Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:56 pm on 30th April 2002.

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Photo of Michael Weir Michael Weir Scottish National Party, Angus 7:56 pm, 30th April 2002

As the hon. Gentleman knows, our manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections will depend on matters within the Scottish Parliament, not on the Bill.

The Bill makes no change to income tax—it provides instead for a rise in national insurance contributions—but that is merely to spare the Prime Minister's blushes. All hon. Members know, as does everyone outside the House, that what has happened is a rise in taxation. The mental gyrations performed by Labour Members to justify that method of raising revenue have been a wonder to behold. In effect, it does not matter to the average employee whether the increase is in direct taxation or national insurance contributions—it is still an increase in the amount of tax that they pay.

That method of raising revenue has a serious impact. Clauses 30 to 32 impose changes in corporation tax, especially in relation to small companies. Although that is generally welcome to small companies, it does not address the needs of the vast majority of small businesses in Scotland, as more than 75 per cent. are not incorporated and therefore do not pay corporation tax.