Smith Institute

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Opposition Whip (Commons) 10:30 am, 29th March 2007

On how many occasions the Smith Institute has held meetings at No. 11 Downing street since 1997; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

No. 11 Downing street is used for official meetings, engagements with external representatives and charity events. The Smith Institute applied for permission to use it on a monthly basis in 1997, and sometimes more regularly. That has been the basis of its usage since then.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Opposition Whip (Commons)

We heard last month how the Smith Institute was up into the wee small hours trying to enliven the Budget and brighten up the image of the Chancellor, who is now frowning. He has forgotten how to smile. Yet, following the Budget, the population know that it was a con and the Labour party has dropped one point. Is No. 11 now going to evict it?

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The basis on which the Smith Institute uses No. 11 is exactly the same as for everybody else. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will press his colleagues on the Front Bench to tell the House whether they will support the public spending projections that we published in our Red Book. That is what people will want to know. Will the Tories fund public services adequately, as we are committed to doing in future, or not? That is the critical question, and we are waiting for an answer from his Front-Bench colleagues.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

Does the Chief Secretary agree that publications such as those on social enterprise, diversity in Britishness, and restorative justice produced by charities and voluntary organisations, including the Smith Institute, help to produce more intelligent government, and that we should listen to those organisations?

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I do agree with that, and it has been valuable to open up No. 11 Downing street to use by charities—well over 60 of them—over the past 10 years. They have all contributed to improved policy in that period.

Photo of David Laws David Laws Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I agree with the Chief Secretary on that point. Would it not be a good idea to have a seminar on tax at No. 11 Downing street in the near future, so that the Government could explain more clearly why they were right to introduce a 10p tax rate in 1999, and right to abolish it in 2007?

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I can tell the hon. Gentleman very clearly why that happened: it is because we introduced the 10p rate before the tax credit system was in place. Now that it is in place, it is doing the job that needed to be done.

Photo of Paul Goodman Paul Goodman Shadow Minister (Childcare), Treasury

The Chief Secretary's first answer was extremely helpful, so let us try another question on him. How many of the monthly events to which he referred did the Chancellor attend? We do not need the details; we just want to know how many he attended.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I do not know the answer, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that it is very few.