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Chairman Haselhurst, thank you for calling me.
It has already been an extraordinary debate in that the public have learned something that they did not know before today—that no party proposes the reintroduction of the 10p tax rate. The debate is about the way in which we compensate those on low incomes who have lost out through the abolition of the 10p rate. It does not help matters for hon. Members to get up and declare that they were always against or always in favour of the 10p rate. We are dealing with the reality that the amendments do not try to overturn the Budget but are massively concerned about how it protects the poorest who lose out.
The second issue that we have to decide tonight is whether we accept the line that the Conservative Opposition are following in their amendments, which is that they are greatly concerned about the circumstances of our poorest constituents. Again, it does not help very much that, as I remind the Committee, when we debated whether we should bring forward a package of amendments to last year's Budget that would have given the Government a whole year to work out how it might work, only one Conservative Member supported the lead amendment. Since then he has been expelled from the Conservative party—he is Bob Spink. We are assured, as Mr. Gummer will no doubt confirm, that there is great rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. There are 192 of them repenting tonight, so clearly there will be a great big party up there at the results of this conversion.
Given the length of the debate already, it would be helpful if I outlined what I thought the agreement was that was made by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. It would also help if that could be confirmed by my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary when she speaks. We all know that if we are not to be beguiled by the Tory Opposition, we have a right to take the measure back into our hands when the Bill comes back on Report.
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