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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:07 pm on 23rd March 2011.

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Photo of Robert Syms Robert Syms Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee, Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee 3:07 pm, 23rd March 2011

My hon. Friend makes a good point. I welcome what the Chancellor has done with the personal allowance and the £10,000 target. If a central part of the Government’s plans is welfare reform, it is inevitable that we must reduce the tax on the lowest-paid. Otherwise, we will not get people off welfare and into work, which I think is what all of us want.

I will touch on one or two measures, but I do not want to take up too much time. I welcome the Government’s plans to assist the housing market. I wish they had gone farther, because there is a lot of capacity in the housing market, which could provide more jobs and help to get the economy going. However, what the Chancellor announced was very good.

I welcome the Chancellor’s proposals on charities. Poole has one of the biggest charities in the UK, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which raises a considerable amount of money from bequests. People getting relief on inheritance tax will be a major boost to that charity and to many others.

I welcome the move back to enterprise zones, because we have to become an enterprise economy. One lesson of the last decade is that we do not want to rely on an overheated south-east and London. We must ensure that future growth is balanced so that it occurs in greater Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and many of our great provincial cities. What the Chancellor announced will assist in that.

The Government are doing what they can to help people, with limited room for manoeuvre, by putting off the fuel duty rises and freezing council tax. We have a difficult inheritance and the Chancellor has precious little room for manoeuvre. He started his Budget speech by saying that this is basically a neutral Budget. I think that it is right to have a neutral Budget. In some respects, it would be better not to have a Budget at all, but just to let the long-term plans of the Government roll on. That gives the best hope of getting the economy sorted, and of restoring growth to the British economy.

We have heard debate about the OBR forecasts. They are forecasts and will change several times before we know what the situation is. I think that we have an excellent chance over the next four or five years to get growth. I think that the Government’s strategy is right. They are concentrating on training and simplifying the tax code. Hopefully, when we can, we will start to reduce the rates.