The hon. Gentleman is trying simply to condone something that was totally without justification. I believe that the House will consider his remarks as being rather appropriate for him.
About 3 per cent. of the richest taxpayers will now receive further benefits from the Government. The majority of people though who pay tax are paying more in income tax and insurance contributions than they were when the Labour party was in office. In 1978–79, a married couple on 75 per cent. of average earnings would have been paying 14·5 per cent. of those wages on income tax and national insurance contributions whereas in 1983–84 they are paying 18·5 per cent. Someone on average earnings who was paying about 20 per cent. of his wages in income tax and national insurance contributions during the last financial year that Labour was in office is now paying 22 per cent. We know that most people are paying more, not less, as a result of the Government's fiscal policies.
We should be particularly concerned that—my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray) was absolutely right — people on low incomes have been brought into the income tax bands when they should not have been. People with very limited incomes are paying income tax. My sympathies are with those people. I have had understandable and justifiable complaints from constituents who have written to me or seen me at my surgeries—some of them are retired—asking why they must pay income tax.