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Amendment of the Law

Part of Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation – in the House of Commons at 7:34 pm on 21st March 2000.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham 7:34 pm, 21st March 2000

The hon. Gentleman is being even more selective than the Chancellor. He knows that the tax take fell in all but one Parliament under the Conservative Government. Every year under this Government, the tax take has increased. It is predicted that that will continue. Labour Members should stop trying to re-fudge the figures on which the Front Bench has at last come clean.

I want to move on to some of the announcements that the Chancellor made today, because there was a lot of recycling. It is favoured by the Environmental Audit Committee, of which I am a member and a great fan. The Government are exceedingly good at recycling—not waste, but spending announcements that they have made before and continue to make time and again. We welcome the announcements on increased spending on health and schools—my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made that absolutely clear—but nobody in my constituency and nobody out there in the real world believes that public services are getting better.

Nobody believes that the health service is delivering a better service, and we are waking up to the fact that the number of people who have to wait to get on waiting lists has doubled. My constituency has the longest waiting times in the country for the oldest population in the country and nobody believes that waiting times are coming down, because they are not.

Nobody believes that class sizes in most schools are coming down, because they are not. In most cases in my constituency, successful schools are bursting at the seams and people are trying to get their children in. Class sizes are going up. Nobody believes that the service offered by the police force, in very difficult circumstances, is getting better when police numbers are coming down and, for the first time in the past six years, the crime rate, particularly for serious crime, is going up.

Nobody believes that the Chancellor is improving services. People are saying, "Look, we've paid all this extra tax and we're waking up to the fact that the Government are masters of stealth taxes." Over this Parliament, about £40 billion in extra tax will be taken by the Government. What have they done with it? We are told time and again that we need to raise taxes to plough them back into public services, but we are not seeing the successful effect of that money going into them. This is a traditional Labour Budget—a "9p up, 1p down" Budget—that taxes yet more and delivers less.

I want to deal with two main themes: capital taxes and the environment. Stamp duty has not been mentioned by Labour Members and received only a glancing mention from the Chancellor, but stamp duty on property has gone up for the third time. It will be 3 per cent. for properties costing more than £250,000 and 4 per cent. for properties costing more than £500,000.