Finance Bill

Part of Developing Country Debt (Restriction of Recovery) – in the House of Commons at 8:14 pm on 6th May 2009.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Conservative, Stone 8:14 pm, 6th May 2009

I am talking about specific measures in this domestic legislation that are based on overarching European requirements. These days, if a person picks up any piece of legislation, opens it and looks halfway down the page, they will find something based on a European provision. Clause 56 of the Bill, for example, is entitled "MEPs' pay, allowances and pensions under European Parliament Statute".

However, that is just one aspect of it: my concern goes much deeper. Through the aegis of the European Court of Justice, European legislation is expanding its tributaries into the tax field. That will continue to happen, because however stupid and obsolete the thinking may be, there is still the belief that we must have European integration on the scale of a political union, despite the clear requirement to comply with the convergence criteria and with the underlying economic arguments on which our taxation is based—I assure you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I am not going to go an inch over the boundary line in this debate. The consequences of the interaction between economic criteria, and the requirements to comply with those in terms of tax and spend, are all part and parcel of the problem that we face with the massive deficit that we have built up. If one looks at the Red Book—I invite you to do so, Madam Deputy Speaker, when you want some light reading—one will see that in the calculations relating to the amount of money by which we are indebted, the Maastricht criteria are contained in the footnotes, whereas they should be emblazoned in the headlines.

The Office for National Statistics, because it is an honest body, stipulates the extent to which compliance with the convergence criteria is at the heart of many of the debt problems that we face in relation to the stability and growth pact. That is to do with the balance between taxation and spending. The requirements that are laid down are all related to the extent to which, under these provisions, the Government are struggling to find enough money to fill the hole that has been created by their wilful failures in running the economy and balancing the books, and the failures of the Prime Minister since he became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1997 and right the way through to today, when everything he does turns to dust. The Treasury Committee, which is chaired by one of his own clan, has castigated the Government's golden rule and stabilisation proposals. Its report on the Budget says, on page 48:

"We believe that the Chancellor should now engage in what we regard as a crucial debate about the future of the UK fiscal framework. The majority of our expert witnesses found fault with the Golden Rule and Sustainable Investment Rule, so an eventual return to an unreformed framework would seem misguided."

It then, referring to its 2008 report on public borrowing, makes certain recommendations for a full public consultation. Of course, it is right.

There is a gap between taxation, which is supposed to be raised under this Bill, and spending, which is now totally out of control, and the public debt. My right hon. Friend Mr. Redwood, my hon. Friend Mr. Newmark and I have pursued this relentlessly for many years. On 7 October last year, in the debate on fiscal rules, I pointed out—I think that I will have to use this expression, as euphemistically as possible—that we were not merely being misled, but that people outside were lying to us about the extent of the public debt. That is a very serious charge in relation to a matter of such incredible importance, but this country is being bankrupted. That is the problem, and that is why this Finance Bill is so important. The measure of its failure to meet the requirements demonstrates the failure of this Government.

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barbara richards
Posted on 7 May 2009 10:32 am (Report this annotation)

"That is a very serious charge in relation to a matter of such incredible importance, but this country is being bankrupted."

Yes it is. You tell them, Mr Cash.

It hasn't become bankrupted by itself - fraud has bust this country.

You've been banging on about this for years and years and no-one bothered to listen, they insulted you by calling you a windbag.

Well they ought to uncork their ears now, and listen up - you were right all along.