Orders of the Day — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:01 pm on 16th March 1989.

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Photo of Dr John Marek Dr John Marek , Wrexham 9:01 pm, 16th March 1989

We have had a deliberately low-key Budget. It blames the people for high interest rates, and the Chancellor cheekily said that high interest rates were here to stay for the time being. Ordinary people, who borrow money to buy a car or home, will have to cough up; they will pay through the nose. The rich, who depend on unearned income for their life styles, will laugh all the way to the bank.

We have had a typically mid-term Budget, which gave nothing away, but which the Chancellor hopes will allow for a better Budget just before the next election. We have had a Budget that shows that the Chancellor is scared about the economic position, and that inflation will continue to rise higher. We have had a Budget that helps those who drink much alcohol and heavy smokers. It will cost the nation dearly when our hospitals and National Health Service have to treat the increases in drink-related disease and cancer of the lungs.

The debate has been well informed, and my hon. Friends clearly showed why the Budget strategy is wrong. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) made some pertinent remarks about the National Health Service. The hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), who is not present but no doubt will be soon, should not will taxation to provide services for our constituents, who desperately need them; the Chancellor has £15 billion at his disposal, but dare not spend it. The problem is, even if he did, he would not spend it on services for our people.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry) spoke eloquently about the plight of pensioners. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) detailed the problems with training schemes and the lack of training. Our next generation will pay dearly for the Government's lack of care in training. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller), who dwelt on the handouts given to the rich and the super-rich in last year's Budget.

My hon. Friend the Member for Easington, (Mr. Cummings) spoke movingly of his elderly constituents, and my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Ms. Mowlam) spoke of workplace nurseries, the problems of women and the Government's apparent lack of concern about them. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), in his own way, asked not one or two but four or five questions. The Minister has half an hour to sort out some answers to his interesting questions, which the House will wait with bated breath to hear. My hon. Friend made an important point about the oil crisis with which the Labour Government of the 1970s had to deal, whereas this Government have had the revenues from North sea oil and the sale of the family silver at their disposal. That important distinction must always be remembered, and I thank my hon. Friend for making it.

I have two main themes to my remarks. First, the Government are showing a lack of care and irresponsible recklessness in not giving proper consideration to our infrastructure, public spending on roads, schools, houses, railways and services such as the National Health Service. The second theme is that the Government are economical with the truth when it suits them. As my hon. Friend the Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) said, they spend many hours on news management and disinformation. My hon. Friend dealt with news management and exposed the glib phrases used by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for what they were—shallow, glib phrases that added nothing to the debate.

In his Budget statement, the Chancellor said that Inland Revenue consultative documents would be issued. When I visited the Vote Office, I was told that it did not have them and to try the Library. I went to the Library, which said that it had some documents but that I had to read them there. There are three consultative documents—the tax treatment of swap fees, the tax treatment of foreign exchange gains and losses and the sub-contractor scheme reducing paper work. Will the Economic Secretary ensure that they are available in the Vote Office? If he is unable to do so, I hope that he will at least provide Opposition Front Bench spokesmen with copies. Preferably, they should be available to all hon. Members.