[Sir Michael Lord in the Chair] — Clause 1 — Primary Class 1 contributions
Orders of the Day — National Insurance Contributions Bill
Mr Matthew Taylor (Truro and St Austell, Liberal Democrat)
The hon. Lady will find that that is the present position. The difference is that we are asking people on more than £100,000 to pay more. We believe that at that level people can afford to pay more. If she believes that people can afford to pay more at a lower level than that, she is welcome to argue accordingly.
That is our view, and it was our view at the general election. We believe that very wealthy people can afford to pay substantially more as a contribution towards the NHS. Crucially, that is a better route than that of imposing an increase in tax on employers.
We know that manufacturing industry particularly, and other industries in internationally exposed sectors—farming is another good example—are suffering hugely because of the exchange rate. Industries such as car manufacturing are withdrawing from the United Kingdom: Ford cars are no longer produced in the UK; there has been a major closure of a Vauxhall plant; and BMW is pulling out of Rover, for example. These moves will all be made worse by the Government's decision to choose to increase employers' contributions. That is the tax on jobs, the very tax that the Government argued should be cut on the basis of their pollution taxes. They said, "Let's cut the tax on jobs and tax pollution instead." Now they are to increase the tax on jobs as if the previous arguments never existed. It is the Liberal Democrats who are following through on the argument against the tax on jobs.