Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Joel Barnett Mr Joel Barnett , Heywood and Royton 12:00 am, 20th April 1970

I am pleased to speak after the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), as I think I did last year. He said that he was sad at not being able to introduce a third Budget. Having heard the Conservative Party proposals about incomes policy and taking a firm line with the public sector, if the Conservative Party should by any chance win the next election, I feel that nobody would be better able to pursue a policy of controlling incomes through taking a firm line with the public sector than the right hon. and learned Gentleman.

I will take up the points he made about S.E.T., after first declaring an interest as one who professionally pays a great deal in S.E.T. and is thankful that this year for the first time ever it will not cost me any more. I nevertheless support S.E.T., not because any tax can be popular, but because, given a choice of forms of taxation, I think that this is the least unpopular form, except to those who pay it.

The right hon. Gentleman used many arguments which have been heard over the years. He contradicted himself in saying that he did not think that the tax raised as much money as it was thought to raise, because it reduced profits. Presumably he meant that it is not passed on. Professor Reddaway was right in saying that the economic effect of S.E.T. is not so bad in that, unlike purchase tax, it is not passed on as to 100 per cent., and more than 100 per cent. in many cases.