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Mortgage Interest Payments

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 15th July 1997.

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Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Labour, East Renfrewshire 9:15 pm, 15th July 1997

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that interjection. He clearly did not read our manifesto in detail, or the 12 ft by 8 ft posters about our tax policy, which were put up throughout the country. I was grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his compliments on my speech; he will be aware that, thus far, I have not complimented him on his speech, because it was devoid of coherent argument. I hope that any other speeches he makes this evening will redeem the quality of his argument.

The electorate are in no doubt who breached their trust before the election and, to an extent, since the election. They showed clearly that the Conservatives were distrusted on the economy and had surrendered that ground to the new Labour party. They believed that the Conservatives were the party of boom and bust—the party of the few rather than the many—and that the Labour party was the exact opposite: we believed in long-term economic prosperity and understood how to deliver it, and we believed in governing for the many rather than just the few.

Conservative Members sometimes find it uncomfortable to talk about polling evidence. I contend that it is sometimes helpful for politicians to be in touch with public feeling and public opinion. That is one reason why we sit on the Government Benches putting forward our Finance Bill, while Conservative Members sit on the Opposition Benches with a 23-word amendment which will do nothing to improve the economy. Nevertheless, in opinion poll after opinion poll before and after the general election, the public realised that the previous Government's inactivity and economic impotence brought about repossessions and negative equity.

More important than any headline figure, the individuals who make up that polling evidence want long-term economic stability. They want to be able to plan their lives for the next five or 10 years, which is why people, especially my constituents in Eastwood, welcome the idea of long-term planning. Even after the reduction in MIRAS, families with a £50,000 mortgage are £250 better off than they were at the high point of interest rates under the previous Government.

We have heard much this evening about how Labour has allegedly lost touch with those who represent the "working poor". In addition to the contents of the Finance Bill, which will help those very people and bring about long-term prosperity, it is important to consider what we have done in respect of education for those people, and what we will do in respect of the health service for the majority of our population, and in respect of job opportunities to ensure that many more people are working and many fewer people are poor.

That is why I am eager to lend my support to the Finance Bill. With reference to the working poor, I want to ensure that many more people are working and far fewer are poor.