Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th March 1973.

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Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Bristol South East 12:00 am, 12th March 1973

The hon. Gentleman cannot fool the House, because he knows that surtax falls to be paid in a year later than the year in which the income comes. I would advise the hon. Gentleman, who is a very clever Treasury Minister, to think about the British public who watch television, and the shop stewards who read the Financial Times, and who follow what happens and who know that the Government have consciously chosen to lift the tax burden from the rich and boast about it at City dinners. If he thinks that has not got through to the lower-paid workers, it is not surprising that the Government are faced with a difficult industrial situation.

The answer to the question is simple. The tax cuts were devised to give money to the better off, and they will do so as those cuts work their way through. The Chancellor and his Treasury Ministers must be very foolish indeed if they suppose that to one audience they can boast about higher incentives to the richer people, and at the same time expect the lower-paid workers to believe that a real sacrifice is being made by the surtax payer. It is not true. People do not believe it to be true, and if that is the basis of the Government's appeal to the public it is not surprising that there is industrial unrest.