Self-employed (National Insurance)

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th April 1999.

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Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page Conservative, South West Hertfordshire 12:00 am, 15th April 1999

What estimate he has made of the increase in national insurance to be paid by the self-employed in 2000–01 as a result of the March 1999 Budget. [79449]

Photo of Mrs Barbara Roche Mrs Barbara Roche Financial Secretary, HM Treasury

For 2000–01, it is estimated that the self-employed will pay £420 million less in contributions as a result of the March 1999 Budget.

Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page Conservative, South West Hertfordshire

That figure is not an accurate reflection of the increases. Will the Minister give the House some calculation of what the effect may be on unemployment?

Photo of Mrs Barbara Roche Mrs Barbara Roche Financial Secretary, HM Treasury

On unemployment, I am a little disappointed that the hon. Gentleman did not congratulate the Government on the fact that, since the 1997 election, unemployment in his constituency has gone down by over 22 per cent. The changes will mean that self-employed people who pay class 2 contributions will benefit by £4.55 a week. We are the party that supports the self-employed and small businesses.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury)

What is the Minister's justification for raising the national insurance upper earnings limit next year and the year after by almost three times the rate of inflation? Is that not yet another stealth tax rise on middle Britain—a tax rise that the Government hoped that no one would notice? Will the Minister give an assurance that the Government will propose no further increases in the upper earnings limit beyond the rate of inflation for the remainder of this Parliament?

Photo of Mrs Barbara Roche Mrs Barbara Roche Financial Secretary, HM Treasury

The hon. Gentleman has a bare-faced cheek. The Conservative party raised taxation and broke its promises to the British people 22 times. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] Conservative Members are shouting because they do not like the facts—but they are going to hear the facts. Under the Conservatives, a small business went bust every three minutes. That is why middle-income families up and down the country voted with the rest of the British people for this Government at the last election, and why they will vote us in again.