First, it ensures that the Government are required to prepare and lay before Parliament an annual statement of emissions, setting out the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted to, and removed from, the atmosphere across the UK and the steps taken to calculate the net UK carbon accounts. Secondly, the independent Committee on Climate Change is required to prepare and lay before Parliament an annual report on the Government’s progress towards meeting the UK’s carbon budgets, which the Government are required to respond to. Thirdly, the Government are required to prepare and lay before Parliament a statement setting out performance against each carbon budget period and the 2050 target. We believe that, taken together, these are strong existing mechanisms, which are respected and understood, to ensure that we monitor and report to Parliament on greenhouse gas emissions. I therefore urge hon. Members to reject new clause 17.

Let me turn to amendments 2, 7 and 21 to clause 89, which deals with minor amendments in consequence of our EU withdrawal. We need to ensure that the tax system continues to work effectively and that we maintain stability and certainty, including in the event that the UK leaves without a deal. To allow us to do that, clause 89 will allow minor technical amendments to be made to UK tax law to keep it working as it does now and to update it to continue to work with changes made to other areas of law on account of EU exit. Clause 89 will provide the Government with the power to make such minor amendments.

These are, I stress again, minor and technical changes that are absolutely necessary to maintain the continued effect of tax legislation in the unlikely event of no deal. I can reassure the Committee that the power is not being taken to make changes to do anything other than ensure that existing tax legislation continues to have effect in the event of no deal. It will not be used to change tax policy or the tax paid by taxpayers. To reassure the Committee of that, I have placed a list of changes that the Government intend to make under the power in the Library and sent a copy to the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank the Minister for reaffirming that it is not the Government’s intention to leave with no deal. It is the intention to leave with a deal. On tax, there seemed to be some confusion over the weekend about the draft withdrawal agreement. Some people seemed to suggest that the UK would be bound into the EU tampon tax for a further five years. Can he confirm that under the withdrawal agreement, VAT on goods sold after the transition period will be subject to rates set by the British Government, not EU law?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend, who is always well informed, is correct on both counts.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank my hon. Friend for confirming that from the Dispatch Box. Does he therefore agree that, before jumping to conclusions about what the draft withdrawal agreement says, colleagues should instead look at No. 10’s response to Steerpike’s 40 so-called horrors and at the true facts and answers from the lawyers who negotiated it before coming up with their own concerns?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I would obviously advise all right hon. and hon. Members to read the withdrawal agreement, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, and not to rush to conclusions. The document produced by No. 10 to which my hon. Friend refers, which rebuts over 40 suggested flaws in the agreement, was very instructive, and I certainly found it helpful.

To finish on this point, I re-emphasise that I have laid before the House a comprehensive list of the changes that will need to be made to tax legislation. I advise right hon. and hon. Members who are interested to take a look at it. They will see that the changes are indeed minor and technical items that are not, I hope, controversial.

Amendments 14 and 22 would require the Government to publish an economic and fiscal analysis of the effects of our exit from the European Union before using the powers in clause 89. I can reassure the Committee that the Government have already confirmed that before we bring forward the vote on the final deal, we will ensure that Parliament is presented with the appropriate analysis in good time to make an informed decision. The Chancellor set that out in his letter of 23 August to the Chair of the Treasury Committee, a copy of which is in the public domain. He said that that analysis would look at the economic and fiscal effects of leaving the EU.

To provide Members with further detail today, I can confirm that that analysis will bring together evidence from across the Government, insight from external stakeholders and a range of data and analytical tools. The analysis will consider the long-term costs and benefits of moving to new trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world. Having considered the amendment and spoken to several right hon. and hon. Members, I am happy to confirm that the baseline for this comparison will be the status quo—that is, today’s institutional arrangements with the EU. The analysis will consider a modelled no-deal scenario, or World Trade Organisation terms; a modelled analysis of an FTA scenario; and a modelled analysis of the Government’s proposed deal. Each will be compared against the status quo of the current institutional arrangements within the EU.

Amendment 14 would not require the analysis to published until after the Bill receives Royal Assent. As a result, the Bill would not be binding on the Government until after the meaningful vote had taken place. I hope that the commitment that the Government have made today and the conversations that I have had with Members from across the House will provide reassurance that we will publish an appropriate analysis—the analysis that right hon. and hon. Members seek—in good time before the meaningful vote.

I turn briefly to the OBR’s role, which is mentioned in amendment 14. The House will know that the OBR’s remit is clearly defined in the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011, and that the amendment, which asks the OBR to assess our analysis of the effects of a deal, goes beyond its statutory responsibilities. That would set an undesirable precedent, with Parliament being able to commission specific pieces of work from the OBR on an ad hoc basis outside the clear and bounded remit set in the OBR’s charter. That would effectively transform the OBR into a parliamentary budget office, fundamentally changing its purpose and potentially damaging its credibility. Such a decision should be taken only after a full and frank debate on its own merits.

The House will be aware that the Treasury Committee, which is headed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan), has appointed Sir Stephen Nickell, formerly of the OBR, to provide an independent view of the Government’s analysis. My officials have already had initial conversations with Sir Stephen about the scope and scale of his review, to ensure that we can provide him and his team with the necessary information in due course. I hope that that gives further reassurance to Members that scrutiny, of the nature that they seek, of the Government’s work will be undertaken by the Treasury Committee.

Furthermore, the OBR has already published a detailed review of the approach taken in the analysis provided across Whitehall, comparing it with other academic publications since the referendum. We believe that extending the OBR’s remit, as proposed by amendment 14, would require the OBR to analyse alternatives to Government policy. That would draw the OBR into political debate and expose it to a significant risk to its credibility and that of the UK’s fiscal framework. It remains highly unlikely that the OBR could, in the time available, go beyond the points it has already made in its discussion paper in any assessment of the Government’s analysis, bearing in mind its capacity and modelling today.

As for the effects of the power mentioned in amendment 20, I hope that my previous assurances will reassure right hon. and hon. Members that the Government intend to use the power not to introduce tax policy changes, but merely to secure the continued effective operation of the tax system. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends who sought this amendment will see that we have listened and engaged and that the reassurances that I have provided today achieve the amendment’s purpose. I therefore urge them not to proceed with their amendments.

I turn to amendment 15, which calls for the Government to provide a list of powers in relevant tax legislation that the Treasury has acquired since June 2016, or that it expects to acquire, relating to any EU exit scenario. All such powers have been passed as primary legislation. They have been scrutinised by this House and were voted through accordingly. As with all legislation, that which relates to these powers is in the public domain, should anyone wish to examine it. I do not think that it is necessary to reprise this list. I hope that hon. Members will see that amendment 15 is therefore entirely unnecessary, and I encourage them not to proceed with it.

Amendment 20 asks that no regulations be made under this power unless the UK has left the European Union without a negotiated withdrawal agreement. As is the job of any responsible Government, we are preparing for all possible EU exit outcomes, which extends to the unlikely event of no deal. As I have already said, that is not the Government’s preferred outcome. The power is tightly drafted only to provide scope for the sort of minor, technical changes I have set out in my letter to Mr Deputy Speaker. At the current time, we need the power to make changes in the event of no deal, but providing stability for tax legislation and for the taxpayer is of paramount importance into the future, regardless of our EU exit outcome. I want to ensure we can deliver that in any scenario, even if I have focused more on the unlikely event of no deal; this is what the power will provide for. However, no matter when we use the power, our intention for its use would remain the same and would not be broader in any eventuality. I hope this reassures hon. Members of the Government’s intentions in this respect, so there is no need for amendment 20.

New clause 11 calls for a report detailing the consultation process for the legislation discussed in this session. As my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary said earlier this evening, the information asked for is in the public domain, and I encourage Members to examine it. For the legislation relevant to our exit from the European Union, it has either not been possible or would be unnecessary to publish these things in draft. Clause 89 contains a closely drafted power that would not have benefited from consultation and will not change the taxpayer experience—indeed, it will do quite the opposite, in that it seeks to ensure continuity.

Clauses 68 to 78 introduce the legislation for a carbon emissions tax and need to be introduced in this Bill to be ready for March 2019. The Government have already committed to consult on the detail of this tax during 2019. Clause 90 lays the ground for preparatory expenditure. Again, it would not benefit from consultation. However, we will continue engagement with stakeholders and the devolved Administrations on the most effective long-term approach to carbon pricing post Brexit. This is an important decision for the country, and I look forward to those discussions, including meeting colleagues from the Scottish Government in due course. I hope that these answers will satisfy the House and that colleagues will not proceed with their proposals.

These clauses take a number of essential steps to ensure that UK tax legislation is prepared for any EU exit outcome. We will continue to responsibly prepare for every eventuality to ensure stability both for the UK taxpayer and for businesses. These measures are pragmatic steps that any responsible Government would need to take. Importantly, these measures are essential provisions for ensuring the continued effect of the UK tax system and for maintaining stability. For all these reasons, I therefore hope that they will command respect from across the House and ask that they stand part of the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is lovely to see you in the Chair, Dame Rosie, and thank you for calling me to speak for the Opposition on our second grouping, which includes clause 89. As the Minister has helpfully explained, this group deals with the operation of tax law in the UK after our withdrawal from the EU, with a consequential set of Brexit-related amendments. This week, we have all seen the complete chaos the Government have unleashed on the country with their disastrous handling of the Brexit negotiations. We are just months away from the UK’s exit, and it seems the Conservative party remains as divided as ever over what to do next. As the Leader of the Opposition explained in his address to the CBI earlier today, this proposed Brexit deal offers no certainty at all and in many ways is the worst of all worlds, offending remain and leave voters in equal measure. So after two years of negotiations, we are teetering dangerously close to a no-deal Brexit, which should simply never have been an option. It would be bad for individuals, for businesses and for the economy, and Labour will do all we can to prevent it.

As we have said repeatedly, Labour wants the Government to negotiate a comprehensive and permanent customs union that gives the UK a say in future trade deals and ensures that there will be no hard border in Northern Ireland. We would protect workers’ rights, block any race to the bottom and negotiate a strong single-market relationship that gives businesses continued access to European markets for goods and services.

I would like to think that we are heading for a more stable time, but that seems unlikely. I was appalled to read press reports at the weekend that Downing Street’s alleged strategy is to encourage a crash in the financial markets should the deal fail to pass through Parliament, to pressure MPs into voting for it a second time. I can only hope that those reports were false. We should never forget that the markets reflect people’s savings, investments and pensions. They should not be used as a political device by the Conservative party.

It is also worrying that the Government are steadfastly using Brexit to substantially transfer powers from Parliament to the Executive. The Opposition have warned about this repeatedly, throughout the passage of each piece of legislation connected to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. We should be deeply worried about this unprecedented transfer of powers.

We see another example in this Bill. In clause 89, which is rather innocently named “Minor amendments in consequence of EU withdrawal”, Ministers give themselves the power to make amendments to tax law outside the normal due process. Good checks and balances make for good government, which is why the Opposition have tabled a series of amendments that would help to address the democratic deficit that the provisions in the Bill would create, if passed unchecked. We do not believe it is possible to make a democratic case for the transfer to the Treasury of powers to make changes to tax law in perpetuity, which is why Labour’s amendment 2 proposes a sunset clause to the Brexit powers that the Bill will confer on the Treasury. It would ensure that those powers can only be used within two years of the passage of the Bill. Surely that offers sufficient time for the Government to use them as is required.

As the Minister outlined, the Government’s case is that during our withdrawal from the EU there may be a situation in which some elements of tax law need changing urgently or at short notice. However, we do not believe that there is a case for the powers, unless the UK crashes out of the EU with no deal. The agreement of a deal, with an attached transition period, should provide room for preparation, without the need to furnish the Executive with powers to make changes to the law unilaterally.

The number of Treasury-related statutory instruments that are currently being passed to create a new financial regulatory regime proves the point. Although it has been far from ideal for Ministers and their shadows, the use of secondary legislation is an improvement on the taking of such decisions behind closed doors in the Treasury.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman said earlier that in his relationship with the European Union he would expect to have a say in trade deals by being part of a customs union, but even when we were full members of the European Union and it agreed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada, his party refused to vote for that deal in this House. How on earth does he think that that will work on a completely third-party, third-nation basis?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am happy to take that point, which although a little outside the remit of the Bill is none the less interesting. For us, the relationship that we would seek with the EU would be based quite simply on a solid cost-benefit analysis of what is in the UK’s best interests. If we look at the various options on offer, given that half the world is already in a regional trading bloc or a customs union of some sort, it is absolutely clear that what we would risk losing by losing frictionless trade with the European Union would never be gained by external trade deals with the rest of the world. A customs union is therefore the right way to go forward. Were the UK to enter one, we clearly could not have a situation in which we were unilaterally exposed to the deals that the EU did with other countries without having a say, so it is a pretty logical position. That does not mean that those deals would always receive the backing of all parts of this House. Elements of those deals might be unacceptable.

The point about sovereignty, which comes from Brexiteers in the main, is so important, because people say, for instance, “Let’s not do a customs union, let’s do a deal with Donald Trump’s America,” but would our constituents really accept unilateral access to the NHS for American healthcare providers? Of course they would not. Would our constituents accept hormone-treated beef in the supermarkets? Personally, I do not think they would. The question is always about the balance between what is in the proposed economic relationship and the political oversight that should go with it. That position is fairly logical and straightforward.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman has just said that he would have a customs union and a say in those trade deals. How would we have a say if we were in a customs union run by the European Union yet not in it anymore? I do not understand that.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We are not proposing to remain in the customs union but not be a member of the EU. We are discussing joining a new customs union that we would negotiate with the European Union. I will say to the hon. Gentleman—I do not think that I am revealing any secrets here—that for a large number of Conservative MPs and, indeed, perhaps for the Treasury itself, that is their preferred solution; they are just not in a position to negotiate that or to request that because of the parliamentary arithmetic of the Conservative party. It does also have the very substantial benefit of our being able to honour our commitments under the Good Friday agreement. That is something that should have been a much bigger part of the referendum negotiations, and it should certainly be a paramount concern for this House going forward. I will get back to the Finance Bill, but I hope that that allays the concerns of Conservative colleagues and makes it quite clear what we think the relationship should be going forward.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

How would the hon. Gentleman have a say? This would be a customs union with the European Union which we would have left. How would he have a say in it? We would not have a vote anymore.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That is what we are proposing that we would negotiate. That is the entire basis of the proposal. I have no doubt that such an arrangement was on offer and may still be on offer from the European Union. The hon. Gentleman is well-informed and I always look forward to his contributions in these debates. I am sure that he has contacts as we do in other European Parliaments or perhaps in the Commission itself. If he does some investigations, he will see that that was always a preferred option for many people and it is, without question, the right way of going forward for the national interest of this country.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

rose

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We will try one more intervention

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned earlier in his remarks that a certain deal might be a betrayal of the leave voters. There were plenty of myths flying about during the referendum campaign, but one area that probably was quite plausible was that if we left the European Union, we would be able to do independent trade deals—not through the European Union, but independent bilateral trade deals. Does he not see that his customs union would effectively mean that we could not do independent trade deals and that would be a real betrayal of leave voters who expect to be able to do exactly that?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I think quite the reverse. What leave voters were promised was that the economic relationship would not leave anyone worse off and, in effect, would not be ruptured at all. That was the promise made in explicit terms by leading leave campaigners. Where there were concerns that motivated that leave vote, they were heavily about sovereignty and also about immigration. I do not think that the specific trading relationships that this country has with other parts of the world were a particularly paramount issue in the campaign. I know that it is a sensitive issue for leave campaigners to talk about the fact that immigration was a big part of that campaign, but, without question, it was in my constituency. In terms of that future trading relationship, it is by far the best thing to focus on what is simply in the best economic interests of the country once we leave the political side of the European Union with all of the objections that leave voters had to it. I do not think that leaving in such a way that preserves the best of our economy, minimises the disruption and honours our commitments under the Good Friday agreement is a betrayal at all. Many people want to see that economic relationship continue, even if they were of a position and a viewpoint that we are leaving the political side of the European Union with all that entails.

I will now get back to amendment 15, Dame Eleanor, before we are all rightly admonished for straying from the Finance Bill. The measure lays out a stipulation to provide clarity around which powers in relevant tax legislation have been transferred to the Treasury since June 2016 in connection with the UK’s exit. It also covers the powers that the Treasury expects to acquire, and, most importantly, it requires Ministers to set out a timeline for when these powers are to be returned to Parliament—I think the Minister missed off that last point in his speech.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is doing a good job on amendment 15, but I think that he has missed the good news of my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Chuka Umunna) following his tenacious work. It looks like we have some movement on amendment 14 from the Government, and we will get these impact assessments before the meaningful vote. Will my hon. Friend, the shadow Minister, comment on the fact that the last time we saw such a thing was in the horrors of the Reading Room? We were shown that in every region of our nation, even in London where my own seat is, every sector of our economy will be worse off under every form of Brexit. Will he comment on that?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention; I always welcome good news from my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham. Yes, it is very welcome that the Government have conceded on this point, reflecting the parliamentary arithmetic. I am not sure that they did it voluntarily, until they saw the names on the Order Paper. Transparency about the consequences of different types of Brexit arrangements has to be a good thing, because the country and all Members of this House should be as well informed as possible. It is extremely pleasing to see the Government concede on this point.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I also pay tribute to the work of the hon. Member for Streatham on this issue. I was happy to support him, as he has led a very valid endeavour that I hope will inform our decision making in the weeks to come.

Will the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) confirm that if these assessments indicate quite clearly that the status quo offers the best economic prospects for every part of the British state, the Labour party will support the status quo as the preferred Brexit option as we approach the next few weeks?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The points I made about transparency are relevant, as every Member of this House will make different assessments. We all know that Brexit is not just an economic concern; political concerns about sovereignty and issues such as immigration form part of the decision that each of us would make. But it has to be a good thing for every part and region of the UK to have the maximum degree of transparency on the economic options available to us. Surely, transparency is the best way forward.

I return to amendment 15, which goes to the heart of what I was trying to articulate—that is, our concerns about the unprecedented power grab that this Government are undertaking. The Government have spent the last two years seizing all manner of tax powers with no regard to the constitutional role of this House. Meanwhile, Ministers have refused to honour any level of transparency, and outline once and for all a clear list of the powers that the Treasury has acquired since the referendum in June 2016 and those it expects to acquire by the time the UK leaves the EU. Amendment 15 would address this and oblige the Chancellor to publish a comprehensive list of the powers the Treasury has acquired and the powers it will then expect to acquire, and to state when we might see those powers returned to the House, where they surely belong.

Amendment 21 would provide a further important element of accountability. This would oblige the Government to deliver a review of the impact of using the powers conferred by clause 89 on tax receipts. This amendment would deliver greater transparency around the true impact of the Brexit deal that the Government have negotiated. It is vital that we have that data available so that we can discuss this in depth and quickly identify if a particular impact has occurred.

In amendment 22, the Opposition are also calling for a review of the Brexit powers being handed to the Treasury. This amendment would require the Chancellor to publish a statement assessing how the powers handed to the Treasury in this Bill would be applied respectively to Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We tabled this amendment because we need urgently to establish whether these powers will cause disparity in the treatment of Northern Ireland in comparison to the rest of the UK. Members may ask why there is urgency on this point, but it is clear from the draft withdrawal agreement that under the so-called backstop arrangement Northern Ireland will maintain a regulatory alignment with the European Union. This is the case in particular in relation to EU customs law, but it also applies to compliance with elements of single market regulation in areas such as the technical regulation of goods, agricultural production, environmental regulation, state aid and other areas of north-south co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Northern Ireland will also be included in parts of EU VAT and excise regimes and in the EU single electricity market, so Northern Ireland’s compliance with EU rules and regulations will be enforced by the EU Commission and the European Court of Justice.

With this in mind, it is clear that the powers handed to the Treasury by this legislation may not be applicable to Northern Ireland in the legal and regulatory areas under which EU authority remains supreme. We therefore seek a review of where each of the powers being granted to the Treasury can be applied in the event that the Prime Minister’s draft agreement successfully passes. This is clearly a very important amendment, and one in which we hope Members of the Democratic Unionist party will also see value in passing. We therefore call on all Members of the House to look carefully at amendment 22 and support it in the Lobby.

Finally, new clause 17 would require the Government to publish a review of the effectiveness of introducing a UK carbon emissions tax in the event of a no-deal Brexit, in terms of helping the UK to meet its carbon emissions targets and carbon reduction commitments. The new clause builds on Labour’s commitment to ensure that 60% of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030.

It is worrying that making provisions for collapsing out of the European emissions trading scheme and all the benefits and economies of scale that it brings is one of the scant mentions of green issues in this Finance Bill. Our exit from the European Union cannot be used as an excuse to take a step back from action on climate change, as was outlined starkly in the report published last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As I highlighted in my Second Reading speech last week, we are already lagging behind our European counterparts on green finance, as they are forging ahead with sovereign bond funds and mandatory climate disclosure laws. Our new clause would ensure that the Government were held accountable for making progress on reducing emissions, without using Brexit as an excuse to stall.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have arrived late to the debate, relatively speaking, having been detained by the trains in my previous role.

I wish briefly to address amendment 14, tabled by the hon. Member for Streatham (Chuka Umunna). We stand at a critical moment in our nation’s post-war history, and the decisions we take in the next few days and weeks will shape not just what happens over the next few months and years but our entire lifetimes. It is vital that we take these decisions in full possession of the facts and that we are answering the right questions. I believe amendment 14 will help us to do exactly that.

The Government are attempting to frame the choice before us in a binary way: the Prime Minister’s deal or no deal at all, which is effectively vassalage as rule takers on the one hand, or chaos and disruption on the other. As I said in my resignation letter last week, I believe that to present the country with this narrow choice represents the single greatest failure of British statecraft since the Suez crisis in the 1950s, for neither choice is in the national interest. Amendment 14 rightly seeks to expose this for what it is and will make clear everything to full public scrutiny. Both options—deal and no deal—are significantly worse for the UK than our present arrangements, and the amendment will make that clear by requiring the Government to be transparent.

Any serious appraisal of a major policy change needs to measure the costs and benefits against a clear economic baseline. Indeed, the Green Book—the Treasury manual on how to appraise policies, programmes and projects—states clearly that the Government’s preferred course of action must always be assessed against a “do nothing, business as usual” benchmark. If the business as usual option—in this case, staying in the EU—were not to be included in any such appraisal, the process would be contrary to the Government’s own manual, in addition to being clearly below the standard applied in any well-run business.

I am worried and concerned that it appears to have taken an amendment that the Government would have been in no position to overturn to secure their commitment that this full appraisal will eventually be published in time for it to be fully considered by Members of this House before the meaningful vote. Members need to know detailed information about this appraisal. We need to know the impact, region by region and sector by sector, because the impact, as hon. Members have made clear, will vary sharply around the country. We also need to know which groups in society will suffer the most, relative to other courses of action available to us as a country. I would be grateful if the Minister, in his winding-up speech, could confirm that that will form part of the appraisal that the Government publish and that the OBR will provide an independent assessment of the Government’s appraisal.

If we have learned anything from the chaos of the past 30 months, it is that facts are sacred. This debate has been characterised by falsehoods and misinformation from day one. It is extraordinary that we have now had to force the Government, at this relatively late stage, to publish the vital information necessary for an informed public debate. Some may say that this horse has long bolted, but I say it is better late than never. I believe that amendment 14 will go some way to righting this wrong.

Given that the reality of Brexit has proved to be so far from what was once promised during the campaign, the democratic thing to do is not just to accept amendment 14, as my hon. Friend the Minister has done, and to publish the like-for-like economic analysis showing how costly this Brexit will be, but to give the public the final say about whether they really want to proceed on this hopeless basis.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Orpington (Joseph Johnson), who kindly spoke in favour of amendment 14. The amendment is in my name and in those of the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) and 70 other Members from all parts of the House. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the Members who have supported this amendment.

As the Minister said, what we were seeking to do with this amendment to clause 89—as he says, the clause allows the Government to make amendments to UK tax law—is to ensure that this House is provided with all the information needed for it to come to an informed decision. The Prime Minister made a very important admission last week, both outside No. 10 and in this House, where she moved on from the falsehood that has been peddled by too many, which is that this House has only two choices: the withdrawal agreement that has been presented by the Government, or leaving without an agreement at all. She moved on from that to the very clear choice that we now know faces this country: no Brexit, no deal or the agreement that the Government are putting forward. As may already have been said in this debate, this is arguably the biggest decision that this House will be making since the second world war, and it is absolutely vital that we are provided with the requisite data in order to come to an informed decision.

For the benefit of the record, our amendment seeks to make the exercise of the powers sought in clause 89, which the Minister mentioned, subject to the publication of a proper economic impact assessment of, and comparison between, each of the three scenarios the Prime Minister has set out before any meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement takes place under the provisions of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. It is true, as the Minister said, that this Bill is likely to become an Act after the meaningful vote, but the amendment we have tabled is worded in such a way that its provisions will need to have been complied with before the meaningful vote in order for the powers under clause 89—to keep the tax system running in the event of no deal—to be usable.

I want very quickly to explain why we felt it was necessary to table this amendment and to deal with the three principal objections, which have been made in the House before, standing in the way of providing the information that this House needs to make a decision.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I think it was Mark Twain who first said, “You should never make predictions, particularly about the future”. The hon. Gentleman refers to these forecasts as data, but does he accept that they are not data? They would simply be predictions, and as predictions they are inherently unreliable because they cannot take into account the reaction of business to the different scenarios we may be in. Does he accept that they are simply a forecast and cannot be relied on as facts?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman intervened at precisely the moment when I was about to deal with that point, which is one of the three objections that are raised to our being provided with this important information. I will go through each of them, and I will address his point.

The first argument that is usually put up as to why the House should not be provided with the relevant economic impact assessments, which the Government are producing internally in any event, is that publishing that analysis would undermine the ongoing negotiations. That is clearly ridiculous. The leaking of the cross-Whitehall economic impact assessments by BuzzFeed in January had no obvious impact on the Government’s negotiating position vis-à-vis the European Commission, and frankly it is not as if those on the other side of the negotiating table will not have access to similar economic forecasts and models so that they can come to similar conclusions.

The second argument, which I would argue is more distasteful, is that Treasury forecasts cannot be relied upon—not because of their accuracy, which the hon. Gentleman just referred to, but because they have somehow been rigged. The Brexit champions, most of whom sit on the Government Benches, tell us that the Treasury is stuffed full of civil servants whom they describe as remainiacs, remoaners and God knows what else, and who they suggest doctor the figures to say what they want. I say to the civil servants here today and those listening that there is no shame in believing, as I do, that the best deal with the European Union is the one that we have now.

I want to say very clearly on the record that the routine denigration of our civil servants, in all Departments, and the questioning of their independence by the European Research Group is a complete and absolute disgrace. These are dedicated, faithful public servants doing their jobs, and they do not deserve to have their motives impugned.

I note that these champions of the Brexit cause take issue with the accuracy and independence of Treasury forecasts when they are on Brexit issues, but when it comes to the impact of austerity on the public finances or changes to benefits—the cack-handed introduction of universal credit, for example—they are never shy of quoting official forecasts that suit them.

Let us not forget that those who question the robustness and accuracy of forecasts do not exactly have a very good record of forecasting themselves. Let us not forget what the now ex-ex-Brexit Secretary, the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), said. This guy said that we would get a free trade and customs agreement concluded before March 2019. The right hon. Member for Wokingham (John Redwood), who is often in debates such as this, told us:

“Getting out of the EU can be quick and easy—the UK holds most of the cards”.

And as we all know, the former Foreign Secretary famously went around the country in a big red bus proclaiming that Brexit would lead to £350 million a week extra going into the NHS.

Then, of course, there has been the ultimate forecast from these people over the past 48 hours. This ERG has been going around stamping its feet and telling us all that if it does not get the extreme form of Brexit that it wants, the poor Prime Minister will have these 48 letters going in calling for a vote of no confidence in her. As far as I am aware, she is still sitting in Downing Street right now. I do not know whether the ERG has hit the 48 letters it said there were going to be, but the bottom line is that these individuals, who impugn the motives of Treasury civil servants and call into question the accuracy of their forecasts, are in no position whatsoever to lecture any of us on the accuracy of forecasts given the huge, outlandish claims that they have made over the past few years.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman talks about statistics. Does he not agree with me that many Members—this is shared across the House—use statistics as a drunk man uses a lamppost: for support, rather than illumination? Will he join me in trying to strengthen the Office for Budget Responsibility, so it can have more resources and ensure the statistics presented to the House are objectively verified?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have to say that when I gave way to the hon. Gentleman I did not imagine I would actually end up agreeing with what he said. He pre-empts my final point, which is that I understand the general worry about the accuracy of official forecasts. The bottom line is that we are never going to get forecasts that are 100% accurate, but we have to work with a certain number of assumptions to make policy, as I am sure he will discover if he has the privilege of serving in government.

On the point he makes about the OBR, I was quite careful in how I drafted the amendment. Its powers and capacity from a resource point of view are circumscribed, but there is no reason why we should not change the statutory remit of the OBR. At the very least, for those who worry about the accuracy of forecasts, we could see whether the OBR would be prepared to do an evaluation on the methodology and the techniques it uses to produce the forecasts by the Treasury.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that this issue relates not just to future forecasting? The Health and Social Care Committee has been hearing that hundreds of millions of pounds are already being spent by pharmaceutical companies on no deal contingency planning—money that would be far better invested in our NHS.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I could not agree more with the hon. Lady.

I will finish by saying this: the reason we tabled the amendment, and why I think so many colleagues on all sides of the House supported it, is because ultimately it is an assertion of parliamentary sovereignty. If the House was denied this really important information in order to come to a considered informed view, it would make a mockery of the argument that says the reason for withdrawing from the European Union is to assert parliamentary sovereignty.

I did not expect to be in this position at the beginning of today. I am grateful to the Minister for making this important concession and for making the promise, at the Dispatch Box, that we will get the economic impact assessments that we sought to secure through the amendment. Given the firm commitment he has made to the Committee, I will not be pressing the amendment to a vote. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Members who supported it. Ultimately, we have done this because we think it is important that our constituents understand why we make the big decision that we are going to have to make in the next few weeks.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I was a signatory to amendment 14 because I think that good policy making needs good evidence at its heart. That is what the amendment sought to do. I think we all recognise that the debate on our future relationship with the European Union has often been characterised by facts that have turned out not to be facts, and, far too often, by lofty ideals and phrases that have had little meaning to back them up in practice. It is now time, as we come to possibly the most crucial parliamentary debate in 50 or 60 years, for Members to have the information they need to be able to take an informed decision—and, dare I say, for members of the public to have the information they need to be able to convey to their own Members of Parliament what they think about that information and how why they want their MP to vote accordingly.

I welcome the statement the Minister made at the beginning of this debate, in which he set out his plans to provide more information to the House. Along with the rest of the Treasury, he will play a vital role in ensuring that we have an informed debate. I was one of those MPs who earlier this year went to the Reading Room—I actually went three times—to wade through the Treasury analysis. I would like a similar level of detail so that, again, Members are able to analyse the impact of the three different choices facing our country, as the Prime Minister has now set out: whether we have the deal that she proposed, whether we leave effectively with no deal, or whether we keep the existing deal with the European Union. I would like a level of analysis that includes a sectoral split in relation to the different impacts of the different deals on different sectors, as well as a regional and geographical split, so that we, as Members of Parliament representing very different communities in very different parts of the country, can really understand what the geographical impact of Brexit and the options will be.

I would like the analysis perhaps to go beyond what we originally had from the Treasury, so that we can understand what the impact on GDP might be for employment and jobs. There will be many MPs who do not believe that unemployment is a price worth paying for some of the options on the table. I believe that MPs and communities have a right to be informed about the risks to local jobs before casting their votes in favour of different options. Of course, we need to see, for all the options, the impact on public finances, both in the short and longer term. I know that the Minister has in mind a period of 15 years for forecasting. I think that that is absolutely necessary for us to see not just the immediate shorter-term effect, but the medium and longer-term structural impacts of any route forward on our economy.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I know that my right hon. Friend is in favour of a people’s vote that would have three different options—deal, no deal, or remain—but as she will concede, it was difficult enough to explain the different implications to people in the first referendum, even with a binary choice, and there were a lot of different opinions about those implications. How easy does she think it will be to explain what the outcomes and implications of all those three different options might be?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have no doubt that at the last election, at which my hon. Friend was elected, there were many different candidates on his ballot paper, and I do not think that his constituents were prevented from making the very fine choice they made. They were quite capable of working their way through the different options. This House has MPs representing very different parties and communities, and again, the electorate have been perfectly capable of working their way through what, as we all know, are often very lengthy and different party manifestos. Like any election, this is a choice about the future. There are different choices, just like in any election, and we should not limit the choices to two just for the sake of it. Arguments can be made for having a two-choice referendum, but saying that it is too complicated for the British public is not one that holds in practice. This is a British public who regularly choose between many different alternatives and indeed, in some elections, are sophisticated enough to vote tactically to get the outcome that they want.

My proposal, as my hon. Friend may be aware, is that people have not just one but two other choices. That will enable them to pick their own compromise, because it is clear to me that this House will not be able to reach a compromise and will just vote against all the different paths. I have no doubt that we will come back to that debate and I very much respect the different views that people have in this House. This is an important debate and we need to get a route forward. I simply reflect on the fact that my view remains as it was back in July. Regrettably perhaps, this House is gridlocked, and my advice now, as it was back then, is that, rather than ignoring that fact, we have to confront it as a Parliament, however difficult that is. We need to make a proposal on how to get through it, so that ideally, we do not reach that moment of crisis when we have seen every single option ahead of us on Brexit voted down.

I was quite surprised, when the Treasury did its previous impact assessment, that more MPs did not go to the Reading Room to look at it. As I understand it, about 60 MPs out of 650 booked themselves time to look through the analysis. It is crucial that MPs look at it. I thought it was important to do so, but clearly if MPs find it hard to go to the Treasury, the Treasury must go to MPs. I would very much recommend that that analysis be sent out to every Member and, if he can, that the Minister finally sets out what he means by publishing analysis “in good time”. If Members have parliamentary questions to submit, clearly it is important that the House should have time to scrutinise it all properly.

The Prime Minister has acknowledged, as has the hon. Member for Streatham (Chuka Umunna), to whom I pay tribute for tabling the amendment, which I support, that there are three options facing our country. It means that we do not have to have a divisive debate about what direction we take. We can simply reflect the fact that there are three options and that they all have pros and cons. We need to have a measured debate, not a divisive one, but whether it is divisive will depend on all of us and how we conduct ourselves over the coming weeks and on whether we can accept that people have different views, respect those views and then engage with them constructively.

I have no doubt that the analysis the Treasury will produce, having conceded on this amendment, will be one of the ways by which we give ourselves and the country the chance to have an informed debate on the most important question to have faced this country in over half a century.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I rise to speak in favour of SNP amendments 7 to 10 and new clauses 10 and 11. I would also like to mention amendments 14, 15, 22, 20 and 2 and new clause 17, all of which we would be comfortable supporting, if any of them are pushed to the vote.

There has been a lengthy discussion across the Committee on trade deals. People are confusing free trade agreements and trade deals. It is perfectly possible to make arrangements that improve the flow of trade without signing an FTA; they are two very separate things. It is not understood widely enough that any trade agreement between countries involves compromise. Whatever is signed up to between, let’s say, the UK and the USA will involve the UK having to give some things away as well as gaining something.

The consultation on trade deals looked at trade deals with New Zealand and Australia, with the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-pacific partnership, and with the US. However, despite the fact that UK Government Members have talked about how important our trade is with countries such as South Korea and how fast it has grown, the Government have not consulted on that and they did not do so because we have those trade deals already, as a member of the EU. That is why our trade has grown so quickly with South Korea.

Thank you for your indulgence, Dame Rosie. I will move now to the actual subject of the debate. Our amendment 7 asks that clause 89 be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. I appreciate that the Minister has put a list in the Library, and I will take a look at the list of tax changes he proposes to make under the clause, but I am on the Committee that is sifting the statutory instruments the Government are bringing forward, and some of those SIs that the Government think should be taken under the negative procedure should never have been so proposed. Some are fairly dramatic changes to the law—to powers or new institutions, for example—and yet are being put to the statutory instrument sifting Committee as negative instruments.

I hope that the Minister will forgive me, but I do not trust the Government to introduce only measures in the category that we believe should be subject to the negative procedure. I will look carefully at that list, but I will still press amendment 7, because, given my experience of Ministers, I do not yet have the level of comfort that I need.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I hope that in due course the hon. Lady will have an opportunity to read the letter that is in the Library and see that these are truly minor technical amendments, changing, for example, a reference to the EU to a reference to the EU and the UK, and a reference to euros to a reference to pounds sterling. I hope that, in due course, she will be comfortable with those minor technical changes.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As I have said, I will definitely read the letter. However, I draw the Minister’s attention to the House of Lords Committee that met, I understand, on 17 November—or possibly not, as that was at the weekend, but very recently—to discuss the Finance Bill 2019. Someone drew my attention to an article by Wendy Bradley, which talks about HMRC’s powers and about power creep. Wendy Brady says that

“it is incumbent on Parliament to determine whether the powers it has given HMRC are sufficient and being exercised correctly”.

That, in my view, is important in relation not just to HMRC, but to the powers of the Treasury and the powers of Ministers. I think it important for Parliament to consider what delegated authority we are handing over, whether to the Minister, to the Treasury, to the Chancellor, or to HMRC directly. As I have said before, the Government do not adequately review these matters, publicise those reviews and repeat them regularly. It is important to have a handle on this, especially now, when so much delegated authority being given to various institutions. It is important for someone to have an idea of how much power has been taken away from Parliament and ceded to those institutions and for there to be a regular review of whether it is still necessary for it to be in their hands.

Let me now say something about the release of the analysis and the changes that the Minister has said he will make. I praise the hon. Member for Streatham (Chuka Umunna) for his work and his amendment and for creating the real change that we have seen in the Government’s position today. It is important for us to be able to support and trust that analysis—to believe that it is accurate. Mention of the OBR was positive in that regard, because people trust that the OBR is an impartial observer of these matters.

The hon. Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Luke Graham) initiated a debate in Westminster Hall about the OBR’s remit, and I found it incredibly interesting. I learnt a huge amount about the workings of other organisations around the world. We do not have an organisation that reviews Government policy impartially across the board because the OBR’s remit is so tight, being confined to scrutiny of budgetary matters. I was pleased to support the hon. Gentleman that day. Widening the OBR’s remit would be extremely useful, because, as I have said, people out there trust the OBR to get this right.

A status quo baseline against which all the options should be compared is important, and I am pleased that the Minister referred to it. What was said about whether the analysis will be produced in good time was also important, especially given the lack of time that we had to scrutinise the Bill and the short period during which it was in our hands before we had to talk about it on Second Reading. It was only published on the Wednesday, and then we had to stand up and talk about it on the Monday. Let me say again that if the Government want us to trust, they need to gain that trust, and they must therefore produce legislation in what is actually good time, rather than what they say is good time.

Obviously, everything in the Bill is a prediction. Everything in the Red Book is a prediction for future years. Everything that the Government predict, in terms of their tax take for the changes to entrepreneurs relief or anything else in the Red Book, is a prediction. We have to work on that basis, but we must have the best possible predictions, and, as I have said, they must be looked at by an impartial observer so that we can be absolutely sure that they are as close to accurate—or as close to a best guess—as they can possibly be.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

A number of Members have talked about the upcoming votes being the most important votes that we will ever undertake as Members of Parliament. Does the hon. Lady therefore agree that it is vital that the independent assessment should be published in the public domain, so that our constituents can understand the decisions that we are making? We should not have to have one of those reading room scenarios, as we did with previous assessments.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I agree. The reading room provided for the cross-Whitehall analysis was not fit for purpose, in that I could not go there and mull over the papers in the way that I would normally do. Generally, if I am presented with a Finance Bill, for example, I will sit at home and read it. That is what I like to do on a Saturday night. I will sit at home and read these things. We have to be able to access any analysis that is published in a way that suits us, and releasing it publicly would be the best possible way to do this. Another reason for doing that is that the external stakeholders could provide their comments in the best possible way, so I entirely support the hon. Gentleman’s suggestion.

New clause 11 asks for a report on the consultations that have, or have not, been carried out in relation to the tax measures. As I said on Second Reading, not enough of the tax measures in the Bill were consulted on this year. I understand that there were more such consultations in previous years. If we do not want the Government to have to row back next year because they have screwed something up as a result of inadequate consultation, it will be important for these tax measures to be published and consulted on and for us to get the expert advice that we need from the stakeholders.

Clause 90 is just bizarre. I read it, and then I had to go back and read it again because I could not believe that a clause would give the Government the power to spend whatever they liked. It does not cap the spend on the emissions reduction trading scheme’s preparatory expenditure. I was genuinely confused about how the Government could propose that. The clause will give the Government carte blanche. Our amendment 9 and our new clause 10 ask for a Commons resolution and an expenditure review before that expenditure can take place. We think it reasonable—and I am sure the general public would think it reasonable—that if the Government want to spend money on something, they should tell us how much they intend to spend.

The Government are spending money to stand still. This is a cost, and the Government have to spend the money for things to be exactly the same after Brexit as they are today. It is a cost that we would not have if we were not leaving the European Union. The Minister talked about the estimates process. I am pleased that he is as interested and excited by the estimates process as I am. I talk on the estimates whenever I possibly can. There are two parts to the estimates process: one in February and the other in July. I am not sure whether this money counts as in-year spend or as part of next year’s spend. We might be able to discuss it in February, which would be great, because at least that would be before we leave the EU. However, if it is classed as next year’s expenditure, we might not be able to discuss it until July, by which point the money will have been spent.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We can discuss this all we like during the estimates process, but does my hon. Friend agree that it is incredibly difficult to actually vote on any of this? Despite all the promises made when the English votes for English laws system was introduced, it really is impossible for Members of Parliament to have a say on specific aspects of Government spending through the estimates process.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That is absolutely the case. The Minister’s comments about the lack of ability to scrutinise spend in the Finance Bill were incredibly illuminating. The reality is that we cannot adequately scrutinise or amend spend anywhere. I was talking to some people about the Budget process and the Finance Bill in the last couple of weeks, and about how the two fit together. I explained that we discuss tax in the Finance Bill, but that we do not discuss spend until the estimates process. Some spending measures will come through, at which point we will sanction them. For example, if the immigration Bill comes forward, we would imagine that it would have some spend associated with it, and we will debate that spend at that time. But a huge proportion of the billions of pounds that the Government spend on a regular basis is only ever discussed during the departmental estimates, which we cannot amend or change. I do not understand how we can have a Parliament that is supposed to be so powerful and supposed to be taking back control when we do not have control over Government spend, which is surely fundamental to how the Government behave.

I am a bit on my high horse in relation to Government tax and spend, but this is incredibly important. Surely, one of the most important things that we do is to scrutinise the Government’s spending, and we are not able to do it adequately because the rules of this House bar us from doing so. We cannot scrutinise tax adequately in relation to this Bill because the Government have failed to introduce an amendment of the law resolution, so we cannot propose anything tangible or very tangible. Then the Government will stand up in the Public Bill Committee and say, “They are just asking for a review. We are going to say no because it is just a review.” We are asking for a review as we cannot move anything that has any actual effect because the Government are not introducing an amendment of the law resolution. This part of the Bill, particularly clause 90, really bugs me. I was really annoyed that there was a total lack of clarity from the Government—that the explanatory notes did not even say how much they intended to spend on this.

In relation to the minor and consequential amendments, I am very pleased that the Minister has put forward a list of the proposed changes that he intends to take place. In reality, however, even though he has put forward this list, he is not held to it. He is given more wide-ranging power than it actually appears from that list. Therefore, he could in future, because of the powers that are being given, introduce something that is not on the list. We will be looking to press amendment 7.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I rise briefly to address clause 89, which is on an amendment to tax legislation in consequence of EU withdrawal, and to make one specific comment to the Minister that I hope he will take on board and do something about.

I chair the all-party parliamentary group on general aviation, which has as its membership 177 Members from across this House and other place. There is a particular issue that I am very keen for the Minister to know about in relation to pilot training. According to Boeing, the world will need 790,000 more pilots in the next 20 years. The UK, with English as our language and with our history in aviation, should be in an absolutely key place to train new pilots, but there is a massive problem: in this country, people have to pay for that training themselves. It costs about £100,000, and then the Government charge £20,000 VAT on top of that. The all-party group has taken up this issue with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He tells us that it is tracked into EU regulations and there is nothing that we can do about it during our time within the EU. However, I want to make an impassioned plea to the Minister to have a really good think about what we could do with regard to clause 89.

It is clear and obvious—one need only travel on an aircraft anywhere to realise this—that the pilots in this country, and indeed worldwide, but in this country generally, are nearly all male, nearly all middle-class and nearly all from backgrounds where families might say, “I’ll tell you what—we’ll remortgage our home and let you go and spend £120,000 on learning to be a commercial pilot.” That puts off too many people from too many hard-to-reach sections of society. That puts off a lot of people, particularly women, who we want to persuade into these very well-paid STEM—science, technology, engineering and maths—jobs, which really should be the future for this country.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The ambassador for the all-party group is Carol Vorderman, who has probably done more than any other single living person to try to encourage young women to take up aviation as a profession, but the young women she is trying to persuade are hitting the buffers all the time because they are coming up against this cost. That is driving our trainee pilots overseas to places like Spain, which does not have the VAT, when we ought to be training them at home. Should this not be taken on board by the Treasury?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This is a crazy situation. We are driving pilot training out of the UK, but English is the language of the air and should be our natural advantage. Our ambassador for the all-party group Carol Vorderman regularly reminds us that she wanted to go into the Air Force but was rejected, not through any lack of knowledge, STEM education or mathematical ability, but because she was a woman. It cannot be right that our Government are not able to address this.

I am very hopeful that the Minister will take on board clause 89, which will allow the amendment to tax legislation in consequence of leaving the EU, to do what other EU countries have somehow already managed to do—such as Spain, which does not charge VAT on pilot training. This gives us an enormous opportunity as a country to take a big chunk out of the global pilot training market, which should be, in effect, a massive export for the UK.

While we are on the VAT issue, I have one other point. This country has the ability to lead aviation into a much quieter, cleaner and more environmentally friendly future. The future of aviation eventually is to have electricity in planes—electric planes—but that will not happen without having the same dedication and enthusiasm that this Government and the previous one showed towards electric vehicles transferred to electric aviation.

This is a revolution in aviation that is coming, but it would be very encouraging if we saw the UK lead the way, and, again, this is in no small part down to how VAT is treated, in terms of not only pilot training but the inquiry, investigation, research and development that goes into electric aircraft.

The all-party group is starting a STEM aviation working group headed by a fantastic woman called Karen Spencer from Harlow College. It has the aviation STEM college at Stansted airport, where it is training 294 youngsters this year and over 500 young people next year in STEM aviation qualifications. I encourage the Minister to go and see it for himself. I believe that if we work together on this we can make aviation a much more inclusive profession, and it starts with clause 89 and what can be done under these amendments to tax the legislation consequence and EU withdrawal.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I too wish to speak about clause 89, which allows the Treasury to make minor amendments to tax legislation after we have left the EU.

EU tax issues are often extremely controversial. I think back to EU tax decisions I have seen in the past, such as the decision not to introduce a financial transaction tax, which this side of the House always strongly objected to but the other side would strongly have proposed at a European level. We objected to it because we felt it would have unintended economic consequences. Then there were the changes to the VAT MOSS—mini one-stop shop—situation for digital tax for small businesses. These decisions were taken without deep consultation or deep impact assessments, but were then found to have a huge number of unintended consequences. There were also the controversial issues to do with VAT on tampon taxes that sometimes came back.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is important that Members are not misled, and it is important to say for the purposes of accuracy that a number of EU countries are looking to move forward with a financial transactions tax through the open method of co-ordination that I know the hon. Lady is very well aware of through her expert knowledge of the EU.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That brings me back to the point I was making: EU taxation matters can be hugely controversial, partly because decisions affecting tax at an EU level are often unanimous decisions, and therefore it would be very difficult for one member state to change them if a decision has gone wrong. Because they are so controversial it is worth thinking about the delegation of powers given to Ministers here. Indeed, during my time looking at European matters, I long argued for the concept of better regulation before decisions were made. People should be consulted and impact assessments published. Only after the assessments have been made public and the views of stakeholders who might be affected taken into consideration should be decisions be made.

That is why I sit on ESIC, the European Statutory Instruments Committee, to which the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) referred. It was a Committee that I argued we needed. She suggested that when it decides to change a negative instrument to an affirmative instrument, that is because of some controversy with the Government’s decision, but by establishing that Committee, under the excellent chairmanship of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales (Sir Patrick McLoughlin), we can ensure extra transparency in these complex decisions. I genuinely believe that we should think carefully before giving delegated powers to Ministers. However, clause 89 is very much about making minor decisions. It is tightly worded, and I do not believe that the amendments tabled by Opposition Members are necessary, as they would cause over-complexity. Amendments under clause 89 would be necessary, were we to leave the EU without a deal.

I am absolutely convinced that leaving the EU without a deal is not in the interests of this country, and I am glad to hear Ministers confirm that. However, I would also be glad to hear Ministers confirm that they will give Members a great deal more detail about the impact assessments of a no-deal scenario and a deal scenario, and also how that compares with remaining a member of the European Union, before our final vote on the withdrawal agreement, so that we can all be fully apprised of the impacts and make our decisions wisely.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I want to speak first to amendment 14. The hon. Member for Streatham (Chuka Umunna) is no longer in his place, but he said that all the choices before us were the worst possible choices and worse than the deal that we have today. I was certainly not someone who campaigned to leave the European Union—I have my reservations about our departure from an institution of which we have been a member for effectively 45 years—but we should not ignore the opportunities that lie ahead of us.

I do not look at these things through rose-tinted spectacles, but many years ago, following protests by those concerned about the impact on their livelihoods of imports from India by the East India Company and the successful lobbying of their Members of Parliament, legislation was introduced from 1700 called the Calico Acts, which banned all imports of calico—rough-cotton cloth—from India. That gave rise to the industrial revolution, because at that point we could not produce enough calico, so Watt linked his steam engine to Hargreaves’s spinning jenny and mass production resulted.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman mentions the historical Calico Act. He does know that it also impoverished the people of India, rather than just creating the industrial revolution.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The hon. Gentleman may well be aware of that fact, but that is not the point that I was making. I am not keen to impoverish people from any nation; the point is that what happened gave rise to a huge opportunity. Amendment 14 looks at one side of the equation, as if we can rely on a Treasury forecast simply as fact. It does not take into account the other side of equation, which is that business will respond to the future framework that it is part of. There are concerns about the future, but there are also opportunities.

I want to talk mainly about clauses 68 to 78, which concern our carbon emissions. The hon. Member for Stroud (Dr Drew) seemed to imply that we were not succeeding at reducing our carbon emissions, but actually the UK is fifth in the world in the climate change performance index, a German-based index published every year by Germanwatch. We are ahead of many countries that people might think would be ahead of us, including France, Italy and Germany. I cannot say that our climate change credentials are second to none, but they are second to those of only four other countries. Every other country that we might mention—other than, I think, Norway, Sweden and Lithuania—is behind us on that performance index. We are performing admirably in carbon emissions, but we need the right mechanisms to enable us to continue that success. The carbon emissions tax that the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury described earlier is a good framework to ensure that the carbon price is right and business has stability in the undesirable event of a no deal situation.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend agree that stability in the carbon pricing regime is as important as any other area of business legislation? That is why it is important that we deal with the devil in the detail in the Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend makes a good point. Above all, business is looking for stability. It is absolutely right that in the worst-case scenario, in which we end up with no deal, we have a stable framework to enable us to manage our future trading relationship with the European Union.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Does my hon. Friend agree that although the clause is helpful in giving some stability, it does not give anything like the level of stability that would be delivered by a negotiated exit?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is hugely important that we have the negotiated exit that we all want. No deal is the worst possible option, and it is not where we want to go. Nevertheless, we cannot take no deal off the table.

I return to my key point about our future energy emissions and ensuring that we reduce our carbon emissions wherever we can. We are world leaders in moving our electricity production away from coal, which we have committed to phasing out by 2025, and into gas.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend has done an awful lot of research into the energy mix that we might require to achieve those targets. Does he agree that carbon pricing sends an important signal to ensure that the phase-out of coal is delivered on time and that other technologies—such as gas and renewables—come online to enable us to hit those targets?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He has a great deal of knowledge in this area, too, and I absolutely defer to it. This discussion about the most energy-efficient way to produce our electricity has run throughout my parliamentary career. I know that my hon. Friend is not a big fan of shale gas, but there are petroleum exploration and development licences right across my constituency. Over the last three years I have not had a frack-free day; in fact, I spent some time out in Pennsylvania looking at shale gas exploration out there. The US has used shale gas to excellent effect in reducing its carbon emissions.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My hon. Friend is very kind to give way a second time. The issue is not necessarily where the gas comes from, but the fact that it is an important part of our future generation capacity and it is, for now, indispensable to the delivery of heat. Whether it is delivered onshore or elsewhere is not necessarily the important part of that debate.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is interesting; my hon. Friend says that the point is not where gas comes from, but imported gas has a larger carbon footprint. That is particularly true if it is put in large ships that go from Qatar to the UK, in which case its temperature has to be reduced to about minus 156 °C in order to liquefy it. If we produce gas domestically, its carbon footprint is much smaller, and that is why shale gas makes sense. As he knows, we import about half our gas, but by 2030 we will be importing about 70% of it. It makes sense to produce something that we would otherwise have to import. On that point, I am happy to conclude, and I am grateful for the opportunity to speak.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 68 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 69 to 78 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 89

Minor Amendments in consequence of EU withdrawal

Amendment proposed: 22, page 66, line 30, at end insert—

‘(1A) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, no later than a week after the passing of this Act and before exercising the power in subsection (1), lay before the House of Commons a review of the following matters—

(a) the fiscal and economic effects of the exercise of those powers and of the outcome of negotiations for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union giving rise to their exercise;

(b) a comparison of those fiscal and economic effects with the effects if a negotiated withdrawal agreement and a framework for a future relationship with the EU had been agreed to;

(c) any differences in the exercise of those powers in respect of—

(i) Great Britain, and

(ii) Northern Ireland;

(d) any differential effects in relation to the matters specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) in relation between—

(i) Great Britain, and

(ii) Northern Ireland.”—(Jonathan Reynolds.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division 262

19 November 2018

divided:

Ayes: 271
Noes: 295

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details

Amendment proposed: 7, page 67, line 1, leave out subsection (5) and insert—

“(5) No statutory instrument containing regulations under this section may be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the House of Commons.”.(Kirsty Blackman.)

This amendment would make clause 89 (Minor amendments in consequence of EU withdrawal) subject to affirmative procedure.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division 263

19 November 2018

The Committee divided:

Ayes: 41
Noes: 296

Question accordingly negatived.

View Details

More than six hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings, the proceedings were interrupted (Programme Order, 12 November).

The Chair put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83D).

Clauses 89 and 90 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The occupant of the Chair left the Chair (Programme Order, 12 November).

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again tomorrow.