Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:08 pm on 30th April 2002.

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Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Shadow Minister (Olympics and London), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Olympics and London), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) 5:08 pm, 30th April 2002

Dr. Palmer has in large part made a very measured and constructive contribution to the debate, but his earlier remarks on the Select Committee on the Treasury were wide of the mark. I speak as a former member of that Select Committee who was involved in the drafting of several reports, including those on the Budget. I remember from my time serving on that Committee that there was constructive debate when we considered draft reports.

When I look through the minutes at the back of the report and at the amendments tabled by Conservative Members and Liberal Democrat Members, especially my hon. Friend Mr. Laws, I see constructive amendments that relate to evidence provided to them by their expert external advisers. The advice and evidence were provided not by politicians or party pundits, but by experts in economics and finance. In that vein, I found the hon. Gentleman's remarks unwelcome and out of place in the House.

Although the hon. Gentleman may have had a valid, understandable reason not to be present, other Labour Members were not present either. If his objections to the report are to be considered, we need to understand why those Members were not there to argue their case. One can only presume from their absence that they were not interested or that they were not prepared to argue their case because they were embarrassed by aspects of the Budget.