Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I shall not take further interventions on the report because many criticisms can be levied at the Finance Bill and I want to come to those. Tonight and during the next few months, my hon. Friends and I will be making those criticisms because we believe that many parts of the Bill are ill judged and damaging to the British economy. There are the ill-advised choices of taxes that the Government have sought to raise and there is the complexity that is piled on complexity.

Liberal Democrats will be tabling a series of amendments to show their constructive and genuine alternative to the Government's tax policy. While the Chancellor seems intent on tying up British business in tax bureaucracy, Liberal Democrats will be radical in their proposal to cut his Gordian knot.

Despite the Bill's failings, however, on Second Reading the House must be mindful of the core direction of the Budget's strategy—to provide the cash for our public services, and in particular, the health service. It took Mr. Bercow 20 minutes before he came to the health service, and that shows a complete misunderstanding of the Budget.

Liberal Democrats are unequivocal in welcoming the Government's U-turn from their general election position on that matter. Just under a year ago, Liberal Democrats argued at the general election that taxes had to rise to fund the services that we provide for each other. Our election campaign was focused on health, education, pensioners and police. It was distinguished and differentiated partly by the fact that we were arguing for higher taxes to make that revenue possible, and that extra revenue had to be found from somewhere.

Our opponents were vicious in attacking us. They said that we were wrong in saying that we could not have something for nothing, so we are delighted that Labour has now changed its course and agrees with us.