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Capital Gains Tax (Rates)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:16 pm on 23rd June 2010.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Health) 2:16 pm, 23rd June 2010

That is absolutely right. We have seen a political blind date, but we should not worry because it is clear that Dave agrees with Nick, and that Nick agrees with Dave, so perhaps it will be okay in the end.

There are a few measures in the Budget that I can support, such as the change to capital gains tax and the bankers levy, although I am surprised that the levy will raise only about £2 billion because I think we could raise much more. However, the broad thrust of the Budget is very bad news for my constituents. Hull North will see more individuals out of work, with people's opportunities wrecked and a decline in their quality of life. The programme of fighting child poverty and inequality will go backwards, not forwards, and there will be big problems in health and housing. Most importantly, wealth creation and enterprise will suffer in Yorkshire.

I want to talk about four things in particular: the rewriting of the history of the economic situation by the Conservatives and Lib Dems; the dogma that drives the Budget; my constituency, and Yorkshire and the Humber; and Labour's approach to dealing with the economic situation in which we find ourselves.

I am worried by the rewriting of the economic history of the recession and the falsification of the cause of the deficit. We know that the Prime Minister is familiar with airbrushing, and his deputy routinely airbrushes away more than 100 years of his party's history when it suits him. The deficit was caused not by big government, but by big greed. Bankers and international speculators are at its root.

In 2006 and 2007, I was fortunate to be the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend Stephen Timms, whom I was pleased to see back in the Chamber today. During that time, early work was being carried out on the current 2008 to 2011 public spending period. We had enjoyed a decade of low inflation, steady growth and falling unemployment, and there was no serious deficit problem. At that time, the present Prime Minister and Chancellor used a soundbite about sharing the proceeds of growth. They also said that they wanted to match the Labour Government's spending plans up to 2011, as they kept saying until the end of 2008.

We all realised at that time that the spending round would need to be tighter than the one immediately after the millennium, but the adjustment was not remotely on the scale of the deficit in the public finances that opened up from 2008. The events of the two years that followed came about because of the greed-fuelled banking crisis that tipped the world into the worst recession since the 1930s. It is wrong to airbrush out what happened, to blame the problem on big government, and to be oblivious to the fact that public services are important not just for fighting poverty and inequality, and for providing opportunity, but for an efficient, growing, modern economy. Since the middle of 2007, taxpayers have had to pay to rescue the banking system-and not just in Britain-but now hard-working families and public service workers are being asked to pay again because of the greed of the bankers and the speculators.

The Budget is driven by dogma, not good housekeeping. It cuts too early and too deep, and it will hold back growth, which my party saw as the main engine for cutting the deficit. We know that further cuts will follow, including departmental cuts of up to 25%, but I think that the coalition Government will make further cuts again and again, meaning that we have a spiral of cuts and debt.

When Labour was in office, the Chancellor berated our Government for not mending the roof while the sun was shining, but it now seems that he is up the ladder removing the slates as the storm clouds of a double-dip recession gather on the horizon. In Hull, we need public services and investment. They are important to the local economy. The coalition cuts, however, will harm our quality of life. The Tories said in the past-I think that they still say this-that mass unemployment is a price worth paying. The market zealots on the Government Benches who said for years that they wanted less regulation of the markets and smaller government are now getting their way.

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