Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend reminds us that we get a daily verdict on the credibility of our economic policy from bond investors. We are borrowing money more cheaply than anyone who has done my job before us, and there is a real benefit for taxpayers and members of the public in that. We have saved £33 billion in debt

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interest that we were forecast to have to pay in 2010, which, as I said in my statement, is more than the entire defence budget.

Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab): When the cheering has died down on the Budget statement, it will be just as it was on previous occasions, such as in 2010, when the Chancellor made his first statement. When it was stripped bare, it was a totally different story. In 2010, he promised massively to cut the deficit; but here we are, two and a half years later, and he has cut the nurses and the national health service. This posh boy never changes. Now, instead of being a Bullingdon boy who wrecks the hotel rooms, as Chancellor of the Exchequer he wrecks the economy. It is time he went.

Mr Osborne: I am not sure that that personal attack warrants a proper reply.

Mary Macleod (Brentford and Isleworth) (Con): My right hon. Friend mentioned that 1.2 million jobs had been created in the private sector. Examples include Aker Solutions in Chiswick, in my constituency, which has gone from employing 30 staff to planning to employ 1,300 by 2015. Does he agree that this shows the Government are rebalancing the economy and encouraging inward investment?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is absolutely right: jobs are being created. Of course the economic situation is tough—it is tough in every western economy at the moment—but we are rebalancing our economy. One of the things I have sought to do in today’s statement—it is not the bit that will attract all the newspaper headlines—is expand our export promotion effort and ensure that UK Trade & Investment is better at encouraging exports and investment and ensuring that British overseas chambers of commerce are better equipped in the emerging economies. All these things are so important, because one of the big strategic mistakes we made as a country over the last 15 years was not to expand our market share—in the way that Germany did, for example—in those emerging economies, which have become so important.

Mr John Denham (Southampton, Itchen) (Lab): I have heard the Chancellor make a number of statements to this House. Is it a fair summary to say that every time he has done so, he has told us that the economy has not grown since the last time he was here, that he is planning to borrow more than the last time he was here, that spending on public services will be cut more than the last time he was here, and that future growth will be less than the last time he was here? In view of that record, should he be looking quite so pleased with himself?

Mr Osborne: This Government came in in May 2010, picking up the pieces of an incredibly difficult economic inheritance. We were recovering from the deepest recession since the second world war—which, as I pointed out in my statement, was a contraction of over 6% in the economy, which puts today’s numbers into some context—and we were dealing with the problems in the banking system, and we have been hit with the problems in the eurozone. Despite all that, we have made progress. We have got credibility in the bond markets, as my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) said, the deficit has come down, and jobs are being

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created. It is a difficult situation, but we are on the right track. Going back, as the right hon. Gentleman would suggest, would be a complete disaster.

Stephen Williams (Bristol West) (LD): Liberal Democrat priorities for the coalition have been delivering £10,000 of tax-free pay for every working family in the country, effective taxes on the wealthy, and closing down opportunities for tax evasion and tax avoidance. Does the Chancellor agree that today’s very welcome news of a further rise in the personal tax threshold—to £9,440, putting us within touching distance of £10,000—a restriction on tax relief on pension contributions for the very rich, and more resources to tackle tax evasion and tax avoidance effectively show that the coalition Government are committed to tax fairness even in difficult times?

Mr Osborne: I do agree with my hon. Friend. It is worth remembering that we put together these difficult autumn statements and the like in a coalition. We are able to demonstrate to the rest of the world that Britain has strong and decisive government. I am grateful to my Liberal Democrat colleagues who have helped me in this. I hope that Liberal Democrats and Conservatives can celebrate the increase in the personal allowance. There are many Conservatives who also wanted to achieve that, and it was in the Liberal Democrat manifesto too. The fact that we are able to do that shows that we are helping working people even in these difficult times.

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): I acknowledge some of the positive impacts that this statement will have on Northern Ireland, including saving people from increases in their electricity bills as a result of the exemption from the carbon price floor, lifting 8,000 people out of tax, and an additional £135 million of capital spending. However, given the rocky road that the Chancellor has said lies ahead and given his credibility in the markets, could he not find his way to borrowing more money for infrastructure projects to create jobs, rather than paying to keep people on the dole?

Mr Osborne: I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s support for some of the measures we have taken to help the Northern Irish economy, which I am well aware has particular problems in the banking system that require even more attention. I have always sought to respond to the Executive’s proposals where there is a specific case for Northern Ireland, as we did with transatlantic flights, for example. More generally, we are committing additional money to infrastructure, and I want some of that additional infrastructure to be in Northern Ireland. We are also guaranteeing infrastructure projects across the United Kingdom, and £10 billion of projects have pre-qualified for that under the legislation we took through Parliament this autumn. That scheme is available to people and companies in Northern Ireland, and if the Executive want to talk to the Treasury about what more we can do to encourage take-up in Northern Ireland, I would be happy for those conversations to take place.

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): I welcome my right hon. Friend’s proposals, particularly the extension of the expenditure envelope for infrastructure

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plans, but will he personally ensure that our transport policy is fully integrated? At present, the proposals for HS2 completely ignore any plans we might have to expand our airport capacity. There is little point in building or announcing any extension to the railway if it does not connect adequately to our major international hub airport. Will he personally look into this?

Mr Osborne: Of course I understand why my right hon. Friend speaks on behalf of her constituents who will be affected by the High Speed 2 development, but I think that it is the right infrastructure for our country, and that it will help to change the economic geography of Britain by connecting some of our northern and midland cities with London. I hope she will acknowledge that we have been generous with some of the compensation as well. She asked specific questions about the extension to Heathrow and the design of the route. My right hon. Friend the Transport Secretary would be better placed to answer them, and in the new year he will have more to say about the route to the north-west and to west Yorkshire.

Dame Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab): Bloomberg New Energy Finance has demonstrated that investment in renewable energy has fallen by a half since this Government came to power. Does the Chancellor not agree that we need to look to the future and to invest in green jobs? To that end, will he stop the veto in the Energy Bill of the 2030 decarbonisation target that has been demanded by 1,500 leading companies in this country and recommended by the Committee on Climate Change?

Mr Osborne: This Government have introduced the UK Green Investment Bank, which is now making investments. I have also introduced a carbon price floor, which is recognised around the world as an effective way of ensuring the decarbonisation of our economy in a market-driven way. We have just published the Energy Bill and a levy control framework that would allow for new investment in renewables through the rest of this decade. The industry has that certainty, alongside the gas strategy. On the decarbonisation target, we are going to take a power in the Bill to set a target, but that will be a decision for after the next carbon budget, which will happen in 2016. That is a perfectly sensible and rational approach to take.

Claire Perry (Devizes) (Con): I congratulate the Chancellor on a statement that was fair, transparent, business-friendly and pro-growth, and that confirmed that the deficit is not only not rising but falling in every year of this Parliament. With 19 days to Christmas, which of his family-friendly measures—including scrapping the fuel duty increase, freezing council tax and raising the personal allowance next year—does he think will do most to benefit British families?

Mr Osborne: We have had to take some difficult decisions on welfare uprating and on tax threshold uprating, but I have tried to help families where I can with the personal allowance and with fuel duty. I have also tried to help businesses, and the annual investment allowance increase to £250,000 will be extremely welcome.

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Mr Michael Meacher (Oldham West and Royton) (Lab): How can the Chancellor seriously pretend that he is cracking down on tax avoidance when the £7 billion he referred to today will take up to seven years to realise, at a rate of about £1 billion a year, against a rate of tax avoidance of £35 billion a year? The general anti-avoidance rule that he mentioned is far too narrowly drawn to be effective and—[Interruption.] I hope that he will listen to this. At the same time, he is introducing a tax cut from 23% to just 5% for multinationals in tax havens.

Mr Osborne: I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has the right figures. We are increasing the amount recovered from taxes that should have been paid from £13 billion under the Labour Government to £20 billion. That £7 billion increase, plus the £2 billion that I have announced today, makes a £9 billion increase in the taxes that should have been collected and that we are now collecting. I hope he will welcome and support that. By the way, we have also got rid of the situation that happened when the current Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Chancellor were in the Treasury, in which people in the City were paying lower tax rates than the people who cleaned for them. We have dealt with that problem.

Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): Will the Chancellor note that businesses in the north-east will welcome the announcements that he has made today, including that of the removal of bottlenecks on the A1 south of Newcastle, but that there will be concern that he has not yet announced any progress towards dualling the A1 north of Newcastle, a project that his own party promised in 1992?

Mr Osborne: I am glad that my right hon. Friend welcomes the decision to increase the A1 to motorway standard between the M25 and Newcastle. He makes a powerful point about the A1 north of Newcastle, and I can tell him that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury is also a powerful advocate of that road scheme. It is one of the things that the Department for Transport will look at as well, so it is certainly not off the cards. What I have committed to today is the dualling of the A1 up to motorway standard all the way to Newcastle.

Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Lab/Co-op): The Chancellor has re-announced the creation of the business bank and the funding for it, which is welcome in itself. However, there is widespread incomprehension in the business community as to how that will facilitate lending to small and medium-sized enterprises. Will he take this opportunity to explain how the bank will fill in for small businesses in a way that the existing banking structure does not?

Mr Osborne: My right hon. Friend the Business Secretary will set out more detail about the business bank. What I have confirmed today is the £1 billion of additional capital. Our ambition is that this will help to lever in private sector capital as well. Through the business finance partnership, which is not included in this £1 billion, we have already undertaken work to get more non-bank financing to medium-sized companies in particular. We are looking at similar models for the business bank, and my right hon. Friend will make an announcement on that. We are also going to use the

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opportunity to bring together all the myriad schemes announced by various Governments on business finance, finance for SMEs and the like, which are sometimes confusing, so that the business community has just one place to go to. As I have said, I have announced £1 billion extra for the business bank.

Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con): I thank the Chancellor profusely for ending the appalling delay in the building of the A5-M1 link, the construction of which was first announced by the previous Government in 2003. That road will contribute massively to the south Bedfordshire economy, enabling us to contribute to the regeneration of UK plc.

Mr Osborne: I thank my hon. Friend for campaigning assiduously for that project. He has made a strong case for how the new link road will open up the prospect of real economic development as well as dealing with traffic congestion. That is exactly the kind of programme that we can undertake—it did not happen under the last Labour Government—because we have made the switch from current spending to capital spending. Again, I congratulate him on the campaign that he has fought, which I think has involved quite a few Adjournment debates in the House.

Mr David Lammy (Tottenham) (Lab): Given the falling number of nurses in the NHS, does the Chancellor recognise that people will view with scepticism what he has said about protecting the NHS? Will he also acknowledge that passing on a 2% cut to local government will involve cuts to adult social services across the country, affecting the vulnerable, the disabled and the elderly?

Mr Osborne: We have provided billions more for social care—[Interruption.] I just want to make this point to Labour Members. They want to be in government, and they claim that they want to cut the deficit, but what would they cut? They object to the local government settlement, the defence settlement, the NHS budget and the education budget, even though the budgets on the NHS and schools are going up, so what exactly would they do? It was evident from the shadow Chancellor’s response today that they do not actually have anything to say on these matters. If they had a credible deficit plan, we would listen to their questions about the priorities for these plans.

John Stevenson (Carlisle) (Con): The investment of £270 million in schools and further education colleges is extremely welcome. If schools and colleges in my constituency have plans on the runway that are ready to take off but just need a little additional financial support, will the Chancellor help them to take the leap?

Mr Osborne: I am very happy to look personally at the case that my hon. Friend makes for his local education facilities. These are of course decisions for other Departments, but we have provided the money for further education, for new free schools and academies, and for expanding places, and I am sure that Carlisle should be near the top of the list.

Steve Reed (Croydon North) (Lab): Is the Chancellor aware that, because of his continuing inadequate level of funding for school building, which today’s statement does not correct, London Councils—a cross-party

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body—is estimating that, by 2016, one in every 10 primary school-aged child will not have a permanent school place?

Mr Osborne: I should like to take this opportunity to welcome the hon. Gentleman to the House of Commons and to congratulate him on his by-election victory. He rightly wants to speak on behalf of his constituents, but I would point out that the pressure on London school places has existed for some years and was a huge issue when we came to office. We have provided additional capital spending for new school places. We have also announced more than £1 billion today to deal with areas where there is high pressure. He makes a powerful case for Croydon, and I will make sure that my right hon. Friend the Education Secretary hears him.

Julian Smith (Skipton and Ripon) (Con): More money for the regional growth fund and local enterprise partnerships is great news for Yorkshire. Can the Chancellor give further details of that?

Mr Osborne: There will be more money for the regional growth fund. That has been helpful in securing and creating up to half a million new jobs. I am glad to say that I am sure businesses across Yorkshire will benefit from that. We are also, of course, investing in enterprise zones and LEPs across Yorkshire, and Yorkshire businesses will benefit from the enhanced capital allowance and the increase in the annual investment allowance.

Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington) (Lab): Seven Government Get Britain Building launches have proved to be false dawns. Housing starts are down; homelessness is up; we have a mortgage market where people cannot get mortgages and rents are at a record high in the private rented sector. Does the Chancellor now accept that his decision to cut £4 billion-worth of investment was directly responsible for a 60% collapse in affordable house building? Will he now accept personal responsibility as the Chancellor of the Exchequer presiding over the biggest housing crisis in a generation?

Mr Osborne: House building was at an all-time low under the Labour Government—the lowest, I think, since the 1920s or 1930s. That is what had happened. Of course, things such as problems in the mortgage market were created by the banking crisis and the financial crisis. The banking crisis happened, by the way, when the right hon. Member for Morley and Outwood (Ed Balls) was the City Minister. The funding for lending scheme is bringing mortgage costs down. The Firstbuy scheme helps with shared equity, and the new buy scheme is helping people who cannot afford their first deposit, so we have those schemes out there, helping to repair problems in the financial markets. We are also committing money for additional affordable homes and we are providing guarantees to social landlords to build not just social homes, but homes for the private rented sector. We are dealing with the problems that occurred when the hon. Gentleman’s party was in office.

Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock) (Con): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his statement, and I would particularly like to welcome the

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fund that will allow good schools to expand. Can he tell us when that might be in place, as the need is more pressing in some areas than in others, particularly around Basildon, where I would like to see the Lee Chapel primary school expand rapidly?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend makes a powerful case for Basildon, its schools and the particular school he mentioned. I will make sure that the Education Secretary hears the argument he makes. The money is available over the next two years.

Gemma Doyle (West Dunbartonshire) (Lab/Co-op): What will the Chancellor do to make sure that any Scottish Barnett consequentials from capital projects will be used to create jobs in Scotland, and not in China, which is what we saw the Scottish Government doing in awarding the contract for the Forth road bridge?

Mr Osborne: There will be additional capital spending. We have a devolved arrangement so it will be up to the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament to make a decision about how that money is spent. Of course, I expect Scottish Members here and Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members of the Scottish Parliament to hold the Scottish National party to account for the decisions it takes. More broadly, its independence programme would be a disaster for the Scottish economy.

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) (Con): Families and businesses in my constituency will welcome the news that £76 billion-worth of reductions in the cost of government, £18 billion-worth of reductions in welfare and £33 billion-worth of savings in interest payments have allowed a Conservative Chancellor to lower taxes for the poorest and create a million new jobs. Does my right hon. Friend agree with me that plan B is nothing more than a plan for borrowing and bankruptcy?

Mr Osborne: I am not sure that I can add much to that, except to say that I completely agree with my hon. Friend.

Mr Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley) (Lab): I have heard mention of at least a dozen Tory MPs in marginal seats getting a lot of money, but I have not heard much about the north-east getting money. I hope the Chancellor will not come and give us what he gave us last year, when he said that the port of Blyth was going to get an enterprise zone. We have 14 hectares. We have put a fence around it and made it into an allotment garden.

Mr Osborne: I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his assiduous campaign for an enterprise zone in the port of Blyth. That enterprise zone is going ahead. As a Conservative Chancellor, may I also congratulate him on his campaign, along with many other hon. Members, for the dualling of the A1 all the way to Newcastle? Since I know that Blyth is north of Newcastle, I point out that, as I said to my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith), we are looking at further dualling to the Scottish border, but that is for another time.

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Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley) (LD): I congratulate the Chancellor on his decision on capital allowances, which I think will be a major boost for industry. Over the next 20 years, the aerospace industry across the world will invest between $6 trillion and $7 trillion on new aeroplanes. This country is the second biggest aerospace provider in the world, and this is twice the capacity we have now. Does the Chancellor agree that we must continue to invest in advanced manufacturing, particularly in aerospace, and that we should carry on trying to get young people involved?

Mr Osborne: I completely agree with my hon. Friend. I congratulate him on the work he has done to make the case for capital allowances to help small and medium-sized businesses in Lancashire and in his Burnley constituency. He wrote a report, which I thought was compelling, and he put in the work of listening to his local manufacturers. He is completely right about manufacturing. I have been to some very high-tech manufacturing businesses in north Lancashire, which make components for some of the most up-to-date jet engines in the world. We are investing more money in the aerospace supply chain, and as I announced today, we are investing more in the advanced manufacturing supply chain. With the help of my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary, we are determined to make sure that Britain’s premier place in aerospace is maintained.

Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Lab): If we look at the small print, we see that the only reason why borrowing has fallen this year is that the Government have added in the proceeds of the 4G mobile spectrum auction into this year’s figures, even though Government delays have meant that the auction has not yet taken place. If those figures were not added in for this year and we did not have this £3.5 billion pencilled in for the receipt from that, borrowing would be £2 billion higher this year than it was last year. Is that not the case?

Mr Osborne: The deficit and borrowing are falling any way the public figures are presented. We have done this in a completely transparent way. As I was explaining to the shadow Chancellor, the 4G money has been used to refurbish, for example, the further education college in Morley.

Jane Ellison (Battersea) (Con): I warmly welcome the announcement of the Government’s support for the Northern line extension in the important Nine Elms-Vauxhall development. Does he agree that it is not just the 16,000 new homes and 25,000 new jobs that are important, but the message that such a high-profile scheme sends out to the world beyond the UK—that Britain and London are open for business—is also crucial?

Mr Osborne: The Battersea power plant development is, as I said in my statement, as big as the Olympic park—it is an enormous project, and I am very pleased that we have our Malaysian partners investing in the site. We have done our bit by providing this loan and this guarantee that will help to pay for the Northern line extension into Battersea power station. I commend my hon. Friend—I have been to the site with her—and I know what an enormous boost this will be, not just for her constituents but for the whole of London and, indeed, Britain.

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Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): Of course I welcome the Chancellor’s confirmation of ultra-fast broadband for Digital Derry, and the announcements on the carbon price floor and the fuel duty, but I am afraid that on personal taxation and benefits, the Chancellor is becoming something of a fiscal drag artist.

On another tax front, I welcome the fact that he has cut through all the Treasury excusery against the general anti-abuse rule, but surely it needs to be more robust. If it is going to be a meaningful priority of the G8 presidency to co-ordinate members against corporate tax conjuring, the Chancellor surely has to start by revisiting the controlled foreign company rules that he made in the last Budget.

Mr Osborne: First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support of our decision to provide ultra-fast broadband to Derry/Londonderry, and I congratulate the city on a very good bid, which competed against other bids across the UK. He is also right to say that we are helping the Northern Ireland energy sector with decisions on the carbon price floor, which I did not have space in my statement to announce, but they are in the book. I am glad that he acknowledges those aspects. More broadly, Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK will benefit when we help people who work hard and want to get on with the personal allowance and when we help small businesses and motorists with the fuel duty. We are doing all these things and are making sure that they apply to Northern Ireland as well.

Mr Brooks Newmark (Braintree) (Con): Given that income tax has been cut for 25 million people, the income tax of people on the minimum wage has been cut in half and up to 2 million people have been taken out of tax altogether, does my right hon. Friend agree that our Government, and indeed our party, are on the side of ordinary working men and women?

Mr Osborne: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. We have made difficult decisions on welfare uprating—we have asked the rich to pay more—but, as I have said, we have done that not only to help to deal with the deficit, but to help people who work hard and want to get on. That is precisely what we have done today

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): Further to the answer that the Chancellor gave my right hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Outwood (Ed Balls), will he admit that in 2010 he cut public spending in the north-east by £2.8 billion, that last year he gave us 0.03% of the capital spend, and that this year he gave us 3%? Far from being fair, does that not mark a transfer of resources from the north to the south?

Mr Osborne: Under this Government, the level of capital spending is higher than the level in the plans that we inherited from the last Labour Government—which the hon. Lady supported at the time of the last Labour Budget—and, indeed, we have added to it today. Under this Government, the level of public investment as a proportion of GDP is higher than the average level under the Labour Government. As for investment in the north, there is the investment in the A1, the investment in High Speed 2, and the investment in the northern rail hub. There is a whole load of investment in the transport infrastructure of the

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north and the north-east because we are helping this country, which suffered so much under the Labour Government, when the gap between the north and the south grew.

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on announcing the abolition of Labour’s expensive private finance initiative schemes, but may I ask him what the impact will be on schemes on which we have already agreed and which are awaiting approval, such as the one involving a replacement for the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital in my constituency?

Mr Osborne: We do not intend to disrupt existing PFI schemes—although, sadly, there are not many left, because so many dried up at the very end of the last Labour Government’s time in office owing to financing problems—and the new PFI 2 will help to restart private and public investment. The big difference is that from now on, instead of the public sector bearing the risk and getting none of the reward—as has happened, for example, in the case of a hospital project not in my hon. Friend’s part of London but in south-east London—it will share in the upside as well.

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree) (Lab/Co-op): Can the Chancellor confirm that the capital spending that he has announced for free schools amounts to less than a third of the cuts in the capital budgets for schools and colleges?

Mr Osborne: Capital spending is higher than the level in the plans that we inherited from the last Labour Government. That is simply the case. We inherited big planned cuts in capital spending, and we have increased capital spending, off those plans. We have that new money for schools, and I would hope that the hon. Lady would welcome that.

Gavin Williamson (South Staffordshire) (Con): Can my right hon. Friend confirm that someone earning £10,000 who would have paid £1,180 in national insurance contributions and income tax in 2010-11 will pay £380 in 2013-14? Does that not show that Government Members support people and families on low incomes, unlike the Labour party?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend speaks very powerfully about the way in which we have helped people. We have helped basic rate taxpayers by increasing the personal allowance, we have taken 2 million of the lowest paid out of work, and we have halved the income tax bill for people on the minimum wage; but, above all, we have helped working families throughout the country with a further income tax cut today.

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): One glimmer of good news was the announcement of ultra-fast broadband for Brighton, and I thank the Chancellor for that, but there is plenty of bad news about the dash for gas. Not only will it bust our climate targets, but it simply is not cheap. Deutsche Bank, the CBI and the International Energy Agency all say that gas prices will rise. This is the Government who say that they like to make evidence-based policy, so why will the Chancellor not look at the evidence in this instance?

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Mr Osborne: I am glad that the hon. Lady welcomes the announcement of ultra-fast broadband for Brighton and Hove. As for energy, we are increasing investment in renewable energy. We have set a levy control framework for the period up to 2020, which is a longer time frame than has been set by any Government before us, and that will increase the investment in renewable energy that the hon. Lady wants to see. However, I also think that it is fair for Britain to have a mix of energy sources, and for gas to be part of that. Gas is lower in carbon than the coal-fired generation that is being phased out. We want a proper mix, and we want to do what we can to keep bills down while at the same time allowing investment in new energy infrastructure.

David Rutley (Macclesfield) (Con): It is often said that when a challenge must be faced, two Eds are better than one. Does the Chancellor believe that that applies to economic policy?

Mr Osborne: I am not sure that they will be such close friends today after the shadow Chancellor’s response to my statement. However, we do not need to guess what the economic policy of the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Chancellor might be, because we have lived through it. They caused the biggest boom and the biggest bust in our history, despite advising the then Chancellor at the time to say that he would abolish boom and bust.

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): In the interests of transparency, will the Chancellor confirm that the only reason he was able to say in his statement that borrowing would be less this year was the inclusion of the proceeds from the 4G sale, which has not actually happened yet?

Mr Osborne: As I have said, we have set out the public finance numbers applying to all the different scenarios, and, as I have said, we are spending the 4G money on, for example, the further education college in Morley. We are also using it to increase the annual investment allowance from the beginning of January.

Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay) (LD): Hundreds of thousands of firemen, police officers, nurses and council workers throughout the country will be very pleased to learn that my right hon. Friend has ruled out the introduction of regional pay, but teachers may have some concerns. Can my right hon. Friend assure us that none of them will lose out in respect of any move towards greater incentivisation in the profession?

Mr Osborne: We asked the pay review bodies to make reports, and we have adopted their recommendations. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education will set out more details of the way in which we will implement the recommendations of the teachers’ pay review body, but it does include the uprating of the minimum and maximum bands in line with general public pay policy.

Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): The announcement of additional investment in transport is very welcome, but can the Chancellor assure us that it really is additional spending, and that it will not be paid for by the postponing of existing programmes now that the size of the Department for Transport has been so drastically reduced?

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Mr Osborne: I can confirm that it is additional capital spending, and that it is not a substitute for any other capital spending on transport. Moreover—I did not mention this in my statement, but it is in the document—we are providing money for road schemes that are in the pipeline, to ensure that the development of new road schemes is not squeezed out by the capital that we are giving to existing ones.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): Can my right hon. Friend confirm that since he became Chancellor of the Exchequer, he has abolished Labour’s fuel duty escalator, cut the rate of fuel duty and frozen it at the new levels? As a result, from January the typical motorist in Kettering and throughout the country will pay £5 less every time he fills up at the pump.

Mr Osborne: I suppose we are used to opportunism from the Opposition, but we see no greater opportunism from them than that relating to fuel duty. The fuel duty rises that we have cancelled were not part of some mythical plan; they were voted for by Labour Members of Parliament at the time of the last Labour Budget—including, of course, by the shadow Chancellor. My hon. Friend is absolutely right: fuel is 10p per litre cheaper than it would have been if we had adopted the shadow Chancellor’s Budget plans.

Mr Andrew Love (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op): Let me return the House to an answer that the Chancellor gave about PFI. He slipped the new PFI 2 scheme into his statement today, but is it not being criticised on the grounds that it is not good value for money—that value for money will, indeed, fall—that it will cost the taxpayer more, and that most of the projects will still be off the Government’s balance sheet? What has changed?

Mr Osborne: I do not accept that characterisation at all. I talked about this matter in the statement, and, of course, I expect people to look in detail at the document we have published. There are two substantial changes. First, there will be public sector investment alongside private investment. The public sector will have a share in the equity and will have representation on the boards of these projects to make sure both that we share in the upside and that we know what is going on with these projects, instead of the absolute scandal that we saw under the last Government when on many occasions the public sector was ripped off. The hospitals in south-east London are living with the consequences of that.

Secondly, there will be more on balance sheet in future, but there will also be off balance sheet, and we are going to have new off balance sheet totals and controlled totals so that there is more transparency. I will say more in the Budget about how we are going to account for off balance sheet.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. The statement covers matters that are already the subject of much public interest and comment, so I am keen to accommodate as many colleagues as possible. If I am to do so within any reasonable time frame, however, some pithiness from Back and Front Benches alike is required, and I am sure we will be led in our mission by Mr Andrew Bridgen.

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Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Opposition’s plans for £200 billion of extra spending, extra borrowing and extra debt would damage this country’s economic credibility, and ultimately lead to interest rates rising for families and businesses in my constituency and across the whole country?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is precisely what the Labour party offers: more borrowing, more debt, and a return to the mess it left this country in. People are not going to trust Labour with the public finances again, and they are particularly not going to trust the shadow Chancellor again.

Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) (Lab): In my constituency, 15.9% of young people aged between 18 and 24 are unemployed. That is twice the national average. What is in the autumn statement for them?

Mr Osborne: First, of course any young person who cannot get a job is a matter of regret, but youth unemployment has fallen this year. Our welfare to work schemes are helping to get people back to work, and our work experience scheme in particular is doing a great job of getting people into work, so I would ask those young people to go to their jobcentre and see the schemes that are available. As I have said, 1.2 million jobs have been created in the private sector over the past couple of years, in what are very difficult circumstances. I hope that, with the measures we announced today, business will be able to create some more jobs.

Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): On behalf of my colleagues and FairFuelUK, I thank my right hon. Friend for putting fuel back into the fuel tanks of white-van Conservatives across the country. Can he confirm that the scrapping of the 3p petrol rise not only for three months, but permanently, as he has said today, will mean the average Harlow motorist will be better off by £80 to £100 next year?

Mr Osborne: As I said in my statement, I congratulate my hon. Friend on speaking for motorists and families across the country against Labour’s fuel tax rises. He speaks for Harlow man and woman, and I am glad that, as a result of his campaigning and the difficult decisions we have taken elsewhere to control public spending, we have been able to cancel altogether that fuel duty rise due for January.

Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): When the Chancellor describes those on benefits as people who sleep while others work, he does himself no credit whatever. Of course the cheats have to be dealt with, but most of these people are decent people—pensioners and parents who are struggling to make ends meet. Given that they already face cuts to their benefits and public services, how can it be right that they are now to have a real-terms cut to their poverty-level incomes while millionaires keep their handouts?

Mr Osborne: Out-of-work benefits have increased by 20% over the last five years, while average earnings in the public and private sectors have gone up by 10%. We have to make difficult decisions, and I think it is a fair decision to uprate working age benefits by 1%. We are

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also uprating the higher-rate tax threshold by 1%. This is a fair decision. If the right hon. Gentleman can recommend other ways of taking substantial sums out of the Government’s bill, let him come forward with them—and I still have not heard from a single Labour MP whether they will be voting for or against the welfare uprating Bill.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): One way the Chancellor could produce a lot of money at no expense to the British economy is, of course, by not going ahead with overseas aid at 0.7% of gross national income. How much additional borrowing will be required to meet that commitment?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend and I have a genuine disagreement on this matter. I think it is right for this country to honour its obligations to the world’s poorest. I think we should be proud to be a part of, and support, what will be the first Government in British history to reach the 0.7% target. I have had to rebase the aid budget because of the GDP forecast, as I do not want to spend more than 0.7% of national income. As a result, the Department for International Development has had one of the biggest adjustments to its budget of all Departments.

Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham) (Lab): Last year the Chancellor announced more money for infrastructure, but, as we know, not one single project has been delivered. Why should we believe the additional funding announced today will be any more productive?

Mr Osborne: That claim is simply not true. Road projects are being completed across the country and infrastructure is being deployed. The science infrastructure, for example, has now all been completed, and I have announced £600 million more for science. If the hon. Lady is saying that it takes a long time to get some infrastructure projects going because of the constraints in the planning system, however, she is right. That is why we have also taken steps to streamline the process we inherited so it is easier to get things built by tackling the bureaucracy that has to be dealt with, while at the same time allowing those who have objections to have them fairly heard.

Mark Menzies (Fylde) (Con): I am pleased the Chancellor has today announced that there will be a shale gas regulator office. Can he assure me that its work will be transparent and will lead to my constituents getting the assurances they need that this important process will be safe?

Mr Osborne: First, let me say that I completely understand why my hon. Friend wants to make sure, on behalf of his constituents in Lancashire, that any development of shale gas or unconventional gas that is undertaken is environmentally safe and safe for local communities. We are absolutely determined to ensure that that is the case. That is why we stopped the exploration that was taking place until we were sure that it was safe, and a decision on that is still pending from the Energy Secretary. As has been demonstrated in the United States, however, local communities often benefit from

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the jobs and investment shale gas projects bring. My hon. Friend is right that this new single office must make sure that regulation is straightforward and simple while also being rigorous so that local communities are protected.

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab): The north-east is the only UK region with an export surplus, which shows that where there is demand, we rise to the challenge, but it is also the region with the highest unemployment rate, so why is the Chancellor attacking the unemployed as workshy scroungers living a life on benefits and doing nothing to get demand and jobs back in the economy?

Mr Osborne: I have never used that language at all. What I have said is that we have got to make savings in the benefits bill and, in my view, it is very important that we have fairness in our society. One element of fairness is that people on out-of-work benefits should not be earning more on average than the family that goes to work, which is why we have introduced the benefits cap. I could not quite understand what the shadow Chancellor was saying about Labour’s position on the benefits cap. He certainly led all Labour Members through the Division Lobby time and again against the benefits cap, but I think they will want to check exactly what he said in reply to my statement.

Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): This morning City A.M. reported that just 6% of the public appreciate that this Government have been forced to put up the national debt. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the deficit is coming down, and will he take steps to ensure that discussion in the media is based on the facts, not the incoherence and cruel fairy tales of the Labour party?

Mr Osborne: I will certainly work with my hon. Friend and publications such as City A. M. to make sure that happens. The deficit is how much is added to the debt each year, and we are getting the deficit down. We inherited the highest budget deficit in the world, and we have been able to reduce it by 25%.

Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield) (Lab): The Treasury will benefit by £1.1 billion per annum from the high earners’ pension pot cut and by £3.7 billion per annum from benefit claimants. Is this not just an inconvenience for the rich but a catastrophe for the poor?

Mr Osborne: As I say, we have had to make difficult decisions. Are Labour Members against the uprating of welfare benefits by 1%? We will find out when the Bill is before Parliament—at the moment, they are not telling us how they would vote on that measure. We have had to make difficult decisions, but let me repeat what I have said at this Dispatch Box: the rich are paying more as a share of our income tax in every single year of this Government than they did in any one year of the 13 years of the Labour Government. The pensions tax measure is a difficult measure, but we felt it was necessary to take it. We have also increased the amount of money we are getting from dealing with tax avoidance and we have taken decisions such as putting stamp duty up to 7%. We have done all those things, not one of which was done by the Labour party.

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Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): Half a dozen European Ministers, from within the eurozone and outside it, have stated in terms that they do not believe that growth should be used as a pretext for running up more and more debt. Does my right hon. Friend agree that those Ministers show a degree of foresight and common sense that is sadly lacking in the shadow Chancellor?

Mr Osborne: That powerful point was made by the Finance Ministers of not only Germany and Sweden but some of the Baltic states. One of the tragedies of British economic management under the last Government is that we went into the crisis with a huge structural deficit. The International Monetary Fund has now assessed that Britain carried the largest structural deficit of any major western economy going into the banking crash, yet extraordinarily the shadow Chancellor goes around saying that there was no structural deficit. If we had managed our public finances like Germany, for example, we would be in better shape.

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): The Treasury-sponsored Silk commission recently recommended the devolution of minor taxes to the Welsh Government and a tax-sharing arrangement for income tax, partially to incentivise the Welsh Government to develop the Welsh economy. When will the Treasury publish a timetable for implementation, as well as the bilateral agreement on borrowing powers?

Mr Osborne: We welcome the work that the Silk commission has done. It asks some big questions about the devolution of fiscal powers to Wales. The Treasury and the Wales Office here in London are sitting down with the Welsh Assembly Government to work through the details of the proposals. I hope that the hon. Gentleman understands and accepts that we have taken a big step forward with the Silk commission and now have a text we can work on. How much we can implement will, of course, be a matter for democratic decisions in this House and in the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff.

Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock) (Con): Businesses across south Essex will welcome the commitment that my right hon. Friend has made to improving the road infrastructure around the M25, which is its biggest constraint on growth and job creation. That illustrates the Government’s real commitment to creating more jobs in this vibrant sector. Does he agree that the Exchequer will benefit hugely from the increased tax receipts that will be generated by those increases in jobs and growth?

Mr Osborne: I congratulate my hon. Friend on the campaign she has fought on behalf of her constituents, and on behalf of jobs in Thurrock and elsewhere. The junction 30 upgrade will help to secure the largest port investment in the whole of northern Europe—it is a fantastic thing for the area, it will create many jobs and she has played a real part in helping to deliver it.

Mr William Bain (Glasgow North East) (Lab): With the average wage 7.9% lower in real terms than it was when this Chancellor took office, does he not share the sense of real disappointment across the country that he did not announce any new measures on child care, the cost of which is rising at twice the rate of inflation?

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Does that not constitute a significant barrier to work for as many as 1 million women and mean that for many households work does not pay?

Mr Osborne: We have announced new entitlements on child care, such as the entitlement for two-year-olds from more disadvantaged families to nursery places, which did not exist under the previous Government. We are also working on new proposals on child care, and I hope in the first half of next year to bring those forward.

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell) (Con): May I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend’s announcement on personal allowances and say how proud I am to be part of a Government who have halved the income tax on the lowest earners in our society? Which does he think represents the true one nation politician: those who in difficult times have halved the income tax on the lowest earners or those who during the boom times doubled it?

Mr Osborne: I suspect Benjamin Disraeli was considerably better at the Dispatch Box than the shadow Chancellor, too. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that we have taken decisions to help the working poor, through taking them out of income tax and through the personal allowance increase for 24 million people. Whether Conservative or Liberal Democrat in this Government, we can be absolutely proud of the decision we have taken on the personal allowance in these very difficult times.

Andy Sawford (Corby) (Lab/Co-op): Did the Chancellor hear the very loud message coming from the people of Corby and east Northamptonshire that they believe his economic policies are failing? Does he recognise that they will have heard his statement today and believed it to be complacent and wrong? Can he specifically confirm for the people of Corby and east Northamptonshire the real picture on borrowing? If we take out the £3.5 billion that is counted in for the 4G auction, borrowing will actually be higher this year than last. Will he give us the real cash figures?

Mr Osborne: First, may I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his election in Corby? We were talking earlier about construction projects that had not been started. I saw for myself on an enjoyable visit to Corby, which was ultimately unsuccessful in terms of the by-election, the Corby link road which is being built—I hope he would welcome it. As I say, we have set out the public finance numbers, and we have taken the decision to use the spectrum money to help with further education and to fund the annual investment allowance, which starts in January next year—in this financial year.

Charlie Elphicke (Dover) (Con): What action is my right hon. Friend taking to close the tax gap and enable British business to complete on a level tax playing field, after the serious failure to modernise or enforce our business tax system over the past decade by the previous Labour Government?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend has been a powerful advocate for a more competitive business tax system in this country, and we have reduced again the headline

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rate of corporation tax. That makes it even more of an advantage for companies to headquarter and pay their taxes here, and it is part of what we are doing to win the global race. I congratulate him on the advice and support he gives in this area.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): It is good to hear a UK Chancellor say that the private finance initiative is discredited—10 to 15 years after the Scottish National party did so. It is good, too, to hear of his belated conversion to some capital expenditure for shovel-ready projects—we wasted a couple of years by not listening to the SNP. We have had lost years of ever-growing debt paying for failure rather than growth, and that is projected to last until 2018. I wonder whether the Chancellor will introduce some competition to his job and perhaps return economic powers to Scotland, so that the Scottish Government can show him how it is done and get us out of the mess a little quicker.

Mr Osborne: The steps we have taken today, for example, to provide additional capital spending in Scotland, show the strengths of Scotland’s being part of a United Kingdom that is able to borrow money on world markets at exceptionally low rates. The SNP has still not answered the most basic questions about currency, about monetary policy management, and about the cost of debt and the like. Until the SNP can answer those fundamental questions about economic management, I do not think anyone is going to trust it with taking over control of that entire economic management through independence.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): One thing I was delighted not to hear in the statement was the Prime Minister’s bizarre idea of scrapping housing benefits for the under-25s. Will the Chancellor tell the House whether it was omitted because he now realises that it would have been a mistake, that not all young people have loving, stable families to live with, and that they need and deserve our support—or was it just that we in the Liberal Democrats would not let him do it?

Mr Osborne: I think that is a slightly sour note from my Liberal Democrat colleagues. We have put together an autumn statement as a coalition Government and we have supported the priorities we both share, which include the personal allowance increase, dealing with fuel duty and investment allowances for businesses. We have collectively taken the difficult decision on welfare uprating; it is the best way, at present, to try to make savings in the welfare bill.

Gloria De Piero (Ashfield) (Lab): The regional growth fund has not delivered a penny to Ashfield, and local business leaders across the east midlands are saying that the scheme just is not working. So what changes will the Chancellor make to ensure that my constituents benefit from the regional growth fund?

Mr Osborne: I am very happy to look into the specific situation for businesses in Ashfield if the hon. Lady wants to write to me—or we can meet and I will see what I can do to help. Businesses in Ashfield and elsewhere across the east midlands are eligible for the regional growth fund. We have put more money into the

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fund and made substantial transport improvements in the east and west midlands, which I hope will also benefit businesses in her constituency.

Alun Cairns (Vale of Glamorgan) (Con): I warmly welcome the Chancellor’s statement and pay particular tribute to the increase in the pension draw-down limit and the increase in the ISA allowance. Will the Chancellor tell the House when he expects them to be implemented?

Mr Osborne: The ISA uprating takes place as normal. The draw-down limit will be in the Finance Bill, which we will introduce next week.

Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) (Lab/Co-op): Is this Chancellor not presiding over a series of false economies? There is a long list, but let me draw his attention to one of them. Recent analysis has shown that the level of his draconian and unfair cuts to Manchester’s local government budget is the same as the increase to the benefits bill in Manchester since the election. Would it not be better if he invested in our future rather than us all paying the price for his failure?

Mr Osborne: I welcome the hon. Lady to the House of Commons and congratulate her on her by-election victory—[Interruption.] I did not find time to visit Manchester Central during the by-election. We are providing a great deal of investment in Manchester. We have the new enterprise zone and we are working with Manchester city council on the northern hub, which will have an enormous impact—in a good sense—on Manchester. We have listened to and worked with the local authority on that. As someone who represents many of the people who go to work in her constituency, I think that over the past couple of years, in working with the local authorities, we have done a great deal to improve Manchester’s prospects.

Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con): The Chancellor has set out clearly how, in order to avoid the next generation having to pay for this generation, the Government are entirely right to continue to get the deficit down. May I welcome his support for wealth-creating private business and particularly the relief on business rates for new commercial property, which will both stimulate the construction sector and improve the availability of premises for growing businesses?

Mr Osborne: In my statement, I had to choose just a couple of hon. Members who have brought that issue to my attention, but I should put it on record that my hon. Friend was one of those who came to see me to campaign for action on empty property rate relief to mitigate the damage that it has done to some of our cities and towns since its introduction by the previous Labour Government. The 18-month grace period will help the construction of new commercial premises, and I congratulate him on the work he has done on behalf of his constituents to bring that about.

Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab): The Chancellor has taken on a ghastly, ghostly, deathly pallor that suggests he knows that he has been rumbled. The money from the 4G mobile auction has not come in yet. When it comes in, he can spend it on whatever he likes, but he cannot offset it against borrowing before it has come in. Why does he not come clean and admit that borrowing has gone up and the rest of it is just a con?

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Mr Osborne: I think we have roughly the same pallor, from looking at the hon. Gentleman. We have been completely transparent. We have published the OBR forecasts. They are independent and people will look at them and draw their own conclusion, which is that under Labour borrowing went up and up whereas under this Government the deficit has come down.

Mr Robin Walker (Worcester) (Con): The claimant count in Worcester today is 500 lower than it was in 2010, when the city had a Labour MP, and youth unemployment is 150 lower. In that context, may I welcome the Chancellor’s early response to the Heseltine review? Extra money for LEPs, the regional growth fund, the increase in capital allowance and investment in infrastructure should mean that that good progress can continue.

Mr Osborne: I am delighted that there has been that good news in my hon. Friend’s constituency and I hope that with the new investment allowance for businesses in his area there will be more jobs. He is right to say that the Heseltine review also asks big questions of us as a Parliament about how we spend money locally and whether we should create a single pot for which LEPs could make bids. I have announced that we want to proceed in that direction and we will have much more to say about it when we have our spending review.

Ann McKechin (Glasgow North) (Lab): One in 10 people of working age in Scotland is underemployed. Does the Chancellor consider that that figure will increase or decrease in the next three years?

Mr Osborne: Of course our ambition is for employment to increase. That is why we have made further changes to make our businesses more competitive, to help working people and to create a welfare system that encourages those who are in work. I hope she will support that.

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot) (Con): I congratulate the Chancellor on the good news in his statement for micro-businesses and particularly on what he has done with fuel duty and extending the small business rate tax relief. That is wonderful, but I have a particular concern about rural communities. In the detail, has he considered any further rural rebate for fuel duty in addition to the freeze he has already introduced?

Mr Osborne: I am not sure that this is necessarily the answer my hon. Friend wants, but unfortunately the European Union constrains the rural fuel rebates we can give to very remote island areas. That is why we have been able to introduce rebates in some of the Scottish islands and in the Isles of Scilly, but not in more remote parts of rural England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We are pressing the Commission to see whether we can extend the definition of remote rural areas so that remote parts of the south-west, for example, can benefit.

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): In the interests of transparency when considering available public finances in the west midlands, is the Chancellor aware of the recent BBC investigation into the fate of £107 billion of assets of the former Advantage West Midlands? I know that he was not a fan of regional

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development agencies, but does he agree that that money should be available to people in the west midlands and that local taxpayers should not be forced to buy those assets twice? Will he insist on transparency to help west midlands MPs try to get to the bottom of what has gone on?

Mr Osborne: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says and I am happy to respond in writing on his specific point about Advantage West Midlands. I will get back to him with the details.

Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con): The average weekly gross pay in my constituency is £490, which is less than the UK average. The huge increase in personal allowance benefits my constituents significantly as well as people across the country, so may I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his work to take so many people out of tax and urge him to continue his efforts to make work pay?

Mr Osborne: I will certainly continue those efforts to ensure that work pays and that we have a welfare system that encourages work, in which it always pays to work and in which working people in Harrogate, Knaresborough and elsewhere are rewarded for being in work. The personal allowance increase and the cut in fuel duty plans will help the people my hon. Friend so ably represents in this Parliament.

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab): In cutting the income tax of those earning more than £1 million a year while cutting the incomes of those people in my constituency who do the right thing by getting up and going out everyday to try to find a job, is the Chancellor not protecting the richest and asking the most vulnerable to pay the most?

Mr Osborne: The richest have paid more income tax in every single year under this Government than in any one of the 13 years for which there was a Labour Government and the shadow Chancellor was the country’s chief economic adviser. If the hon. Lady has a problem with the reduction in the 50p rate to a 45p rate, perhaps she can tell me—her colleagues on the Front Bench certainly will not—whether Labour would reverse that policy if it won the next election.

James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con): I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement on capital spending, particularly the new PF2—private finance 2—scheme he announced today. Does he agree that that scheme would be ideal for the new hospital in Sandwell, which has been identified by the Treasury today as a priority project for that scheme and will greatly benefit people in Sandwell and across the black country?

Mr Osborne: We have identified the hospital in Sandwell as a prime candidate for the new PF2. I know that it will help improve facilities for the many people my hon. Friend represents. It is a very good project and I hope that we will be able to proceed with it.

Julie Hilling (Bolton West) (Lab): The Chancellor did not mention the other banks he has created—food banks. Is he not deeply ashamed that under his policies working people are dependent on food handouts to feed themselves and their families?

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Mr Osborne: As I have said, we have increased the personal allowance to increase the income going to working families. Of course, these are difficult economic times. We are having to take difficult decisions but they are decisions that support those who want to work hard and get on.

Graham Evans (Weaver Vale) (Con): Hard-working strivers in Weaver Vale will welcome my right hon. Friend’s announcement that their personal tax allowance will increase to £9,440. Can he remind the House of the 10p tax fiasco that hit the poorest hardest? Does he agree that it is those on the Government Benches who always make it pay to work?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend puts it extremely powerfully on behalf of his Cheshire constituents. We remember the income tax decisions of the previous Government—the abolition of the 10p tax rate that hit the poorest. For 13 years, as I said, the rich were paying less in income tax than they are paying in any one year of this Government.

Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op): May I take the Chancellor back to his statement in 2010, when he said that he wanted to see the richest paying most and the vulnerable protected? To press the point raised by many of my hon. Friends, why is he persisting with the tax cut for millionaires when thousands of people across Wales are increasingly relying on food banks, such as the one I visited this weekend?

Mr Osborne: We have had to take difficult decisions. We have asked the rich to pay more—new stamp duty rates. We have had to take difficult decisions today on pensions tax relief for the largest pension pots. We have done all those things. We have also had to take difficult decisions on welfare. If the hon. Gentleman objects to those things, perhaps he can tell us whether he will vote against the welfare uprating Bill.

Mr Marcus Jones (Nuneaton) (Con): In Nuneaton since May 2010 unemployment is down, youth unemployment is down, employment is up and we have seen a 22% increase in business start-ups in the past quarter alone. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we cannot be complacent and we need to do more, but that the autumn statement today will show that we are on the right track?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is right that we are on the right track. We are making progress. To turn back would be a complete disaster. I congratulate him on speaking on behalf of the businesses that he represents. He has asked me what we can do on capital allowances for plant and machinery and on business rates for small businesses. I hope he can see in the announcements that we made today that we have been listening to him and to the people in his constituency.

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): Can the Chancellor confirm not only that growth has been downgraded yet again and the welfare bill is rising, but that child poverty and the number of working families living in poverty is increasing? This is happening at the same time as millionaires are getting their tax cuts. Is this fair? Are we really all in it together?

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Mr Osborne: We inherited a desperately difficult economic situation, where the economy had contracted by 6%. The hon. Lady talks about GDP forecasts. The Labour Government presided over a 6% contraction in the economy. We are dealing with those problems. As I say, she and her colleagues would have more force if they could answer two questions. Will they reverse the 50p tax cut? They will not say that. Will they vote against the welfare uprating Bill? Once they give us answers to those two questions, perhaps we will start listening to what they have to say.

Margot James (Stourbridge) (Con): I warmly welcome the 25% increase in the budget for UK Trade & Investment and the £1.5 billion uplift for export finance facilities, which is much needed by businesses trying to fill orders from abroad. My right hon. Friend also commended the Heseltine review and said that he would respond more fully in the new year. When he does that, may I draw his attention to Lord Heseltine’s recommendations that we increase tactics to improve foreign direct investment by targeting the leading multinational investors more fully and more widely throughout Government?

Mr Osborne: I know my hon. Friend speaks with great knowledge on these subjects and she chairs the all-party group on trade and investment. We have provided a 25% increase in UKTI’s budget. We are seeking to strengthen the capacity of overseas chambers. It is not just about exports from this country; it is also about attracting investment into this country, and we want Britain to remain the No. 1 destination for foreign direct investment in Europe.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) (Lab): The reality of this Chancellor’s period in office is that poverty is rising, growth is falling and debt is increasing. Why does he not just admit that his ideologically-driven tea party experiment has been a complete and utter failure?

Mr Osborne: I suggest the hon. Gentleman wakes up and smells the coffee of the situation that we inherited. We inherited a country that had just been through the biggest recession and banking crisis in modern history. We have dealt with the question about Britain’s credibility and its ability to pay its way in the world. The deficit has gone down, 1.2 million jobs have been created and he should give us some credit for cleaning up the mess that his party created.

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): The people of east Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire will welcome the decision to scrap the 13p per gallon planned rise in fuel.

On the £120 million for flood defences, will my right hon. Friend ensure that rural communities can benefit from that, as well as the cities?

Mr Osborne: I can absolutely confirm that. We are doing everything we can to support businesses in my hon. Friend’s area and to make sure that all parts of the country benefit from the infrastructure investment that we are making. Having been up to his part of the world, I know that we are making those investments and they are bringing real benefits to the area that he represents.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): Can the Chancellor explain to the 1,200 people in and

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around Hull who are facing private sector job losses announced in the preceding four weeks exactly what is in the autumn statement in terms of jobs and growth for them?

Mr Osborne: Of course we regret any decision made by any company to reduce jobs, but we are creating jobs in the economy. In Humberside we have committed to new enterprise zones. We have reduced the tolls on the Humber bridge. We have introduced today new tax allowances from January next year to help small businesses in the hon. Lady’s area to invest. These will all help create jobs, and I hope the people she represents will also welcome the increase in the personal allowance, which will see a reduction in their income tax bill, and the decision not to go ahead with the Labour party’s 3p fuel duty rise.

Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con): My constituents in Gloucester will appreciate the fact that the Chancellor’s statement increases take-home pay for all workers, gets us off the fuel duty escalator, clamps down on multinational tax avoidance and strongly supports investment in manufacturing, which is vital for growth and jobs in our city and county. Can my right hon. Friend say whether his announcement on funding and reforms for more houses includes the Gloucester proposal for social housing regeneration, which was well received by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Department for Communities and Local Government?

Mr Osborne: I will get back to my hon. Friend about the specific point about the bid for new housing in Gloucester. More broadly, we are investing more capital in housing development. We are also standing alongside families trying to buy their first home with our Firstbuy shared equity scheme, and we are also providing guarantees to registered social landlords not only to build social housing, but to build housing for the private rented sector. So in all sorts of ways we are helping the people of Gloucester, and I will look specifically at what more we can do to help.

Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) (Lab): The corporation tax take, VAT take, income tax take and growth are all lower than the OBR predicted in March. The Chancellor is forecast to accrue an increase in national debt in five years greater than Labour accrued in 13 years. Moreover, from now till 2013 the International Labour Organisation unemployment rate increases by 0.2%, as is stated on page 86, table B.1, so how are more people predicted to get jobs when the OBR says completely the opposite?

Mr Osborne: I would advise the hon. Gentleman to look at that table on employment. It shows employment going up by 1 million.

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): Along with the initiatives that the Chancellor mentioned a few moments ago to boost the Humberside economy, I particularly welcome confirmation that the A160 upgrade into Immingham docks is going ahead. It provides access to the enterprise zone that he mentioned. I note that there is an additional £60 million available to enterprise zones. Will he look sympathetically on applications from the Humber enterprise zone?

Mr Osborne: I will certainly look at the application if one is put forward by the Humber enterprise zone. I

5 Dec 2012 : Column 914

know that this benefits people across not only east Yorkshire, but north Lincolnshire, which my hon. Friend represents, and I know that the enterprise zones have some exciting ideas. There is, as I say, additional money in the Book which I did not mention in my statement, but it is there for additional infrastructure in the enterprise zones, and I will take a close look at the bid that he makes on behalf of his constituents in relation to the local enterprise zone.

Sheila Gilmore (Edinburgh East) (Lab): Job creation is vital in order to reduce public spending and increase the tax take. The words the Chancellor used in his statement were very interesting. He said specifically that when counting his 1 million private sector jobs he started from the beginning of 2010. Half of those jobs were created in the first year of that period and arose from the Labour Government’s financial stimulus, so the rate of growth has in fact been decreasing, not increasing. Does he not agree?

Mr Osborne: First, unemployment had gone up under the Labour Government and they, like all Labour Governments in history, left office with unemployment higher than when they came into office. Secondly, if the hon. Lady looks at the employment forecasts she will see that, as I was saying to her hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (Tom Blenkinsop), 1 million jobs are forecast to be created over the coming period. As I have said, we are in a tough economic situation—I am not trying to disguise that from the House today—but I think that the decisions we have taken to help businesses and working people will be warmly welcomed.

Guy Opperman (Hexham) (Con): The improvements to the A1 and the freezing of fuel duty, which was raised 10 times under the previous Labour Government, are warmly welcomed by Government Members. However, may I urge the Chancellor to consider the call from the Chair of the Treasury Committee for local community banking to kick-start lending to small and medium-sized enterprises and local banking in local areas?

Mr Osborne: I welcome what my hon. Friend says about the dualling of the A1 up to Newcastle—I hope that in future we can do that as far as the Scottish border—and his comment on fuel duty. He has spoken to me personally about what more we can do to get community banking. There are still many issues to deal with in our banking system. We have to make it more competitive and encourage more entrants, and community banks can be part of the solution.

Naomi Long (Belfast East) (Alliance): Bombardier recently secured the largest order in its history, with the result that its site in my constituency is now secure for the future, which is a welcome investment and also secures the local supply chain, so I welcome the Chancellor’s intention to support the aerospace industry as well as his announcements on fuel duty, which will have a direct impact on those businesses. Another constraint on economic growth in Northern Ireland is air passenger duty, as I have said frequently. Will the Chancellor at least commit to conducting a proper study of the impact of APD on growth in business and tourism, so that an informed decision on the matter can be taken?

5 Dec 2012 : Column 915

Mr Osborne: I, too, welcome the investment that Bombardier has made in Belfast and hope that some of my announcements today on help for the aerospace industry, particularly the supply chain for advanced manufacturing, will benefit the hon. Lady’s constituents. On APD, we acted swiftly to deal with the specific issue of the transatlantic flight from Belfast to the United States, and I am glad that we were able, with the Northern Ireland Executive, to come to a satisfactory arrangement on that. More broadly, the point she makes about APD has been made by others. We have had to make some difficult decisions, and sticking with the APD rates we inherited from the previous Labour Government was one of them, although we were able, in the very early years of this Government, to do something to ameliorate that by delaying one of the increases.

Julian Sturdy (York Outer) (Con): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his statement and thank him for the consideration he has given to our report on empty property rates. The move to give new build commercial properties an exemption from paying empty property rates will be a welcome boost to the economy and will be much welcomed in the industry, but I ask him to keep the wider issue of empty property rates on existing units under consideration.

Mr Osborne: As I said in my statement, the report produced by my hon. Friend and some of his colleagues showed powerfully the impact that the empty property rates that the previous Government introduced have had, hitting development in our towns and cities. It is an expensive measure to get rid of, which is why we have been unable to get rid of it all today, but we have listened to him and his colleagues. There was the idea of providing a grace period for new commercial development, and we are now introducing that 18-month grace period. I congratulate him on making the case for it so powerfully.

Mr Speaker: I call Mr Dan Byles.

Dan Byles (North Warwickshire) (Con): Thank you, Mr Speaker—I am now in a calm frame of mind.

The average working wage in my constituency of North Warwickshire and Bedworth is less than the national average wage. What does the Chancellor suggest I tell my constituents when they ask me, in bewilderment, how the Labour party can vote against a welfare cap that will prevent people on benefits from taking home a larger disposable income than my constituents who are in work?

Mr Osborne: I think that my hon. Friend’s constituents and many people in the country will be completely bewildered that Labour opposes a cap on benefits that simply means that people who are out of work will not get more than the average family get from being in work. It means that in two and a half years’ time or thereabouts, his constituents will have a choice between continuing to return my hon. Friend to Parliament to ensure that their money is well spent and the unlimited benefits that his Labour opponent will be offering.

Mr Speaker: I thank the Chancellor and all 90 Back Benchers who questioned him. We are blessed.

5 Dec 2012 : Column 916

Internships (Advertising and Regulation)

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

3.15 pm

Hazel Blears (Salford and Eccles) (Lab): I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to prohibit the advertising of long-term unpaid internships; to regulate conditions of employment for paid internships; and for connected purposes.

More than 1 million young people in our country are desperately looking for work, seeking that elusive first step on the career ladder that they hope will lead to a better future. In the current economic climate, it is all too easy for unscrupulous employers to exploit the hopes and dreams of young people by offering long-term, unpaid internships that require them to work for free.

Let us take Stacy as an example. She was offered an internship with a financial services company in central London. Even though it was unpaid, she, like thousands of other young people, thought that it would lead to a future career. She worked for four months without pay and ended up with over £5,000 in credit card and payday loan debts just so she could afford the travel from her home into the city. She was forced to leave the company when she had no more money. Far from thanking her for her contribution, the company was outraged that she had left and gave her a poor reference.

Long-term, unpaid internships are a modern-day scandal, and they are rife in the very areas where so many young people are desperate to get a foothold. The worst offenders are employers in media, fashion, finance and, until recently—I am ashamed to say—in politics. Part of the reason why unpaid internships are so unfair is that they are disproportionately located in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. That immediately freezes out large sections of the country, and I know that very few people from Salford could afford to relocate to London to work full time without getting paid.

The National Union of Journalists, in its submission to the Low Pay Commission, called unpaid internships

“the scourge of the industry”,

with the problem being particularly bad on magazines. I commend the NUJ for bringing legal action in the employment tribunal to obtain backdated national minimum wage payments for unpaid interns. Alan Milburn’s report on fair access to professional careers, which was published in May this year, identified journalism as

“one of the most socially exclusive of professions”

and noted that over half of senior journalists are now educated privately. The report said that

“all too often, unpaid internships are a key entry route into journalism and the media industry more generally.”

He found:

“Unpaid internships clearly disadvantage those from less affluent backgrounds who cannot afford to work for free for any length of time. They are a barrier to fair access and indeed, to better social mobility”.

Of course, there are good employers in all those sectors who do pay their interns, such as the magazines Cosmopolitan and Elle, but too many persist in taking advantage of young people who are desperate to work.

The problem is also widespread in the fashion industry. Carmela spent five months working for a fashion house, sewing dresses that would sell for over

5 Dec 2012 : Column 917

£500 each. She was paid nothing at all for her work. She, too, was forced to give up the internship because she simply could not afford to work for free. I cannot claim the following phrase as my own, but it is one of the best I have heard about the fashion industry. It was from a young woman who worked long hours for no pay and for months on end. She said:

“The Devil wears Prada, and the Devil pays nada.”

All of us in this House know that unpaid internships have been offered on a regular basis by all political parties, taking advantage of the drive and commitment of young people who want to work here at Westminster and are desperate to get a foot in the door. The reality is that only those who can afford to work for free and who have housing in London can take up those opportunities, which effectively excludes 95% of young people—they come from all our constituencies up and down the country—from ever having that chance to get involved in politics.

With the support of all three party leaders and incredible support from you, Mr Speaker, I have, together with the hon. Members for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) and for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Eric Ollerenshaw), tried to address that in Parliament by creating the Speaker’s parliamentary placements scheme. Our programme, which is run in partnership with the brilliant Social Mobility Foundation, gives people from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to come here and work. Every one of them is paid more than the minimum wage and more than the living wage. They are given some support with housing and provided with a structured scheme. They work for MPs for four days a week, and on a Friday they have a personal development programme that is helping them to realise their skills and talents. It is a good start, but much more needs to be done. I am pleased to say that with the brilliant work being carried out by Gus Baker and his colleagues at Interns Aware, Interns Anonymous and Internocracy, as well as the National Union of Students, we now have a mass of young people who are an unstoppable force, and I think we really will start to get change.

The Bill proposes that advertising for unpaid internships should be unlawful. It seems like a small measure, but I believe that it would make a big difference. If people are required to attend work for set hours and carry out specific duties, they are legally a worker under the national minimum wage legislation and entitled to be paid as such. This is the clear legal advice of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ own lawyers. It is therefore completely nonsensical that it remains lawful for employers to advertise positions which are in themselves unlawful. The Bill would send a very clear message to employers that such adverts are unlawful, and it would accelerate the cultural change we need so that all employers adopt the standards of the best by paying their interns at least the national minimum wage.

Some people will say that such a measure might squeeze out the essential work experience placements that we all want to encourage so that young people get a taste of different kinds of work to help them decide on their future careers. Not at all: there is a world of difference between a four-week work experience placement, which can be tremendously valuable, and an advert which, I am ashamed to say, a Member of Parliament issued recently for a 12-month constituency case worker—unpaid!

5 Dec 2012 : Column 918

In France, work experience is limited to eight weeks, after which there is a trigger whereby a person automatically becomes an intern and is paid accordingly. It would be very helpful if we could consider a similar model in this country. To me, eight weeks seems a little too long, but perhaps after four or six weeks there should be an automatic trigger so that people start to get paid properly as interns.

Of course, many companies do offer brilliant paid internship programmes, including Ernst and Young, BP, law firm Clifford Chance, and CH2M Hill, which built the Olympic park and is now setting up a paid internship scheme to attract young people into engineering. Small campaign charities such as People and Plants are also able to pay their interns. We should celebrate them all and try to bring everyone else up to their standards.

Volunteering is important, but we should distinguish it from unpaid internships. Volunteers give up their own time and do so on their own terms—they are not required to carry out set duties at set hours—but obviously, volunteering is a great way to get experience and contribute to the local community.

Concern has been expressed that making internships paid would drive unpaid internships underground or, worse still, stifle opportunities. However, we have to ask ourselves this: are we comfortable with opportunities that mean that people do not get paid for their work, and that are restricted to those who can afford to work for free? I personally am not. I believe that unpaid internships are often exploitative, and are wrong. By outlawing the advertising of unpaid internships, the Government would send a clear message that unpaid internships shut down more opportunities for people than they open up, that the practice is counter-productive to social mobility, and that the principle of asking people to live and work for free is wrong.

This issue is affecting many people’s lives. I will leave the House with a final story about John. John joined French Connection’s e-commerce team as an unpaid intern. After a couple of weeks, there were changes in the workplace and John was given more responsibilities. He was asked if he wanted to take this work on, and he said no, but was still given it. It was terribly confusing for someone who had no experience in a mainstream, paid role. Not only did John feel out of his depth but he felt, and clearly was, exploited. John says that he felt he was drafted in to do a job because there was no one else to do it and he was saving the company money. For his sake, and for the sake of thousands of young people who are in similar circumstances today, whose hopes and dreams have often been dashed because they cannot do an unpaid internship, we must act quickly to ensure that they are treated with respect and given a decent start to their working lives.

Question put and agreed to.


That Hazel Blears, Barbara Keeley, David Miliband, Mr Iain Wright, Ms Gisela Stuart, Meg Hillier, Fiona Mactaggart, Julie Elliott, Dr Julian Huppert, Mike Crockart and Eric Ollerenshaw present the Bill.

Hazel Blears accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 1 February 2013 and to be printed (Bill 102).

5 Dec 2012 : Column 919

Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill (Allocation of Time)

3.26 pm

The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice (Damian Green): I beg to move,

That the following provisions shall apply to the proceedings on the Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill—


1.–(1) Proceedings on Second Reading, in Committee, on consideration and on Third Reading shall be completed at this day’s sitting.

(2) Proceedings on Second Reading shall be brought to a conclusion (so far as not previously concluded) four hours after the commencement of proceedings on this Motion.

(3) Proceedings in Committee, on consideration and on Third Reading shall be brought to a conclusion (so far as not previously concluded) six hours after the commencement of proceedings on this Motion.

Timing of proceedings and Questions to be put

2. When the Bill has been read a second time—

(a) it shall, despite Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of Bills not subject to a programme order), stand committed to a Committee of the whole House without any Question being put;

(b) proceedings on the Bill shall stand postponed while the Question is put, in accordance with paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 52 (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills), on any financial resolution relating to the Bill;

(c) on the conclusion of proceedings on any financial resolution relating to the Bill, proceedings on the Bill shall be resumed and the Speaker shall leave the Chair whether or not notice of an Instruction has been given.

3.–(1) On the conclusion of proceedings in Committee, the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.

(2) If the Bill is reported with amendments, the House shall proceed to consider the Bill as amended without any Question being put.

4. For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 1, the Chairman or Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions (but no others) in the same order as they would fall to be put if this Order did not apply—

(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.

5. On an Motion so made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chairman or Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.

6. If two or more Questions would fall to be put under paragraph 4(c) on successive amendments moved or Motions made by a Minister of the Crown, the Chairman or Speaker shall instead put a single Question in relation to those amendments or Motions.

7. If two or more Questions would fall to be put under paragraph 4(d) in relation to successive provisions of the Bill, the Chairman shall instead put a single Question in relation to those provisions, except that the Question shall be put separately on any Clause of or Schedule to the Bill which a Minister of the Crown has signified an intention to leave out.

Consideration of Lords Amendments

8.–(1) Any Lords Amendments to the Bill may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly.

5 Dec 2012 : Column 920

(2) Proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments shall be brought to a conclusion (so far as not previously concluded) one hour after their commencement; and any proceedings suspended under sub-paragraph (1) shall thereupon be resumed.

9.–(1) This paragraph applies for the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 8.

(2) The Speaker shall first put forthwith any Question already proposed from the Chair.

(3) If that Question is for the amendment of a Lords Amendment the Speaker shall then put forthwith—

(a) a single Question on any further Amendments to the Lords Amendment moved by a Minister of the Crown, and

(b) the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown that this House agrees or disagrees to the Lords Amendment or (as the case may be) to the Lords Amendment as amended.

(4) The Speaker shall then put forthwith—

(a) a single Question on any Amendments moved by a Minister of the Crown to a Lords Amendment, and

(b) the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown that this House agrees or disagrees to the Lords Amendment or (as the case may be) to the Lords Amendment as amended.

(5) The Speaker shall then put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown that this House disagrees to a Lords Amendment.

(6) The Speaker shall then put forthwith the Question that this House agrees to all the remaining Lords Amendments.

(7) As soon as the House has—

(a) agreed or disagreed to a Lords Amendment; or

(b) disposed of an Amendment relevant to a Lords Amendment which has been disagreed to,

the Speaker shall put forthwith a single Question on any Amendments moved by a Minister of the Crown and relevant to the Lords Amendment.

Subsequent stages

10.–(1) Any further Message from the Lords on the Bill may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly.

(2) Proceedings on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement; and any proceedings suspended under sub-paragraph (1) shall thereupon be resumed.

11.–(1) This paragraph applies for the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 10.

(2) The Speaker shall first put forthwith any Question which has been proposed from the Chair.

(3) The Speaker 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.

(4) The Speaker shall then put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown on or relevant to any of the remaining items in the Lords Message.

(5) The Speaker shall then put forthwith the Question that this House agrees with the Lords in all the remaining Lords Proposals.

Reasons Committee

12.–(1) The Speaker shall put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for the appointment, nomination and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons and the appointment of its Chair.

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

(3) Proceedings in the Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion 30 minutes after their commencement.

(4) For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with sub-paragraph (3), the Chair shall—

(a) first put forthwith any Question which has been proposed from the Chair, and

5 Dec 2012 : Column 921

(b) then put forthwith successively Questions on motions which may be made by a Minister of the Crown for assigning a Reason for disagreeing with the Lords in any of their Amendments.

(5) The proceedings of the Committee shall be reported without any further Question being put.


13.–Paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business) shall apply so far as necessary for the purposes of this Order.

14.–(1) The proceedings on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement.

(2) Paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business) shall apply to those proceedings.

15. Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to any proceedings to which this Order applies.

16.–(1) No Motion shall be made, except by a Minister of the Crown, to alter the order in which any proceedings on the Bill are taken or to recommit the Bill.

(2) The Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

17.–(1) No dilatory Motion shall be made in relation to proceedings to which this Order applies except by a Minister of the Crown.

(2) The Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

18. The Speaker may not arrange for a debate to be held in accordance with Standing Order No. 24 (Emergency debates) on a day on which the Bill has been set down to be taken as an Order of the Day before the conclusion of any proceedings to which this Order applies.

19.–(1) This paragraph applies if the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended, before the conclusion of any proceedings to which this Order applies.

(2) No notice shall be required of a Motion made at the next sitting by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.

20. Proceedings to which this Order applies shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.

21.–(1) Any private business which has been set down for consideration at 7.00 pm, 4.00 pm or 2.00 pm (as the case may be) on a day on which the Bill has been set down to be taken as an Order of the Day shall, instead of being considered as provided by Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill on that day.

(2) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business for a period of three hours from the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or, if those proceedings are concluded before the moment of interruption, for a period equal to the time elapsing between 7.00 pm, 4.00 pm or 2.00 pm (as the case may be) and the conclusion of those proceedings.

It may assist the House if I say a few words about the allocation of time motion without, of course, debating the substance of the Bill. Clearly, the motion goes to the heart of our case for a fast-track Bill.

As hon. Members will recall, in the debate on 22 October my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary gave a commitment to ensure that the Independent Police Complaints Commission had the powers that it needs to undertake its investigations into Hillsborough thoroughly and exhaustively. The bereaved families and the survivors have waited 23 years for the truth; they should not have to wait years more for justice. The IPCC needs to get on with these investigations as fast as possible, and to do that it needs these additional powers by early in the new year. I fully recognise that today’s timetable is a tight one. None the less, given the very specific issues that the House is being asked to consider, I am satisfied that the House, and in due course the other place, will have sufficient time to scrutinise the Bill properly.

5 Dec 2012 : Column 922

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): It is unusual to put a Bill through this place in a day, and the procedure should be used only rarely. Given the lack of Government business in the past few weeks, I wonder why we did not have the Second Reading debate sooner so that we could proceed with the later stages today. What is the reason for the delay between the statement and getting to this point?

Damian Green: The statement was made four or five weeks ago. The IPCC had to look at the matter, and we have had discussions with it about the extra powers that it thought it needed, which the Bill very narrowly addresses. I share what I divine to be my hon. Friend’s instincts about emergency fast-track legislation. When it is needed, as it occasionally is, it should be drafted as narrowly as possible. As for the timetable, we have moved as fast as possible, consonant with consulting the many people involved, inside this House and outside, so that we could get to the point where today we can have a Second Reading debate. We will have four hours to consider the motion itself and for Second Reading. The motion then provides for a further two hours for Committee stage, to take place on the Floor of the House, and for the remaining stages. We therefore have a total of up to six hours to consider the Bill today. I welcome the support from those on the Opposition Front Bench for expediting the Bill; similarly, I welcome the support of the Home Affairs Committee, as set out in its report, which was published this morning. I hope that the House as a whole will understand the need for fast-tracking the Bill and will support the motion.

3.28 pm

Mr David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab): I am grateful to the Minister for outlining the motion. My right hon. Friends the Members for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), for Leigh (Andy Burnham), for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle) and I have had discussions outside the Chamber with the Minister about the Bill’s contents, and we support the motion. We want to get the Bill on to the statute book as quickly as possible, and the Opposition will not oppose the motion.

3.29 pm

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I have no intention of opposing the motion, but the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), who spoke on behalf of the Opposition, has made my point for me somewhat. Obviously, discussions between the two Whips Offices have led to this decision. It may well be that this is such an important issue that everything has to be done in one day. However, as a general rule, although we can allocate four hours for Second Reading and two hours for Committee, one of the reasons we have safeguards in our Standing Orders is that arguments developed on Second Reading may be reflected on and amendments can then be tabled for the Committee stage. I am not saying that this is not one of those Bills that need to be rushed through in a day—I do not know enough about it, although it certainly relates to an important issue.

Mr George Howarth (Knowsley) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman is, in general terms, making a good point, but he needs to reflect on the fact that this is a short Bill and, as the Minister has said, that it is focused in its intent.

5 Dec 2012 : Column 923

Mr Bone: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention and I am sure that he is correct. What I am taking this small opportunity to do is to encourage the Government not to follow this practice with other Bills. A House business committee would save us from this problem, because all decisions would then be made transparently rather than as a result of discussions behind the scenes, which is obviously what happened in this case.

3.31 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): I, too, rise to support the Government’s motion. The Minister consulted me and the Home Affairs Committee, which, for the convenience of the House, published a report this morning—it is available from the Vote Office—that deals with the Bill and goes a little wider, because we took evidence from the Hillsborough families as well. We have made a number of recommendations that go slightly beyond the Bill itself and hope that the Government will take them into consideration.

It is important that we get on with this. One of the features of the evidence given by Lord Falconer and the families’ representatives was their desire to get a move on after their 23-year campaign. I thank the Minister for the courtesy with which he has conducted the negotiations with the Committee, for consulting us and for giving us an opportunity to submit our views, which, as I have said, are available from the Vote Office.

Stephen Mosley (City of Chester) (Con): It is also fair to say that the people who have been involved with Hillsborough have been aware of this Bill and have had the opportunity to make suggestions. An amendment has been tabled for the Committee stage as a result of the all-party group on the Hillsborough disaster having time to discuss the issue.

Keith Vaz: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. I think we will have plenty of time to discuss this three-clause Bill. Obviously, as the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) has said—he has developed a great expertise in House matters—we do not want today’s process to be the norm. We want it to be exceptional, the Government have said that it is exceptional, and the families, the Opposition and the Home Affairs Committee believe that it is exceptional. I think it is pretty rare to get such agreement, but we agree on the Bill and hope that it will go through quickly.

3.33 pm

Damian Green: I am grateful for the remarks that have been made. If it is of any reassurance to my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), I share his instincts, but I think that everyone understands the importance of speeding up this Bill and the fact that, within the constraints of a tight timetable, the Government have done their best to consult everyone who should be consulted, both inside and outside the House.

Question put and agreed to.

5 Dec 2012 : Column 924

Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill

[Relevant document: The Tenth Report from the Home Affairs Committee on Powers to investigate the Hillsborough disaster: interim Report on the Independent Police Complaints Commission, HC 793.]

Second Reading

3.34 pm

The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice (Damian Green): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The events of 15 April 1989 were a tragedy. Ninety-six innocent men, women, and children lost their lives. More than 700 people were injured, many seriously. The impact of those events on all those who watched the tragedy unfold, desperate to help, on the survivors, and on the families and friends of the 96 victims, is felt to this day and must never be forgotten.

We have today an opportunity to address what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister called the “double injustice” that has been suffered, first through the tragedy itself, and then through 23 years of lies and obstruction. That is why we have brought forward this fast-track legislation.

With the publication of the report of the Hillsborough independent panel on 12 September, the truth about the events of that day is finally known. I pay tribute again to the Right Rev. James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, and all the panel members for their dedicated and tireless work in producing the report. It has drawn a line under the lies, rumour, innuendo and conjecture that have surrounded the disaster for the past 23 years.

I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) for his contribution in getting us to this stage. I also pay tribute to the hon. Members for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram), for Halton (Derek Twigg) and for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle), who have worked tirelessly to get to the truth. The whole House is grateful to them. I am also grateful to the shadow Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), and the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), for the constructive discussions that they have had with me and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, which have enabled us to introduce the Bill in a spirit of co-operation across the whole House.

I also pay tribute, not least, to the families of the victims. Without their unwavering commitment, we would simply not have reached this important point in the search for justice. I believe that without their dedication, there would have been no independent panel, no report into the Hillsborough disaster, no parliamentary debates and no possibility of exposing the truth and obtaining justice.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): May I again put on the record the unanimous support of the Select Committee for the Bill? Aspects of our tenth report, which we published this morning, go beyond the scope of clauses 1 and 2. Will the Minister assure the House that he will look at those other points, for example on the creation of a lead investigator, the need for co-ordination by the

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Home Secretary and the need for her to publish a timetable? Even though those points are not relevant to the Bill, they are very relevant to the future conduct of the investigation.

Damian Green: I am grateful to the Select Committee for producing the report for this debate and for taking parts of it out of its important wider investigation into the Independent Police Complaints Commission. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that all the points that he and the Select Committee have made are under consideration. Clearly, it is in everyone’s interest that the various investigations proceed as fast as possible, consonant with the fact that many of them are being carried out by bodies that are rightly independent of Government.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): Will the Minister say what the attitude is of the Police Federation and the Association of Chief Police Officers to the Bill?

Damian Green: The Police Federation and the superintendents have written to express their reservations and I have written back to them. I obviously meet the Police Federation and the supers regularly. I am meeting the Police Federation next week and this matter will be on the agenda. I have not had a formal exchange with ACPO, so it would be unfair for me to express its collective view.

The findings of the independent panel’s report are deeply distressing. The failure of the authorities to protect the fans, the attempts to blame them and the doubt cast on the original coroner’s inquest are particularly troubling findings. It should not have taken 23 years to get to this point, but finally the report gets us to the stage of knowing the truth—a truth that is now accepted by all. The report exposes many attempts that were made by the authorities—those charged with protecting the public and with uncovering the truth of the events—to change official records, obscure the truth and paint a different picture of what happened.

The truth is both shocking and essential, but it is not the end. As the Bishop of Liverpool has said, we now need to move from truth to justice. It is that move that is at the centre of the Bill. As the Home Secretary set out to the House in the debate on 22 October, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has announced an investigation into the panel’s findings. That is an important step on the path to achieving justice for the victims of the disaster.

The IPCC will investigate the conduct of the officers at Hillsborough on that day, and those who were involved in the subsequent investigations. That means that it will investigate both misconduct and criminality, not only of any officers who are still serving in any police force in the UK, but of any officers who have since retired. Normally, the IPCC would pursue retired officers only for matters relating to criminal behaviour. For criminal behaviour, the sanctions are clear: the officer, serving or retired, will face criminal charges. For misconduct matters, sanctions can bite only serving officers, so it is rare to undertake an investigation of retired officers for misconduct. However, in relation to Hillsborough, the IPCC has made it clear that it will investigate retired officers for both criminal behaviour and misconduct because the public interest is compelling.

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Steve Rotheram (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab): I welcome the Government’s proposals, but I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman, like me, is surprised that page 10 of the Bill research paper states that the IPCC cannot already compel serving police officers simply to attend an interview in connection with any ongoing investigation. Does he believe that there should be clear sanctions against those who refuse to do that?

Damian Green: The hon. Gentleman asked two questions. First, he asked whether I was surprised that the power did not already exist. To some extent, yes I am. Obviously, the IPCC was set up under the Police Reform Act 2002 and given powers then. Perhaps this is the first time that so much focus has been on it—indeed, it has caused the House to agree to emergency legislation to give the IPCC that particular power.

Secondly, I know that sanctions are of particular concern. As has been said, we will debate the matter in detail on an amendment to the relevant clause in Committee later. However, I preview my thoughts on that by pointing out that clear sanctions will be available to chief constables and forces to apply to those who refuse to obey what will be an IPCC instruction, and later a requirement. They will be very powerful.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): The Minister may recall that I wrote to him about retired officers, and I thank him for his response. Will he be clear about whether such former officers would be required to attend any sort of interview? My understanding of the Home Affairs Committee report is that the Bill does not provide for that, and that could hinder the investigation. Will he make it clear whether there is a way of ensuring that people are available to be interviewed?

Damian Green: The case is different for retired officers because they are essentially members of the public. The police cannot compel a member of the public to attend an interview as a witness. If the police feel that it is necessary to interview someone, they have to arrest them if they are unwilling to help voluntarily. It would be strange to give the IPCC powers that the police do not have. Having said that, my expectation is that—inevitably, in this case—there will be many retired officers, simply because of the length of time since Hillsborough, and that they may have useful evidence to give as witnesses. I hope and expect that many will wish to help.

Stephen Mosley (City of Chester) (Con): It is 23 years since Hillsborough and more than 20 years since most of the incidents that concern us occurred. Has the Minister any idea of how many officers from that time are still serving, and how many have retired or moved on?

Damian Green: The IPCC is still going through that information. The majority of officers may well have retired by now. This is a large undertaking and represents the biggest single investigation that the IPCC has ever done. It estimates that this will involve it investigating more than 2,400 officers. That is the overall quantum—the actual division is not yet clear. Obviously, many officers may have moved to other forces, and so on.

Steve Rotheram: If the right hon. Gentleman will not put sanctions in the Bill, as seems likely, what confidence

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does he have that police forces will take the necessary disciplinary action against serving officers who refuse to help the IPCC?

Damian Green: I have very great confidence in that. There are two points to make in response to the hon. Gentleman, the first of which is that similar sanctions under the conduct regulations are not in any other Bill, so it would be anomalous suddenly to pluck out the sanction for this offence and put it in legislation. Secondly, and more importantly in practical terms, given the enormous and understandable public interest in the matter, the relevant chief officers will be extremely keen to ensure that they use their powers to take sanctions—ultimately, officers who break the conduct regulations in that way can be dismissed. The conversations I have had with senior officers in recent days suggest that that is the case.

I said in response to my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Stephen Mosley) that the IPCC has said that the investigation will be the biggest it has ever undertaken. The Government recognise the additional burden that such a large investigation places on it. We have made it clear that we will ensure that the commission has both the powers and the resources it needs to conduct its investigations into Hillsborough. We take that commitment seriously, which is why we have introduced this fast-track Bill.

John Mann (Bassetlaw) (Lab): The IPCC has accepted two separate complaints, which may or may not overlap. One is in relation to Orgreave in 1984, and the other is in relation to the mystery over the investigation into Norman Bettison for an alleged major theft in August 1987. How will the IPCC be able to look at those two investigations when it has such a heavy burden placed on it, particularly if it finds anything that in any way crosses over because of the individuals involved or anything else?

Damian Green: I should restrict my remarks to Hillsborough, which is the purpose of the Bill; it is deliberately narrowly drawn. It is for the IPCC to decide how to use its resources. The Bill gives a power to the IPCC to consider events previously investigated by its predecessor body, the Police Complaints Authority, but it is for the IPCC to decide whether exceptional circumstances obtain to allow it do so. It is for the IPCC to decide whether to accept individual complaints. On the hon. Gentleman’s other complaints, may I urge Members on both sides of the House not to indulge in debate and speculation about individuals? I would not want anything said on the Floor of the House to jeopardise any live investigations being conducted by either the IPCC or the police.

Since the publication of the panel’s report, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I, and Home Office officials, have liaised closely with the IPCC, which has identified two additional powers it needs urgently in order to take forward its investigations into Hillsborough. Those powers are contained in the Bill.

As many hon. Members will know, discussions with the IPCC regarding its powers have been taking place for some time. I am aware of the calls for wider reform of the IPCC and how police complaints are handled

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more generally. Let me be clear to the House that those discussions are still taking place. The Home Affairs Committee, to which I gave evidence last week, is coming to the end of an inquiry into the IPCC. Naturally, the Government will want to study the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations before coming to a final view on any wider reforms to the IPCC. If there are other gaps in the IPCC’s powers, we will plug them as soon as is practicable, but the Bill’s focus is on gaps in the commission’s powers that it has identified as preventing it from undertaking a thorough and exhaustive investigation in Hillsborough without delay.

Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab): One of the things that emerged clearly from the report was the role of South Yorkshire police federation in putting out the “alternative” view of Hillsborough. I suspect I know the answer, but I want to be clear for the record—that someone cannot argue they were acting in a representative capacity as a police federation representative in order to escape what is being sought under the Bill. In other words, the Bill’s provisions will apply to them even if they were acting as representatives of the police federation and its members, just as they would to police officers generally.

Damian Green: That is a question for the IPCC investigation; it is not for Ministers to act as judges or investigators. I know it is an important point, but it is better addressed to the IPCC.

Dr Huppert: The Minister says he is open to plugging gaps. He knows I have pressed him before about people occupying quasi-police roles. He wrote to me to say he is actively considering the issue. Will he indicate where that consideration has reached?

Damian Green: Short of reading again what I have just said, that is what we are doing. The Select Committee, of which he is a distinguished member, is conducting an investigation. It has not published its final report, but when it does so the Government will look at it and all the matters it raises seriously.

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree) (Lab/Co-op): The Minister says that the IPCC has asked for two powers that are contained in the Bill. What conversations has he had with the IPCC since the Bill was published about anything that is missing? He says he has had conversations with chief officers, specifically on sanctions. What conversations has he had with the IPCC about sanctions?

Damian Green: I have had extensive conversations with the IPCC. I have seen its briefing to Members, which led to the all-party group amendment. I have specifically discussed sanctions with the IPCC. As I have said in more general terms, if there is a need to widen the IPCC’s powers the Government will look at it with an open mind and with a view to legislation, but it is sensible to await the Select Committee report before committing ourselves in any detail. It will be for the IPCC to investigate whether individuals involved on the day should face misconduct or criminal proceedings; we must ensure it has the powers it needs. The IPCC has been clear: that fully to investigate the terrible events of 15 April 1989 it needs to hear the testimony of officers involved on the day and in subsequent investigations.