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Mortgage Interest Payments

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 15th July 1997.

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Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Labour, East Renfrewshire 8:45 pm, 15th July 1997

I am grateful for this opportunity to speak in the debate. I shall attempt to be brief—a lesson that I am learning from listening to the less than factual contributions of many Conservative Members.

I welcome the broad thrust of the Finance Bill. Having listened to this debate for many hours this evening, I welcome the fact that the guillotine has been used. If Labour Members had to sit and listen to even more of the sort of contributions made by the last three or four Conservative Members to speak, they would jeopardise many of their sensibilities.

We are discussing a 23-word amendment. At different times during the debate, there have been anything between six and, at the current top rate—I have obviously brought the crowds in—nine Conservative Members in the Chamber. Although we are not having an education debate, I calculate that the figures show that we have had between two and a half and three and a half words per Conservative Member. I have been advised that, at some points, the Opposition Front Bench has been empty.

It took the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins) 23 minutes to offer his murmurings and protestations on the 23-word amendment to the Labour Budget. He offered no analysis of what Conservative Members would do to improve the economy and bring long-term stability. Until Opposition Members are able to do that, they will be found wanting, and I suspect that they may, as a consequence of that and other things, lose the vote tonight. [Interruption.] That is a dangerous prediction, but I suspect that it will be accurate, because only six or nine Conservative Members are present.

I spoke on Second Reading, which was very interesting—more so than tonight's debate. The hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) paid me a welcome compliment on my remarks that evening.