Clause 3 — Rate of value added tax

Part of Bill Presented — Shared Parenting Orders Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 13th July 2010.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 5:30 pm, 13th July 2010

Precisely. That is the point that Age UK made in its response to the Budget. It issued a stark warning that thousands of older people's lives would be at risk from even a 25% cut in local authority budgets; now we are warned by the Chief Secretary, with a casual disregard for the seriousness of the situation, that there could be cuts of 40%.

Looking around here this afternoon, I can see many right hon. and hon. Members who came into politics to champion the cause of fairness and who work extremely hard on behalf of pensioners in this country and in their own communities. I very much respect the campaign work that has been conducted by Members in all parts of the House, not just those from my own party. It is a cause that has been championed, in particular, by those on the Lib Dem Benches.

I have not presented to the House any definitive statement on how pensioners will be hit by VAT. I have not conducted some kind of distributional impact analysis using a Treasury dynamic model of the interrelationship between the basic state pension and the pension credit uprating, but I think the Government should. If they are relaxed about the matter and truly believe that they have compensated pensioners fully for the rise in prices for which they are legislating, they should put the matter beyond doubt. They should show the House and the public beyond that the very people to whom we owe so much are protected from a measure that they did not vote for and that threatens the standard of life that they worked so hard and long to secure.

The final amendments that I should like to speak to are amendments 40 and 44, which are probing amendments. We want to give the Government the opportunity this afternoon to put on record their intention to rule out the removal of zero-rating VAT status on any further items. Amendment 40 would require the Treasury to lay a report on the scope of the standard rate-