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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:36 pm on 23rd March 2011.

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Photo of Stephen Williams Stephen Williams Liberal Democrat, Bristol West 3:36 pm, 23rd March 2011

I understand that the bank levy is about £2.5 billion a year. The Chancellor announced recently that the levy, which was £1.8 billion in its first year, would be increased to £2.5 billion, and today it has been confirmed that the banks will not benefit from the reduction in corporation tax and that the levy will be increased.

Another issue connected with the banks is what we should do with our ownership, as taxpayers, of Lloyds Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland. That is an issue with which the Government will have to deal at some point in the next few years. A couple of weeks ago I published a pamphlet, with CentreForum, which suggested that the shares should be given to the people so that the state could recover the £67 billion that was invested in the banks bail-out in 2008. The citizen should enjoy the upside: the citizen should enjoy the growth in those shares in the future. I hope that my Treasury colleagues will look favourably on that proposal as they decide what to do with the legacy from the last Government.

The Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition Government have dealt with Labour’s toxic legacy, but Labour Members seem to be still in denial about the problem. They have not acknowledged its existence, let alone shown any sign of contrition for their role in the deficit. The Leader of the Opposition produced some very good jokes today—I will give him that—but he could at least have made an apology. We have started to clear up the mess. Today’s Budget sets in train a plan for a Britain that is fairer, with a stable economy and a low-carbon future. It recognises the need to help households with their budgets now, and to give them confidence that the economy and their country are back on track.

Several hon. Members rose