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Clause 3 — Abolition of starting and savings rates and creation of starting rate for savings

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 10:00 pm on 28th April 2008.

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Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 10:00 pm, 28th April 2008

If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me, I shall address some of his other points. As I understand his comments this evening, he has said that the average loss for the group of people losing as a result of the measures is £2 per week, but the maximum loss is £256 per year. However, as I understand his comments this evening, the commitment that he thinks he has achieved from the Government now is to compensate only at the average loss of £2 per week. So there will still be people out there who have lost as much as £152 a year as a result of the measures, even if the Government deliver on the possibility of compensating them all at the average rate.

The right hon. Gentleman hoped that quite a lot of the information would be available by Report, but nothing that we have heard from those on the Government Front Bench gives us any confidence that we will have a clear picture of the total package of compensation by that time. He has urged Labour Members not to be beguiled by the Conservative amendment, which the Financial Secretary has referred to as a wrecking amendment. I say to her and the right hon. Gentleman that it is not a question of being beguiled and that it is not a wrecking amendment.

The amendment should appeal as much to those who have confidence in the Prime Minister as it does to those who do not. It is an insurance policy for the House. It is a mechanism that would allow the House a guaranteed way of coming back to this issue if it is not resolved satisfactorily. The amendment would require the Government to tell the House what they have done, and they will not be in a position to do that by Report. I suggest to the House that it needs this insurance policy to ensure that the deal that the right hon. Gentleman, to his great credit, sought to do with the Prime Minister is delivered on by the Prime Minister and is not reneged on by the Government once this week's elections are out of the way and the immediate inconvenience of a Labour Back-Bench rebellion is off the books.

We need to hold the Government to account and it is the job of the Opposition to put in place the mechanism for holding them to account. That is what the amendment does, and I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote for it this evening.

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