My right hon. Friend will understand that there is reasonable impatience, in view of the obvious benefits that the scheme can bring, that it should be carried into legislation at the earliest possible date, and to consummate the wide-ranging reform of taxation that has been a feature of his term of office.
Many of us on the Labour side do not share the relative euphoria expressed by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Tom King). The system as envisaged will help the rich and not the poor. It will make the position of many groups of the poor, such as the single-parent family, many pensioners, the sick and the unemployed, worse. It will make it more difficult to achieve a more progressive income tax system and will be wasteful, because it will eliminate claw-back. The only vestige of a benefit will arise from the £1,300 million of extra taxation achieved through the system.
The hon. Member has obviously not read the Green Paper recently or he would know that the proposals in it would give a positive social benefit in cash to millions of hard-pressed families—particularly those with children. The proposals would increase the income of between 3 million and 4 million pensioners and relieve hundreds and thousands of people of the need to claim supplementary benefit. These proposals will be simpler and easier for people to understand and fairer than the present system of tax allowances. They will also lead to considerable savings in civil servants.
Any Labour Member who wants to know what the tax credits will or will not do would be better advised to await the report of the Select Committee, because obviously we are talking in a vacuum. It is obvious not only that the hon. Member has not read the Green Paper but also that he cannot possibly have read the report.
I, too, agree, and I hope that my hon. Friend would not have read the report. Equally, I hope that the Chancellor will not wish to mislead the House by suggesting that large numbers of pensioners and others will benefit, because they will benefit only if he finds the £1,300 million.
—finding money to provide the wherewithal for the tax credit scheme which, in part, will replace certain aspects of the income tax scheme. Under the Labour Government it would clearly have been impossible to find the means to finance these benefits. Under this Government, which has already reduced taxation by £4,000 million, it will be possible to finance the tax credit scheme.