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Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,

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

Second Reading, Committee, Report and Third Reading : Finance Bill

1.--(1) The proceedings on Second Reading, in Committee and on consideration and Third Reading of the Finance Bill shall be completed at this day's sitting and, if not previously brought to a conclusion, shall be brought to a conclusion four hours after the commencement of the proceedings on this Order.

(2) Any stage of the Finance Bill may be proceeded with at the conclusion of the preceding stage, notwithstanding the practice of the House as to the interval between stages of a Bill brought in on Ways and Means resolutions.

(3) On completion of Second Reading of the Finance Bill any Question necessary for the House immediately to resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House shall be put forthwith.

(4) On the conclusion of the proceedings in Committee on the Finance Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question and, if he reports the Bill with amendments, the House shall proceed to consider the Bill as amended without any Question being put.

(5) No Motion shall be made to alter the order in which proceedings in Committee or on consideration of the Finance Bill are taken. (6) Standing Order No. 80 (Business Committee) shall not apply to this Order.

Lords Amendments : Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill 2. The proceedings on Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill shall be completed at this day's sitting and, if not previously brought to a conclusion, shall be brought to a conclusion one hour after the commencement of those proceedings.

Conclusion of proceedings3.--(1) This paragraph applies in relation to any proceedings on the Finance Bill which are to be broughtto a conclusion at this day's sitting in accordance with paragraph 1. (2) For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions (but no others)--

(a) any Question already proposed from the Chair ;

(b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed ;

(c) the Question on any Amendment moved or Motion made by a Minister of the Crown ;

(d) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded.

(3) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (2) shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House. 4.--(1) This paragraph applies in relation to any proceedings on the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill which are to be brought to a conclusion at this day's sitting in accordance with paragraph 2.

(2) For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which have not previously been brought to a conclusion--

(a) Mr. Speaker shall first put forthwith any Question which has already been proposed from the Chair and not yet decided and, if that Question is for the amendment of a Lords Amendment, shall then put forthwith the Question on any further Amendment of the Lords Amendment made by a Minister of the Crown and on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth agree or disagree with the Lords in the Lords Amendment or, as the case may be, in the Lords Amendment as amended ;

(b) if Mr. Speaker is satisfied that any remaining Lords Amendment imposes a charge upon the public revenue such as is required to be authorised by resolution of the House under Standing Order No.


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47 (Certain proceedings relating to public money) and that the charge has not been so authorised, he shall in accordance with Standing Order No. 76(3) (Lords Amendments deemed to be disagreed to) declare he is so satisfied and shall put forthwith a separate Question on any other Amendment moved by a Minister of the Crown relevant to that Lords Amendment ;

(c) Mr. Speaker shall then designate such of the remaining Lords Amendments as appear to him to involve questions of Privilege and shall--

(i) put forthwith the Question on any Amendment moved by a Minister of the Crown to a Lords Amendment and then put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth agree or disagree with the Lords in their Amendment, or as the case may be, in their Amendment as amended ;

(ii) put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in a Lords Amendment ;

(iii) put forthwith with respect to the Amendments designated by Mr. Speaker which have not been disposed of, the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendments ; and (

(iv) put forthwith the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in all the remaining Lords Amendments ;

(d) as soon as the House has agreed or disagreed with the Lords in any of their Amendments Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith a separate Question on any other Amendment moved by a Minister of the Crown relevant to the Lords Amendment.

(2) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (1) shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House. Dilatory Motions5. No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, the proceedings at this day's sitting on either of the Bills to which this Order applies shall be made except by a Minister of the Crown, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

Extra time6.--(1) Paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to proceedings at this day's sitting on both of the Bills to which this Order applies.

(2) If the proceedings on the Motion for this Order were interrupted, or the proceedings on the Finance Bill are interrupted, under paragraph (4) of Standing Order No. 11 (Questions of an urgent character which relate to matters of public importance etc.), the time at which proceedings on that Bill would otherwise be brought to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 1 shall be extended by a period equal to the duration of the interruption.

(3) If the proceedings of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill are interrupted under paragraph (4) of Standing Order No. 11, the time at which proceedings on that Bill would otherwise be brought to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 2 shall be extended by a period equal to the duration of the interruption. Supplemental orders7. (1) The proceedings on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after they have been commenced.

(2) If at this day's sitting the House is adjourned, or if this day's sitting is suspended, before the time at which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order, no notice shall be required of a Motion moved at the next sitting by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order. Saving8. Nothing in this Order shall prevent any proceedings to which this Order applies from being taken or completed earlier than is required by this Order.


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Recommittal9.--(1) References in this Order to proceedings on consideration or proceedings on Third Reading include references to proceedings at those stages respectively, for, on or in consequence of, recommittal.

(2) No debate shall be permitted on any Motion to recommit either of the Bills to which this Order applies (whether as a whole or otherwise), and Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith any Question necessary to dispose of the Motion, including the Question on any amendment moved to the Question.

Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill Stages subsequent to first Consideration of Lords Amendments 10. Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for the consideration forthwith of any further Message from the Lords on the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill.

11. The Proceedings on any such further Message from the Lords shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion one hour after the commencement of those proceedings. 12. For the purpose of bringing those proceedings to a conclusion-- (

(a) Mr. Speaker shall first put forthwith any Question which has already been proposed from the Chair and not yet decided, and shall then put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown which is related to the Question already proposed from the Chair ;

(b) Mr. Speaker shall then designate such of the remaining items in the Lords Message as appear to him to involve questions of Privilege and shall

(i) put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown on any item ;

(ii) in the case of each remaining item designated by Mr. Speaker, put forthwith the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in their Proposal ; and

(iii) put forthwith the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in all the remaining Lords Proposals.

Supplemental13.--(1) Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for the appointment and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons.

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

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


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Finance Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

11.41 am

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. David Mellor) : I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

This short Bill contains those Budget measures that the Government consider it essential to pass into law before Parliament is dissolved and they put the Budget changes implemented on Budget day beyond legal doubt. I shall set out for the House what each of the clauses contain and then say something about the principal point of controversy, the reduction in the rate of income tax to 20p for the first £2,000 of income.

Clauses 1, 2, 3 and 4 confirm changes to excise duties implemented on Budget day. Clause 1 confirms the indexation of duties on alcohol--the rise of 4 per cent. that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced. Clause 2 confirms the increase in duties on tobacco by about indexation on pipe tobacco and by 10 per cent. on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Clause 3 covers duty on petrol, diesel and other oils and confirms the indexation of duty on petrol and unleaded petrol and the rise in duty on leaded petrol by 7 per cent. All those changes, as is normal with excise duties, came into force at 6 o'clock on Budget day. In addition, at midnight on Budget day, vehicle excise duties on cars went up to £110 ; clause 4 confirms that change. It also reduces the duty on small tricycles from £50 to £15--a small but welcome change to the users of those tricycles.

Clause 8, which reduces car tax from 10 to 5 per cent.--we know that that has already had a beneficial effect on the retail sales of motor cars-- falls into the same category. So, too, does clause 7, which cuts the rate of VAT serious misdeclaration penalty and default surcharge. The lower rate of serious misdeclaration penalty has effect from Budget day. The lower maximum for default surcharge has effect from 1 April because this penalty is linked to monthly accounting periods. The House gave provisional statutory effect to these changes on Budget day, but, under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968, they must be confirmed by a Finance Bill before Parliament is dissolved. If not, Customs and Excise would be obliged to repay the extra tax that it had collected.

Clause 5 concerns another excise duty, betting duty. The reduction from 8 to 7 per cent. will have effect from 1 April, which is a convenient date for bookmakers who pay tax monthly.

Clause 6 deals with monthly payments on account for the largest VAT traders. I should perhaps say a word or two of further detail about that. I am sure that the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng), having recovered from his exertions earlier this morning, is interested in this.

Mr. Paul Boateng (Brent, South) : We are waiting for a joke.

Mr. Mellor : If the hon. Gentleman is looking for a joke, I will show him a mirror. That is just to show that I am awake and not entirely reliant on my brief.

Last autumn, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced that, with the completion of the single market, some 90,000 businesses which bring goods and services into the United Kingdom from the rest of the EC would benefit from changes to VAT accounting procedures, but


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the reintroduction of the system known as postponed accounting carries a once-off cash-flow cost. So as not to increase the public sector borrowing requirement in 1992-93, my right hon. Friend announced that the largest VAT payers would be required both to account for and pay VAT monthly from the autumn of 1992.

A number of companies have suggested that the requirement to make monthly returns as well as monthly payments imposes a needless burden, so my right hon. Friend the Chancellor acknowledged in the Budget that there was something in this point and agreed to drop the requirement to make monthly returns. Therefore, companies will now be asked only to make monthly payments on account. In the meantime, some companies have raised questions, as they are fully entitled to do, about the Government's powers in this area and have instituted proceedings for judicial review. With some six months to go until monthly payments are to be introduced, it is important to end uncertainty. Businesses require a clear basis on which to plan and that is provided for in clause 6, which puts beyond doubt the Government's powers to require some traders to make monthly payments on account.

The two remaining substantive clauses deal with income tax. Income tax must be renewed each year and, if that is not done, no income tax can be collected. The tax has to be renewed by 5 May every year. There would not be time to be sure of doing this after the election, so clause 10 reimposes income tax for 1992-93. Nearly 25 million people pay income tax and most never see an income tax return. They pay all their tax through PAYE and each year the Budget requires the Inland Revenue and employers to undertake a major recoding exercise for everyone on PAYE.

If the Government had renewed income tax before the election and done nothing else, all the income tax allowances and the basic rate limit would have been raised under the statutory indexation provisions. The Revenue would have had to undertake one recoding exercise to implement those changes and a second after the election to implement any changes contained in the second post-election Finance Bill which would be necessary. That would have been wasteful for the Inland Revenue and employers and confusing for taxpayers. That is why the Government have concluded that it is right to ask Parliament to confirm all the major income tax changes in the Budget and that is why clause 9 provides for the introduction of a lower rate of income tax, chargeable on the first £2,000 of taxable income. It also gives us a chance to establish a serious difference of view on this matter between the Conservative party and Opposition parties.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) : In discussing the effect on the Inland Revenue, will the Chief Secretary confirm or qualify the report in the Financial Times this morning that the Inland Revenue will need 800 additional staff to deal with all the pensioners who, in order to obtain the lower rate band for their savings, will have to put in a claim for the difference between the standard rate and the new lower rate? Is the figure of 800 initial jobs in the Inland Revenue correct or will it be a lower figure? If so, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say what it will be?

Mr. Mellor : The figure is not correct. I do not have the exact figure, but it will be a great deal lower.


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Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne) : It is astonishing that the Chief Secretary does not know that figure, as the additional staff required is one of the strongest arguments against the proposal for a lower rate band. I am in favour of lower rate bands, but I accept that that costs a considerable amount in payments for additional staff. The number of civil servants in the Inland Revenue has been reduced. I do not know how they will cope unless there is a large increase in numbers to deal with the large number of inquiries from those who have paid tax at 25 per cent. on dividends, interest or whatever. Even with quite small sums, they will want to reclaim the difference between the 25 per cent. and the new 20 per cent. band. Inland Revenue officials could be dealing with sums as small as £5, £10 or £20, which are out of line with the amount of time that such claims will take to process.

Mr. Mellor : I understand that the Inland Revenue anticipates a need for up to 300 additional staff in the first year and possibly more in subsequent years, depending on the take-up rate. The right hon. Gentleman's intervention makes clear the Labour party's extraordinary intellectual contortions. On the one hand, he says that he favours a reduction in the tax rate, but, on the other, he made a lengthy intervention putting the case against that. The fact that he is here shows that he is willing, ready and able to vote against the proposal. I find his position unconvincing. Indeed, my respect for him would be enhanced if I thought that he also found that unconvincing. I am sure that he does in his innermost thoughts, but I leave it to him.

Mr. Tim Smith (Beaconsfield) : Was not the right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) Financial Secretary to the Treasury when the Labour Government reduced the rate of income tax? He knows that the Inland Revenue can cope with that. Is not the real point the fact that, whereas under his Labour Government the standard rate was 30p and the reduced rate 25p, now the standard rate is 25p and the reduced rate 20p?

Mr. Mellor : As I have reminded the House before, the right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne was a Treasury Minister throughout the chaos and confusion of Labour's last period in office.

As well as renewing tax, clause 10 sets the lower rate at 20 per cent. and overrides indexation for the basic rate limit and the married couple's allowance for those under 65. The other allowances--personal and age- related allowances--are indexed under the statutory provisions.

Mr. John Fraser (Norwood) : I wish to raise a matter of some urgency as Easter is the traditional time for weddings. When double taxation relief was abolished on 31 August 1988, the consequence was that if a couple living together subsequently decided to marry, the tax cost to one or other of them on a £30,000 mortgage would be about £750. Does the Chief Secretary think that the Bill should include a minor change to enable such people to be married without being penalised? There is currently an adverse tax consequence in legitimising one's children.

Mr. Mellor : I am not aware that couples are penalised in the way that the hon. Gentleman suggests. However, he makes a perfectly fair point and I shall have it investigated. I hope that my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary will be able to deal with it when he replies to the debate.


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Sir Michael Grylls (Surrey, North-West) : I note that the Bill includes no reference to the important and progressive changes in inheritance tax for independent family businesses, which were proposed by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. His proposal was well received throughout the small business community. It is important that businesses are passed down to the next generation so that they can grow under that and subsequent generations. The current levels of taxation, although better than previously, are still quite heavy. What is happening with that proposal? Has my right hon. and learned Friend any idea of the Opposition's views? The small business community will want to know Labour's thinking. Will it support the Government's important proposals?

Mr. Mellor : My hon. Friend speaks with authority on these matters and I well understand his point. After the election, we will have to introduce another Finance Bill, with at least 75 pages dealing with a range of issues, including the important one mentioned by my hon. Friend. On the question of what the Opposition might think--or what their view is this morning, because it changes so often--I am sure that the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) will be only too happy to deal with that in her speech.

Clause 10 also sets the limit on mortgage interest relief at £30, 000. The limit must be set each year, but it is no increase on what has prevailed for some time.

I want to say a few words about the principal matter of controversy, which is the 20p tax band. There has been an astonishing volte face by the Labour party on that matter. As recently as 25 February, the shadow Chancellor, the right hon. and learned Gentleman for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith), was reported as saying that we should have a lower starting rate because that would be fairer to people at the bottom. Within a matter of a few days, he and his party have been prepared to eat their words and vote against the proposal--as they have already done once. So that people are not mistaken, they are poised to do so again. They are ready to sacrifice the least well- off on the altar of a false and superficial commitment to fiscal probity.

During our debates on the Budget, the Opposition have failed to tell us why they are taking that view. No doubt, one reason is that they are probably too busy thinking up new taxes to levy. They have failed to give a proper account of why they are behaving in that way. Instead, an alleged commitment to and concern about the public sector borrowing requirement has emerged. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon), who served in the Treasury for all those years, can confirm that under the last Labour Government there was never a time when there was not a PSBR. If the Labour party believes that there should not be tax cuts while there is a PSBR, we can be absolutely sure that there will never be a tax reduction under a Labour Government. The only issue is by how much taxes will rise.

Mr. Boateng : We never said that.

Mr. Mellor : The hon. Gentleman should be cautious, because that is certainly what the Opposition have said. Rather like some of the clients that the hon. Gentleman used to defend in his days in court, they want to change their story before they give evidence the next time. We shall be only too interested to hear today's story.


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Mr. Boateng : I do not--

Mr. Mellor : Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would allow me the courtesy of giving way to him before he speaks

Mr. Boateng rose --

Mr. Mellor : The hon. Gentleman should resume his seat. If he asks me nicely, I will give way.

Mr. Boateng : I need no lessons from that colossus of the petty sessions on how to defend an indefensible case. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has done that every single day of this Parliament's life.

Mr. Mellor : That was not much of a political intervention, but it was a fine bid for the Sir Donald Wolfit acting award.

In so far as the Labour party has a case on this issue, its entire basis is that the PSBR should not be increased to reduce taxation. If that is not Labour's argument, it is hard to see what shadow of an argument it has. Happily, we will hear the Opposition's view in due course, but it is already clear that under the last Labour Government the PSBR was higher on average than it has ever been under this Government, and it only temporarily fell to 3 per cent. in 1977-78 following International Monetary Fund intervention.

In an astonishing move that destroyed whatever claim the Opposition make to being qualified to pass judgment on such matters, the PSBR was then permitted--notwithstanding that the economic cycle was moving upwards, at a time when a prudent Government would have put further pressure on the PSBR to bring it down into balance, as we succeeded in doing in the 1980s--to increase from 3 to 5 per cent. once the IMF's back was turned, so that the Labour Government could increase public expenditure and finance substantial tax cuts. There was a 2p cut in income tax and reductions in value added tax.

The shadow Chancellor was a member of that Labour Cabinet and was perfectly happy with that action, whereas the Leader of the Opposition--then a Back Bencher--was ranting, in opposition to his own Government, about the reckless nature of the proposals that they were carrying into effect. We should not hear too much more about fiscal probity from Labour Members.

Mr. David Nicholson (Taunton) : Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that if, by some strange development, Labour's concern about the PSBR were to be genuine and if the Liberal Democrats were also serious about it--I believe that their 1p on income tax is hypothecated to education--does not that cast considerable doubt on Labour and Liberal Democrat pledges in respect of pensions, child benefit and various other benefits? Would both parties keep faith with the electorate?

Mr. Mellor : Labour needs to answer several questions, and the fact that it chose not to produce its shadow Budget until after Parliament has been dissolved-- [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown) is here again with that laugh of his, which he must practise in the bathroom every morning. It is about as fake as the canned laughter that one must endure on those awful television comedy shows. The funny thing is not that I have misspoken but that the Opposition think that it is funny that we appreciate that even when Labour did not


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know that Parliament was to be dissolved, it nevertheless timed the publication of its shadow Budget for the day after the end of the Budget debate. What is the point of Parliament? The Opposition are always complaining that Ministers make announcements before bringing them to the House.

The Opposition did that in the belief that their Budget would escape scrutiny. As always, they were over-optimistic. They are right only to be properly pessimistic about the ability of their proposals to withstand scrutiny. It is a reflection of the chaos and confusion into which Labour has sunk that it feels compelled to produce a shadow Budget at all. The hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) said earlier--

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd) : Order. I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate a report which I have just received of a burning smell that seems to be coming from one of the Government Benches. Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary may continue.

Mr. Mellor : I will continue even as the flames lick around my ankles, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I shall direct a little cold air on them, in the hope that they will die down. I have been interrupted by many things in the House, but never before by an outbreak of fire. That is going a bit far. Obviously there are no lengths to which Opposition Members will not go to prevent democracy working properly.

Mr. Boateng : The burning started on the Government Benches.

Mr. Mellor : We shall find out whoever was responsible. My only fear is that you are about to be asphyxiated, Madam Deputy Speaker. In September, the hon. Member for Copeland said that Labour would not produce a shadow Budget, but it has done so--not because Labour feels any need to be more candid with the electorate but because Labour has been driven to it by the number of holes punched in its proposals over the past eight weeks.

My hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Nicholson) asked about the PSBR. Among the muddles that Labour needs to clear up-- [Interruption.] I wish that I could have the attention of Labour Members for a moment. Are they worried that they will get burnt to death?

Mr. Nicholas Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, East) : I was just discussing my insurance policy.

Mr. Mellor : I shall keep a sepulchral silence on that.

Mr. Brown : For once.

Mr. Mellor : Indeed. It would be helpful if the hon. Member for Derby, South will clarify Labour's view on the PSBR when she addresses the House. The PSBR has reached its present level because of a fall in receipts occasioned by the present economic downturn and by necessary public expenditure commitments which the Government feel it is their duty to sustain over the cycle but which the Opposition--erroneously--have always condemned as derisory. The shadow Chancellor admitted in his article in The Mail on Sunday two weeks ago that the PSBR would rise under Labour--but it would be for virtuous spending. Labour would take a convenient chunk of expenditure,


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dub it virtuous and say that it would then be all right to borrow for that purpose. However, on "Newsnight" this week, the hon. Member for Derby, South said that Labour had no plans to increase the PSBR. A lot turns on that--all the commitments that Labour has made to interest groups throughout the country to spend more money on this, that and the other. They will be rendered nugatory if Labour stick with the PSBR as it now is, unless the party is prepared to increase taxes.

We know that Labour is prepared to increase taxes to a significant degree, but the question remains : how significant--or are Opposition spokesmen merely hoping to con the electorate into voting for Labour, knowing full well that Labour does not have the slightest intention of undertaking any of the expenditure that it has pledged? That is a real case for the Labour party to answer. The hon. Member for Brent, South should do what he did when he practised law--get a barrister to answer. We look forward to hearing the shadow Chancellor give his account.

Why has Labour decided to oppose the 20p tax band? It stems from an urgent and overwhelming desire to spend, which we know about, but also from Labour's desire to hide a number of its other spending pledges behind the notional availability of revenue--if Labour really is prepared to penalise those whose taxable incomes begin as low as £3,500 per year, by increasing their marginal rate of tax by 25 per cent.--so that it will then be able to peg on to that a large number of public spending commitments. They include, most ludicrous of all, the cost of implementing Labour's minimum wage proposals, which are meant to benefit the very people from whom Labour would raise taxes to pay for them.

I am sure that all the graduates on the Labour Benches of the Robert Maxwell school of creative accounting will be only too ready to ensure that money is spent not once, not twice, but many more times. I believe that Thames area water is consumed seven times before it reaches us here. Similarly, Labour's taxes will be spent time and time again in the election campaign, as promise is overlaid by promise.

Labour's original proposal was to soak the rich. Its definition of rich began with a person having an income of £20,400--which includes police sergeants, deputy head teachers and middle management, and that is pretty well the average wage for people working in my constituency and those of my hon. Friends the Members for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) and for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) and others in the south.

The shadow Chancellor has been criticised over that policy and I suspect that one of the reasons for his shadow Budget is to give him the opportunity to respond to criticisms of Labour's proposed national insurance hike and 50 per cent. rate. I wonder whether the Labour party is proposing to move away from some of those policies. A climbdown would involve it in soaking the poor to save the rich. Is that why the Labour party requires money from those on £3,500, £4,000, £5,000 or £6,000 a year? Does it want to have a few more resources to allow it to cover its tracks on national insurance contributions or the 50 per cent. taxation proposal? That demonstrates the ludicrous situation into which it has put itself.

The Labour party's attitude to what people might do with the extra money that they will have in their pockets as a result of the change in taxation is an interesting one. What is its attitude to our belief that people have a right


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