Clause 3 — Rate of value added tax

Part of Bill Presented — Shared Parenting Orders Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 13th July 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Treasury) 7:45 pm, 13th July 2010

I accept that the hon. Gentleman is wrestling with his conscience, but the bets are that it will be a draw. We remember the explicit terms in which people talked about VAT increases. The leader of the Liberal Democrats specifically campaigned strongly against VAT increases and particularly fingered another party on that basis and spelled out that it was a regressive tax. He was right then; he is wrong now to pretend that it is not a regressive tax that will clearly have an impact on the poor-not just on the existing poor, but on the new poor created in the context of the Budget and the current financial outlook.

People who are in public sector jobs will be put out of them. People on public sector incomes above £21,000 will face a pay freeze-that is a pay cut in real terms-and we know from what has been said in the Budget that many people on benefits will either find them capped or themselves dumped off benefits. In those circumstances, not just the existing poor, but the new, additional poor will suffer. If we consider the Budget as a package, we must think about those sides of the package as well, not just the Lib Dem accessories that they are proud of in the Budget, such as the increase in personal allowances and so on. The total impact needs to be remembered, and that is what most of these amendments are getting at.

Of course, there is a clear, absolute overriding amendment, which has not been tabled as a probing amendment. It is amendment 13, tabled by Stewart Hosie. Just as many Labour Members have criticised Lib Dem Members and questioned their credibility, given what they campaigned on, and challenged Tory Members as well, I have to tell my Labour friends that, if they want to be credible in the criticisms and attacks that they are making on the Lib Dems, they will vote for amendment 13.