Clause 1 — Main rate of corporation tax for financial year 2011

Part of Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 12th July 2010.

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Photo of Karl McCartney Karl McCartney Conservative, Lincoln 5:00 pm, 12th July 2010

Thank you, Mr Hoyle, in your role as Chairman of Ways and Means and as the House sits in Committee to consider the amendments to this Finance Bill, for allowing me the opportunity to make my first speech in the House.

I intend to comment on two matters of importance today: the amendments to the Finance Bill and Lincoln, the constituency that I have been elected to represent. Before I discuss either matter, however, I want to pause to pay tribute to my parents, John and Brenda McCartney, who are here in the Gallery, along with my wonderful wife, Cordelia. I am pleased that she is still here, as I am indebted to her for so much, not least our two sons, Henry and Freddie.

Let me now return to the Finance Bill. What concerns me most is the lack of support for long-term share ownership that is eminently displayed by the current capital gains tax regime, which, ironically, now seems to be based on principles that are at odds with how we are to treat banker bonuses whereby an increasing proportion of their compensation is compulsorily taken in shares of their employing parent company. That has the quite admirable aim of encouraging actions that have at their centre the long-term interests of the companies for which they work. This is commendable.

Less commendable is the loss of taper relief, which encourages long-term share ownership and investment. Surely many on both sides of the House see the retention of taper relief as desirable. Also less commendable is the loss of indexation relief. Following a change introduced by the previous Government, payers of capital gains tax will continue to be taxed on illusory gains. A simple example might help to explain my concern. Let us say that the average price for a pint of beer is £2.50. Instead of buying a pint, one could invest that £2.50. If inflation averages 7% per annum for five years and the investment keeps pace, the beer will have risen in price to £3.50, as will the value of the investment. The investor would therefore expect that the investment would still buy a pint, except that it would not, because 28% capital gains tax would have to be paid and the investment would therefore be worth only £2.50 net of tax. That is clearly inequitable. Given the widespread acceptance that short-termism from investors is a problem faced by businesses up and down the country that are trying to attract capital for start-up funding, working capital and expansion, surely that is short-sighted.

I know that this matter is important to a number of people who are resident and work in the city of Lincoln. My fellow constituents are industrious and hard-working, and many of them either own their own business, want to start their own business or work for a small family-owned business. They know the importance of access to capital as an owner, a manager or an employee. Enabling measures that encourage investment is surely what this House should be about. What we have in place now enjoys the invidious merit of achieving the exact opposite and I hope that my senior colleagues will rethink these issues at the earliest opportunity. I know that we are where we are because of the utter mess bequeathed to us by Labour in the last Government, so I hope that as soon we have rebalanced the nation's finances, we can reverse these measures, if we cannot do so now.

Let me now say a few things about the history of Lincoln and some of the main issues that affect the constituency. I shall summarise my thoughts and areas of interest, as well as detailing my predecessors and the military links that the constituency enjoys.

It is a privilege and an honour to represent the constituency of Lincoln. When I first embarked on the long and arduous B-road to selection, reselection and election, I did not imagine that I would have the privilege of representing such an ancient, traditional and famous constituency as Lincoln. I aim to show my constituents that they chose wisely, as a Jedi might say.

Lincoln is not just another name in the list of 650 constituencies. It is a city that plays and will continue to play a pivotal role in our nation's democratic tradition. Naturally, I am proud to represent Lincoln and, as hon. Members might know, it is one of the oldest constituencies in the country. The Romans quartered a legion in the city and Edward III presided over a Parliament in our cathedral. The cathedral, which is one of the glories of English architecture, dominates the city and a large swathe of Lincolnshire. It is still as impressive today as when it stood as the tallest building in the world for 238 years-the only building in the UK ever to have held that title. If my Government ever feel the need, I am sure that Lincoln will be willing again to host a meeting of Parliament or of the Cabinet at a date of their choosing.

Although I am not an historian, I can safely reveal to hon. Members that the historical evidence for Parliaments before 1295 is quite patchy. Lincoln and York head the list of towns summoned to send Members in 1265 and, with the recent splitting of the city of York into two seats, it would seem that Worcester and Exeter appear alongside Lincoln in having a possible claim to being the oldest continuously existing borough constituencies.

Lincoln has so much more to commend it as a destination and as a place of history and worship than its two equally ancient constituencies. The cathedral is stunning and has proved a welcome sight and landmark for many travellers over the centuries and for our brave airmen in Bomber Command during the second world war. Lincoln is also home to one of only three existing original copies of the Magna Carta, the foundation of British, and therefore world, democracy. With our new Government's plans for a great repeal Bill, we can see the relevance that the Magna Carta still has today, nearly 800 years after it was signed.

The city's MPs have included the redoubtable Dick Taverne, who continues to sit in the other House, and Margaret Beckett, originally Miss Margaret Jackson in Lincoln, eventually Mrs Beckett. More recently, I am honoured to follow in the footsteps of the last Conservative Member for Lincolnshire, Sir Kenneth Carlisle, who served happily between 1979 and 1997 and for whom there is a mutual, deep affection for and from the city of Lincoln and its people. My direct predecessor was Gillian Merron, who worked hard for constituents and was incredibly photogenic, appearing in our current daily paper with regularity-something that I fear I will not be able to emulate, not least because many of my friends say I have the perfect face for radio.

The people of Lincoln and Lincolnshire are proud to be yellow-bellies-a hark back to the original Lincolnshire "Poachers" Regiment, which is now part of the Royal Anglian Regiment, some of whom I met earlier today out in Westminster yard. They serve us well abroad and in many fields of conflict, and I know that the people of Lincoln are immensely proud of them and all the armed services associated with our city, which is linked with the RAF and the Grenadier Guards.

As well as the city, my constituency covers the lovely villages of Skellingthorpe, Bracebridge Heath and Waddington, where the RAF is based. RAF Waddington is one of the busiest and most varied operational air bases in the United Kingdom, as well as one of the longest established. It has played an important role in the defence of the country and in supporting and servicing our armed forces. Soon, Waddington is due to become the home of the Red Arrows, who are another well-loved and appreciated aspect of Lincoln life as we are often treated to their practice sessions in the skies above our city.

Despite its wealth of attractions both historical and current, Lincoln has poor transport links that have worsened over recent years. There is now, unfortunately, only a post-election promise of one direct rail link to London and there are inadequate connections to other places. The A46 is soon to be dualled from Nottingham to Newark and the knock-on effect might be that the A46 single carriageway and roundabouts that plague our western, and only, bypass might cope even less well than they do now. The only other route is through the centre of our city, using the single carriageway A15 or negotiating our High street with its famous level crossing.

I am not aware of any other city in our country that is being held to ransom by Network Rail, which is currently threatening the city with the closure of that level crossing for up to 40 minutes in the hour throughout the day to allow freight trains that are of no benefit to Lincoln to pass through. Lincoln needs investment in its transport system that will provide a vital benefit to the long-term prosperity of both the city and the whole county, such as the east-west link road that is currently proposed. On all these transport issues, the Secretary of State for Transport and his Ministers can expect continued representations from me and my fellow Lincolnshire MPs, I am sure.

Many experiences, people and types of employment have shaped my life so far, and I am a great believer in being the owner of one's destiny. If individuals feel that the world owes them a living, it does not, but if they are willing to believe in their own self-determination, there are no limits to what they can do. Many individuals from both sides of the House are testament to that philosophy. I now have the opportunity and ability to help to make decisions that affect our nation and to question and challenge them properly in the House, with, I hope, the important addition of compassion. It is a privilege to have that opportunity, in tandem with serving the kind and generous people of Lincoln, who did me such a great service in electing me to represent them in this traditional and great place. Doing my best for our city will be a major preoccupation of mine for as long or as short a time as the people of Lincoln allow me the privilege of representing them in this House.

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