Bearing in mind the Opposition's unalloyed joy at the thought of an increase in national insurance contributions for people who earn more than that, is it time that the Opposition came clean on their plans for the self-employed, who are the engine of the power house for this country? Does my hon. Friend agree that any extra tax on the self-employed without benefits in return would damage the country's chances of growth, and would help it in no way whatsoever?
My hon. Friend, in his inimitable style, has smoked out one of the hidden parts of the Opposition's agenda. I hope that, during this Question Time, the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) will make Labour's policy clear. The Labour party is committed to removing the upper earnings limit for employed persons, but the hon. Member for Oldham, West has not made his party's policy on the self-employed clear. We have flushed him out today. His policy is the start of Labour's hand-in-the-till tax.
One thing that the Opposition are certain about is that those who earn more than £20,000 have every right to be called upon to pay the extra 9 per cent. Members of Parliament earn between £20,000 and £30,000. If they cannot find that extra 9 per cent.—a few hundred quid a year—what right have Tory Members to talk about pensioners who must get by on about £56 a week? I am prepared to pay my contribution. It is time that Tory Members understood that they should pay theirs, too.
The hon. Gentleman shows the Opposition's fundamental commitment to tax, tax and tax again and then spend, spend and spend again. He ignores the fact that, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pointed out, our national insurance scheme is founded on a contributory principle that has served the country well for 50 years. We now know what the Labour party's agenda is on that issue.