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1.45 pm

Sheila Gilmore: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Jackson: I will give way later, because I am sure the hon. Lady will not forget my comments.

The purpose of clause 11 is not to try to make people get married, but to remove the obstacles to those who wish to marry, which is different. Marriage should at the absolute minimum be a credible, accessible option for all eligible couples. However, the failure of our income tax system—unlike that accessed by the majority of people living in Europe—to recognise marriage means that the fiscal obstacle to marriage is a real concern. The size of the couple penalty in this country, as outlined by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, is deeply worrying.

Alison Seabeck: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Jackson: No, I will not give way—not even to the hon. Lady.

As others have noted, the social policy charity Christian Action Research and Education conducted an annual international tax comparison for 2012—the latest year for which we have comparative data—which demonstrated that the burden on a one-earner married couple on an average wage was a significant 45% greater than the OECD average.

It is not acceptable that we should make the option of marriage inaccessible in this country, and so much more so than the OECD average. Clause 11 will take a vital first step in the direction of addressing that problem, but the limited nature of the partially transferrable allowance means that it will only begin to erode the incentive not to marry. We must go much further in the next Parliament to create a genuinely level playing field. Given the huge public policy benefits of marriage, there is a compelling case for a nudge to marry, although a level playing field would be a massive step forward.

Alison Seabeck: I am sorry, but how many people in this Chamber thought, “Oops! I can’t get married because I’ve got a fiscal obstacle in the way,” given that the average cost of a wedding is about £10,000?

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Mr Jackson: I know that this debate is apposite because the hon. Lady recently tripped along the path of happy matrimony, on which I congratulate her, albeit belatedly. I am not sure whether the issue of £3.85 came into it for the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr Raynsford).

If I could move on before we dwell too long on the hon. Lady’s love life, I have read in many places that the provision discriminates against widows and widowers, people who leave abusive relationships and working couples. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North regurgitated that argument earlier, but it completely misunderstands the policy.

First, if the widow or the widower was the homemaking spouse, their personal allowance would not die with their working spouse; it would automatically return to them so they could benefit if they re-entered the job market. Secondly, dual-earner couples already benefit from individual personal allowances, so they are already benefiting from both allowances. Thirdly, on those leaving abusive relationships—this is a very important issue and it would be remiss of the hon. Lady not to raise it—if a marriage ends, the homemaking spouse, who had previously transferred the tax allowance to their spouse in paid employment, would be required to take back their allowance because the marriage had ended. It would not be stolen from them by their former spouse.

If the argument is that this policy does nothing for widows and widowers, my response is that that is true of many policies. Most policies have a sharp focus: if we responded to every policy solution by saying, “What about those who won’t benefit?” the implication would be that we should introduce only polices that affect everyone equally. However, in the real world, where we often need specialist and focused policies, that is simply not possible. There is nothing to stop us bringing forward another policy specifically to help widows and widowers—I am sure that Treasury Ministers are listening on that issue—and public policy makes provision for them in other ways. Many widows and widowers were once in one-earner families and will therefore welcome clause 11 for family members who are now in such a position. In short, I warmly welcome clause 11.

On the current drafting, the failure to make provision for a tapered withdrawal of the 10% transferable allowance is an oversight that should be corrected for fairly obvious reasons. I very much hope that the Exchequer Secretary will put that right through a Government amendment on Report.

I congratulate the Prime Minister and Chancellor on introducing this seminal provision. I very much hope that the whole House will recognise its significance in qualifying the individualism of our tax system and reinserting some recognition of the importance of family responsibility. It is a first step that will help to make the option of marriage less inaccessible to those on average and below-average incomes, because it is about social equity as well. We must build on it in the next Parliament; and with a majority Conservative Government, we will.

Alison Seabeck: It is always interesting to follow the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson). He and I have recently campaigned jointly on the future of our Land Registry offices, but I am afraid that we will be in

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different Lobbies this afternoon. I cannot agree with his assessment of the value of this tax change for a range of reasons.

Like many measures introduced by this Government, this one is disingenuous at best. It was brought forward to a fanfare of trumpets, after a great deal of pressure from Conservative Back Benchers, but it is basically unfair. I pick up a sense of that unfairness, which is driven through the tax system, when I do a street surgery every Saturday and in my postbag. That unfairness is what the public have the greatest problem with, whether in relation to the tax system or to other Government changes. It is also indicative of the problems we have seen in the House this week. We in this place do not read the public mood as well as we ought to at times, and this measure is yet another example of that problem.

Mr Burrowes: The hon. Lady is talking about fairness. Who is it fair for—the 80% of people in the OECD area who live in countries that recognise marriage in the tax system, or the 20% who live in countries that do not?

Alison Seabeck: Plymouth has one of the largest percentages of single parents in the country—I will return to that point—and my constituents think that the measure is unfair. How people in other countries view it is entirely up to them, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that my constituents do not see it as fair.

The transferable allowance—a tax break of about £1,000—discriminates against millions of families, especially those headed by single parents, as well as against non-married couples. We know from the Office for National Statistics that there are about 2 million single-parent households. They find life complicated enough at the moment. They are being hit with the bedroom tax, while some will definitely not benefit from this tax change, and most feel that this Government are not on their side. They face the same challenges as married couples with children, but they face them alone. They have to survive on one income, and they are mostly not single parents from choice. Sadly, death, divorce and separation take their toll on relationships, and financial pressures mount in every one of those circumstances. What have this Government done? They have introduced a measure that will favour just a third of couples and just one in six families with children.

I am almost speechless about this measure. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) drew attention to the fact that men will benefit from it far more than women. She highlighted other areas in which men have disproportionately benefited from changes brought in by this Government—this predictably male-dominated Government—and that fact has not been lost on the electorate. Quite frankly, women feel that, for some reason or other, they are becoming second-class citizens in tax terms and all other terms. I am picking that up on the doorstep, and my guess is that we will see it reflected in the ballot box in the elections ahead.

As I said, my constituency has an above-average number of single parents—roughly 38%—who, as I am sure other hon. Members will acknowledge, are struggling to make ends meet. It is wrong for the Government to encourage one type of relationship over another. The policy discriminates against widows, single parents and

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couples who both work, as well as parents who choose not to marry. Importantly, this tax break might discriminate against children who grow up in single-parent families, and against adults who leave abusive relationships.

In its recent report, “The Home Front”, Demos has argued:

“Evidence shows that it is the quality of relationships rather than relationship status which has the greater effect on…children’s outcomes. There is no evidence of a ‘marriage effect’, rather marriage is probably a proxy for more successful relationships… many married couples do not have children, making this proposal both moralising and inefficient, as it draws resources away from some of the most at-risk families.”

This is a tax change to please the Tory few, but it discriminates against millions of hard-working families. It should be scrapped. We should support the amendment, which demands a closer look at and a review of the measure’s impact, so I will support my hon. Friend in the Lobby this afternoon.

Tim Loughton: I do not think that the Opposition are being honest with us. Last week, they tabled a reasoned amendment declining to give the Bill a Second Reading, one reason being that

“it offers a marriage tax allowance which will help only a third of married couples, rather than a 10 pence starting rate of tax which would help millions more families”.

Coming from a party that dispensed with a 10p tax rate when it was in government, those reasons show inconsistency and brass neck, while the opening speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) made a good case for extending the transferable married couple’s tax allowance to make it fairer and more inclusive.

Amendment 3 does not offer outright opposition. It is a fudged amendment, which calls for a review, including

“a calculation of the proportion of married couples and civil partners who are eligible…;…an assessment of the impact…;…the cost to the Exchequer…; and…an assessment of alternative tax reliefs”.

For starters, we know all that. There is a contrast between that and the Labour Opposition’s new clause 1 on child care provision, which was considered yesterday. It asked for a different sort of tax relief or public subsidy, but it did not have any conditions attached to it about a review after six months, a calculation of the proportion of people who benefit, or an assessment of its impact.

The Opposition are entirely disingenuous and inconsistent. Why do they not just come out and say, “We fundamentally—completely and utterly—disagree with and oppose the concept of transferable married couple’s tax allowances”? Why have they not done so in the amendment that we are debating? That would have been more honest, and we could then have had a proper debate. I think that the Opposition are being disingenuous.

Fiona O'Donnell (East Lothian) (Lab): On the subject of inconsistency, the hon. Gentleman voted against giving same-sex couples the right to marry, so having opposed that union, does he now support their having a tax break?

2 pm

Tim Loughton: During consideration of last year’s Finance Bill, when my hon. Friends and I put forward in an amendment the concept of the married couple’s

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tax allowance—the hon. Lady can look this up in the record—I specifically said that the allowance would apply both to civil partnerships and to married couples on enactment. That has never been in question, and the allowance should be absolutely consistent. The law now, however I may have voted, is that we recognise same-sex marriages and that the tax and benefit advantages that go with marriage must be applied to those new circumstances. That is not an issue. There are many issues that we may debate, but that is not one of them.

The Labour party did not and continues not to recognise marriage in the tax and benefit system. Labour chooses to ignore the fact that marriage, whether we like it or not, happens to be the most stable environment in which to bring up children. I was slightly surprised by the lengthy contribution of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North because, given her previous role as shadow children’s Minister and her great interest and expertise in that area, she did not once elaborate on the benefit for children of an arrangement such as we are seeking to introduce. As far as I am concerned, the heart of what we should be achieving is the creation of greater stability for children, and it so happens that marriages do that best of all.

Catherine McKinnell: The Opposition are committed to supporting families and children. The fact is that this marriage tax allowance benefits only one in six households with children and only one in three marriages. Although the hon. Gentleman is making a passionate speech, the policy completely fails to address the issue.

Tim Loughton: That is a good reason for going further. The debut of a married couple’s tax allowance in this Bill is a starting point, and it is the first recognition of marriage in this country’s tax and benefit system. I would like to include many more married couples, particularly concentrating on those with children under the age of five. That is where the allowance can have the greatest impact. We need to provide the greatest stability for young children in their most formative and impressionable years.

Mr Burrowes: The married couple’s tax allowance is a starting point, but I want to revise my hon. Friend’s description of this being its debut. Marriage was recognised in the tax system until 2000. We are only properly restoring what countries across the world, including more than 80% of European countries, recognise. We are simply going back to what was the case. We should not have moved away from that recognition in the first place.

Tim Loughton: My hon. Friend is right. He has been a pioneer in this area for a long time. The previous Government abolished the recognition, and they had 13 years to try to do something about recognising families in the tax system. Despite the easy words of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North, the previous Government did absolutely nothing in practice. That is the record on which they should be judged.

Jenny Chapman (Darlington) (Lab): If the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes) is correct about his party being pro-marriage and wanting to prevent

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divorce, how does he account for the decline of divorce between 2003 and 2009? The divorce rate only started to go up again after 2010.

Tim Loughton: Very simply, because the number of marriages went down. The change in the divorce rate is a simple statistical manifestation of the number of marriages.

The Liberal Democrats, who are heroically represented here today by the lone star hon. Member for Redcar (Ian Swales), have perhaps been more honest about the married couple’s tax allowance, which they have never supported. Their leader has some bizarre reasons for not supporting it, but they have been absolutely honest. If they had not been involved in some sort of deal, of which we are completely oblivious, they might have been here to vote against the measure, and of course we are very disappointed that they are not here.

The measure will benefit 4 million couples, including 15,000 in civil partnerships and hopefully a good many who adopt the new status that the hon. Member for East Lothian (Fiona O'Donnell) mentioned earlier. My hon. Friends and I welcome the last-minute inclusion of the transferable married couple’s tax allowance in this Finance Bill. The allowance was promised in our manifesto, and it will initially be worth up to £210, but I contrast that with the up to £10,000-worth of subsidies rightly being made available for child care assistance—albeit that that will be available also for higher rate taxpayers whose household earnings may be as high as £300,000—which is still very far from a level playing field. That is why some of us, when the economy has recovered to the extent that it needs to recover after the car crash of 13 years under Labour, ultimately want to see a fully transferable married couple’s tax allowance—the full £10,500-worth, not just 10%. The married couple’s tax allowance is linked to the personal allowance in the Bill.

Ian Swales: As with other Government Members, the hon. Gentleman is making a passionate case, but we are considering the detail of the policy. Is he not concerned that the policy will effectively introduce a new 20% tax rate below the personal allowance as the married couple’s tax allowance is progressively withdrawn on the second earner between £9,500 and £10,500?

Tim Loughton: My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) addressed some of those problems, which I hope my hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench will consider as the Bill progresses. Perhaps they can come back with an amendment either in Committee or on Report.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Tim Loughton: I am being terribly generous, but of course I will give way.

Helen Goodman: The hon. Gentleman is being most generous. He mentioned that his long-term aspiration is for the transferable allowance to be extended to the full £10,000 of the personal allowance. Does he know what the distributional implications of that would be?

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Tim Loughton: Interestingly, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has done a lot of work in that area—this also relates to what the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) said about child poverty—and its report states:

“The risk of poverty is much higher for children in couple families where only one parent works; sole earner families account for a significant minority of poor families with children. Many fathers”—

this applies to mothers, too—

“have to work long hours, making it harder for them to get involved in family life and more difficult for mothers to work. To enable more low-income families to have both partners in work”.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation makes a case for why such recognition helps lower paid families, too. My long-term aspiration is that we should fully extend the allowance, but at this stage, as I stated in my proposed amendment to last year’s Finance Bill, I would like us to concentrate on families with children under the age of five. If it meant that we could extend a more generous allowance to families with children under that age, I would be happy for the allowance not to extend to married couples generally. Such an amendment has been costed at between £700 million and £750 million, which is affordable in the context of what else is happening.

Fiona O'Donnell: What is the hon. Gentleman’s definition of a family? He keeps talking about families, rather than married couples with children. Does he consider a family—I hope this is not what he intends—only to be one in which a couple is married?

Tim Loughton: I am talking about married couples, which now take different forms. As we have already discussed, the definition includes same-sex marriages, civil partnerships and conventionally married couples. That is to whom the allowance should apply, which has never been in doubt. The allowance is about making it easier for parents to choose the best way to bring up their children. Frankly, it is insulting to describe the measure as discriminating against single parents.

Alison Seabeck: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Tim Loughton: I am about to address the hon. Lady’s point. She may then want to intervene.

Most single parents are not single parents by design or intention. Many are single parents because they have been deserted, subjected to violence or for other reasons, and they are doing an incredible job of bringing up children in very difficult circumstances. We are doing things for them and we probably need to do more for many of them. However, that should not preclude our wanting to do more for people who get no recognition whatever in the tax system, who are also often bringing up children in difficult circumstances. Just because one is in favour of introducing a transferable married couple’s tax allowance, the implication is not that one is in some way against people who happen to be single parents or to be bringing up children on their own. It is a typical Labour argument that if someone is for something, they must be against something else. This is about achieving a much more level playing field for people who choose to engage in a relationship of marriage.

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Alison Seabeck: I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. If he will allow me, I will read a text that I have received from one of my constituents. She says:

“As one of YOUR 38%…nonsense I and kids should be disadvantaged because I chose to leave abusive relationship and bring them up alone in happy home!”

I am really sorry, but that is the view of the public on this measure.

Tim Loughton: That is the view of one constituent who has not yet listened to the whole debate. Introducing a married couple’s transferable tax allowance in no way disadvantages that constituent. [Interruption.] In what way is she financially disadvantaged? It is a typical Labour response to say that if someone is in favour of something, they must be anti something else. I am in favour of doing a lot more for constituents who find themselves in that position through no fault of their own and who need help, support and recognition. However, there are also many married couples who need support in bringing up their children, often in difficult circumstances. Just because we want to help them, it does not mean that we are disadvantaging somebody else.

Andrew Selous: Of course, everyone in every part of this House is against abuse in any type of relationship. If we want to reduce abuse, does my hon. Friend agree that we should recognise that women and children are significantly more vulnerable to violence and neglect in cohabiting families than in married families? What we are doing today is part of addressing that issue.

Tim Loughton: My hon. Friend has done a great amount of work on this issue and there is a much bigger picture.

This policy is popular among the public. It is popular with a majority of Labour voters. It is even popular with an awful lot of Liberal Democrat voters, despite that party’s policy being against it. Last May, the Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills attacked the “prejudice” directed at stay-at-home mothers. I am sure that he would have included stay-at-home fathers to be inclusive. It is deeply insulting to the many millions of married couples who have decided to make a lifelong commitment to each other that is recognised in law in front of their family and friends to suggest that we are discriminating in some way against other people.

Some 90% of young people aspire to get married. Some 75% of cohabiting couples under the age of 35 also aspire to get married. There are many forms of family in the 21st century and many people do a fantastic job of keeping their families together and bringing up children, often in difficult circumstances. However, as many of my hon. Friends have said, almost uniquely among the large OECD economies, the UK does not recognise the commitment and stability of marriage in the tax system until one partner dies. Worse still, one-earner married couples on an average wage with two children face a tax burden that is 45% greater than the OECD average, and that gap continues to widen.

To introduce such a recognition of marriage, particularly in the modest form suggested in the Bill, is not to disparage parents who find themselves single through no fault of their own, nor to undermine couples with two hard-working parents, all of whom rightly get help and support from the state in other forms and for whom

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we might need to do more. Uniquely, married couples, civil partners and same-sex marriage partners are discriminated against in our tax system.

Mr Stewart Jackson: My hon. Friend is making a powerful and fluent case. He spoke about the popularity of the policy with Labour voters. Is it not also the case that significant polling evidence shows that young people across all classes, ethnicities and races support the institution of marriage and hope one day to be part of it?

2.15 pm

Tim Loughton: Absolutely. It sends out a very poor message to those people for Labour to say that marriage is very nice, but we will not recognise it in the tax and benefit system.

Frankly, it is those who oppose this measure—we have heard them again today—as some sort of 1950s throwback who are being judgmental about how certain people choose to live in their relationships. Disgracefully, they are seeking to pit working mothers and dads against stay-at-home mothers and dads, who are no less, and often more, hard-working. That certainly applies to the increasing number of stay-at-home dads who have made a conscious decision to give up a career because they think that is how they can best bring up their children. The state should respect that.

My support for a transferable married couple’s tax allowance has never been based on a moral stance on types of relationship. My concern, as one might expect from someone who formerly had responsibility in government for children, has always been based on what is best for children. That is why I favour the allowance for families with young children.

Quite simply, if a 15-year-old is living at home with both parents, there is a 97% likelihood that their parents will be married. There is a one in 10 chance that married parents will split up by the time their child reaches five, but a one in three chance that unmarried, cohabiting parents will split up by that time. As the Centre for Social Justice has shown, those who do not grow up in two-parent, married families are 75% more likely to fail at school and 70% more likely to be involved with drugs or to have alcohol problems. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which I have already quoted, has identified poorer outcomes for children from separating families. Importantly, a stable home can raise a child’s chances of escaping the poverty trap by 82%. Let us not forget that family breakdown, the prevention of which is the thrust behind this measure, is costing us £46 billion. That is about £1,460 for every taxpayer in this country every year. Marriage accounts for 54% of births but only 20% of break-ups among families with children under the age of five.

I am therefore surprised that nowhere in any of the contributions from Labour Members in support of the amendment did they touch on the outcome for children. That is the most important target at which the measure is aimed. The poorest 20% of married couples are more stable than all but the richest 20% of cohabiting couples, as my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) said.

Clause 11 alone will not solve all the problems I have set out. I am not naive enough to suggest that £210, or whatever the result is, will represent the difference between

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staying married and getting divorced or between getting married and cohabiting. However, it does send out the clear and strong message that we value couples who take the decision to bring up their children within marriage. There is a need to address the lack of a level playing field in bringing up children between couples who are not married and those who are. There are 2.2 million households in which one partner is in full-time work and the other is not earning. Those households include 1.2 million children and 700,000 of them include a youngest child who is under the age of five. Those are the families we should start with. Those are the families who deserve our support and recognition most of all. This clause, at last, goes some way towards rectifying that.

Steve McCabe: I support the amendment and oppose clause 11. I fear that the clause shows all that is wrong with the modern Tory party. It is based on an illusion—the idea that the Tory party has some special affection for marriage that is shown in its policy actions. Conservative Members have been keen to say that Labour was wrong not introduce such a measure during our 13 years in government, but of course we were not wrong. Had we done so, we would have got into exactly the same mess the Government are in today. We would have been perpetrating a con on the electorate by pretending a level of support for married couples and families with children that our policy simply could not deliver. I have a great deal of respect for the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), but we have heard that he suffers from that delusion. He thinks that he is helping people with children, but in fact he is helping a narrow band of those people.

As we have heard, the policy is not a general recognition of marriage in the tax system. It is a policy for a few married couples and some in civil partnerships—perhaps as few as 3.4 million of the UK’s 12.4 million couples who are married or in civil partnerships. In some ways it is a classic coalition policy, because it does not really satisfy anyone. Those in the Tory party who favour traditional marriage never intended that the tax relief should go to those in civil partnerships—that was not what they were arguing for at the outset. [Hon. Members: “Yes, it was.”] No, it wasn’t. If Conservative Members want to tell me that the hon. Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth) is a keen advocate of civil partnerships, I guess that they have missed his speeches and blogs in recent years.

Mr Burrowes: I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman wants to look at his party’s manifesto, but if he looks at ours, he will see that it made a clear promise to the electorate that we are keeping today.

Steve McCabe: I am happy to say that I have looked at the Conservatives’ manifesto, and it did not spell out the narrow band of people whom they intended to benefit. It created the pretence that they would help all married couples. The hon. Gentleman has persistently said during the debate that everywhere else offers the system that we are discussing, but I looked it up while he was talking, and New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Greece and Hungary do not have it, so his “everywhere else” may be wrong.

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Alison Seabeck: Does my hon. Friend share my concern that the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women voted against same-sex marriage, and therefore takes a slightly ambiguous position on the matter?

Steve McCabe: I am afraid that is true. I know that some people will not be comfortable with having to be reminded of that, but it happens to be the case.

To return to the point that the Government’s position is slightly misleading, we know that the Prime Minister himself has been confused about it. Like his hon. Friends, he thought that he was introducing a policy for all married couples paying the basic rate of tax. I can imagine that, in this day and age, it is pretty hard for the poor Prime Minister to keep up with the all the shifts and machinations in his Government, but surely there is something wrong with a policy that deludes even the Prime Minister into thinking he is giving a tax break to all married couples paying the basic rate, which he is not. Thank goodness we have had the opportunity to set the record straight in this debate; otherwise the poor man might have gone around the country perpetrating that calumny. People might have begun to doubt his work on other things, as well—his whole judgment might have come into question. Thank goodness we have had the chance to challenge that idea.

We certainly need to review the policy, because were it to be extended to the nearly 9 million married couples who pay the basic rate of tax, as the Prime Minister implied, it would cost considerably more than the Chancellor’s projections. For that reason alone our amendment, which asks for a review, is crucial. We need to know exactly what the policy will cost and what it would cost were it to meet the Prime Minister’s aspirations.

As we have heard, the policy will give £200 back to 3.4 million couples, but other Government policies will have made the average family £974 a year worse off by the time of the election. Some 85% of the tax allowance will go to men. Perhaps that harks back to the good old days of Tory marriage—I do not know—but in this day and age I do not think the policy will be broadly accepted by women up and down the country. As we have heard, it will not be available to married couples whose income falls below the personal allowance. [Interruption.] I think the hon. Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) has something stuck in her throat. If she wants to intervene, I—

Dr Thérèse Coffey rose—

Steve McCabe: Hang on, you have to wait until you are invited.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. We are not having two Members on their feet. Let us see if I can help—Mr McCabe, are you giving way?

Steve McCabe: I think I will give the hon. Lady her chance.

Dr Coffey: I thank the hon. Gentleman. This point has been made before, but we cannot have such a recognition in the tax system for people who do not pay tax. However, the Government have taken many other

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measures for them, including ensuring that Labour’s fuel duty escalator did not operate. If it had, fuel would be 90p a gallon more, or £450 a year for the average household.

Steve McCabe: The hon. Lady is right, and Government Members have attempted to make that point before. She is absolutely right that the VAT rise put enormous pressure on both petrol costs and all sorts of other family incomes.

At its best, the Government’s measure will reward about 3.4 million of the country’s couples who are married or in civil partnerships with £4 a week. That is the figure from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, but if the Government have better figures and want to challenge the IFS, that will be welcome. I would be interested to know not only the cost of the tax relief but the administrative costs of a £4 a week benefit for 3.4 million couples. It does not strike me as the best way to reduce the overall costs of tax collection or harmonise the system.

As was acknowledged earlier, the transfer of allowances reintroduces an element of joint taxation, a measure that the Tory party sought to abolish when it moved to individual taxation as long ago as 1990. The hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate (Mr Burrowes) talked about all the countries that recognise marriage, but the move to individual taxation is a much bigger trend in tax systems across the world. It seems to me that it is the Tory party that is moving in the wrong direction, because as we have heard in this debate, Conservative Members want to move to a fully transferrable tax system. They want to go back to the days of old, and that is exactly what they are going to do. [Interruption.] I think the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham has something to say. Would he like me to give way to him?

Tim Loughton: No.

Steve McCabe: Oh, he just wants to mutter in the corner. Well, nothing new there.

Tim Loughton: Okay, I will intervene.

Steve McCabe: Oh, he has changed his mind. He wants to mutter more loudly now.

Tim Loughton: The hon. Gentleman tantalises me too much. Will he undertake that, in the highly unlikely and disastrous event that there is a Labour-led Government after the next election, he wants this tax allowance to be abolished in their first Finance Bill, so that 3.4 million married couples—or 4 million or however many—will no longer benefit from it because of Labour’s warped priorities?

Steve McCabe: I have never thought of myself as someone who tempts the hon. Gentleman, but I can give a commitment that a Labour Government would move to a fair tax policy. That is what this is all about, which Conservative Members fail to recognise.

Tim Loughton: Is that a yes or a no?

Steve McCabe: As I said, I am in favour of fair tax. I say it again, so that the hon. Gentleman understands. That is the problem with his party’s policy—it is unfair. If the policy is for only some civil partnerships and married couples, we could target it better. He and I

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share common ground on one group—people with children—whom we might want to help through the tax system. However, how on earth have we got into a situation in which only 1.4 million couples with children benefit from a proposal? That is an example of a policy that completely fails to do what he would like.

2.30 pm

I agree entirely with many of the Tory MPs who wrote to The Daily Telegraph about the policy in one respect: the benefits of marriage to society do not depend on one’s tax code. It is a failing to make that judgment—it is failing that means that we exclude widows, single parents, deserted mothers and cohabiting couples. They have the same right to benefit from the Government and the tax system but are excluded. That is why the policy is wrong. A Government can do many good things to encourage stable relationships and family life. Unfortunately, this policy is a phoney, misguided and poorly targeted measure. It simply is not one of the good things that we could do.

Fiona Bruce: I support clause 11, and acknowledge and support the excellent speeches made by my hon. Friends the Members for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) and for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton). I support marriage, not for moral, religious or ethical reasons, but because, as they said, and as all the evidence shows—I shall provide evidence shortly and will not be deterred by the fact that others have quoted it—marriage promotes stability, security and better life outcomes for children; improves health and well-being for the parties to the marriages, notably as they age; and strengthens the wider community, as those in married families are more likely to be actively involved in it.

The Opposition, as the debate has shown, do not get it that the proposal benefits not only those couples who will receive the allowance, but the much wider society. Supporting the proposal, and supporting marriage through the tax system, is a matter of social justice. Underlying so many social problems that the country faces is the problem of family breakdown and, in particular, family breakdown outside marriage. Many hon. Members are reluctant to talk about that for fear of being branded judgmental, but the fact is that helping to strengthen health and well-being through supporting marriage is to help to tackle a key, root cause—relationship breakdown—of so many contemporary problems, such as addiction, abuse and mental health issues, and the increasing problem of acute loneliness, especially in old age.

The proposal is even more a matter of social justice because, as the Centre for Social Justice reports, indications show that, whatever the liberal press might say, the better off in our society get the fact that the benefits of marriage are worth buying into and are marrying while the less well off are increasingly not getting married. According to the CSJ, that is causing a widening gulf between better-off married people and less well-off unmarried people. The latter do not access the health and well-being benefits that I and other hon. Members have mentioned and that marriage can bring. Rather, they are falling into an increasing cycle of negative outcomes and social instability, which is inter-generational. If we really care about building a society that promotes social equality rather than inequality, and one that

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offers a key route out of poverty for those who may otherwise be trapped within it, and if we are really serious about social justice, one key policy is backing marriage.

As my hon. Friends the Members for Peterborough and for East Worthing and Shoreham have stated, the statistics are stark. Children aged five are five times more likely not to be living with both parents if their parents are not married. The position is far worse for children aged 15. Women and children are significantly more vulnerable to violence in unmarried families. Teenagers living outside married family relationships have much higher delinquency rates than others. Seventy per cent. of young offenders come from unmarried families. The prevalence of mental health issues among children living outside married family relationships is 75% higher than among children of married parents.

Fiona O'Donnell: Does the hon. Lady believe that, if a tax break acts as an incentive or a reward, more couples would marry, and that those problems would then go away?

Fiona Bruce: The measure sends out a clear marker from the Government that marriage works. That is why it is important. I absolutely agree that it will not be an incentive, but I hope it will be an encouragement. I hope it is a start that will be built upon.

On old age, 90% of all care beds in hospitals and care homes are occupied by unmarried men and women. Couples who separate and who have never been married are less likely to support each other in old age and, apparently, their children are less likely to support their elderly parents.

On the positive side, the commitment that marriage requires in terms of the emotional, economic and social investment in the relationship in turn generates security, health and longevity. As we have heard, even the poorest 20% of married couples are more stable than all but the richest 20% of cohabiting couples. The health gain from marriage could be as large as the benefit from giving up smoking, leading some researchers to suggest that, if marriage were a drug, it would be hailed as a miracle cure. I could continue, but the evidence is legion.

None of that is to suggest that all married families enjoy better outcomes than any single-parent family or cohabiting couple. Clearly, there are dysfunctional married families and successful single parents and cohabiting couples. However, the weight of evidence is firmly in favour of stable, publicly committed married families being the most beneficial structure.

Steve McCabe: I am interested in what the hon. Lady is saying. I am not exactly sure what the source of the evidence she quotes is, but does the evidence draw any distinction between the impact on married couples of whom both partners work and the impact on married couples of whom only one partner works? Has that distinction influenced this tax policy?

Fiona Bruce: This tax policy increases the opportunity for choice. Many mothers and fathers want to stay at home and do not want to go have to go out to work. I appreciate that the financial implications of the policy

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are small but, none the less, the policy says, “We value you and your role in society if you want to stay at home.”

If we are serious about finding effective solutions to community breakdown and to the poverty that blights parts of Britain characterised by family breakdown, educational failure, economic dependence, indebtedness and addictions, supporting marriage is one way to do so. The public support that, contrary to the view of the hon. Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Alison Seabeck), who is no longer in her place—[Interruption.] I apologise. She is in the Chamber, but in a different place. I endeavoured to intervene on her because, according to a YouGov poll, 85% of people support giving financial recognition to married couples through the tax system, and 83% of the public think that tackling family breakdown is important. Even more starkly, according to the Centre for Social Justice, half of lone mothers think it is important that children grow up with a father.

Yes, the proposal will cost the Exchequer—I believe the shadow Minister said it will cost some £550 million—but that is dwarfed by the cost of family breakdown which, in 2012, had risen to some £44 billion. It is estimated by the Relationships Foundation to have an equivalent cost to the UK taxpayer of £1,470 a year each. Of course, that figure is still rising—currently £46 billion and increasing.

Support for marriage, therefore, simply cannot be dismissed as giving money to those who are already comfortable. As we have heard, this proposal will disproportionately benefit those on the lower half of the income scale, but it is much more than that. It is a matter of social justice. Supporting marriage is progressive. It is the right thing to do, not only for individuals but for the beneficial public consequences it promotes. If arrangements have beneficial public consequences, such as good environmental conduct or saving for one’s pension, it is established practice that such public benefits are recognised by the tax system. So it should be with marriage.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Is there any provision that would mean that people who have been together as a family—a man and a woman, with children—for a certain period of time, say five years, would be able to count in the same way as being married to get the tax break? The benefits would then be almost the same, would they not?

Fiona Bruce: The benefits that are proposed in this clause are for married couples. That is the way in which our society recognises a permanent and lifelong commitment that is intended by the parties.

Of course I would like to see more, but I welcome this positive start. I would like to see a department for families, a dedicated family policy across government and greater investment in relationship education for young people, both in school and later for those embarking on relationships or contemplating having a family. In the meantime, I fully support this proposal. It will encourage marriage and sends out an important signal that, for the first time in a long time from the Government, marriage is valued in our society—something the last Government never did. It places Britain in the position of recognising marriage in the tax system, whereas we were the only country in Europe not to do so. Is it any

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coincidence that the UK has one of the highest levels of family breakdown in Europe? We have to do what we can to change that, and this is one way. As the Prime Minister said, this change will provide support. Our support for families and marriage puts us on the side of a progressive politics and on the side of change that says, “We can stop social decline, we can fix our broken society and we can make this country a better place to live for everyone.”

Helen Goodman: I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) and I certainly will not yield one inch to her in the value I place on the importance of marriage. Like her, I am a member of the Mothers’ Union, the Church of England organisation that promotes and supports stable family life in this country. However, she is making a mistake. The undoubted benefits of stable relationships could be far better encouraged by the Government in several ways: if, for example, resources for tackling domestic violence were not being reduced; if, for example, we had compulsory sex and relationship education in schools that prepared people for healthy adult relationships; and if, for example, we had a decent child support system that did not incentivise the non-resident parent to ignore their responsibilities to their children, because that is what is happening. Instead of tackling those real problems, or looking at the factors that put families under stress—debt, long hours and zero-hours contracts—the hon. Lady ignores them. She does not understand that those factors are the cause of rows, tension and stress in families. If Government Members turned their attention to policies that would make a real difference, instead of faffing around with this fatuous married couple’s allowance, families would be a lot better off.

Andrew Selous: If this policy is so fatuous, why is it that more than 80% of the population covered by the OECD live in countries that recognise marriage in the tax system? Are they all completely wrong? Are they are all wedded to fatuous systems?

2.45 pm

Helen Goodman: That is exactly the point that I was about to come on to. The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) said that we should place the well-being of children at the centre of this policy. That is a perfectly reasonable starting point for this debate, but which country is near the bottom of the UNICEF child well-being table and which is at the top? The country near the bottom is the UK: the country at the top is Denmark, which has the highest rate of single parenthood in Europe. It is at the top because it has a proper welfare state, decent child care and properly functioning systems so that people can look after their children properly. If we want to do something for children, we should have policies that promote the well-being of all children, not just a small minority of children who happen to live in a particular family structure.

The hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham asked, “Why do Opposition Members suggest that just because you are in favour of marriage, you are against other patterns of family life?” That is not my view. I am in favour of traditional families, as I have said, but I also think that we need to support all families. The

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reason we are concerned about this policy is—as the hon. Gentleman should understand—that we can only spend the money once. We cannot spend it twice or thrice over—

[

Interruption.

]

Government Members talk a good talk, but they do not seem to understand the practical implications.

People in this country are facing a severe cost of living crisis. We are seeing an increase in the number of children living in absolute poverty. More than 600,000 families are going to food banks. If hon. Members had any real concern for child well-being, they would address those issues, not come here proposing £700 million of expenditure on a tiny group.

Andrew Selous: Those of us on the Government Benches care deeply about child poverty, and we believe that family breakdown is a cause of child poverty. By trying to deal with breakdown, we are dealing with a severe cause of child poverty.

Helen Goodman: If the hon. Gentleman would pause for a second, he must surely understand that giving people an extra £200 a year is not likely to enable them to continue their marriages when they are under stress. It does not make sense. For £4 a week, the couple could not even have a pint of beer together. The whole thing is absurd—

Tim Loughton: It should be higher.

Helen Goodman: The hon. Gentleman says that, but the policy is not well targeted. The transferable marriage tax allowance will help just one third of married couples. If we scrapped this allowance and had a mansion tax on homes worth more than £2 million, we could have a tax cut of £100 for 24 million people.

This allowance will go to a third of married couples, and 85% of the benefit will go to men, not to women. Only one in six families with children will get it, and families will only get it if they have only one earner in the family. My test for whether or not this is a good policy is a conversation I had with a constituent of mine recently. She is a shop worker in a supermarket and works 16 hours a week. She has two school-age children. Her husband is not working, because he had an industrial injury. He is on employment and support allowance which, under this Government, will come to an end after 365 days. I simply do not know how a family of four can be expected to live on 16 hours at minimum wage and two lots of child benefit. She cannot. She will lose her tax credits, because she cannot get a shift to increase her hours to 24 a week. Instead of dealing with people like that, who are doing the most responsible things and struggling against all the odds, we have this totally mis-targeted transferable allowance proposal. The Chancellor does not agree with it and the Prime Minister does not agree with it, so why are they doing it? They have made it absolutely clear, in all discussions, that this is about seeing off the Tory right.

I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) is not in the Chamber. He had three articles on this subject in the newspapers this morning. The one in The Times is headlined, “Davis the kingmaker plots the next leadership challenge”. He wrote an article for the Daily Mail online promoting large-scale new breaks for married couples and making

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many of the points we have heard repeated by less elevated hon. Members this afternoon. Let us look at the response the article received from the public; they are not Guardianistas, but people reading the

Daily Mail

:

“No…I do not want my taxes going to ‘stay at home’ (eg gym/lunch/shopping) women. I want them to go to help vulnerable, disadvantaged people, not the ‘I’ll park my 4x4 on the pavement even if it inconveniences other people’ bunch. Bad idea.”

Another comment reads:

“This is ridiculous. Surely tax should be calculated on household income rather than basing this on a wife staying at home…some people are carers for the elderly, some are in full time education - just focusing on stay-at-home mums is very unfair.”

Then there is this:

“Thanks to this government telling us what we must believe and what we must not believe…This whole article is politically and socially incorrect and out of date.”

I do not think that this proposal will deliver the political benefits that Government Members are hoping for. It certainly will not deliver the social and economic benefit.

When I was first elected to this House, I sat on the Finance Bill Public Bill Committee with the Exchequer Secretary, the hon. Member for South West Hertfordshire (Mr Gauke). Throughout the Committee’s proceedings he told us, on many issues, what Mrs Gauke thought. I hope we will hear what Mrs Gauke thinks this afternoon.

Andrew Selous: I speak as the chair of the all-party group on strengthening couple relationships. Family stability lies at the heart of this debate, and I was pleased to hear the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) say that she is a supporter of marriage.

This proposal is one of a range Government policies. The Government have put £30 million into strengthening relationship support. For the first time ever, the Department for Work and Pensions is conducting a family stability review. The good news is that family stability is increasing and strengthening, by a bit in the most recent figures. The scariest statistic in this whole area is that by the time children born today are 15, roughly half will see their parents separate. That saddens me hugely. My own parents divorced and I am very much less than a perfect husband myself—none of us is perfect. We all bring our baggage and personal experiences to these issues, so I understand the emotion on both sides of the House. We need to speak with care and moderation. When I look at the pain experienced by the children of friends of mine who are going through divorce, there is something that makes me want to try to do everything possible to increase family stability and reduce family breakdown.

I will not regale hon. Members with many figures, but I will mention the UK’s biggest household study, “Understanding Society, the UK household longitudinal study” by the university of Essex. Most academics and researchers in this area respect it as one of the most authoritative studies. It shows us that 93% of 13 to 15-year-olds whose parents are still together are living with parents who are married. I am not making that up or making a judgment on anyone; I am merely presenting the House with the facts. There may be many reasons for that, and I accept that there are cause and effect

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arguments both ways. I accept absolutely that poverty is a cause of breakdown, but I also accept that strong families are a bulwark against poverty.

We should use every tool in the box to try to strengthen family life for everyone, whatever relationship they are in at the moment. We need to care deeply about the 38% of constituents of the hon. Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Alison Seabeck). I want to strengthen family life for everyone. Some of the relationship support money that the Government have put forward will be for her constituents. The work we are doing on the family stability review will be for her constituents. I wish these debates did not become quite so heated, because I can assure her that Government Members who support this measure are for everyone—we are for all her constituents as well. We will defend the measures for everyone in the tax and benefit system—child benefit and child tax credits—because we recognise the important part that marriage plays in family stability. I do not want Opposition Members to think that this is a divisive policy. We are bringing this forward as part of a suite of measures to try to do deal with an epidemic of family breakdown in this country and because we want to do something to promote family stability.

As we look at other countries, we see that this is not an outlandish or an unusual thing to do. In fact, the UK is the odd country out in the OECD. Across OECD countries, Mexico is the only other large economy not to have any recognition of marriage in the tax and benefit system. We have tax benefits for all sorts of policies. We have tax benefits for Christmas parties. Just because we favour a firm providing for Christmas parties does not mean that we are against Muslims, Sikhs or Hindus who might not choose to celebrate. It is just something we recognise. We have tax policies that support people parking their bicycles at work. Just because we favour people bicycling to work does not mean that we are against people who come to work in cars or scooters, or who walk, or take the train or the bus. We need to get out of the mentality that, because we are introducing a tax break for an institution we know is good for family stability, we are being in any way divisive.

Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman talks about family breakdown. Has he made an estimate of how many families will break down because of the bedroom tax, which is an awful policy? Could this money be used to scrap it?

Andrew Selous: There is relatively good news on the under-occupancy penalty. More families have been able to move, with nearly 200,000 one and two-bedroom properties available for families to move into. I have seen families who are better off because they are paying lower rent and lower heating bills, or are nearer a bus stop or a sick or disabled relative. We must remember the 1.7 million people on social housing waiting lists and the 300,000 people who are very overcrowded.

The general point the hon. Gentleman makes is of course important. There are many stresses on families today. The Government are cognisant of that fact and are introducing a whole suite of policies—freezing council tax and fuel duty, increasing the personal allowance and increasing the minimum wage—to try to make life easier for people. The good news on jobs and growth will also make things easier. We should not seek to

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divide people. As has already been said today, we know that over half of lone parents believe strongly that there should be both a mother and a father involved in bringing up children. That is something we need to remember as well.

I strongly support what the Government are doing. The sum can always be increased when the public finances allow it—at present, the Chancellor is playing with a limited amount of money—and we are returning to a policy that was well supported until 2000 and is common among OECD countries. I ask Members to focus on the widespread extent of family breakdown in our country, and to see this as one important policy for increasing the family stability which we know is so important to children.

3 pm

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): In the past, both here and in Westminster Hall, I have spoken frequently about issues such as child poverty, food poverty, benefits for single parents, social exclusion and other social problems. On this occasion, I want to express my support, and that of my party, for the married couple’s transferable tax allowance. We gave a manifesto commitment to support it in our Parliament, and we are pleased to be able to support it today as well.

I respect the opinions of Labour Members, and I do not wish to be divisive. I want always to be respectful to Members whose opinions may differ from mine. However, I have a hard-held opinion about this particular issue. I want to help everyone, but I think it is time that married couples had an opportunity to see some benefit from legislative change. Those who support the recognition of marriage in the tax system have waited a long time for the Government to introduce this policy. I expected it to be introduced a long time ago, in view of the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for what was a headline manifesto commitment, but I am very pleased that, at long last, it is being introduced now.

We have heard some excellent speeches from Members on both sides of the House. I particularly commend the way in which the hon. Members for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) and for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) set the scene. I recall a debate in the House about two years ago to which the hon. Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) and I contributed. That was one of my early introductions to the cut and thrust of politics here. Most of the Members surrounding me opposed what I was saying, but I held fast to my opinion, and I am very pleased to be able to express it again today.

Let me begin by highlighting some of the powerful public policy benefits of marriage. I shall then explain why I consider clause 11 to be an appropriate public policy response, albeit rather modest—I should have liked to see more.

Alison Seabeck: As always, the hon. Gentleman is talking a great deal of common sense. Marriage is indeed something to which most people aspire. Let us be honest: it is a great institution. However—I think he was starting to make this point just now—the Bill is neither one thing nor another. It does not really achieve what most Government Members want, and it certainly does not deal with the concerns of Opposition Members. I should welcome his views on that.

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Jim Shannon: As ever, the hon. Lady has made a very sensible intervention.

It is not the financial aspect of the clause that will be the convincing factor for those who wish to proceed with it. Personally, I see it as a recognition of those who are in a marital relationship, which is why I support it. Marriage is unquestionably a source of great benefit to adults, to children and to our communities in general: as others have said, there are extensive research findings to demonstrate that. Given the shortage of time, I shall highlight just some of the benefits of marriage to adult health, on the basis of evidence and statistics.

As has already been said today, the health gain from marriage may be equal to the benefit of giving up smoking. Of special interest to me, given the challenges presented by our ageing population, is the fact that marriage significantly limits hospital use. Those living with a spouse are less likely than others to enter an institution after the age of 60, because that person will be able to look after them and help them. For children, growing up with married parents is associated with better physical health in adulthood and increased longevity. There is a direct link between family breakdown—particularly separation from a biological parent—and future offending. I have not made those things up: they are facts, based on information that we have received.

Some Members have argued that marriage in itself is irrelevant, and that all the positive associations with it are driven by other factors, principally income. I must say that I find that argument particularly unconvincing. When one set of couples have thoughtfully embraced the cost of making an exclusive, lifelong commitment before the world, “forsaking all others, so help me God”—a commitment that is sealed in law—and another have just decided to move in together and see how it goes, is it any wonder that the first set of couples are likely to be, on average, more stable? That is not a reflection on those who cohabit, but it is a reflection of the statistics showing the commitment that we all make in a marital relationship.

Moreover, as others have noted, the Millennium Cohort Study has blown out of the water the idea that it all boils down to money. According to the study, the poorest 20% of married couples are more stable than all but the richest 20% of cohabiting couples. Finance is clearly not the motivator. However, recognition of the marital relationship by the Government through the transferrable tax allowance strikes me as a constructive way forward.

On 25 July this year, the hon. Members for Darlington (Jenny Chapman)—who has now left the Chamber—and for Blaenau Gwent (Nick Smith) will enter the happy union of marriage here in the House of Commons. Let me take this opportunity to wish them well, as others have already. It is good to know that marriage is alive and well in the House.

My concern is not with trying to persuade people to marry, but the evidence suggests that people who want to marry are not doing so because it is not an accessible option. As the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said in his marriage week speech in 2011,

“When asked about their aspirations, young people are very clear: three quarters of those under 35 who are currently in cohabiting relationships want to get married, and some 90% of young people aspire to marriage”.

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Those are very clear statistics. The Secretary of State continued:

“So perhaps the question we should be asking ourselves is this: if people from the youngest age aspire to make such a commitment in their lives, what stops them doing so?

Government cannot and should not try to lecture people or push them on this matter, but it is quite legitimate to ensure people have the opportunity to achieve their aspirations.”

Ian Swales: The hon. Gentleman is making a powerful speech, and I think that we have a unanimous view about the importance of marriage. Does he feel that the Government are communicating the details of the policy clearly enough for the young people about whom he is talking to understand whether it affects them or not? Many of them—for example, couples earning the minimum wage—will not be affected by it.

Jim Shannon: I cannot comment on the technical figures—no doubt the Minister will say something about them when he sums up the debate—but I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman has made. The Government clearly have much to do. Indeed, we all have much to do in putting forward our views, but let us hope that those who have an opportunity to enter into a marital relationship will be able to benefit financially as well.

Although 90% of young people aspire to marry, marriage rates are at an all-time low, while cohabitation rates are rising. The reason why that matters can be expressed in many ways, but I shall do so by employing language that the Treasury understands. The cost of family breakdown has risen to some £44 billion per annum, and crucially, according to the Centre for Social Justice, of every £7 spent on family breakdown amongst young families, £1 is spent on divorce, £4 is spent on unmarried dual-registered parents who separate, and £2 is spent on sole registered parents.

In this context it is absolutely imperative that the state does not place any unnecessary obstacles in the way of those who wish to marry, yet that is exactly what we do on many occasions. Since 2000 we have had a tax system that is very much in the minority internationally, as the hon. Member for Peterborough said. Just over a fifth of people in the OECD area live in countries that do not recognise marriage or have some kind of couple allowance. The vast majority of those people live in just two countries: the UK and Mexico. Research by Pearson and Binder published by the public policy charity CARE demonstrates that in this context the tax burden on a one-earner married couple with two children on average wage has been consistently much higher in this country than across the OECD on average. In 2012, the latest year for which there are comparable data, the tax burden on a UK one-earner married couple on average wage was 45% greater than the OECD average, up from 42% in 2011. Moreover this burden was a staggering 80.4% of that placed on a single person on the same wage while the comparable OECD figure was just 55%. Figures sometimes blind us to the issues, but these figures illustrate the issue of fairness and balance and show what the Government are trying to achieve through the legislative change before us.

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In this context is it any wonder that rather than opting for marriage, couples are opting for other arrangements? Clause 11 will begin to put this right, but this is only a very limited, partially transferable allowance that, far from creating a level playing field, let alone a little nudge to opt for marriage, will instead only erode the incentive not to marry. Clause 11 is thus a hugely important first step; it is a foundation upon which we must build.

On 10 April 2010, when announcing the detail of the Conservative transferable allowance policy, which was then worth 11.6% of the personal allowance, the Prime Minister was clearly bothered that the package was not more generous. He indicated his wish to see more and, speaking on “Sky News”, he blamed the current fiscal constraints and said:

“Of course I want to go further and I am sure that over a Parliament we would be able to go further but this is a good first step.”

I believe this is a good first step. I am on record in my constituency as asking for this. I have done articles for my provincial press, supporting this option of the married transferable allowance. I believe today we have a chance to move towards that, and I hope this House will decide very positively and clearly on this.

It is clear that all we are going to get in this Parliament is a 10% transferable allowance. Many people will be watching to see the Prime Minister make good his commitment to go further in the next Parliament. Perhaps the Minister can confirm in his response in what ways the Government are committed to doing more in the next parliamentary term to introduce a fully transferable allowance. That must be the No. 1 income tax priority for the next Parliament.

Mr Burrowes: I very much welcome clause 11 and not the amendment in the name of the Opposition.

Before coming here I had an interview with children who are taking part in the BBC “Newsround” consideration of Prime Minister’s questions. I did not have an opportunity to ask them about the transferable allowance, but as they grow into adulthood I suspect they will look back on the proceedings here and think it rather odd that we are trying to put down dividing lines and divide along party lines on the basic issue of marriage being recognised in the tax system. They will think it rather odd that people are trying to pit one family relationship against another, when this is a very simple and moderate measure that is recognised across the world.

3.15 pm

Those children will think it extraordinary that we have not previously corrected the situation and gone back to how things were. Historically—up until 2000—marriage was recognised and all we are doing is correcting an anomaly created by the Labour Government. Those children will think our position extraordinary, given that only 20% of people in OECD countries live in a nation that does not recognise marriage or the couple relationship in any way in the tax system, and they will say, “Why aren’t we going along”—as we thankfully will be—“with Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and the United States? Why have

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we for so long—since 2000—not been recognising marriage in the tax system?” The people living in those countries, seeing that marriage is recognised in the tax system, are not saying to themselves, “How dare you Governments recognise marriage! You’re discriminating against me because I am not in a married relationship.” They are just saying it is common sense, because they look at the evidence of international research and recognise the basic well-being for children that comes from being in families supported by marriage.

Not everyone is going to be married but everyone—whether married or not—can recognise, as I think we do across this House, that marriage is an important institution. Why do we not simply recognise it in the tax code?

As the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) mentioned, certainly, we can support marriage in lots of other ways. If we are on the side of marriage, we are going to have to do more than simply recognise it in the tax system. That is not a magic wand that will simply transform the issue of family breakdown, which we are all concerned about and have seen in our constituencies. We need to do much more, such as by investing in marriage support before, when and after people get married. Sadly, sometimes people who have been married for 20 or 30 years or more consider ending their marriage. We need to do more to support people throughout marriage. We are not under any illusions here, but we must not try to put in place any false dividing lines.

If we look at the OECD averages, we have to recognise that we are out of kilter. In this country we are generous to single parents but not to married couples. This is not about creating a level playing field; it is simply about starting a process that other countries started many years ago and ensuring we get back into the mainstream.

Clause 11 is not about judging different relationships. The Opposition seek to pit married couples against single parents, and suggest that if we are for something, we must be against something else. That is not the case. We are simply saying, in a very moderate and measured way, what we are for. We are not saying we are against something, because we are not against other couples who conduct their relationships differently. They have freedom to choose, but this is clearly showing who is on the side of marriage.

The Opposition may say, “No, no—we support marriage and we recognise the institution of marriage,” as the Opposition spokesperson said, but at the end of the day we have to put our money where our mouth is. We know we have a division in respect of clause 11 and amendment 3 and the question is, “What are you putting your money on?” The Opposition are not putting their money on the side of marriage.

The reality is it does not matter what I think. It matters what our constituents think. We have heard a few anecdotal comments such as, “My constituent thinks this” or “My constituent thinks that”, but survey after survey shows that young people in particular, in their droves, aspire to marriage. If they have a look at these proceedings and see who has voted for and against, they will see where people have put their money and who is on the side of marriage, and they will know for sure the position of the Conservatives, the Democratic Unionists and others. Indeed, when a married tax allowance measure

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was moved by, I think, my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) during the passage of a previous Finance Bill, some souls—perhaps errant souls—on the Labour Benches supported it.

I make a call across the Benches: this issue should not divide us along party lines. I say, “Come on; show us where your money is. Do you support marriage?” Then, we will know by the end of today who is on the side of marriage.

Catherine McKinnell: We have said very clearly that, rather than giving this tax break to only a third of married couples—some hon. Members say they are in favour of marriage, but only certain types, where one partner in the marriage stays at home—we would put that money towards all married couples and, indeed, all taxpayers by reinstating the 10p tax rate, which would benefit all marriages and all children in those households too.

Mr Burrowes: I hear what the hon. Lady says, but I am afraid that will not wash with the electorate. The reality is that the Labour Government abolished recognising marriage in the tax system, and Labour now needs to make up that lost ground and join the mainstream in the other OECD countries and across the world. The Opposition need to recognise that people support marriage.

Alison Seabeck: The hon. Gentleman is robustly sticking to his guns. All young people aspire to marriage. I aspired to marriage when I was 17, and I thought that my marriage was going to last for ever, because that is what everyone hopes. Does the hon. Gentleman accept, however, that this tax change will not deal with the fact that people whose marriages break up after, say, five years will lose the tax break at that point? How is that fair, when they are still bringing up their children?

Mr Burrowes: As I said, we need to look at ways of supporting such couples to stay together, not least for the sake of their children. Too many children see their parents breaking up. We need to look at the evidence in support of marriage, because these decisions need to be based on evidence rather than on moral judgments. We have heard statistics relating to adults’ and children’s health and well-being, which I will not repeat. Members have talked about public health benefits, and mention has been made of smoking and other issues. Leading research has stated:

“If marriage were a drug it would be hailed as a miracle cure.”

Why are the Opposition so keen to avoid a basic measure to recognise marriage in the tax system? Members should not take my word for all this. Let us go across the Atlantic and hear what Barack Obama wrote in “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream”:

“Many single moms—including the one who raised me—do a heroic job on behalf of their kids. Still, children living with single mothers are five times more likely to be poor than children in two-parent households. Children in single-parent homes are also more likely to drop out of school and become teen parents, even when income is factored out. And the evidence suggests that on average, children who live with both their biological mother and father do better than those who live in stepfamilies or with cohabiting partners.”

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We have heard statistics to back that up today. Barack Obama went on to say:

“In light of these facts, policies that strengthen marriage for those who choose it…are sensible goals to pursue. For example, most people agree that neither federal welfare programs not the tax code should penalise married couples.”

He did not want to go against the Bush tax plan, and he recognised that it contained aspects of the Clinton welfare policies, but he wanted to ensure that proposals to reduce the marriage penalty would enjoy strong bipartisan support. It is a shame, given the bipartisan support for recognising marriage in the tax code across the Atlantic, that no such support exists here. We should learn the lessons and take a leaf out of the book of Barack Obama.

I mentioned that the children who were interviewed earlier for BBC “Newsround” would have been confused as to why anyone would disagree with this basic measure. Let us look at the recent history, since 2000, when marriage was not recognised in the tax system. We have heard many of the reasons behind the brokenness of Britain under Labour. One was the lack of recognition of the importance of marriage, not so much culturally as financially. That has certainly played a part, which is why there is a commitment at the heart of Conservative policy to reverse the 15 mistaken years of a system that did not recognise marriage.

One of the criticisms of transferable allowances for married couples is that they amount to giving a few privileged people a bribe to get married. It has been suggested that we are being discriminatory, but where is the discrimination in the tax system? According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the couple penalty facing those considering whether to marry is significant, at £44.70 a week, rising to over £85 per week for couples with children under 16. It is that group who have been discriminated against for many years. Our limited but important transferable allowance provision will begin to erode the discrimination and create a level playing field for those couples. Far from creating any kind of privilege, it will simply remedy an injustice that has been going on for 15 years in refusing to recognise the huge policy benefits of recognising marriage in the tax code.

We have heard that marriage is popular, but it is not popular only with a privileged minority. It is an aspiration that goes across social cohorts, and particularly among young people, 90% of whom aspire to marriage. Many of those people do not take up the opportunity to marry, however, and we need to look at the reasons for that. The transferrable allowance will not mean that all those people will suddenly get married. They will have to find an appropriate partner, for a start, and their marriage will of course be based primarily on love and being well-matched. The bottom line is an issue of social justice, however. Why are there particular barriers to marriage among poorer communities? People in those communities have just the same aspiration to marry, but fewer of them do so. We have to recognise that financial and cultural barriers are involved.

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): No transferrable allowance will make anyone get married or stay married, or even encourage them to get married.

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The whole point is that when one person in a married couple—usually the woman—stays at home to look after the children, they are uniquely disadvantaged by the benefits system. This is simply a question of justice; we are righting an injustice in the benefits system.

Mr Burrowes: My hon. Friend is quite right. We are simply talking about justice. The Government need to take a lead in this area. The culture can change in many ways, but one way we can take a lead is through the introduction of a small financial instrument to recognise marriage in the tax system. That is what we are doing today, and it will help to bring about a change of character across the whole country.

Sheila Gilmore: For many poorer couples who are living together, whether they are married or not, the benefits system does indeed have a couples penalty. Would the hon. Gentleman be interested in campaigning to end that?

Mr Burrowes: If the hon. Lady looks at the Conservative party manifesto, she will see in it a recognition of the couples penalty. Sadly, there was no money left by the previous Government, but we want to do a great deal to correct that legacy of injustice that they left us. The couples penalty is one example among many. The discrimination is increasingly happening among couples with children, and the transferrable allowance will at least start to right those wrongs.

I am keen to give the House the opinions of others as well as my own. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has clearly demonstrated that the transferrable allowance is progressive, so I invite all those who support progressive policies to join us in the Lobby when we vote on this measure. It was suggested earlier that we are taking a partial view in relation to the IFS, but I understand that about 70% of the benefit will go to those in the lower half of the income distribution. I am not sure whether anyone has yet corrected the comments from the IFS. Anyone who is concerned about family responsibilities should also recognise that this measure does something that has not been done for 15 years—namely, recognising family responsibilities in the tax system.

This is an issue of trust, certainly for the Conservatives, who put this measure in their manifesto and who want to retain the trust of the electorate. This is a vital first step, albeit moderate, towards fulfilling that manifesto commitment. We will also seek to give further recognition to marriage in an increased transferable allowance. We are fulfilling our vow to the electorate, however. At the election, people will look back at this debate and see that the Opposition were not supporting marriage. The electorate will remember that. I urge all Members to support marriage.

3.30 pm

Dr Thérèse Coffey: Let us consider the following words:

“I believe in marriage, I believe marriage should be recognised in the tax system. I see this as yes, a start of something I would like to extend further”.

They are not mine; I plagiarised them from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I am surprised that the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman), who is no longer in her place, was trying to suggest that

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the Prime Minister did not support this policy, because it was certainly in our manifesto and he is the person who said that from the Front Bench.

I am not married. Do I feel disadvantaged, as a consequence, that I will not benefit from this transferable tax allowance? No, I certainly do not. I will have a warm heart voting for clause 11 to stand part of the Bill, because I believe that marriage is an important institution at the heart of a strong society, as the Government are indicating, and it has been clear for some time that we wanted to bring forward proposals to recognise marriage in the tax system. We have been hearing about how, “You can only spend the money once”, but the Opposition have managed to spend their version of the bankers’ bonus tax about 11 times. So it is a bit extraordinary to hear some of these comments. As has been said, this is about choices. The choices this Government made in this Budget were to reduce income inequality to its lowest level in 28 years, whether through council tax cuts, or through freezing or cutting fuel duty, as we have done in previous Budgets. This Government are certainly helping families of all models in this Budget.

We debated child care yesterday, and it is right that we start supporting marriage. Some are saying, “Oh, 4 million married couples. You are not helping people.” But of course we are helping 8 million people as a result of this measure, and that is to be welcomed. My hon. Friends will note that the Labour party is committed to reversing this tax transfer. It will come in before the election, so Labour is automatically saying to 8 million people, “We will be putting up your taxes because of our dogma.”

I appreciate that the Front Benchers still need to speak in this debate, Mr Caton. What I want to put across strongly is that there is no arbitrary disadvantage, marriage is a good thing and we should support it. We do the same for people who save, by increasing the individual savings account limit. We do it for people who put into pensions, whom we support with tax relief. We do it for businesses that invest in their businesses, helping to create jobs. That is what we are doing and although only a token amount of money is involved here, it will be very welcome.

Catherine McKinnell: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Dr Coffey: I was about to sit down, but I would be delighted to give way.

Catherine McKinnell: The hon. Lady is making a powerful speech in favour of marriage, but does she not accept that the Government proposal does not recognise two thirds of marriages? Where both partners in the marriage are working to provide for their family, that marriage is not recognised as valid in terms of this policy.

Dr Coffey: I do not see that that is the case. Of course the Government recognise those couples who are married or who are in civil partnerships—

Catherine McKinnell: They do not.

Dr Coffey: They certainly do. This measure is a start. We do not have tons of money, and the fact that resources are scarce has been well pointed out. Nevertheless, we are doing things that reduce the income inequality

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for families across the country, using the long-term economic plan. It has meant that gilt rates have been able to stay relatively low, which means that mortgage rates have stayed low and that is probably doing more for people than anything else, along with our fuel duty freezes and indeed cuts in previous Budgets. Those kinds of things are helping families, be they married or not.

I appreciate that time is short and others are waiting to speak, Mr Caton. I just wish firmly to say that although I am a singleton—I thought I had met Mr Right 20 years ago, but it did not work out—I hope that every married couple benefiting from this will recognise that at least they can go and have a nice wedding anniversary with a little bit more cash from the Government.

Sheila Gilmore: We hear so much in this House about how little money there is and how hard it is, yet certain members of the Government support this measure. It appears that not all do—the Lib Dem part of the coalition may or may not support it; it said it did not previously. We are talking about only a small amount of money, but let us see what it is equivalent to. Many people in this country have been outraged by the Government’s bedroom tax. Even if that makes the savings the Government claim it will, which I doubt, it will save less than the amount this measure will pay out. That is the problem: the Government say that the issue that has to be addressed all the time is saving money, but clearly when it comes to some things saving money is not quite so important. There are priorities, and the Government have chosen to make this policy one of them.

I believe we should be giving particular help to families with children, and not just to couples because they happen to be married. Apart from in respect of the very poorest, I have not noticed any great appetite to do away with the couple penalty that probably does apply in terms of people in the benefits system. But if two people choose to marry, we have an independent taxation system here and they can choose to work or not work, so I do not see where any great penalty is being applied to marriage. For those who have children the situation may be different.

If the Government wanted specifically to help parents who are staying at home with children, perhaps that is what they should have done. This measure does not do that; it helps couples where one person is not working, but it has no relationship with the needs of any children they may be raising. If our main aim is to help people with children and make sure that children are brought up in stable relationships, I cannot see what this measure has to do with that. The reason many relationships break down, whether or not they are marriages, has to do with financial insecurity and the difficulties that causes. Those struggling through a cost of living crisis and those who have lost out because of many of this Government’s policies particularly include the low paid. We can all pick and mix our experts—some hon. Members have cited views of the Institute for Fiscal Studies—but if we really want to help low-paid people, we must examine things such as the proposed tapering for universal credit. We need to examine the structure in place for working people who will be in receipt of universal credit—the replacement for tax credits. Under the current structure there is a serious lack of support for second

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earners in the family who want to start building up their earnings. We could be looking at such things, including child care help for low-paid families.

Very briefly, let me tackle something that was mentioned by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson). He did not take my intervention, so I will deal with it now, and, as he raised the matter, it must be relevant to this debate. One statement that Government Members are always keen to make is that every Labour Government leave office with unemployment higher than when they arrived, but it is not true. In 1946 unemployment was 2%, and in 1951 it was 1.3%. In 1951, at the beginning of the Tory Government, unemployment was 1.3%, and in 1964 it was 1.7%, so it went up under a Tory Government. Between 1979 and 1997, which was again a Conservative Government, unemployment went up from 5.2% at the beginning to 7.4% at the end, but for 13 of those 18 years, unemployment was above 10%. Therefore, the statement is not true, and it also completely distorts the appalling unemployment record of the Government between 1979 and 1997. I will now sit down and allow others to speak.

The Temporary Chair: (Martin Caton): Order. I wish to call the Minister by 3.45 pm at the latest, so I ask the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) to ensure that he has sat down by then.

Sir Edward Leigh: I am grateful, Mr Caton. I apologise for not being here at the beginning of the debate, but I was at the Council of Europe. I wanted to come back here to speak on this measure especially, because I have campaigned for it for many years. This is a very proud moment for our party. We are fulfilling an election manifesto, and I am delighted that at last it will happen. I have no doubt that the party will unite today at 4 o’clock to vote through the measure.

There is no doubt that marriage is the fundamental institution of society. It is the one that contributes the most to the cohesiveness and sustainability of society, and I do not think that anyone disagrees with that. But for too many families, the tax system simply punishes marriage. Why do we have a tax system that does that? It should facilitate marriage. The system has led to numerous social problems that, aside from the obvious human cost, create an undue financial burden on the state. Ultimately, if we promote marriage and support it in the financial system, the state saves money, and we create a happier society. Creating a transferable allowance will strengthen the institution of marriage—that may be only a message, but it is a strong one. It will provide benefits for adults, children and society as a whole.

I am afraid that marriage rates are at an all-time low. The scale of family breakdown as a social problem is increasing all the time. It is estimated that it has cost us between £24 billion and £41 billion to deal with it every single year.

The absence of a transferable allowance obviously makes marriage less attractive to prospective husbands and wives and more costly than it should be for some people. However, that is not the main point. The main point is that we are creating a powerful message that marriage works and it is good for children. As I said in an earlier intervention, a married couple where one partner stays at home is uniquely disadvantaged by the tax system. That cannot be fair.

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I agree that policy must be based on evidence, and the evidence is absolutely clear. Regardless of socio-economic status and education, co-habiting couples are between two and two and half times more likely to break up than equivalent married couples. The poorest 20% of married couples are more stable than all but the richest 20% of cohabiting couples. The 2004 Blanchflower and Oswald study in the US and UK shows that the effect of marriage on mental well-being is estimated to be equal to that of an extra $100,000.

A 10-year study of British households found that the health gain from marriage may be as much as the benefit from giving up smoking. The Centre for Social Justice found that those not growing up in a two-parent family were 75% more likely to fail at school, 70% more likely to become addicted to drugs and 50% more likely to have an alcohol problem. We should pay tribute to the Prime Minister, the leader of the Conservative party, for constantly expressing his support for the institution of marriage.

Marriage is even a predictor of survival rates in patients with lung cancer, according to TheIndependent newspaper. The transferable tax allowance will be in line with international best practice. This is not some way-out wacky idea from the Christian right, but what most countries do. Of the biggest countries in the OECD, it is only the UK, Mexico and Turkey that do not have a transferable allowance. It is only 24% of the population of all the OECD countries that are not benefiting from this transferable allowance for married couples. It is a common idea that is widely accepted all over the world. It works; it is normal; it is good.

The UK is one of the only countries in the OECD not to recognise marriage in the tax system. The comparison between the United Kingdom and the OECD average is telling. The tax burden on the single earner married couple with two children on the average wage in the United Kingdom has increased from being 33% greater than the OECD average to now being 42% greater. Clearly, the problem is growing. Introducing a transferable allowance for married couples will disproportionately benefit poorer families and those in the lower half of income distribution. I am proud of what we are doing and I am proud that at last, this afternoon, we are recognising marriage in the tax system.

3.45 pm

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): It is a great pleasure to respond to the debate. I shall make some remarks on clause 11 and on amendment 3 and address some of the arguments that we have heard in this interesting and passionate debate on a subject in which many right hon. and hon. Members have taken a long-standing interest.

Clause 11 introduces a transferable tax allowance for married couples and civil partners. We have targeted the benefit of the measure on married couples and civil partners with the lowest incomes, when one member of the couple has an income below their personal allowance of £10,500. The clause allows individuals to transfer 10% of their income tax personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner, providing that neither partner is liable for income tax above the basic rate. For the year 2015-16, when the measure comes into effect, the amount of personal allowance that can be transferred will be £1,050, significantly higher than the £750 included in

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the Conservative party manifesto at the last general election. It is also higher than the £1,000 allowance announced at the autumn statement as a result of the Budget announcement that the personal allowance would be increased even further in 2015-16. That means that more people will now be able to gain from the measure and by a higher amount.

Let me remind the Committee of the purpose of the policy. Marriage is an important institution in this country and I have been struck by the contributions from both sides recognising that point. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) described marriage as a force for good. We have also recently had a debate about marriage in the context of single-sex relationships and, indeed, the first gay and lesbian marriages took place just over a week ago. In that debate, a variety of views were expressed but it was striking how those on both sides of the argument recognised the importance of marriage. Indeed, the hon. Lady made a powerful and persuasive speech on that very issue in the course of those debates. Whether or not one agrees with the decision that the House reached, the strength of views expressed in those debates makes it clear that people believe in the importance of marriage as a building block of our society. The policy we are debating today is about recognising it in the tax system.

That recognition in itself is not a new idea. People born before 6 April 1935 can still claim the income tax married couple’s allowance, which the previous Government abolished for everyone else from 2000, and marriage is already recognised in the tax system in inheritance tax and capital gains tax. I shall come back to inheritance tax a little later. Marriage is also recognised in the income tax system in most other developed countries, a point that has been made repeatedly this afternoon. In fact, the United Kingdom is the only G7 country not to recognise marriage in the income tax system in some form. Now we want to recognise it more widely in the UK income tax system. That formed part of the Conservative manifesto in 2010 and I am pleased that we have now introduced legislation for that policy.

Let me remind the Committee that that is not the only reason for the policy. It also provides a way of allowing lower income married couples and civil partners to feel more of the benefit from our increases to the personal allowance. As discussed in Committee yesterday, by 2015-16 our successive increases to the personal allowance will mean that a typical basic rate taxpayer will be more than £570 better off than under the previous Government’s plans. That could mean a tax cut of more than £1,000 for a couple, but that is the case only if both partners use all of their personal allowance. If one spouse is a low or non-earner, the couple will be able to benefit only from one personal allowance increase. Let me give an example. By April 2015, one couple with each spouse earning £15,000 will see more than £800 more benefit from the personal allowance increases this Parliament than a couple with one spouse earning £30,000 and the second earning nothing. The policy allows us to change that. It gives married couples and civil partners the opportunity to benefit from the £1,050 of the second unused personal allowance, and thus benefit from the increases to the personal allowance, providing further support to some households with a low or

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non-earner. That will help just over 4 million married couples and civil partnerships, with each couple gaining up to £210 a year.

Amendment 3, which was tabled by the Opposition, commits the Government to publishing a report on the impacts of the policy within six months of the Finance Bill receiving Royal Assent. I do not believe that such a report is necessary, as there are comprehensive arrangements to report on the impacts of Government policy. First, we have reported the impacts of the clause in the tax information and impact note, which was published on the Government website on 27 March. Secondly, as the Committee will know, the Government believe that the impacts of policies should be considered in the round. The Government regularly produce an analysis of the cumulative impact of changes on households across the whole income distribution. That analysis is published by the Treasury at every major fiscal event, and the analysis at autumn statement ’13 and at Budget ’14 will have included that policy. Thirdly, it is worth pointing out that the amendment requires a report on the impacts of the policy within six months of Royal Assent, but the policy will not be in effect then, so we will not have any additional information or data to analyse. For that reason alone, I hope that the Opposition will not press their amendment.

Let me deal in a little more detail with what the amendment would do. It requires a calculation of the proportion of married couples and civil partners eligible under the policy. We have said that we expect just over 4 million couples to benefit, which means that about 300,000 more couples are in a position to benefit than if we had just increased the personal allowance in line with the retail prices index, which was the approach taken by the previous Government. The 4 million couples who will benefit represent just over a third of married couples. The heart of the Opposition’s case seemed to be that two thirds of married couples will not gain from the policy, so what was the point of it? It is worth explaining how the policy is targeted. First, in 3 million couples, one or both partners are higher or additional-rate taxpayers. Some of them can benefit from the changes to the personal allowance, but if we had a policy that extended the transferable tax allowance to higher and additional rate taxpayers, the Opposition would complain that it was not well targeted and that it should be directed at low-earning households. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) made the point that the logic of the Opposition’s argument was that we should extend the policy. I know that he takes that view, but it would be rather strange for the Opposition to make that argument.

The second group that does not benefit is the 1.8 million couples in which both partners are non-taxpayers. It is worth pointing out that since 2010 about 350,000 couples have become non-taxpayers because we have taken them out of income tax. It is impossible to provide an income tax cut for people who do not pay income tax. The Opposition argue that what we should do instead is have a 10p rate of income tax, but a 10p rate would not help those married couples either.

Alison Seabeck: I have a genuine question for the Minister. Has his Department looked at the question of whether the change would stand up to a challenge in the European courts on the grounds that it is discriminatory?

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Mr Gauke: There is no reason to believe that the measure is discriminatory. I will address that point in slightly more detail in a moment.

The third category of people who will not benefit is couples where both members are basic rate taxpayers, but those are the households that have benefited most from the very significant increases in the personal allowance that this Government have been able to deliver. One has to look at the overall package and what this Government have done in terms of cutting taxes. I come back to the point that couples with two earners have benefited significantly, more so than couples with one earner, as a consequence of the personal allowance increase.

I mentioned that the Opposition want to use the money to fund a 10p rate of income tax. They have complained in the course of the debate that the benefit is worth only £3.85 a week. This is about sending a signal. The benefit from the new 10p rate, assuming that it were funded from this, would be in the region of 50p a week, and I am not sure that that would change things significantly.

Helen Goodman rose—

Mr Gauke: I am short of time so, if the hon. Lady will forgive me, I will not give way.

Let me deal with a couple more points. On support for women, it is worth bearing in mind that of the 3.2 million people who have been taken out of income tax, 56% of the beneficiaries are women, and we have done a lot to help with child care. On the practical points raised by the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North, only the transferor will need to make an election, which will make it administratively easier for couples. We also want to implement the measure through a digital process, but we recognise the need for support for those unable or unwilling to use that method. HMRC will be properly funded to deliver this policy.

Let me conclude by reiterating the purpose of the clause. It is to reinforce the important institution which is marriage—whether gay, straight or civil partnerships—while also providing support for many households that have not been able to benefit fully from our changes to the personal allowance. I therefore request that amendment 3 be withdrawn, and move that clause 11 stand part of the Bill.

Catherine McKinnell: We have had some sincere but variously aspirational speeches from Government Members today, dreaming of a world where marriages are stable and children thrive. Nobody can take issue with the aspiration, but we need to deal with the real world and what the Government’s policy will deliver. It purports to support marriage, but only certain marriages will qualify. Two out of three marriages will get no recognition at all. The policy purports to support children, but five out of six families with children will get no help whatever. It is a dud. It adds complexity to the tax system. Its implementation will add cost both for HMRC and for the employers who will have to deal with the complexity for highly questionable gain.

We will therefore oppose the clause, and we urge hon. Members on both sides of the House, particularly Liberal Democrat Members, whom we know are on our side of the argument on this issue, to vote against the Government’s proposals and for our sensible amendment.

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Question put, That the amendment be made.

The

Committee

divided:

Ayes 217, Noes 276.

Division No. 249]

[

3.59 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Ashworth, Jonathan

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Barron, rh Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mahmood, Shabana

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Phil Wilson

and

Seema Malhotra

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Andrew, Stuart

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Steve

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Clark, rh Greg

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Field, Mark

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hague, rh Mr William

Halfon, Robert

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hermon, Lady

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Long, Naomi

Lopresti, Jack

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, rh Esther

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Patrick

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Paisley, Ian

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Sir John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, rh Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Rutley, David

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Harriett Baldwin

and

Claire Perry

Question accordingly negatived.

9 Apr 2014 : Column 323

9 Apr 2014 : Column 324

9 Apr 2014 : Column 325

4.13 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, 1 April).

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

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

The Committee divided:

Ayes 279, Noes 214.

Division No. 250]

[

4.13 pm

AYES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Andrew, Stuart

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Steve

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Clark, rh Greg

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Durkan, Mark

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Field, Mark

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hague, rh Mr William

Halfon, Robert

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hermon, Lady

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Long, Naomi

Lopresti, Jack

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, rh Esther

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Patrick

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Paisley, Ian

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Sir John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, rh Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Rutley, David

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Soames, rh Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Harriett Baldwin

and

Claire Perry

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Ashworth, Jonathan

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Barron, rh Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mark

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mahmood, Shabana

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Owen, Albert

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Noes:

Phil Wilson

and

Seema Malhotra

Question accordingly agreed to.

9 Apr 2014 : Column 326

9 Apr 2014 : Column 327

9 Apr 2014 : Column 328

9 Apr 2014 : Column 329

Clause 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 5

Bank payroll tax

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer shall carry out a review of—

(a) the possible impact on the bank levy rate of incorporating a bank payroll tax within the bank levy; and

(b) how the additional revenue could be invested to help pay for the first year of a guaranteed jobs scheme for people in long-term unemployment.

(2) The Chancellor must within six months of the passing of this Act publish the report of the review and lay the report before the House.’.—(Cathy Jamieson.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Cathy Jamieson (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (Lab/Co-op): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Temporary Chair (Martin Caton): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 1, in clause 112, page 94, line 1, at beginning insert—

‘(1) Before bringing forward any further reform of the bank levy rates system, the Chancellor shall lay before Parliament a report considering the impact on the total receipts paid to the Exchequer since 2010 by—

(a) UK banking groups;

(b) building society groups;

(c) foreign banking groups; and

(d) relevant non-banking groups.

(2) The report will pay particular attention to receipts from—

(a) corporation tax;

(b) the bank levy; and

(c) bank payroll tax.