Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd May 1976.

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Photo of Mr Geoffrey Howe Mr Geoffrey Howe , East Surrey 12:00 am, 3rd May 1976

beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Finance Bill which attempts to meet the cost of spendthrift Government by increasing the real tax burden upon rich and pool alike, and is profoundly discouraging to skill and enterprise. The Chancellor's closing passage was entirely in character with the quite unjustifiable and monstrous attack he made a moment ago on my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Nott). My hon. Friend asked a straightforward question of fact, which immediately provoked a barrage of the trailer of abuse from the Chancellor which he had been reserving for his peroration.

For us to have to listen to lectures on patriotism from the Chancellor is absolutely intolerable. The performance of my party in Opposition is that we support the Government when that support is justified. We supported them against their hon. Friends below the Gangway on defence, and we supported them on an incomes policy. If the Chancellor's party had given us the same support and understanding for our policies when our Government were in office, this country would not be in the mess it is in today. Imagine the irresponsibility of the Leader of the House throughout that period when he was actually saying that a victory for the miners was a victory for the nation. The Labour Party is not a party from which we are prepared to take lessons in patriotism—or in anything else

The Chancellor tends to repeat his curious little phrases—"Tory Trots", for example. All I can say is that people who live in Marxist glasshouses should be careful before they throw epithets like that around. The right hon. Gentleman knows more about Trotskism, Leninism and Communism than I would ever hope to know. The Chancellor and his Government should take lessons in fair play and democracy regarding the constitution of Committees of this House.

The motion for committal of this Bill arises from agreement between the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and myself and it was entered into in good faith, but until we have clarified beyond doubt questions about the Standing Committee on the Finance Bill or any other Bill the Government cannot count on our support for that committal motion or any other. We are entitled to know the position before we send the Bill upstairs.