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Recycling (Doorstep Collection)

Mr. Paul Marsden accordingly presented a Bill to make provision for the doorstep collection of recyclable waste from all residential properties in England and Wales; to set 20-year targets for increasing levels of recycling in accordance with European Union requirements; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 6 April, and to be printed [Bill 61].

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Orders of the Day


Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [7 March].


Motion made, and Question proposed,

(1) That it is expedient to amend the law with respect to the National Debt and the public revenue and to make further provision in connection with finance.
(2) Subject to paragraphs (3) to (6) below, this Resolution does not extend to the making of any amendment with respect to value added tax so as to provide--
(a) for zero-rating or exempting a supply, acquisition or importation;
(b) for refunding an amount of tax;
(c) for varying any rate at which that tax is at any time chargeable;
(d) for any relief, other than a relief which--
(i) so far as it is applicable to goods, applies to goods of every description, and
(ii) so far as it is applicable to services, applies to services of every description.
(3) Paragraph (2) above does not exclude the making of amendments with respect to value added tax--
(a) providing for refunds of the kind specified in paragraph (4) below;
(b) providing for that tax to be charged at a reduced rate of 5 per cent. on supplies of the descriptions specified in paragraph (5) below (and on equivalent acquisitions and importations); or
(c) making provision of the kind authorised by paragraph (6) below.
(4) The refunds mentioned in paragraph (3)(a) above are refunds of value added tax where--
(a) that tax is chargeable on a supply to, or an acquisition or importation by, a museum or gallery, and
(b) the supply, acquisition or importation is attributable to supplies of free rights of admission to the museum or gallery.
(5) The supplies mentioned in paragraph (3)(b) above are--
(a) supplies, in the course of a conversion of a building (or part of a building), of services related to the conversion if after the conversion the building (or part) contains living accommodation;
(b) supplies, in the course of the renovation or alteration (including the extension) of a dwelling that has been unoccupied for at least three years, of services related to the renovation or alteration;
(c) supplies of goods by a person making a supply of services within sub-paragraph (a) or (b) above if--
(i) those services include the incorporation of the goods into the building concerned (or its site), and
(ii) the goods are building materials within the meaning of Group 5 of Schedule 8 to the Value Added Tax Act 1994;
(d) supplies of children's car seats.
(6) The provision authorised by this paragraph is provision re-enacting, without altering any person's liability to value added tax or the amount of any such liability, provisions providing for that tax to be charged at a reduced rate of 5 per cent. on certain supplies, acquisitions and importations.--[Mr. Gordon Brown.]

Question again proposed.

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Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

3.52 pm

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Alan Milburn): Our first duty in government has been to secure economic stability for the country. Stability is the foundation on which prosperity and progress can be built and is the basis for sustained investment in strong public services. In last week's Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer locked in the stability that the Government have created.

When the Government came to office in 1997, inflation was back in the system, interest rates were rising and the public finances had spiralled out of control. In the previous 18 years, the national debt had doubled and the economy had been allowed to lurch between the deepest recessions and ever-shorter periods of unsustainable growth. Mass unemployment and a growing debt burden had skewed public spending. For every £1 of extra public expenditure, 42p was being spent on servicing the national debt and paying the social security bills of economic failure.

Today, just 16p in every pound is spent on those debt and social security payments. Interest payments on debt used to exceed payments on schools, but today, schools are the Government's priority. The public finances are back under control. Interest rates, and therefore mortgages, are averaging half their rate under the previous Government. Our inflation rate is among the lowest in Europe, there are 1 million more jobs in the economy, and manufacturing, despite its significant difficulties, is expanding, investing and exporting. After decades of neglect, public investment is also growing, especially in the key services: health, education, transport and the fight against crime.

None of that has come about by chance. It has happened because of the choices that the Government have made. New fiscal rules, independence for the Bank of England, and new programmes to create jobs and to make work pay have all helped to secure prosperity and progress for our country.

Each and every step of the way, those choices have been opposed by the Conservative party. In August 1998, the shadow Foreign Secretary predicted a bleak outlook for the economy. Today, Britain has the lowest inflation that it has had for 30 years. The Leader of the Opposition said that independence for the Bank of England was dangerous arrogance. Today, Britain has the lowest long-term interest rates for 35 years.

The shadow Chancellor warned the House that a minimum wage would lose the country more than a million jobs. Today Britain has a minimum wage; it also has the lowest unemployment for 25 years. Rather than a million jobs being lost, a million have been created. Today's Conservatives, therefore, have been wrong on economic performance, wrong on the Bank of England's independence, wrong on ending poverty pay, and wrong on every prediction and forecast. Not even Michael Fish gets it that wrong. [Interruption.] I am glad that the right hon. Member for Kensington and Chelsea (Mr. Portillo) is perking up.

The Budget has been well received precisely because we avoided the temptation, to which Chancellors have traditionally succumbed, to make judgments for the short

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term that could not be sustained in the longer term. The shadow Chancellor still advocates precisely that approach today. As history proves, that is an economic policy that can end only in boom and bust.

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that when he was a member of the Government in 1988, the then Chancellor, Lord Lawson, declared that there had been an economic miracle in Britain. The problem was that the then Government assumed that surpluses one year were sustainable every year. The Budget that year cut taxes by £6 billion in 1988 prices. Within just three years, Britain was in the deepest recession that it has ever seen. Where was the right hon. Gentleman at the time? He was in the Treasury, presiding over 15 per cent. interest rates, 10 per cent. inflation rates, 3 million people unemployed, 1 million people in negative equity and a £50 billion public sector borrowing requirement. That truly was a recession made in Downing street. Today, he claims to have enough credibility to run the economy. Frankly, with his record, he does not have the credibility to run a bath, never mind the economy.

Last week, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer consciously took a balanced approach, involving the repayment of national debt alongside targeted tax cuts for hard-working families; help for pensioners, motorists and savers alongside action to increase employment opportunities; and new measures to boost private sector productivity alongside prudent public sector investment.

The national health service is a major beneficiary of our approach. The NHS in England will receive an average of £275 million extra a year for the next three years. That is in addition to the record levels of investment that we are already making. Health service spending is now growing by an average of 6.6 per cent. a year in real terms this year and over the next three years. In the previous Parliament, when the right hon. Gentleman was in the Treasury, health service spending grew by just 2.6 per cent. Indeed, in the previous Conservative Government's last year in office--with him in the Cabinet alongside the Leader of the Opposition--they cut health service spending in real terms.

Today, under a Labour Government, the NHS is the fastest growing health service of any major country in Europe. The whole nation knows that there is a huge amount of catching up to do. Real problems remain in the health service, but real progress is being made too. This year, for the first time in years, the NHS overall will balance its books. Just as we have sorted out the state of the overall public finances, so our prudent management has paid off the NHS debts that we inherited.

Hospital waiting lists have fallen below the 100,000 target that we promised at the previous general election, and outpatient lists are now falling as well. There are improved waiting times for cancer patients. More heart operations are being carried out than ever before. For the first time, cancer and cardiac services for prevention and for treatment are receiving earmarked funding worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

This year, for the first time in 40 years, there are more beds in hospitals. The biggest new hospital building programme in health service history is under way. When the right hon. Member for Kensington and Chelsea was Chief Secretary, he cut capital investment in NHS buildings and NHS equipment by almost 6 per cent. in

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real terms. Capital spending in the NHS was lower at the end of the previous Parliament than at the beginning. Over this Parliament, capital investment is growing again by an annual average of almost 10 per cent.

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