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 Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Altrincham and Sale 12:00 am, 20th April 1970

I am doing so. I shall come shortly to what I believe to be the main problem confronting us. It is one that the Chancellor studiously ignored in his speech, although, in his television broadcast, he came to the industrial problems and the avalanche of wage increases now going on.

I return to what I was saying. Even taking account of the Chancellor's proposals in the Budget, the incontrovertible fact remains that during the 13 years of the Conservative Government tax rates were reduced by £2,000 million a year while during the five and a half years of the Labour Government tax rates have risen by more than £3,000 million a year. It is a staggering thought that the increase alone in the tax revenue under a Labour Government, even allowing for the petty relief in this Budget, is larger than the entire yield of taxation during the last year of the Conservative Government.

It was rich of the Chief Secretary to say that all the taxes seemed to be working well. Let him ask any young executive in business, or any skilled or semiskilled man. He will be told with absolute conviction—and rightly told—that the present high level of direct personal taxation is penalising initiative and enterprise and frustrating extra effort and increased production. This is the truth of the matter and this is why the Conservative Party is pledged to reduce it.

Let it be remembered, although the Chancellor omitted to mention this, that even after this petty relief is in full operation there will still be more people paying income tax than when the Labour Government came into office. The Chief Secretary did not mention that, but that is the truth of the matter.

I thought that it was a fascinating reflection on the psychology of a Socialist Chancellor of the Exchequer that the petty relief in this Budget, which amounts to a miserable 3s. a week for most married couples, should have been described by him as the one major scheme of tax remission I am able to propose ''—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th April, 1970; Vol. 799, c. 1249.] The Chief Secretary suggested that people often drew their conclusions from facts and figures rather than from debates. My goodness, he is right! It is incredible that anyone should describe 3s. a week as a major scheme of tax remission. The Chief Secretary talked in glowing terms about what he called an increase in consumption added by the Budget. Three shillings a week for most married couples is not even enough to buy two loaves of bread, not enough to buy even ½lb. of back bacon, and it leaves only 3d. or 4d. after buying a bottle of H.P. sauce and a stick of candy floss.