New Clause 9 — Regulations about powers to require information, offences and penalties

Part of Local Government Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 21st May 2012.

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Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Shadow Minister (Defence) 5:45 pm, 21st May 2012

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is old enough to remember records—I think he is—but if he does he will remember that trying to play a broken record is very difficult. The rhetoric from the election, when the Government blamed everything, including the world recession, on the Labour party, has now become a broken record. We are now into another recession in this country that was of this Government’s making. It is interesting that the Chancellor of the Exchequer now argues that the British economy is not doing well because of the eurozone. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, when the banking crisis hit, it was all Labour’s fault; now it is all Europe’s fault. The only people who are not accepting any responsibility are this coalition Government.

Was our borrowing in 2008 and 2009 the right thing to do? Yes, it was. It was the right thing to do to ensure a growing and stable economy. We do not have that now; we have a recession that has been made in Downing street by this coalition Government. The idea that the fair way of dealing with that is to reduce the top rate of income tax so that it will, through Reaganomics, trickle down to boost the economy is complete nonsense. We have also heard complete nonsense this afternoon that the way to get growth is to slash employment rights. The Government are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think that that will not have an effect on local people.

I was in local government for about 11 years, and I know that if a Government tinker with the system only to get it wrong they pay for it dearly. I remember the Conservative Government getting the poll tax wrong. Even when it was quite evident that it was going to be complete chaos, they would not change their mind. We are trying to rush through a system that will affect some of the poorest people and the poorest councils, adding to the injustice of the skewed way in which the Government have rewarded their friends on councils in the south. We are setting local government an absolutely horrendous task. The idea that the system can somehow be changed tomorrow at the flick of a switch is complete nonsense and I hate to think of the sleepless nights these provisions will give local treasurers. The practicalities will have an effect on councils’ individual income while they try to work out the system.