Caroline Lucas: I say to the hard-working families in my constituency that I do not see why they have to choose between austerity and a greener world. We can have both if we have a bit of leadership, which this Government have been so conspicuously failing to provide. Why should only richer people be able to afford greener cars? No, we want to make greener cars the norm, because it is the poorest people who suffer from the air pollution that is caused by the cars that this Government are happy to have all over our roads. The hon. Lady’s question was wrong and misguided. I am very proud to

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say that I am standing up for some of the poorest people in my constituency, who should be able to have decent air quality as well as not suffering from the horrendous austerity that her Government are rolling out in front of them right now. In case the Chancellor has not noticed, air pollution in the UK is a serious public health crisis that is leading to 29,000 premature deaths every year. I would love to hear what the hon. Lady says to her constituents when they are facing that degree of air pollution and health imbalance as a result of her Government’s policies.

Maria Caulfield rose—

Caroline Lucas: I would love to hear it, but not that much, so I am going to continue.

Then we have the senseless proposal to tax renewable energy as if it were a fossil fuel by removing the climate change levy exemption for renewables.

Stewart Hosie: On the VED changes being intended to tackle the debt or the deficit, I am sure the hon. Lady will have heard the Chancellor say that the entire set of measures was fiscally neutral and has nothing to do with bringing down the deficit or the debt.

Caroline Lucas: I thank the hon. Gentleman—my hon. Friend—for that well-made point.

As campaigners have pointed out, the policy on the climate change levy exemption for renewables is like making people pay an alcohol tax on apple juice. The Government claim that it is intended to prevent taxpayers’ money from benefiting renewable electricity generated overseas. In fact, it is a completely disproportionate measure that turns a policy that was designed to encourage low-carbon electricity into just an electricity tax for businesses. It is interesting that Ministers remain suspiciously silent on the shocking revelation earlier this year that the Government spend 300 times more on backing fossil fuel projects abroad than on clean energy via the export credit agency. If they are that worried about the issue, one would have expected a little more consistency from them. The scandalous public spending on fossil fuel subsidies should be cut, not support for clean, green, home-grown renewable energy.

I agree with the shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint), that removing the renewables exemption from the climate change levy will undermine investor confidence in renewable energy, and that we should instead be seizing the massive opportunities for jobs and investment that moving to a low-carbon economy would provide for this country. I hope that we can work together across all parties to remove this stupendously senseless provision from the Bill altogether.

The Minister spent a long time talking about how important this Bill is for productivity. I am a great supporter of productivity, but I fail to see how, for example, plans to scrap the long-established zero-carbon homes policy will support it. Indeed, in an open letter to the Chancellor, over 200 businesses warned:

“This sudden u-turn has undermined industry confidence in government and will now curtail investment in British innovation and manufacturing”.

So much for putting our economy on a stable footing; so much for this Government’s phoney concern about energy costs. Scrapping this policy means that future

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homes, offices, schools and factories will be more costly to run, locking residents and building users into higher energy bills. Businesses are increasingly speaking out not against the so-called green crap, but against the tsunami of Government blue crap that is putting up energy bills, harming business and undermining climate action.

I have a few last words on the welfare aspects of the Bill. The Chancellor can crow about raising the tax threshold so that fewer people on low incomes pay tax, but although that is the right thing to do, it does nothing to change the overall impact of his Budget and of the Finance Bill. As the IFS has shown, it leaves us with a tax and benefits system that is more regressive. The biggest losers are those in the second and third poorest tenths of the population—the working poor. Under the cover of austerity, the welfare cap will make housing, in particular, unaffordable for many families. Young and disabled people have been unfairly singled out to lose benefits. Child poverty already costs Britain upwards of £29 billion, and is set to rise under plans to limit tax credits, which could leave 3 million families on average £1,000 worse off, even allowing for increases elsewhere.

According to Treasury’s own analysis, the plan to raise the inheritance tax threshold will benefit high-income and wealthy households. Given that it is one of the easiest taxes to both avoid and evade, and that the very rich often find ways to pay very little, it is clear that this whole area needs a complete rethink.

On tax dodging, I welcome the Government’s recognition that the so-called Mayfair loophole needs to be closed. Many of Brighton’s residents have written to me about this, and it is thanks to the determination and persistence of individuals and campaigners that we have got this far. Yet again, however, the Government spin machine is in overdrive and the reality does not match the rhetoric. I urge the Chancellor to address that by agreeing that carried interest counts as income and should be taxed as income.

Finally, if the Chancellor is serious about tackling tax dodging, as I hope he is, I urge him to reconsider his opposition to the Robin Hood tax and to adopt the comprehensive policies set out in the tax dodging Bill proposals, which are supported by 25 UK and international non-governmental organisations and would generate about £3.6 billion in the UK.

4.16 pm

Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) (Con): I applaud the content of the Finance Bill, and I am keen to explore certain clauses within it. Before I do so, may I applaud Labour Members for agreeing with the annual investment allowance and rise in the tax allowance? There may not have been as many Labour speakers as one would expect, but those who spoke have been considered in their tone towards the Bill. However, as someone from a socialist background, it makes me sad to see no Labour Back Benchers in the Chamber. I was always told proudly by my parents that Labour was the party of Keir Hardie and Nye Bevan, and those empty Benches would be a huge disappointment to them. None the less, we can perhaps all agree that the argument is being won on the Government side of the House.

Mr MacNeil: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

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Huw Merriman: No, I will not give way. I will make some progress, if I may, and refer to my predecessor, Mr Greg Barker, who organised the husky trip that was lamented by the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West).

Clauses 1 and 2, on the income tax and VAT locks, and clauses 3 and 4, on the personal allowance and national minimum wage provisions, demonstrate that making work pay means giving workers more of their pay. Raising the personal allowance to £12,500 shows that the Government are committed to that aim. The increase in the tax allowance will take more than 800 of my constituents in Bexhill and Battle out of the tax system altogether, and a further 50,000 of my 80,000 electors will also benefit from the tax allowance increase. Indeed, my constituents will further benefit from the tax locks over this term, which will allow them to plan, save and spend in an organised manner, without fear of the Government raids so beloved by Chancellors between 1997 and 2010.

Mr MacNeil: Once the hon. Gentleman’s constituents get past the Blairite spin he is giving us, I am sure they will find that their incomes have actually decreased. Does he think that his constituents will be grateful to him when the changes go through and they find that their incomes have decreased, thanks to this Tory Government?

Huw Merriman: My constituents will be delighted that after the terror that this Government took over from, we are seeing earnings and incomes get back to their pre-recession levels. They are already there for those at pension age, of whom there are many in my constituency, and are getting there for those in other age groups. My goodness, if this Government had not taken the difficult decisions that the hon. Gentleman’s party has opposed all the way through, we would not be in the positive situation we are now in.

Stewart Hosie: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Huw Merriman: No, I will make some progress, if I may.

I was bemused by the Opposition’s attempts to lay claim to the policy of tax locks. Perhaps by losing the election and allowing this Government to gain a majority and introduce these clauses, they have brought the policy about.

This is a one nation Government that seek to help people into work and, in so doing, give them hope, aspiration and pride. By taking those who work 30 hours a week on the minimum wage out of the tax system, the Government are committing to the principle that work pays. Furthermore, by committing to review that principle and assess the tax position of an individual working 30 hours on the national minimum wage when reviewing the tax allowance over and above £12,500 in the future, the Government are demonstrating that they really mean for that proposal to be here to stay.

Alison McGovern: I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman. I am especially pleased to hear that he pays great attention to the views of his constituents. When a single parent with two kids who loses thousands in tax credits comes to his surgery and explains how much worse off they are in work, what is he going to say?

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Huw Merriman: I will say that this Government, by creating millions of jobs, will give that individual the opportunity to get into work. If I were on the Labour or SNP Benches, I would say, “We will keep you on subsidies, keep you in your place and not give you hope, aspiration and a better opportunity for your life.”

Alison McGovern: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Huw Merriman: No, I will not give way. I will make progress.

The first four clauses demonstrate that the Government are on the side of the worker, not the abstainer.

Clauses 7 and 8 relate to corporation tax and the annual investment allowance. I welcome the measures to reduce corporation tax to 19% by 2017 and 18% by 2020. In my constituency of Bexhill and Battle, the Government and East Sussex County Council have ploughed millions of pounds into a new link road between Bexhill and Hastings, which will deliver new homes, 500,000 square feet of new business park and a country park. The new link road and the labour that will come from the new housing will, if delivered in conjunction with the high-speed rail project from Bexhill to London St Pancras that we hope to get, encourage new businesses to relocate and existing businesses to expand.

However, we need to do more than deliver infrastructure. We need to encourage entrepreneurs to take risks, create new jobs and deliver wealth. That wealth will then be delivered to the Exchequer and the country as a whole. I therefore welcome the cut to corporation tax, which tells the world’s companies that UK plc is open for worldwide business, with the lowest corporation tax in the G7. I hope to use the favourable economic climate to champion the idea that companies should locate themselves in my constituency and to end its status as a constituency with no major corporate headquarters within its boundary.

I welcome the permanent status of the annual investment allowance. The temporary two-year allowance did much to boost spending on plant and machinery in rural constituencies such as mine. The trickle-down effect on suppliers, producers and small businesses has been immense. I welcome the manner in which my Government use the tax system to give firms more money to invest, rather than using the model of Government borrowing and spending, which crowds out private companies from the market.

The final clause that I wish to consider is clause 9 on the increased nil-rate band for homes that are inherited by descendants. Representing Bexhill and Battle as I do, I feel that the policy of effectively increasing the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million per couple will be highly relevant and even more highly welcome. Individuals who have worked hard and done the right thing deserve the right to hand on the fruits of their labour to their descendents, and that is particularly welcome in a period when interest rates on savings and investments has been low and delivered low yield, albeit that that has helped those with mortgages.

I welcome the mantra behind the Bill: lower taxes to make work pay; fairness by clamping down on those who do not pay their fair share of taxes; and rewarding endeavour by encouraging companies to invest and expand in this country by sending out positive signals

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that business is open under this Conservative Government. I look forward to proclaiming proudly the Government’s economic policies over the summer, and I am pleased that Labour Members have already stolen a march and are perhaps doing so already.

4.25 pm

George Kerevan (East Lothian) (SNP): Thank you for your forbearance, Mr Deputy Speaker. I had to slip out of the Chamber to take part in the Treasury Committee’s questioning of the Chancellor, and I bring a few bon mots from him to add to the debate.

The test of the Finance Bill and Budget is whether it will raise productivity—one might ask why the Chancellor has waited for five years to get round to that necessary development, but that is the test. Does the Bill meet the test? No it does not. Between the March Budget and the summer Budget, the Chancellor has reduced projected capital spending, and we raised that point in questions to him this morning, but in his boyish way he avoided answering it. Nevertheless, we have seen a reduction in the projected capital spend.

Capital spending is vital. It is the basic thing we need to get the plant, machinery and infrastructure that raise productivity, and Britain’s fundamental weakness in productivity is that we do not spend enough on capital and plant per worker. The Chancellor is cutting his projected capital spending, and he has done that in the five months since the March Budget and now—I wonder why.

The Chancellor had an interesting explanation for why he is doing that—in the Treasury Committee he could not avoid saying that that is what he was doing—because he said that he had discovered a way of making the outcome of his spending more efficient so that he needs less of it. If he goes on in that way, in another five months and by the time we get to the autumn statement, he will have reduced capital spending projections even more. I am talking about capital spending projections to 2020, so there is no real indication in the Budget that productivity will rise.

There are other things wrong with the Budget. Consider the investment allowance that the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) alluded to. De facto, the annual investment allowance is being cut from £0.5 million to £200,000. I know that, formally speaking, the available capital allowance was a marginal £20,000, and an emergency £0.5 million level was introduced in a previous Budget. Like some classic huckster trying to sell, the Chancellor pretended that the capital allowance was going to be removed on 1 January 2016, so that he could suddenly appear and say that actually it will be £200,000. We all knew that he was going to do that because in the autumn statement and the March Budget, while talking about his desire to raise productivity, he somehow neglected to tell us that the annual investment allowance was going to be not £20,000 but £200,000 in January.

Mr MacNeil: My hon. Friend might recall that before the general election, if memory serves me right, only one party was praised in the Financial Times for its plans to raise productivity, and that was the SNP. Could that be why we polled 51% of votes in the seats where we stood, but the Conservatives polled only 37% across the seats where they stood?

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George Kerevan: I know that is true from talking to the small businesses in my constituency.

The Chancellor claims to want a productivity revolution, but that is given the lie by the fact that in the autumn statement in December and the March Budget he did not announce that the £500,000 allowance would stay or that it would in fact be £200,000. Investment requires long-term confidence—telling businesses well in advance what they can do in terms of investment. The fact that the Chancellor did not tell us, but has produced a rabbit out of a hat in the summer Budget, tells me that he is not that serious.

We have also heard today that the Chancellor intends to cut corporation tax progressively over the spending period to 18%. I do not gainsay that, but I ask the House to look at what happens when cutting corporation tax significantly is combined with a de facto reduction in the annual investment allowance. Surely we want to cut corporation tax to encourage firms to use their surplus capital to invest in plant and machinery. It is therefore necessary to maintain the £500,000 level—or perhaps even raise it further—to encourage firms to put their money into plant and machinery to raise productivity. By de facto cutting the investment allowance from £500,000 to £200,000 at the same time as cutting corporation tax, the Chancellor will encourage firms to keep their surplus capital sitting in the bank, instead of investing in plant and machinery. That is what has been happening in this country, and that is one of the reasons why productivity has fallen since 2008.

Stewart Hosie: Is it not therefore all the more important —at a time when the banks are still not lending fully—to incentivise to the highest possible extent to encourage businesses to use their own resources for investment?

George Kerevan: I take my hon. Friend’s point. We need incentives that co-ordinate and integrate, not just a series of random measures that allow the Chancellor to make headlines here and there but do not have an impact on productivity in the longer term.

The surplus balances held by British companies total something in excess of £0.5 trillion, and some estimates put it at more than £1 trillion. A reasonable estimate is £0.5 trillion or £550 billion. How do we incentivise firms to take that money out of the bank and put it into plant and machinery and create jobs? The Chancellor is doing his best to provide incentives in another direction. Raising the inheritance allowance on property is another way of encouraging shareholders—when shares are bought back by companies—to put their money into existing bricks and mortar rather than invest in companies.

We have a Budget that claims to be about productivity, but provides none of the efficient incentives required to get plant and machinery that will create jobs. Let us look at what has happened to productivity since 2008. Initially, when the recession started, UK productivity fell. What normally happens in the first few years of a recession, as workers are shed and firms rely on using their existing plant and machinery more intensively, productivity rises. It rose in most of the advanced industrial countries in Europe in the two or three years after the recession, and in America. Thereafter, we would expect firms to start to invest in new innovation and developments, and productivity would rise not simply from the shedding of labour but from expansion,

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new product lines and new companies. That is what has happened in America, which had a significant increase in investment and innovation, and productivity has risen significantly in a long-range curve, as American companies have grabbed market share. In the UK, we saw a second downward bump in productivity in 2011. That came just as the Chancellor realised the mistake he had made in rushing for austerity between 2010-11. He had made massive cuts, but at that point he changed. We have had several long-term plans. In 2011, his new long-term plan was to turn on the monetary tap and crank up an artificial housing boom. Of course, that created even more incentives for individuals, financial companies and businesses to put money into trading in property, rather than in factories and manufacturing.

What we saw post-2011 was British productivity getting even worse, while the productivity of other industrial countries—in particular the United States, but also China—started to improve for the very best of reasons: they were investing in new plant machinery. We have not solved our productivity problem because we have not got the incentives right. I see nothing in the Budget to change that.

4.35 pm

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): Mr Deputy Speaker, you and others have made the comment that today is a day on which a birthday has occurred, so before I have to, in response to interventions, may I say to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil) breithlá sona dó? Go maire sé on lá.

I should also make an apology, because I missed a birthday yesterday in the debate on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which relates to the Budget measures.

Mr MacNeil: The hon. Gentleman gives me the opportunity to make a bilingual intervention—in Irish and in Scottish. Go raibh míle maith agat agus mòran taing.

Mark Durkan: We are getting far off the Finance Bill.

The Government told us that the Finance Bill should be taken as part of a whole suite of measures from the Budget, including those in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. Yesterday, we missed the six-year birthday of the Second Reading debate on the Child Poverty Bill in 2009, when the then shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, now the Home Secretary, said:

“When we talk about child poverty, we are also talking about family poverty. Children are poor because their parents are poor…I would almost like to change the name of the Bill from the Child Poverty Bill to the child and family poverty Bill.”—[Official Report, 20 July 2009; Vol. 496, c. 613.]

The measures in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill and the Budget tell us to forget that child poverty has anything to do with parental and household income, and that the Government are going to abolish definitions of child poverty. We heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer today at Treasury questions that he believes the Budget is offering a contract: higher wages for less dependence on welfare. He said that people would support that contract. I think more people will see the con trick in what the Chancellor is doing than the contract.

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Alex Salmond: It will not have escaped the hon. Gentleman’s notice that the Government seem to have run out of speakers on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill. Might that be because of the reality that thousands of families with children in every single constituency in this country are going to be worse off as a result of the Budget? Is that why the Tory party seems so unenthusiastic about supporting the Budget?

Mark Durkan: The right hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. I think many people will wonder about the paucity of attendance on the Benches at such an important debate today. We have been served notice that there will be various amendments in later stages of the Bill, but I think people would have expected a bigger attendance here today. Given the impact it will have on many people with marginal incomes and the consternation that many people feel about MPs’ pay increases and other matters, they will be wondering where everybody is.

Mr MacNeil: There are questions about where Labour and Tory Members are at the moment. Will the hon. Gentleman hazard a guess that they are perhaps off at merger talks?

Mark Durkan: Maybe they are away celebrating other people’s birthdays. [Laughter.] Maybe the hon. Gentleman, having had so many interventions, can now safely go and celebrate his. We all know he was here and not somewhere else.

In the provisions on the national living wage and some of the other early clauses, the Chancellor seems to be doing exactly what he decried his predecessors for doing: passing legislation to put restraints or constraints on himself. He is advertising in legislation his own behavioural discipline. It is the ultimate political selfie to put oneself into legislation. Some only last for the life of the Parliament, yet are being put into legislation. How gratuitous a political exercise is that? Perhaps that is why other hon. Members cannot see fit to indulge the Bill too much.

Government Members have said that the charter for budget responsibility is a key issue, which it is, but a key aspect of the charter is the welfare cap. In yesterday’s debate, we heard references to the benefits cap—there has been much discussion about the benefits cap, which affects households—but less attention has been paid to the overall implications of the welfare cap, which was first introduced as part of the charter last year. If we look at what the summer Budget, as opposed to the March Budget, does for the welfare cap over the next four years, we find some revealing figures. In the March Budget, the overall welfare cap for the UK for 2016-17 was £122.3 billion; in this Budget, it is £115.2 billion. For 2017-18, it was £124.8 billion in the March Budget; it is £114.6 billion in this Budget. It was £127 billion for 2018-19 in the March Budget, ahead of the election; it is £114 billion in the summer Budget, after the election. For 2019-20, it was £129.8 billion in the March Budget; in this summer Budget, it is £113.5 billion. Over those four spending years, that is a cumulative cut of £46.5 billion, as a result of the charter for budget responsibility and the welfare cap.

Many Opposition Members—or perhaps not many of us, as I think only 20-odd of us voted against the welfare cap when it was introduced—said that what

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the Treasury was bubble-wrapping as a neutral budgetary tool would turn into a vicious cuts weapon, and now we see it, in the name of the welfare cap. When there is so much discussion about the benefits cap, people forget that the real story is the welfare cap, and that will bear down on people in my constituency and lead to more conflict around the next wave of welfare reform when it comes to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

We heard earlier from the hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) and we heard yesterday what he thinks the implications of the cap will be. If he was still here, I would be saying to him directly that on this issue he and his party need to catch on; they have been wrong in the past, and it is a bit late to be scrambling now, when they have invited this very situation. Many of us told them that their support for the welfare cap, on top of their support for the last wave of welfare reform in the Assembly, would lead to this very situation, but they told us to forget about those concerns because there was nothing we could do about it.

Alex Salmond: Will the hon. Gentleman accept that Members from eight political parties last night voted against the welfare Bill, so perhaps it is a case of “better one sinner that repenteth”?

Mark Durkan: Yes, I certainly have no problem with that, and I welcome the breadth of opposition. I also welcome the depth of opposition I heard from some hon. Members who, because of their party’s Whips situation, did not vote but whom I know care passionately about a number of issues and have served notice that they will vote in the amendment stages. I hope, therefore, that we can go further in this Bill and yesterday’s Bill to build on that.

However, let us be clear: this Bill purports to cover more than just the issues that we discussed yesterday. Hon. Members have referred to the questions around corporation tax, and of course the Government have served notice that they are going to reduce it. I am someone who has supported the measures to give Northern Ireland the devolved capacity to vary the rate of corporation tax, and I have no issue or argument against that. Indeed, I predicted that one of the reasons why the Conservatives were so keen to devolve corporation tax was that they wanted to create an excuse or cover to do so in England and Wales as well.

However, although that can be welcome in Northern Ireland at one level, because it means that the cost of any variation in corporation tax for us will be less in time, let us be clear that, contrary to what the hon. Member for East Antrim said yesterday, it will not be parties such as mine holding these issues up; it will be the tactics and policies of the Government, who are trying to create a budgetary arm-lock on the devolved Executive. They are basically saying, “Unless you get your Assembly to pass the legislation that we want in respect of welfare reform, we are going to create budget stress”—which in turn will lead to a budget crisis, which in turn will become a political crisis—“as the price of your failure to do so.”

When we are locked in that budget crisis—which will be contrived and the result of the Government bullying us on welfare reform—they will then say, “You don’t have a balanced and sustainable budget; therefore, you’re not getting your corporation tax powers.” Just as the

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Government said they would not introduce the corporation tax Bill until they were satisfied with what it looked like the Assembly was going to do on welfare reform, so they have built in a clause for Northern Ireland in the Bill that says that, come 2017, they will not switch on the power unless they are satisfied that there is a balanced and sustainable budget.

When it comes to the outstanding measures in the Scotland Bill, I hope that hon. Members present in the Chamber will be mindful of the possible need for a clause to prevent the Treasury from adopting any such tactic on the dual exercise of welfare powers between Westminster and the Scottish Parliament, because the “twilight zone” difficulty that Northern Ireland has got into offers a very salient warning.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I have the utmost respect for the hon. Gentleman, and he knows that, but the real reason why we have an impasse in Northern Ireland is the unfortunate delay from the SDLP in supporting the Stormont House agreement, which everyone signed up to. With that comes the delay in the corporation tax benefits for Northern Ireland. Surely it is time now for his party to honestly say, “Let’s support the Stormont House agreement, let’s get corporation tax back and let’s help everyone across the whole of the political spectrum in Northern Ireland.”

Mark Durkan: I would offer the hon. Gentleman the mutual observation of respect, but would also say, first, that we are not holding anything up. The legislation has already been passed. It provides for the switch-on of the powers in 2017. It is the Treasury that is imposing the condition, and let us remember that it is locked on to that condition in a way that is completely wrong and unwarranted. It is basically saying, “Yes, you have the nominal legislative power over welfare reform, but unless you do it exactly to our taste, as karaoke legislation, then we are going to interfere with your budget and claw back from the Barnett formula.” That is wrong. The Treasury has other ways of trying to control these things. If this is about welfare spending, then the Treasury already has a welfare cap that allows it to police welfare spending—literally—without creating budget stress within the Executive and between parties, so there is a different course that can be followed on all this.

As for some of the other provisions, I have no doubt that the Government will go further in their cuts to corporation tax. I know that they are saying that they want to get to 18% by 2020, but the Chancellor said in the second year of the last Parliament that there would be no more corporation tax cuts in that Parliament and of course there were. He is exactly lining up to do that again.

Let me touch on some of the other issues. The hon. Member for East Antrim rightly mentioned the road fund, in that the Chancellor said in his statement that the Government would have to work out exactly what would happen with the equivalent moneys in Northern Ireland—the money that would be raised in vehicle duties. However, I hope it is not the case that only the moneys raised directly in vehicle duties in Northern Ireland would be hypothecated for those purposes. Given the nature of our economy and the fact that many of the key commercial vehicles on our roads are not registered in Northern Ireland—many of those servicing many of our companies, not least in the retail sector, come from

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outside the region—and also, obviously, given our higher rurality, we have high relative overheads on roads, so we would need something more than that.

I asked the Financial Secretary earlier to clarify the position on banking because he seemed to be saying that the bank levy had largely served its purpose: the Government had to introduce it, but it was very much of its time, and now we needed to move on to something different. Let us recognise that although clause 18 rightly says that, in future, banks will not receive tax relief on expenses for compensation payments made to customers in respect of certain defined issues, until now the banks have been able to claim that tax relief. There is a catalogue of huge liabilities that they face because of their own wrongdoing, but they were able to absorb all that along with the bank levy, so it is not as though the bank levy was a serious burden to them.

Of course, the Government have responded to pressure from the likes of HSBC and StanChart, who have been saying that they will move if something is not done about the bank levy. So the Government have moved on the bank levy, but they are trying to tell the rest of us that that will be more than compensated for by the surcharge on corporation tax. If they reduce corporation tax by much more than they are currently advertising, that surcharge will not amount to as much. Given how they have rolled over on the bank levy, it is not very hard to canvass the suspicion that they will equally ameliorate the intended surcharge in response to the same threat.

On renewables, I do not intend to go on at anything like the same length or in the same colour as the hon. Member for East Antrim, but I want to make it clear that there is a different view from Northern Ireland. We see the Chancellor’s measures as directly interfering in our capacity to have a greener economy and to grow firms and businesses. It is a key target of the single electricity market in Ireland, north and south, to achieve over 40% supply from renewables. It is a key element in the grid investment that is needed. It is also a key aspect of the market, both north and south, to seek to export in terms of renewables. The Chancellor’s measures therefore fundamentally interfere in one of the growth sectors in Northern Ireland. It is a growth sector not only in terms of generation but in terms of renewable technologies, and the investment and export that goes with those. We take a fundamentally different view from that of the hon. Member for East Antrim. Let me be very clear: on issues such as contracts for difference, we have different politics, different starting points and different end points.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman on the age restriction on the national living wage; the fact that it does not apply to under-25s is grossly wrong. The whole concept of the national living wage as put forward by the Chancellor is not only an attempt to slightly enhance or rebadge the minimum wage; it is a blatant attempt to puncture the living wage, and to change its agenda and what is intended by it. That comes alongside other measures that we have discussed, such as changes to tax credits, which will directly take over £1,200 a year—over £100 a month—from people who are in work.

We are told that nobody who has more than two children at the moment will lose out as a result of the changes to the limits on child benefit; that will come

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later. If we are really to believe what Conservative Members were telling us earlier—that the number of children that people are having is an economic choice to do with the availability of tax credits and the eligibility for benefits—we need to hear from relevant Ministers how they will cope with the baby boom that we will have before April 2017, as people ensure that children are born in time to qualify for benefits. There will be either a race for benefits or a race for births, or both, if we believe half of what we heard across the way yesterday.

The new banking measures replace the big measures that were introduced by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor during the last Parliament, otherwise known as Project Merlin. A fairly effete bank levy was intended to sort out the banks and put manners on them. Now we have a new Project Merlin: the Chancellor seems to have decided to take key social policies from Merlin Entertainments. A family means two adults and two children, and no more. There is no deal for anyone who goes beyond that.

4.55 pm

Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) (SNP): I rise to speak in support of the SNP amendment and, hopefully, to persuade the House to deny the Bill a Second Reading.

Before I go into the details of the Bill, I want to deal with a question of overview. Over the years, we have grown used to hearing glib statements from the Government, and soundbites rather than substance. Many of us marvel at the fact that the Conservatives manage, without smile or grimace, to get the words “working people” out of their mouths quite so often, given that, we suspect, some of them rarely meet the working people of this country, let alone have their best interests at heart. We have also grown used to the phrase ”long-term economic plan”, although the plan has been going for five years and has so far failed to meet every single objective that was set for it by the Chancellor. The latest mantra we hear consists of six words: the Conservatives believe in “high wages, low taxes, low welfare”. That is the type of society that they want to see.

I think it was the hon. Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) who, at an early stage in the debate, asked the Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Shabana Mahmood), whether she agreed with the general direction indicated by those six words. I do not want to misrepresent the hon. Lady, but I did not hear her response, and I think that she tried to dodge the question. Well, I do not want to dodge the question. I want to say that I consider that statement to be facetious, glib and shallow, and that it is not a statement with which my colleagues and I agree.

I want to see a society in which there are high wages, fair taxes and decent welfare provision for everyone, and that is what I think we should be aiming for. I believe that prosperity is not just about what we have as individuals, and the wealth that one family gets through a wage packet, but about the things that we have together, in our society and in our communities. I believe in the whole concept of the social wage. If we know that we have well-funded, adequate, strong public services in respect of, for instance, health and education, and if we know that we have a strong system of social insurance that gives us a safety net should we fall ill, suffer disability, or find ourselves between periods of employment, we are much richer as a result. That is our attitude, and that is the philosophy in which we believe.

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Let me now deal with some of the provisions in the Bill. So far, no one has discussed the tax lock provisions in clauses 1 and 2. The Government are saying that, for the remainder of the current Parliament, they will take upon themselves a legal obligation not to increase VAT or income tax. I made some inquiries about that, because I thought it a strange thing for the Government to want to do. After all, they are the Government now, and they will be the Government next year and for the following five years. If these provisions are included in what will become the Finance Act 2015, it will only take a clause in the 2016 Finance Bill to overturn them. They are therefore literally not worth the paper on which they are written. That is another example of a Government who prefer public relations to concern about the public finances.

The second detailed issue that I want to raise is that of the personal allowance. Members on both sides of the House will probably welcome the increase in the allowance and, as we are told, the ability of people to keep a little more of what they earn; but let us not kid ourselves.

Angela Crawley: IFS figures state that a £1,000 increase in work allowance available to a single parent earning £12,000 would boost their income by £650 a year, whereas in contrast a £1,000 increase in personal allowance would mean a family would benefit by only £70, resulting in further child poverty. Does my hon. Friend agree that this will not help families?

Tommy Sheppard: I agree with my hon. Friend and was just about to make that point, which has been endorsed by the IFS and others. The personal allowance is one lever we can use to enable people to keep more of what they earn, but we should not fool ourselves that it is going to do something about the lowest paid in our society and that it is the only thing we should do. Let us compare and contrast it with action on the work allowance, for example, which is the amount of money people are allowed to earn before they begin to lose benefit. As my hon. Friend said, increasing that by £1,000 would have a much better effect than increasing the personal allowance by £1,000.

Our manifesto had a proposal to increase the work allowance to 20% to allow people to keep more of the money they earn. That would also provide a powerful incentive for people either to go out and get higher paid work or to get more work, knowing they would be able to benefit from that and would not lose benefits as a consequence. Under these current proposals, however, someone who today has a part-time job earning, say, £5,000 a year will either lose benefits or have to work less and earn less than £5,000 to keep their benefits. Either way, their household income will go down. That will make the poorest in our society poorer still, and it is a serious indictment of this Government that that is the direction they are going in.

On inheritance tax, I do not think any Member of this House would suggest for one minute that people should not be allowed to pass on their good fortune to their children. All of us believe in that, but this is the question: when doing that, should the luckiest in our society who have benefited the most, as well as passing most of what they have on to their children, also make some contribution to other people’s children and society as a whole? That is why we have taxation, after all.

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Governments and their policies are about priorities and this Government have shown their priority is to look after people who live in £1 million houses and make the tax burden easier for them while clobbering the poorest in our society.

I also want to echo the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Roger Mullin), who proposed our amendment, and ask the Minister to examine in the context of this Bill the serious value added tax anomaly that has built up in Scotland with our police and fire and rescue services. There is an opportunity to remove this anomaly whereby the forces in Scotland are the only ones in all of these islands that have to pay VAT. Police Scotland has to pay £23 million a year to the Exchequer. That is extremely unfair and it places a great burden on that service. The money would be better spent on police officers on the streets defending us against crime. Given the Government’s apparent commitment to doing something about crime in our society, I hope they will take that on board. If Ministers cannot deal with this point in today’s debate, perhaps they will at least give an undertaking to look into it as the Bill goes to Committee.

The insurance premium tax measure is a clear example of this Bill’s policies not being about those who can afford to pay the most and who have the broadest shoulders and are able to cope with this burden. Those who live in high-crime areas are usually in poorer households and poorer communities, and they will face heavier insurance bills—if, indeed, they can afford to buy insurance. As a result of this policy, we are taxing people who have to pay those premiums in those areas more than people in the leafy suburbs who are much better able to pay. This is an iniquitous, devious little measure, and it should be rejected.

I have two further points to make. First, there is the most interesting question of this entire debate—and we have sat here for hours now. It is, where are Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition? I was taken aback when I heard the Labour party’s representative say that it would abstain on this Bill, so I spent an hour out of the Chamber doing a little research. On 6 July 2010, the Labour party voted against the Second Reading of the Finance Bill. On 26 April 2011, the Labour party voted against the Finance Bill on Second Reading. Members may see where I am going with this. On 16 April 2012, there was a Division on Second Reading and Labour voted against the Finance Bill. On 15 April 2013, there was a Division on Second Reading of the Finance Bill and Labour voted against it. On 1 April 2014, Labour voted for its own reasoned amendment and then against Second Reading of the Finance Bill.

For five years the Opposition have voted against the Government’s Finance Bill on its Second Reading. Can it possibly be that the difference then was that it was a coalition Finance Bill put forward with the Liberal Democrats, and that, now, the Opposition find this Finance Bill, put forward just by the Conservative party, to be more acceptable? Even I would find that incredibly implausible, so I urge and plead with Labour Members, because the country needs better than this. The people who did not vote for the Conservative party—63% of them—expect it to be opposed in this Chamber, and, even if Labour Members agree with one or two things in the Bill, surely they can see that its overall rubric and intent is to penalise those people in

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society whom they should stand up for. I appeal to Labour Members to reconsider their position on this issue and to join us in the Lobby tonight as we vote against the Bill on its Second Reading.

My final point is this: in my country this Government have no mandate to bring forward these proposals. They got 14% of the votes in Scotland; they have one out of 59 Scottish MPs. Our country is completely opposed to the Bill, and the people have sent us here with a mandate to oppose it. That more than anything else shows the need for these measures to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament—in order that the Scottish Government can deliver to the Scottish people their own democratic wishes and the type of society that they want to see.

Barbara Keeley rose—

Alex Salmond rose—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. The right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) puts me in something of a dilemma, because he appears to be indicating that he wishes to take part in the debate, but I do not recall that he was here for the opening speeches. I do not think he was, was he? If he wishes to contradict me with evidence, I will of course accept his point. I will allow him to explain.

Alex Salmond: I am grateful for the opportunity, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have been here for some substantial time in this debate—not for the opening speeches, but longer than just about any Labour or Conservative Member, apart from those on the two Front Benches. Indeed, I was here when the total number of Labour and Conservative Members present was in single figures. I am well aware of the rules of the House, Madam Deputy Speaker—[Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. It is not for anyone else to judge who will speak and not speak in the Chamber. The right hon. Gentleman is, indeed, well aware of the rules of the House, as a seasoned performer in this Chamber. I know that he will appreciate that I also am aware that he was here for much of the debate, but not for the opening speeches. There are other people whom I have prevented from speaking earlier this afternoon because they were not here for the opening speeches. It is, however, obviously open to the right hon. Gentleman to intervene during the winding-up speeches that are about to begin from the Front Benches.

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am very interested in your ruling. In future, will it not be open to members of the Whips Office, either Government or Opposition, to drag people in late in a debate to speak? Will that not be open to the Whips Office?

Madam Deputy Speaker: That has never been the case. If a Member is not here for the Minister’s opening speech and the opening speech of the Opposition, whichever Opposition that might be, they do not have a right to be called in the debate. But I have just ruled that there is nothing to stop a Member making an intervention in

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the speech of another Member, should there be some very pressing and important point that that Member wishes to make.

Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I understand the ruling entirely, but will you clarify one thing? Is the speech of the principal spokesman from the Scottish National party to be deemed as an opening speech to which Members should be listening, or do the opening speeches principally come from the Treasury team and the Official Opposition?

Madam Deputy Speaker: Normally, speeches from the Treasury Front Bench and the Official Opposition Front Bench count as the opening speeches. But I have to say that that is a very narrow way of looking at the issue. If a Member wishes to take part in a debate—[Interruption.] Order. If a Member wishes to take part in a debate, it would be courteous and proper to be here for the whole of the debate. I am making no criticism of the right hon. Member for Gordon, who was here for much of yesterday’s debate and for much of today’s debate. I am just not allowing him to make a speech; it is not that I am not allowing him to say anything.

Alex Salmond: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I just point out that it is not immediately obvious to Members that a Second Reading debate on the Finance Bill will not be able to fulfil its time slot—they are not aware of that at the start of a debate? But, Madam Deputy Speaker, may I say that, as ever, your ruling has been most gracefully made, and therefore will be most gracefully accepted.

Madam Deputy Speaker: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his graceful point of order.

5.11 pm

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak. It seems that it is third time lucky.

We have had a lively debate. We heard speeches from the hon. Members for Charnwood (Edward Argar), for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Roger Mullin), for Dudley South (Mike Wood), for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) and for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West), the hon. and learned Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Lucy Frazer), and the hon. Members for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), for East Lothian (George Kerevan), for Foyle (Mark Durkan) and for Edinburgh East (Tommy Sheppard).

Last week, the Labour Opposition voted against the Budget, which my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr Umunna), the shadow Business Secretary, described as “unfair” and “regressive” and

“not equal to the challenges that we face as a country.”—[Official Report, 14 July 2015; Vol. 598, c. 768.]

This is the context in which we start our scrutiny of the summer Finance Bill. There has been much rhetoric and spin from Ministers but little acknowledgment of the hardship that the Government’s measures will cause to more than 3 million people on low incomes. We heard much on that point today.

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The hon. Member for Edinburgh East challenged my hon. Friend the shadow Chief Secretary on Labour’s stance on the general direction of the Finance Bill. I am not a Hansard writer, so I do not claim that this is absolutely verbatim, but it is worth repeating what my hon. Friend said, which was that Labour disputes the Government’s characterisation of the measures in the Budget and the Bill. We do not see them as they see them. They use these descriptions of national living wage, working people and so on, but we do not see it that way. However—this is an important point—the measures we oppose are not all in this Bill. Some will be in delegated legislation. I hope that explains our position to the hon. Gentleman.

Given the hardship that the Budget’s measures will cause to 3 million families on low incomes and that we debated yesterday, the tax lock is of course welcome. However, there were giveaways in this Budget, which are detailed in the Finance Bill, such as the cut to inheritance tax. That featured a number of times in the debate. I want to question the priorities that are behind the choices made by this Government. Whenever we talk about increases to the national minimum wage, we must bear in mind, as many Members have done, that the cuts to tax credits more than outweigh those wage increases. My hon. Friends have taken the opportunity to outline our opposition to these regressive measures that will hit more than 3 million working people. Despite the gimmick of the tax lock on VAT and income tax, the Government’s other tax increases will also have an impact on families over and above the impact from cuts in tax credits.

Ian Blackford: I am pleased that the hon. Lady mentioned Labour’s opposition to the impact of the tax credits, but there is concern on the SNP Benches and elsewhere in the country—this goes to the heart of the matter—that people who will be affected by the Budget and what is happening in this Finance Bill need leadership. It is that failure to give leadership—to oppose, as the Opposition party in this House—and to stand up for people who are affected by these measures on which the Labour Opposition will be judged.

Barbara Keeley: I do not believe that is the case. We have been through the whole of the last Parliament being the official Opposition and we are still in that position again after the election, much to our chagrin. I know there are a lot of new Members in the House, but I must say that a Bill does not pass through the Commons in one sitting—it does not pass through the Commons in one day—because it goes to Committee. When we come back in September we will have a Committee of the whole House, and we have started to table amendments for debate on those days. There are also Public Bill Committee sittings, Report and Third Reading, so there are many occasions when speeches can be made.

Alex Salmond: As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh East (Tommy Sheppard) pointed out, the Labour Opposition have divided the House on the Finance Bill for every Budget since 2010. What is it about this Budget—this extraordinary, regressive Budget—that makes it such that the Labour party does not want to support our opposition to it?

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Barbara Keeley: I have made the point about the characterisation of the Budget. The right hon. Gentleman will have to take my word for it that some earlier Finance Bills contained all the measures that were in the Budget. Much of this Budget is split. It is not all in this Bill or the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. Some of it will be in delegated legislation. There will be plenty of opportunities to make the arguments he puts. Opposing at this point is not the only thing that we can do as an Opposition, and Members will just have to take my word for that.

Despite the gimmick of the tax lock on VAT and income tax, the Government’s other tax increases will have an impact on families over and above the impact from cuts in tax credits, as I said. The rate of insurance premium tax is increasing by more than 50%, which will be a hit to the cost of insurance for the family home, the family car and family holidays. A number of hon. Members referred to that. Insurance industry experts have raised concerns about the impact that this tax increase could have on the take-up of insurance. They have warned that it may mean policyholders buy less cover, in effect “taxing protection”. Half the poorest households do not have home contents insurance, and those households are more than three times as likely to be burgled as those with insurance. That leaves low-income households less financially able to replace goods lost through burglary, fire or flood. That point obviously was not understood by the hon. Member who mentioned it earlier.

We have welcomed the increase in the minimum wage set out in clauses 3 and 4. The Government are adopting a Labour policy to increase the value of the national minimum wage, a measure we introduced in 1998 in the face of fierce opposition—one could almost say ferocious opposition—from Conservatives. My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green spoke effectively about implementing the real living wage and about the safety net that tax credits can provide as people move in and out of low-paid work. We had a number of useful interventions in which hon. Members clarified the status of the real national living wage versus the increased national minimum wage. Leaving aside that issue, it would help if the Chancellor got his facts right. In an article in The Guardian yesterday, he claimed that 2.7 million people would gain £5,000 each from the increase to the national minimum wage, but the Low Pay Commission tells us that there are, in fact, 1.4 million people in minimum wage jobs, including only 1.2 million people who are over 21. Perhaps the Minister can tell us why the Chancellor persists in using such incorrect figures.

There is real concern about the impact of minimum wage increases on social care provision, funded through local authority budgets, if the Government do not fund the increase in the minimum wage as it is a new burden on local authorities. The care sector is one of the lowest-paid sectors. The planned increases in the national minimum wage for care workers have been estimated by the Local Government Association to cost £330 million this year, rising to £1 billion a year by 2020. The Opposition believe that low-paid care workers should have a wage increase, but we obviously need to find ways to fund it that do not involve further cuts to care or other local authority services. I am sure that my hon. Friend, who was leader of her council, has battled through that, as have other local authority leaders.

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Ministers are clearly in a mess over the funding of social care. Since the Budget, the Government have abandoned their manifesto pledge to cap care costs from next year, as we heard in Treasury questions this morning. Indeed, the vice-president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has said that the pressures of rising demand, punitively reduced budgets and the impending obligation to pay increased wages all

“put an intolerable strain on social care finance.”

Abandoning the care cap seems to be a short-term palliative to those funding issues, but it will come at a high cost to people living with dementia and other long-term conditions.

The Opposition therefore question the Government’s priorities. Bringing in the nil-rate band of inheritance tax for properties worth up to £1 million when the property passes to direct descendants will cost almost £1 billion by 2020 onwards, yet families of people who need social care for long periods can lose nearly all the value of their homes through paying for care. It seems, unless the Minister can enlighten us otherwise, that there is no ray of hope for them in this Parliament.

The IFS has described the removal of the climate change levy exemption on renewables as a measure that makes “no economic sense”. Friends of the Earth has said that the change shifts the climate change levy from a carbon tax to just a tax on all electricity consumed. A number of interventions and speeches touched on that.

Andrew Gwynne: Of course, we should not be surprised about the changes to the climate change levy, given that the Government have already signalled their direction of travel through their proposed changes to onshore wind. Does my hon. Friend agree that that is a retrograde step, given that the United Kingdom is such a leader in renewable energy?

Barbara Keeley: Indeed I do. My hon. Friend the shadow Chief Secretary noted that the Chartered Institute of Taxation has suggested having some kind of audit and report on the way forward for the sector, which would be very helpful.

The removal of that exemption will come at a cost to companies and to the environment. It makes little sense to remove the exemption for renewable energy generators in the UK. It will not only increase tax on business consumption of energy, but reduce the relationship between the tax paid and the carbon content of the energy, as a number of Members have noted. The Opposition believe that the Government should be encouraging the renewables sector to develop and grow. Cutting green subsidies risks being a false economy and may cost the UK economy more in the long term.

It is right that banks should pay their fair share of tax. The bank levy, as many Members have noted, was designed to discourage risky borrowing. Now the Government plan to reduce the bank levy gradually. Instead, banks will be subject to an 8% corporation tax surcharge on bank profits from January 2016. The IFS estimates that the change to the bank levy will cost the Exchequer £1.8 billion from 2021 onwards, whereas the 8% corporation tax surcharge on bank profits will raise only £1.3 billion.

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There is a question of priorities here. Is it fair at this time, when working families are going to be made worse off by the Government’s plans, to reduce the levy paid by the banks in that way? The Minister will probably say that it will make money in the longer term, but many concerns have been raised. The IFS and other organisations have raised concerns about the possibility of perverse incentives and disproportionate impacts on parts of the banking sector.

We want to ensure that the Bill helps to create a system in which banks are taxed proportionately and fairly. A number of concerns were raised about the impact of the corporation tax surcharge on bank profits on building societies and challenger banks. We clearly need to examine the issue closely in Committee of the whole House.

On tax avoidance, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who is not in his place, was asked whether £5 billion was small beer. Certainly, our Labour target for tax avoidance was £7.5 billion by the middle of this Parliament, and Labour Members have raised many points of concern about tax avoidance, including on the importance of going further to close the “Mayfair” loophole. We will return to those tax avoidance issues later in our scrutiny of the Bill.

Although we agree with some measures in the Bill, others obviously need to be amended. It is clear that the Budget, and hence the Finance Bill, together with the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, will have a regressive impact, and the Finance Bill highlights the wrong priorities chosen by this Government. The Chancellor claimed that his Budget was moving us to a low-tax society, when tax increases are actually at twice the level of tax cuts. Budget giveaways, like the cut to inheritance tax, look like the wrong priority when they are viewed against measures to penalise 3 million of the lowest-income households by £1,000 a year. Families will also be penalised when they take out insurance on their family car or home contents, if they can still afford to take out insurance on their car and home contents. A point which I come back to because it is so important is that the Government’s priorities mean that one group of families, with homes to a value of £1 million, are to be protected from inheritance tax, while the families of people needing social care over long periods will have no cap on the costs of their care.

We will return to the issues of bank taxation, the insurance premium tax and the climate change levy in our debates in Committee in September, and I hope Ministers will have time in between for more reflection on their priorities.

This is not the pre-recess Adjournment debate, but a number of good wishes have been expressed and I should like to add to them. I will take a chance here and wish the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil) happy birthday; I am sure I made a mess of the pronunciation. Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like to wish all Members of the House a good recess and wish all the Officers and you a good summer, with some time off for a break before we return.

5.26 pm

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Damian Hinds): It is a pleasure to close this wide-ranging and lively debate. The right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) reminded us, in a timely intervention, that it could have

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gone to any hour, but in the event it was not to be. We were helped in our timeliness by the Labour party. It has only been a short week so far, but it has not been a great week for Labour unity. Nevertheless, it has discovered a new answer to the question of how not to show disunity, which is preferably not to show up at all.

This Government have set out a bold plan for the next stage of Britain’s economic recovery and this Finance Bill helps us to deliver it. The Bill will help move our economy from a low-wage, high-tax, high-welfare economy to a higher-wage, lower-tax, less welfare-reliant economy. It rewards work and ensures that hard-working families can keep more of the money they earn. It cuts taxes for businesses, helping them to create jobs and deliver the growth we need to secure the future prosperity of our nation. And it tackles avoidance.

Alex Salmond: Let us get to the nub of this. Is it not the case, confirmed by a number of analysts, that in every single constituency in this country, thousands of families with children will be worse off as a result of the Budget? What does he say to those low-paid families who will be substantially worse off as a result of this Budget?

Damian Hinds: What “he” says is that eight out of 10 families will be better off as a result of the blend—the complete set—of measures in the summer Budget.

Sir Edward Leigh: With regard to the point about removing tax credits to families with more than two children, I want to establish a principle which I think is quite important. Perhaps I should declare an interest: I have six children. I apologise for that. I just want to establish that the Government are not following the sort of liberal line that there is an ideal family—that a family of two children is more worthy than one of one or three or four or five. The Government are not approaching the subject from that viewpoint, are they? We can at least establish that principle, can we not?

Damian Hinds: I can confirm that absolutely. We have not managed six in my household but we do have three, and I, like my hon. Friend, do not think there is an ideal number of children to have in a family. I do not think it is for Government to say what that should be. But what we do say is that in making decisions about starting a family and about growing their family, people in different circumstances, whether they are supporting themselves entirely through employment or with the help of benefits, should have to make the same sorts of decisions.

Caroline Lucas rose—

Damian Hinds: I must make progress. I must respond to several points that were raised in the debate.

This Bill takes the next steps towards Britain’s sustained economic security, putting us on the right path towards meeting our ambition to be the most prosperous major economy in the world within a generation. As the hon. Member for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley) pointed out, the Bill is not about everything that is in the Budget. The Finance Bill is limited in scope specifically to tax measures intended for general expenditure. The national living wage is not within its scope, but as the direct question came up of how the Government would bring it in, I confirm that we will be making regulations to introduce it for April 2016.

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I want to respond to a number of other points. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Roger Mullin) suggested that changes to inheritance tax were only to protect the rich. As a result of rising house prices, inheritance tax increasingly hits people with normal family homes and, without action, the number of estates facing an IHT bill was forecast to double from about 35,000 in 2014-15 to 63,000 in 2021. As he will know, there are provisions such that it is clawed back from the very largest estates so that the wealthiest people do not in fact benefit.

The hon. Gentleman, the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West) and others mentioned the so-called Mayfair loophole and the treatment of carried interest. Carried interest is treated as a capital gain in the UK, as in most other jurisdictions, because it is not exactly the same as a salary; it reflects the return to the manager in terms of some of the investment risk that they have undertaken. That is aligned to the tax treatment applied to other investors.

The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath spoke powerfully about the vital and sometimes dangerous work done by the emergency services in Scotland, as did the hon. Member for Edinburgh East (Tommy Sheppard), and asked about VAT treatment. The discontinuation of local funding for police and fire and rescue services in Scotland was a decision by the Scottish Government, not the UK Government. The Scottish Government were explicitly advised of the VAT consequences of that reorganisation. Because these bodies are no longer funded through local taxation, the rationale for providing exemption under section 33 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 does not apply.

The hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson), apart from his very engaging mini-debate with the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), asked about take-up of the employment allowance in Northern Ireland. It has been taken up by 27,000 businesses—an 84% take-up rate, which is a wee bit below the UK average, but fairly close to it. Of course, we must continue to draw attention to its benefits.

The hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green rightly talked about the vital role of childcare in enabling productivity gains. She mentioned particularly the importance of enabling mums to return to the workplace sooner if they so wish. I am sure that she will therefore welcome our increasing the facility for three and four-year-olds to 30 hours.

The hon. Member for East Lothian (George Kerevan) talked about the productivity problem. I am sure he would not suggest that it is a new problem, but if he had, it would have been misleading, as it has been around for a long time. I make no apology for the fact that in 2010, facing the economic crisis that we did, the very top priority of the incoming Government was to keep people in work. The success of that approach has been reflected in the 2 million jobs created over the past five years.

The hon. Members for Foyle (Mark Durkan) and for East Antrim asked about what would happen with vehicle excise duty in Northern Ireland. Devolved Administrations will of course continue to get funding for roads through the Barnett formula, and they could establish a specific fund for their roads if they chose.

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We heard a number of other excellent speeches. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield) reminded us of the context of the deficit. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Lucy Frazer) said that it was easy to come up with reasons for not doing things now but that now is the right time to get on with these important measures. She and my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley South (Mike Wood) talked about the importance of businesses in creating jobs, and welcomed the apprenticeships levy.

Fairness was at the fore of the debate a number of times. My hon. Friend the Member for Charnwood (Edward Argar) put it very well when he said that we believe in a low-tax economy in which everyone pays their fair share. He is correct that our plans include improved tax recovery. It is partly because of that that we can ensure that everyone, especially the low-paid, can keep more of what they earn, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) noted.

Indeed, we have always believed that working people should be free to keep more of the money they earn. That is one of the most powerful incentives to aspiration. During the last Parliament, we increased the personal allowance from the £6,475 we inherited to £10,600. Clauses 5 and 6 will increase the personal allowance to £11,000 in 2016-17 and to £11,200 in 2017-18, and increase the higher rate threshold to £43,000 and to £43,600 respectively. As a result, nearly 600,000 more individuals will be taken out of income tax by 2016-17. These are important steps towards the Government’s ambition to increase the personal allowance to £12,500 by the end of the Parliament. We will ensure that, when that is achieved, the personal allowance will be uprated in line with the national minimum wage so that no one working 30 hours on the national minimum wage will pay income tax.

Barbara Keeley rose—

Damian Hinds: I had better continue, as I still have several of points to which I need to respond.

The Finance Bill provides further certainty for the people of this country by legislating for the income tax and VAT elements of the tax lock in clauses 1 and 2, which delivers our manifesto commitment to rule out in law any increases in the main rates of income tax, VAT or national insurance for the duration of this Parliament.

Finally, the Finance Bill recognises and rewards the natural aspiration to own your own home not just as a place to live, but as a piece of security, an asset to invest in through your working life, to take with you into retirement and one day to be able to pass on to your children.

Barbara Keeley: I am glad that the Minister has managed to spare some time out of the 90 or so minutes that remain. I raised the issue of the care cap, to which he has not responded at all. It will cost £1 billion to bring in the nil-rate band on inheritance tax. The Minister talked about childcare, but he has not touched on that particular point. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. I cannot hear the hon. Lady. The Members who have been in the Chamber for the whole debate will wish to

21 July 2015 : Column 1452

hear her and the Minister’s answer. If other people, who have not been here for the debate, wish to have conversations, they can have them outside the Chamber.

Barbara Keeley: Will the Minister respond to the point I raised: is it reasonable to spend £1 billion so that people can pass on the value of their homes while others—people with dementia and other long-term conditions—can lose everything they have and all the value of their home through paying down care costs?

Damian Hinds: The hon. Lady will know that we still intend to bring forward the cap. It has had to be delayed, but we intend to do it during this Parliament. The Budget delivers for all the people of this country, including those who work hard, save hard and want to be able to pass on an asset to their children. In the Bill, we introduce a new £175,000 per person transferable allowance when a person’s home is passed on at death to their children or grandchildren. With the allowance, married couples and civil partners can now pass on an estate worth up to £1 million before having to pay any inheritance tax.

Mark Durkan: Will the Minister give way?

Damian Hinds: I will not give way, if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me.

Productive businesses are the fundamental drivers of national growth. Back in 2010, our corporation tax rate was 28%. Over the course of the last Parliament, we reduced it to its current level of 20%, the joint lowest in the G20. We are reaping the rewards of that, with the UK growing faster than any other G7 economy in 2014. Now we will go further. Clause 7 cuts the rate to 19% in 2017 and to 18% in 2020. The cuts will save businesses a further £6.6 billion by 2021. In addition, clause 8 sets a new permanent level for the annual investment allowance. At £200,000, it is the highest ever permanent level.

We need to invest more in our roads, because their quality has fallen behind as a result of decades of under-investment. That is why we have the reform of vehicle excise duty, which supports the creation of a new roads fund and puts vehicle excise duty revenues on a long-term, sustainable footing.

To respond to the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion, the incentives will still be there to purchase lower-carbon vehicles in the first year rates. We know from research that people focus on the first year rate in particular when buying a car. We will do that while dealing with the unfairness that my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes rightly identified, whereby people driving a second-hand car can pay a lot more than those who can afford to buy a new model every couple of years.

It is right that banks make a fair contribution to the public finances that reflects the risk that they pose to the UK economy. That is why we introduced the bank levy in the last Parliament. The additional contribution needs to be balanced with consideration for the UK’s global competitiveness. Therefore, we are legislating for a package of measures that includes making sure that banks cannot profit from the fines they incur and the supplementary rate of tax. I reassure hon. Members about the impact on smaller challenger banks, which we greatly support. The way in which the charge is structured will ensure that they are not adversely or unduly affected.

21 July 2015 : Column 1453

This is an ambitious Finance Bill for an ambitious nation. It rewards work and investment, provides certainty and security for families and businesses, delivers significant tax reform, helps our economy to be even more competitive internationally, and ensures that the burden of fiscal consolidation is distributed fairly. The Finance Bill marks the next step forward in our long-term economic plan and I commend it to the House.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 61, Noes 307.

Division No. 52]

[

5.41 pm

AYES

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Arkless, Richard

Bardell, Hannah

Black, Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Boswell, Philip

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Chapman, Douglas

Cherry, Joanna

Cowan, Ronnie

Crawley, Angela

Day, Martyn

Docherty, Martin John

Donaldson, Stuart

Durkan, Mark

Ferrier, Margaret

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Hendry, Drew

Hosie, Stewart

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Law, Chris

Lucas, Caroline

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mc Nally, John

McCaig, Callum

McDonald, Stewart

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McGarry, Natalie

McLaughlin, Anne

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Mullin, Roger

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Oswald, Kirsten

Paterson, Steven

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Salmond, rh Alex

Shannon, Jim

Sheppard, Tommy

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Stephens, Chris

Thewliss, Alison

Thompson, Owen

Thomson, Michelle

Weir, Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Wilson, Corri

Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Ayes:

Marion Fellows

and

Jonathan Edwards

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Green, Chris

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Kinahan, Danny

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Paisley, Ian

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Sarah Newton

and

Simon Kirby

Question accordingly negatived.

21 July 2015 : Column 1454

21 July 2015 : Column 1455

Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 62(2)), That the Bill be now read a Second time.

21 July 2015 : Column 1456

The House divided:

Ayes 301, Noes 75.

Division No. 53]

[

5.54 pm

AYES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Green, Chris

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Simon Kirby

and

Sarah Newton

NOES

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Arkless, Richard

Bardell, Hannah

Black, Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Boswell, Philip

Brake, rh Tom

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Chapman, Douglas

Cherry, Joanna

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Cowan, Ronnie

Crawley, Angela

Day, Martyn

Docherty, Martin John

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donaldson, Stuart

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Farron, Tim

Ferrier, Margaret

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Hendry, Drew

Hosie, Stewart

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Kinahan, Danny

Law, Chris

Lucas, Caroline

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mc Nally, John

McCaig, Callum

McDonald, Stewart

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McGarry, Natalie

McLaughlin, Anne

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Mulholland, Greg

Mullin, Roger

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Oswald, Kirsten

Paisley, Ian

Paterson, Steven

Pugh, John

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robinson, Gavin

Salmond, rh Alex

Shannon, Jim

Sheppard, Tommy

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Stephens, Chris

Thewliss, Alison

Thomson, Michelle

Weir, Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Sammy

Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Noes:

Owen Thompson

and

Marion Fellows

Question accordingly agreed to.

21 July 2015 : Column 1457

21 July 2015 : Column 1458

Bill read a Second time.

Finance Bill (Programme)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the following provisions shall apply to the Finance Bill:

Committal

(1) The following shall be committed to a Committee of the whole House—

(a) Clauses 16, 17, 43 and 45;

(b) Schedules 2 and 3;

21 July 2015 : Column 1459

(c) any new clauses, and any new Schedules, relating to the subject matter of those clauses or Schedules.

(2) The remainder of the Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.

Proceedings in Committee

(3) Proceedings in Committee of the whole House shall be completed at one day’s sitting.

(4) Those proceedings shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table.

(5) Each part of the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the time specified in relation to it in the second column of the Table.

Table
ProceedingsTime for conclusion of proceedings

Clause 43 and any new clauses or new Schedules relating to the subject matter of that clause

Two hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Bill

Clause 45 and any new clauses or new Schedules relating to the subject matter of that clause

Four hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Bill

Clauses 16 and 17 and Schedules 2 and 3, and any new clauses or new Schedules relating to the subject matter of those clauses and Schedules

Six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Bill

(6) Proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Tuesday 20 October 2015.

(7) The Public Bill Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it meets.

(8) When the provisions of the Bill considered, respectively, by the Committee of the whole House and by the Public Bill Committee have been reported to the House, the Bill shall be proceeded with as if it had been reported as a whole to the House from the Public Bill Committee.

Consideration and Third Reading

(9) Proceedings on Consideration and on Third Reading shall be completed at one day’s sitting.

(10) Proceedings on Consideration shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour before the moment of interruption on the day on which those proceedings are commenced.

(11) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on that day.

Programming committee

(12) Standing Order No. 83B (Programming committees) shall not apply to proceedings in Committee of the whole House or to proceedings on Consideration or Third Reading.—(Gavin Barwell.)

Question agreed to.

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Criminal Law, Northern Ireland

That the draft Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 (Extension of duration of non-jury trial provisions) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 4 June, be approved.—(Gavin Barwell.)

21 July 2015 : Column 1460

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Northern Ireland

That the draft Northern Ireland Assembly (Elections) (Amendment) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 8 July, be approved.—(Gavin Barwell.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Health and Safety

That the draft Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (General Duties of Self-Employed Persons) (Prescribed Undertakings) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 22 June, be approved.—(Gavin Barwell.)

Question agreed to.

Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wish to draw this House’s attention to a vote in the other place, of 320 to 139, in favour of setting up a Committee of both Houses to examine the issue of English votes for English laws. I hope that the Government will look at this matter, in the interest of going forward in a cross-party way, before they come back with new proposals in the autumn.

Mr Speaker: Of course, in common with most attempted points of order, this is a not a matter for the Chair. That said, I can confirm that the House of Lords has communicated by message that it has resolved that a Joint Committee should be appointed to consider the Government’s proposals on English votes for English laws, a resolution to which it desires the agreement of the Commons. This message will be printed in the Votes and Proceedings in the usual way. There is nothing for me to add at this stage, except to say that the hon. Gentleman looks duly satisfied that he has made his point and it is on the record.

On a point of order, I call the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker—excellent pronunciation, yet again. On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Following the point of order last night from my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) asking that the furniture be altered in this House so that the real Opposition could actually be in a place of opposition, is it in order that the party should change the seating instead, so that the actual Opposition—the SNP 56—sit in the right place, in opposition to the Tory party?

Mr Speaker: I do not want to be accused, least of all by the hon. Gentleman, on this, the last day before we rise for the summer recess, of lacking a sense of humour, but I think he might be being just a tad facetious.

After my little effort—well intentioned, though perhaps inadequate—to name his constituency, I should just say, in all humility, that I am quite open to lessons, either from him or from any of his colleagues arrayed across the Opposition Front Bench, in pronunciation or elocution, if they think that I would be a suitable pupil. We will leave it there for now.

21 July 2015 : Column 1461

petitions

Speed limit and traffic calming on Monmouth Road in Walsall

6.10 pm

Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab): The petition states—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker: Order. I think we need to hear fully this petition about the speed limit and traffic calming on Monmouth Road in Walsall, which we cannot adequately do if people are leaving the Chamber noisily. People will leave the Chamber in a decorous manner, following the example of the hon. Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare), who is leaving in a very statesmanlike fashion. The hon. Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) is assured of a fair hearing on behalf of her constituents.

Valerie Vaz: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The petition, which has been signed by 223 people, states:

The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that there is currently a 30mph speed limit on Monmouth Road, Bentley, Walsall, where there is a primary school and the entrance to a playing field. The playing field entrance is in constant use by dog walkers, families and the football clubs. Many vehicles travel at excessive speeds. There is a risk of serious incident if measures are not put in place to reduce the speed of vehicles using Monmouth Road.

The petitioners therefore request the House of Commons to urge Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council to implement a 20mph speed limit and traffic calming measures on Monmouth Road, Bentley, Walsall.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

[P001537]

Humanitarian situation in Yemen

6.12 pm

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree) (Lab/Co-op): I rise to present a petition on a matter of great importance to people in my constituency and across the UK. I have received numerous representations from my constituents about the dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen. A petition on the matter has been signed by more than 600 individuals in Liverpool alone.

Due to the ongoing conflict thousands of people have lost their lives and homes, and utilities, ports and airports have been destroyed. The United Nations has declared its highest level humanitarian emergency in Yemen. The British embassy has closed, and there are now no embassies open in the country. Many British citizens, or immediate relatives of British citizens, are currently stranded in Yemen. Because of the conflict they cannot cross into neighbouring countries to apply for the visas that they need. Little or no support is being offered to help these people. The petition states:

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take urgent action to ease the suffering of friends and families of British citizens in Yemen by speeding up and simplifying the application process for visa or entry requirements, by allowing the issuing of temporary sponsored visas for relatives and dependents of British citizens residing in the UK who are waiting for visas or whose passport applications are being processed and by coordinating evacuations for vulnerable British citizens who are in urgent need of evacuation from Yemen.

21 July 2015 : Column 1462

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the dire inhumane situation in Yemen due to the armed militia conflict (civil war) and the coalition bombing has led to thousands of people losing their lives or being injured as well as the destruction of thousands of homes, utilities, ports and airports; further that the United Nations now recognises the situation in Yemen as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis; further that many British citizens and sole dependents and relatives of British citizens are stranded in Yemen; further that the petitioners have concerns about the requirements for settlement visas because the visa requirements cannot be met by many people and because Yemeni nationals who are spouses or children of British citizens cannot cross over into neighbouring countries and cannot apply for such visas as there are no embassies in Yemen; and further that a petition in Liverpool was signed by over 600 individuals.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take urgent action to ease the suffering of friends and families of British citizens in Yemen by speeding up and simplifying the application process for visa or entry requirements, by allowing the issuing of temporary sponsored visas for relatives and dependents of British citizens residing in the UK who are waiting for visas or whose passport applications are being processed and by coordinating evacuations for vulnerable British citizens who are in urgent need of evacuation from Yemen.

And the petitioners remain, etc.]

[P001536]

Humanitarian situation in Yemen

6.14 pm

Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): I present this petition on behalf of many of my constituents, but it is also of concern to many citizens throughout the United Kingdom. The horrendous humanitarian crisis in Yemen is causing great distress to my constituents, as many British citizens’ sole dependants and relatives are stranded in dire, life-threatening circumstances. The petition states:

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take urgent action to ease the suffering of friends and families of British citizens in Yemen by speeding up and simplifying the application process for visa or entry requirements, by allowing the issuing of temporary sponsored visas for relatives and dependants of British citizens residing in the UK who are waiting for visas or whose passport applications are being processed and by coordinating evacuations for vulnerable British citizens who are in urgent need of evacuation from Yemen.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the dire inhumane situation in Yemen due to the armed militia conflict (civil war) and the coalition bombing has led to thousands of people losing their lives or being injured as well as the destruction of thousands of homes, utilities, ports and airports; further that the United Nations now recognises the situation in Yemen as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis; further that many British citizens and sole dependants and relatives of British citizens are stranded in Yemen; further that the petitioners have concerns about the requirements for settlement visas because the visa requirements cannot be met by many

21 July 2015 : Column 1463 people and because Yemeni nationals who are spouses or children of British citizens cannot cross over into neighbouring countries and cannot apply for such visas as there are no embassies in Yemen; and further that a petition in Liverpool has gathered many signatures.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take urgent action to ease the suffering of friends and families of British citizens in Yemen by speeding up and simplifying the application process for visa or entry requirements, by allowing the issuing of temporary sponsored visas for relatives and dependants of British citizens residing in the UK who are waiting for visas or whose passport applications are being processed and by coordinating evacuations for vulnerable British citizens who are in urgent need of evacuation from Yemen.

And the petitioners remain, etc.]

[P001538]

Chemotherapy Drug Abraxane

6.15 pm

Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab): The petition states:

The Petition of residents of the UK,

Declares that the chemotherapy drug Abraxane, used for treating people with pancreatic cancer, is being reviewed by the Cancer Drugs Fund panel at the end of July 2015; further that the drug should be retained on the Cancer Drugs Fund list of approved drugs; further that pancreatic cancer has the worst survival outcome of any of the 21 most common cancers with less than 4% of patients surviving 5 years or longer and that these low survival rates have remained virtually unchanged for the past 40 years; further that there are currently very few treatment options available for patients and that Abraxane offers a treatment option that some patients may be able to tolerate better than the most effective treatment currently available; further that ultimately Abraxane will give more patients access to life-extending treatment; further that removing Abraxane from the Cancer Drugs Fund will see pancreatic cancer patients in England disadvantaged; further that there is clinical support and demand for Abraxane and it is the only pancreatic cancer drug on the Cancer Drugs Fund; and further that an e-petition on this matter was signed by 2700 individuals.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to retain the chemotherapy drug Abraxane on the Cancer Drugs Fund list of approved drugs.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

[P001539]

Lambeth and Southwark Milkspots

6.17 pm

Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab): I wish to present a petition on behalf of my constituents, which has been signed by 4,000 residents. It raises the

21 July 2015 : Column 1464

important issue of milk spots cafés in Lambeth and Southwark, which exist to support new mothers who are breastfeeding their babies. They are staffed by expert midwives from King’s College Hospital, and provide a gold standard for post-natal breastfeeding support in the community, being free, accessible and held daily, and allowing continuity of care from skilled health professionals. King’s College Hospital has recently announced that it intends to recall those specialist midwives to perform general midwifery, with the aim of skills-sharing, and to replace them with midwives who have been given basic training, with no obvious expert support.

The health benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies are proven, but women, particularly in deprived areas, need support to establish it, and to overcome the initial pain and challenges which are common, and which lead many women to give up in the early weeks. It is not clear that the replacement support will be sufficient for babies with complications such as tongue-tie. The petition protests against the proposed end of the current staffing arrangements.

The petition states:

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons require the Department of Health to urge King's College Hospital to preserve the existing staffing arrangements of the Lambeth and Southwark Milkspots, and to investigate other means of sharing skills amongst its midwives.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The Petition of residents of Dulwich and West Norwood,

Declares that the Lambeth and Southwark Milkspots cafes staffed by expert midwives from King's College Hospital provide a gold standard of postnatal breastfeeding support in the community, being free, accessible, held daily, and allowing continuity of care from skilled health professionals; and further declares that King's College Hospital has announced that it intends to recall these specialist midwives with basic training, without any obvious expert support, and this will leave women with complicated needs without adequate support, advice or referral to hospital services; and that around 4,000 people have signed a Change.org petition to protest against the proposed end of current staffing arrangements.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons require the Department of Health to urge King's College Hospital to preserve the existing staffing arrangements of the Lambeth and Southwark Milkspots, and to investigate other means of sharing skills amongst its midwives.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.]

[P001540]

21 July 2015 : Column 1465

Public Transport (Greater Manchester)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Stephen Barclay.)

6.19 pm

Jonathan Reynolds (Stalybridge and Hyde) (Lab/Co-op): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting me this debate on an issue of vital importance to me and the vast majority of the 2.7 million people who live in Greater Manchester. I was advised as a new MP never to request the last Adjournment debate of the week with a title broader than my constituency. I appreciate that this is the last parliamentary business before the summer recess and have no doubt that you, Mr Speaker, like me, the Minister and other hon. Members present are itching to get out of this place and into a pair of Speedos as soon as possible, so I hope the debate will be an excellent way to start the summer. I thank all colleagues present in the Chamber: my hon. Friends the Members for Manchester, Withington (Jeff Smith), for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley), for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer) and for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne), and on the Government Benches the hon. Members for Bolton West (Chris Green) and for Bury North (Mr Nuttall). [Interruption.] Yes, and the Labour Whip is from London. I also thank the Minister for his attendance and response and Transport for Greater Manchester for its assistance to me in preparing for the debate.

This debate is particularly timely, as devolution to northern cities as part of the Government’s much-vaunted northern powerhouse initiative offers a huge opportunity for improvements in Greater Manchester’s public transport. My aim for this debate is to make my own contribution on what I and my constituents would like to see happen, and to ask the Minister whether he believes the powers to achieve that will be forthcoming.

Greater Manchester needs an improved public transport system, and in particular greater capacity. Improvements have been made in recent years, such as the expansion of our iconic Metrolink system, but more needs to be done to meet the needs of our growing city. We need these improvements to cater for increased demand for leisure travel in a city where the population is expanding, but crucially we need them for the economic benefit that a vastly improved public transport system would bring. If Greater Manchester is truly to thrive, as London has, the movement of a skilled workforce around the conurbation is vital.

I am sure the Minister will agree with that, not least because over a third of jobseekers in Greater Manchester state that lack of transport is one of the top barriers to their attending an interview or getting a job. Furthermore, the expected growth in Greater Manchester jobs is likely to mean at least 30,000 more trips into the city centre at peak times in the near future, while at the same time 31% of households in Greater Manchester have no access to a car.

One of the main points I wish to make in this debate, however, is that it is not just travel into the city centre and back out again that needs to be upgraded, but, fundamentally, travel between the outer parts of Greater Manchester to facilitate the easier movement of people to jobs, and to ensure places like Tameside do not miss out on the benefits of “devo-Manc”. Currently, our

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public transport system is largely based on getting into and out of the city centre, but I am convinced that we must improve the connectivity between the outer parts of Greater Manchester if we are to unlock its economic potential, and I am absolutely certain that we can do that. In this debate I shall address the issues around rail, rolling stock, Metrolink, buses and car use that I want to see tackled in order to achieve that.

I must start on a negative point, however: the incredibly disappointing news regarding the electrification of the trans-Pennine line that the Government disclosed recently. When the electrification of the trans-Pennine route was first announced back in 2011 I was very pleased and very supportive, not least because it would finally end the problems of under-capacity and unreliable services that my constituents in Stalybridge and Mossley, and those of other Members in the Chamber, were enduring daily. Coupled with the wider Rail North and northern hub work, the benefits would be huge, and I was delighted that my constituents would be able to see the improvement. I was also hoping to see my casework decrease, as poor, overcrowded services from Stalybridge are rightly regularly raised with me as an issue. Yet four years later that optimism and anticipation has all but disappeared thanks to this Government’s handling of rail policy.

I was incredibly disappointed to be told of what the Government describe as an “indefinite pause” of work on the trans-Pennine electrification, a disappointment shared by my constituents and colleagues on both sides of the House. The Manchester Evening News even went so far as to describe this as the “Northern Powercut”, which should give the Minister some sense of the anger rail users in Greater Manchester feel. We are still yet to receive a full explanation of why the work has been delayed, with the Government principally blaming Network Rail. I hope the Minister will shed some more light on this in his reply. The Prime Minister denied in a recent reply to me in this House that this amounted to a cancellation of the work, although announcing a “pause” without setting a date for work to be completed, or even restarted, seems to me to be pretty close to a cancellation. Therefore, I want to press the Minister on whether he can give a cast-iron guarantee before the House today that the electrification work will definitely be completed, even if he cannot give a date for its completion. That would provide some much needed clarity for rail users in Greater Manchester.

One related issue, which deserves specific attention, is that of the poor-quality rolling stock on all lines serving Greater Manchester. The Pacer trains used by Northern Rail are quite frankly not fit for purpose and in desperate need of replacement. If the Minister is not aware of the type of trains I am talking about, their nicknames, which include boneshakers, cattle trucks, bus bodies and pacemaker trains, should give him some idea of the esteem in which they are held by fed-up commuters in Greater Manchester.

The trains were of course intended as a stop-gap solution for rolling stock back in the 1980s, but they are still in use today on major commuter routes in and out of Manchester city centre, screeching round corners and disliked by almost everyone who travels on them. The Prime Minister himself has promised to end their use in the north of England, yet commuters see no progress, so will the Minister in his reply tell the House how he intends to achieve this?

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The one bright light at the end of the tunnel, I understand, is that those trains will have to be gone by 2020, as they do not comply with disability discrimination legislation. I appreciate that there are good intentions on the issue, but because of the wider problems in train franchising, stemming from the west coast main line debacle, in my constituency we actually saw the threat of newer trains being removed and transferred to the home counties. The pressure on the remaining fleet of diesel trains has become acute and will only get worse until electrification is completed. We fought off that proposal, but it means that my constituents repeatedly hear negative stories about the trains in our area, and I want to give them some hope for the future.

One area of public transport in Greater Manchester that has expanded successfully is the Metrolink network, and the new lines recently opened to Rochdale, Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne have been very welcome. It is no coincidence that the number of passenger journeys, which has been increasing year on year, reached 31 million in 2014-15, and Metrolink has become a visible symbol of Manchester.

There are issues that Metrolink does need to address, because customer satisfaction is not as high as it could be, and there have been some teething problems along the new routes. But overall I believe that Metrolink is a hugely important asset, and I would like to see it extended to my own constituency of Stalybridge and Hyde. Extending Metrolink to my constituency could be a radical new phase for the network.

As I previously noted, greater orbital connectivity between areas outside Manchester city centre would be of great benefit to Greater Manchester as a whole. To use the example of my own borough, Tameside has a significant inter-dependence with the neighbouring boroughs of Stockport and Oldham, not least because Stockport has nearly three times as many jobs as Tameside, and many Tameside residents fill those jobs.

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Jonathan Reynolds: Of course I will give way to my Tameside colleague.

Andrew Gwynne: As well as being a Tameside colleague, I am a Stockport Member of Parliament. My hon. Friend makes an excellent point about the need for orbital public transport around Greater Manchester. On existing infrastructure, he will know that there is a very under-used line between Stockport and Stalybridge, which serves Reddish South and Denton stations, with one train a week in one direction only. Is that not precisely the infrastructure that could be utilised to bring about the orbital service to which he refers?

Jonathan Reynolds: It absolutely is. It seems absurd, given the cost of creating new rail capacity, to have a line that is not utilised, when the reason it was not originally closed but turned into what is called a parliamentary service no longer applies, because transport patterns have changed so much. When we consider the bus links between Tameside and Stockport, with less than one bus an hour in some parts of my constituency, it does seem absurd.

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In putting forward this case, I want people to recognise the crucial point that, primarily due to the completion of the M60 motorway, people now choose more than ever before to live and work in different parts of Greater Manchester. Our public transport network needs to reflect that change in travel patterns. Many boroughs, including Tameside, are very keen to see an orbital expansion of the Metrolink network to connect key town centres, and to see it extended to Manchester airport, with the huge potential for jobs and growth that could bring. I would love to see Metrolink extended to run from Stockport town centre, through to Denton and Hyde, and then on to Ashton to create a genuine circle line for south and east Manchester.

Metrolink is wholly operated by Transport for Greater Manchester, but central Government have always been instrumental in supporting it, including when it comes to expansion, so I would be interested to know the Minister’s thoughts on whether this Government would support further Metrolink expansion—perhaps using Government funds to match the retained revenue from the increase in business rates that might occur through expansion.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): There will be profound disappointment among my constituents, who have suffered the installation—or part-installation—of the Leigh guided busway, which is a gross mistake. We should have had Metrolink built. Guided busway schemes are expensive, and that one should never have been installed.

Jonathan Reynolds: I know that my hon. Friend feels strongly about that. The expansion of Metrolink could certainly fulfil such a need.

I want to go on to the subject of buses. Journeys by bus within Greater Manchester remain the predominant form of public transport used, with over 210 million journeys last year, but bus patronage continues to flatline, as opposed to what we have seen in London, where it has vastly increased. Transport for Greater Manchester recognises that that is an issue, and the preferred answer seems to be much further transport devolution.

I am very much in favour of bus regulation, similar to that in London. I know that Transport for Greater Manchester, too, is keen to explore the benefits of bus franchising in order to properly integrate and co-ordinate the public transport network so as to secure the growth in bus usage that has been lacking in recent years. A model such as the London one would mean a simpler single identity and a set of easier multi-modal fares and tickets across Greater Manchester as passengers’ travel patterns change. A good recent example of why this is necessary is surely the Healthier Together hospital reorganisation initiative, which shows that there is a crucial need for local transport authorities to be able to plan bus services and not be at the whim of timetables that do not always suit passengers’ requirements. We also need to be able to guarantee transport services in order to better provide other public services.

Of course, the true test of a region’s public transport success is whether it manages to decrease the number of car journeys taken—something that Greater Manchester has not yet achieved. The benefits of this are obvious, not least in terms of emissions and air quality, about which, as the shadow climate change Minister, I care a

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great deal. We should want people to get out of their cars and on to public transport, both for leisure and for commuting purposes. Greater Manchester did attempt this in a rather crude way with a proposal to bring in a London-style congestion charge back in 2008. The proposal was put to the people of Greater Manchester, and to say that it was overwhelmingly rejected would be an understatement, with 79% of votes cast being against bringing it in. I always smile when we talk about the Scottish independence referendum and it is suggested that it is difficult to make the case for voting no. That was not our experience in Greater Manchester with the congestion charge proposal.

That shows the scale of the challenge faced. One of the reasons why so many people were against bringing in that congestion charge was that they felt that the public transport infrastructure was not adequate for them to feel confident enough to ditch their cars. There is an argument that this was a chicken and egg scenario, and that public transport would be sufficiently improved if the demand existed, but that the demand would never materialise while the public transport infrastructure was not deemed adequate.

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): My hon. Friend will be aware that there are difficulties with the capacity and the reach of bus services, and that in recent weeks we have seen the withdrawal of night bus services. Does he agree that our strategy should be a 24-hour transport strategy for a 24-hour city?

Jonathan Reynolds: Absolutely. I look enviously at the night tube proposal for London. In big cities, so much of the offer within the evening economy is attractive, yet for people who live in my constituency, which is a relatively short distance from Manchester city centre, access is severely limited. The trains do not run and night buses are infrequent and under threat, so it is a huge issue.

If the investment is put into the public transport infrastructure, people will be more than willing to use it if it meets their needs. The benefits to the area, to the economy and to people’s health should not be understated. We often hear a great deal about London in terms of health and life expectancy because of the pollution issues, but those problems are seen in Greater Manchester too. Progress has been good, with improvements year on year in the number of non-car journeys, and I know that Transport for Greater Manchester is committed to further improvement. I also believe that there is huge potential in cities for the expansion of electric car use. I recently tested our electric car charging infrastructure in Greater Manchester, but I will leave that for another Adjournment debate.

An improved public transport system in Greater Manchester is vital to the region’s economic growth and to the success of “devo-Manc” and the northern powerhouse initiative, as I am sure the Minister would agree. A fully integrated transport network including all modes of public transport is key to this, and can be achieved only by devolving further powers to the region. In particular, I believe public transport should be one of the directly elected Mayor of Manchester’s key areas of responsibility, much as it is in London.