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 John Pardoe Mr John Pardoe , North Cornwall 12:00 am, 3rd May 1976

I am absolutely delighted to hear that the hon. Gentleman spends his holidays on what is clearly an international tour of misery, travelling around the art treasures of the world, in which he sees only economic causes. He can find a splendid pen portrait of himself and his views in the work of a good Socialist, Bernard Shaw. I refer to "The Apple Cart". He is getting to look and sound every day more and more like Bill Boanerges. If he would like to read the thing, he will see what I mean. No doubt he has read it already.

The hon. Gentleman was even more nonsensical when he tried to tell us, with his political sophistry, that we do not have a statutory incomes policy. We have a rigid incomes policy. It has been enforced. We have passed an Act of Parliament to bring that policy into effect. How statutory can we get? Let us hear no more of the reasons why the hon. Gentleman did not have to exercise his Socialist conscience in tearing this Government apart and why he feels that he can possibly accept a new variation of the incomes policy. The fact is that we have a statutory incomes policy, as my right hon. and hon. Friends and I said we would. We have an effective incomes policy which has worked. I congratulate the Government. It is a pity the hon. Gentleman does not accept that part of the story.

I am sorry that the debate has to take place on the Opposition's amendment rather than on our amendment. The Opposition's amendment is so worded that it is almost impossible for any member of the Opposition not to vote for it, but it is exactly what we might expect of one of the partners in our system of adversarial politics. It is mere mindless rhetoric. It speaks of the Finance Bill which attempts to meet the cost of spendthrift Government by increasing the real tax burden upon rich and poor alike". Of course. When did a Government not do just that, at least in the imagination of an Opposition? All Oppositions think like this. When did we not have a spendthrift Government? When was the real tax burden upon the right and poor alike not increased? I cannot think of any member of any Opposition in the history of this House who has not castigated monstrous increases in tax on rich and poor alike over the centuries.

Where are the Opposition's proposals for encouraging the skill and enterprise which they want? Why, if the Conservative Government encouraged skill and enterprise in the past, as presumably they did, and if this encouragement is such a major factor as they say it is for the prosperity of our economy, have we not been more successful in the past?

I do not want to debate the link between taxation and pay policy—