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Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Perhaps we can now return to the contents of the Finance Bill.

Mrs. Liddell: I am happy to do so, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

1 Jul 1998 : Column 430

We have observed some interesting gyrations on the part of the Opposition Front Bench. I am not just talking about the fact that no Opposition Front Bencher managed to stay in the Chamber throughout the debate; during the Bill's passage, we have seen a radical reversal of the Opposition's views on capital gains tax. Moreover, as my hon. Friends have pointed out, the Opposition have tabled amendments whose cost would total around £7 billion, and have given no explanation of where they would find the money to finance them. Which taxes would they increase? Which public expenditure would they cut? As my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary said the other night, the Conservatives are beginning to beat the Liberals Democrats in terms of imprudent economics.

There has been a challenge to a number of our measures--important measures, aimed at making the tax system fairer. For example, Opposition Members tabled an amendment seeking to exempt from tax people working overseas and earning salaries of at least £87,000 a year. I recognise that that may not be a great deal of money for those with extensive outside interests, but, believe me, it is a lot of money from my constituents' point of view.

There was an entirely spurious attempt to focus debate on the number and scope of regulation-making powers, rather than on the important measures in the Bill. Throughout our consideration of the Bill, spurious arguments have been advanced, often on behalf of "special interest" groups. That, I think, is a measure of how ineffective the Opposition were in the task of opposing: they ran out of steam before we could even complete Third Reading.

I contend that one reason for the exodus from the Chamber this evening is the fact that the scale of revulsion in the country at the economic policies that the Conservatives pursued in opposition is beginning to dawn on them. The last time I saw the Opposition Benches so empty, Conservative Members were off looking for another leader. Perhaps that is what is happening now. [Interruption.] As my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Ainsworth) has just pointed out, perhaps they are off looking for work. A number of Conservatives had to do that after 1 May last year.

Let me now deal with what was said by the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan. The other day, his party's Treasury spokesman was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland. When asked about his party's economic policies, he said that industry would have to hope for the best. That is the "fingers crossed" school of economics: the emblem of the Scottish National party should be a lucky bunch of white heather.

In one of the interventions to which we have become so used during our debates on the Bill--an intervention of great erudition--my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, North (Mr. Cranston) took the hon. Gentleman's arguments on manufacturing apart--but, predictably, the hon. Gentleman was not present to hear him. Nor, having referred to the importance of the service industries in Scotland, was he present to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Alexander) draw attention to the attack on those industries--especially the financial services industry--that had been launched by the Scottish National party in the past fortnight. Fortunately, Labour Members do not go in for that kind of behaviour.

1 Jul 1998 : Column 431

My hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South made a good point about the money that the Government have set aside for the university for industry. May I also remind the House of the £50 million that has been made available in the Budget for the university challenge fund? My hon. Friend's constituency contains the university of Paisley, which is known for its ability to convert research ideas into development projects that make a considerable amount of money for the Scottish economy. I am sure that he and his constituents will benefit greatly from that.

We heard some interesting contributions from the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats were a constant source of entertainment to us in Committee. In Committee, we had an opportunity to congratulate the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) on his wedding and his honeymoon, but I am not sure that the hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) had the same excuse for not being present. Tonight he raised the issue of insurance premium tax, although earlier he had had the opportunity to speak to an amendment on the subject but was not present to do so. In Committee, he failed to vote against a measure that he has described as reprehensible. He has also sought, at this late stage, to introduce a measure that would undermine an important anti-avoidance provision in the Bill. Labour Members do not find that acceptable. The insurance premium tax rate is designed to ensure that there is neither the incentive nor the scope for VAT avoidance.

It is unfortunate that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends did not get their act together sufficiently to allow debate on these matters. It would have been illuminating for people outside to see the extent to which the Liberal Democrats are not prepared to pursue anti-avoidance measures. Like many of their proposals, the proposal of which the hon. Gentleman spoke tonight would have cost the country a good deal of money--more than £400 million. It is a case of spend, spend, spend--and at no point are we given any indication of how the Liberal Democrats would put the economy on to the stable basis that is required for long-term good. [Interruption.]

The hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) who has not taken enough interest in the Bill to participate in the debate--we are becoming accustomed to such behaviour from Liberal Democrat Members--refers, from a sedentary position, to closures and redundancies in the economy. The hon. Gentleman would be better placed to make such remarks if he were prepared to engage in coherent economic argument about how we can improve our economy. The Bill is another step towards ensuring that the country moves into a climate of economic stability that will provide sustainable growth, and allow businesses and households to plan for the future.

We have had 18 years of boom and bust. We have had 18 years of economic incompetence. Anyone who wants to see the scale of that incompetence need only read the Hansard reports of debates on past Finance Bills, which will reveal some of the weakest and most spurious arguments ever advanced in the House.

The Budget that we have introduced is a Budget for fairness. At last we have a Government who are committed to fairness for all. As a consequence of this Budget, the least advantaged members of society will be given extra assistance. Those who seek to create wealth will find themselves in a climate that will allow them,

1 Jul 1998 : Column 432

not just to develop their own businesses, but to bring about an atmosphere that will enable our economy to thrive.

This is a Budget from a Government who look forward rather than back. I repeat that it is a Budget for the many, not the few. That is the sea change that has been created; that is the difference between this Government and the Government who went before.

I am proud of what was done by my hon. Friends in Committee, and am grateful for the support that they have given the Financial Secretary, the Paymaster General and me. I am also grateful to all who the Member for Halton (Mr. Twigg) have taken the message of this Budget to men and women the Member for Halton (Mr. Twigg) throughout the country. Earlier, my hon. Friend the Member for Halton (Mr. Twigg) said that people had stopped him in the street to congratulate the Government on the Budget. That happened to me, too. [Interruption.] The cackles of the Opposition prove that their arrogance is undiminished. Their lack of understanding of the ordinary people of the United Kingdom has not advanced at all. Tonight sees the completion of an important stage in the Government's programme. I commend the Bill to the House with great pride.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:-

The House divided: Ayes 308, Noes 171.

Division No. 322
[8.9 pm


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Church, Ms Judith
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Ms Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Galbraith, Sam
Galloway, George
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLeish, Henry
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Alun
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Giles
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. John McFall and
Mr. Greg Pope.


Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, James
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Beggs, Roy
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Body, Sir Richard
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Clappison, James
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Kensington)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Dafis, Cynog
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan Smith, Iain
Evans, Nigel
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Faber, David
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorrie, Donald
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
MacKay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Moss, Malcolm
Nicholls, Patrick
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Salmond, Alex
Sanders, Adrian
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thompson, William
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Townend, John
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Wallace, James
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Welsh, Andrew
Whittingdale, John
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Nigel Waterson and
Mr. Stephen Day.

Question accordingly agreed to.

1 Jul 1998 : Column 435

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

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