Clause 7 — Charge and main rates for financial year 2010
Surface Water and Highway Drainage Charges (Exemption) Bill
Geoffrey Robinson (Coventry North West, Labour)
Having been lucky enough to catch your eye, Sir Alan, I wish briefly to revert to the question of effectively reducing the capital allowances, which would come into effect in year one. Given the recession and its likely progression, immediate cash-benefit to companies is the very thing we need at the moment. Despite the seeming good news today, I think we all know that we are still in a precarious position and should not take anything for granted. The real need is for cash flows to companies now, so reducing capital allowances at this point in time would hit the very thing we need for the future, which is investment. The timing is particularly perverse.
Apart from the wrong timing, we would be hitting the very area where we are already weakest, and Mr. Hoban, who led for the Opposition, should realise that. We already have a relatively low depreciation charge, which arises directly from the fact that our manufacturing sector is weak compared to our main competitors in exports and world markets—India and China, for example, are taking the lead on many consumer goods. Where we have to compete, we already have a low depreciation charge arising from our relative under-investment over the years, so driving it down still further would hit the very sector that most of our policies should be directed at improving.