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Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: Does my hon. Friend agree that this is about not just cuts in local authorities, but cuts in welfare? For example, in Wokingham the number of people affected by the bedroom tax is only 237, whereas I am sure the figure for his constituency is much higher.

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: Like me, was my hon. Friend shocked when the “Conservative” Member for Redcar (Ian Swales) said that VAT was not a regressive tax?

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: The hon. Gentleman is looking at claims rather than unemployment, which is the important thing. That is the point my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh East (Sheila Gilmore) made. He should talk to people who are not on the claimant count and people who are being sanctioned by the Government. The idea that claimant count is a reflection of economic activity in North Durham is complete nonsense.

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: I am sure that they are pleased in Hexham.

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: Good!

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman spends so much time in Newcastle, rather than Hexham, which I agree is a beautiful constituency. The figures for average house prices in the north-east show that they are still worth 5,000 less than they were in 2008.

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: Buy British.

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: The hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mark Field), who is unfortunately no longer in his place, said that the Budget gave him a feeling of “upbeat optimism”. We have also just heard the hon. Member for Macclesfield (David Rutley) say that we should all be smiling, as though the Budget were to be the salvation of our nation. The Conservative party will clearly go...

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: I would not put anything past the new Conservative party, although I know that the hon. Gentleman is part of the ancient—even prehistoric—Conservative party. It is clearly part of the Conservative party’s strategy to try to give the impression that we have turned the corner and that the sunlit uplands are now before us. The public are neither so stupid nor so naive as to...

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: I will give way to the “Conservative” Member for Redcar (Ian Swales).

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: I have great respect for the North East chamber of commerce, but it represents only a certain section of the business community—it does not represent all the business community—and I have never seen it disagree with any Budget, because, understandably, it likes to keep in with the Government of the day. The “Conservative” Member for Redcar is clear in giving an upbeat...

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: I agree. Some particular issues that appertain to Northern Ireland need to reflect the common land border with the Republic of Ireland. As we have heard several times this afternoon, the Liberal Democrats are trumpeting as a great thing the fact that we have increased the personal allowance. The people who gain from it most are not the poor but those on middle incomes. MPs—quite apart...

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: I was referring to some of the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues and I do not know whether he is included, as I did not look up his figures. The right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood), who was in the Chamber earlier, earned 213,000 last year on top of his salary. He will therefore gain from the tax cut that the Government have given him. The Conservative Member with the highest...

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: The hon. Gentleman has not broken my flow, but I thank him for the little breather to give my larynx a rest. If one follows the logic of the hon. Member for Macclesfield, business should not get any subsidies whatever. But we all know that that is complete nonsense. The Government are now increasing investment allowances, but they cut them in 2012. We are now told that this is a great...

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: The hon. Gentleman’s naive and simplistic approach is that the only way to grow the country’s economy is to sit back and wait for the great entrepreneurial spirits he talks about to grow up, as if by magic, and rescue the economy. Governments have a role to play in generating economies and delivering good, local public services. The idea that Durham county council, or any council,...

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: I totally agree. The hon. Gentleman should look at my record on Newcastle city council, because I always ensured that we got value for money. But there is a big difference between getting good value for money for the taxpayer and his suggestion that local authorities and public services spending money will somehow not have an effect on local economies. It should come as no surprise to anyone...

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: I disagree. Were we to build a new motorway or railway line, such as HS2—I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is a great advocate of that vanity project—the increased speed with which people would be able to move around and do business would have an impact, so it cannot be said that that will not have an effect. We come back to the idea that somehow Governments cannot have an impact...

Bill Presented: Finance (No. 2) Bill (1 April 2014)

Kevan Jones: In Gateshead. This 17-year-old on a zero-hours contract, who lives in Stanley, told me that he turned up at the Metrocentre one morning only to be told that there was no work and he should go away. He had paid his bus fare to get there, went back home and was then rung up to be asked back for two hours that afternoon. If he said that he could not do that, he would be sanctioned as one who was...

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