Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 6th July 2010.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 5:15 pm, 6th July 2010

No, I am going to make another important point, on which the hon. Gentleman might want to comment. The question of business investment is vital-it relates to the argument at the heart of the Budget-and I hope that we will have a good debate on it this afternoon. Business investment is the subject of clause 1, which offers, I am afraid to say, no salvation through investment allowances, which drive up investment and which manufacturers say make the world of difference. This is what the senior economist of the Engineering Employers Federation had to say about investment allowances:

"For smaller companies...there will be cashflow consequences ...that will hurt their ability to reinvest in their own competitiveness."

That is because the Government have withdrawn such allowances.

What, then, of corporation tax? We were promised in the Budget a four-year plan to bring down the rate of corporation tax to 24%, but clause 1 offers us just a one-year plan. We do not know whether that is a wheeze to avoid an unhelpful valuation of deferred tax assets-the Chief Secretary to the Treasury was silent on that point-but is it not more likely that the Treasury is simply hedging its bets? The Government promised us certainty on corporation tax, and all we have got is more risk. The truth is that business is not going to bet on a one-year deal when this country's recovery demands a longer-term planning horizon. The Chancellor might be a gambler, but Britain's business community is not.

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