Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 6th July 2010.

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Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander The Chief Secretary to the Treasury 4:31 pm, 6th July 2010

No, I am going to move on.

Let me turn to the first of the measures in the Bill. Given that the structural deficit is some £12 billion larger than the previous Government told us, we have to make difficult choices-whether to fill the black hole with yet more spending cuts or increase taxes. Further spending cuts would have made it impossible for the Government to protect the country's most essential services in the spending review. The only other option would have been to raise taxes on companies or on personal income, reducing the rewards for work at a time when hard work and endeavour must lead the recovery.

The VAT rise is unavoidable. As I said in the Budget debate, it is Labour's inheritance tax. Clause 3 increases the standard rate of VAT from 17.5% to 20% from 4 January 2011. Everyday essentials such as food and children's clothing, as well as newspapers and printed books, will remain zero-rated throughout the Parliament, protecting those on lower and middle incomes. Domestic consumption of fuel and power will remain subject to VAT at 5%.

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