In last week's Budget, the Chancellor did not mention his Lyons review once. But under him, money raised from council tax has doubled, from £11 billion to £23.5 billion. That is the equivalent of putting 4p on income tax. The Lyons review now proposes taxes on bins, taxes on home improvement, and even taxes on beds. At least the Chancellor did mention the NHS in his Budget—once—but he did not tell us about the health service's soaring deficits, now £2.7 billion. The Health Committee says that the Chancellor has brought "boom and bust" to the NHS. Last week, the Leader of the House said that he
"would be delighted to have...a debate" on the NHS
"any time."—[ Hansard, 22 March 2007; Vol. 458, c. 950.]
So when may we have that debate?
It is revealing that the Chancellor stays quiet when it suits him. He once promised that
"a Labour Treasury will be open rather than secretive".
But last week he refused to answer when I asked how many meetings he had had with trade unions. When I asked the Leader of the House the same question, he gave an honest answer. The Chancellor also refused to answer my hon. Friend Mr. Hoban when he asked about his other appointments. When my hon. Friend asked the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, he gave an honest answer. Clearly Labour Members face a choice between a secretive Chancellor and a more open Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Can the Leader of the House impress upon all his colleagues the importance of being as open with Parliament as he is? The public know that this Government have a record of stealth, secrets and spin, and they are sick of it. The problem is that when the Chancellor becomes Prime Minister, it will just get worse and worse—more stealth, more secrets and more spin.