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Schedule 23 — Air passenger duty

Part of “Group 12 — Caravans – in the House of Commons at 10:14 pm on 3rd July 2012.

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Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary 10:14 pm, 3rd July 2012

If we do not want people earning £20,000, £25,000 or £30,000 a year to be paying for benefits to go to much wealthier households, the alternative would be an extension of the tax credit system. That would have placed a much greater burden both on households and the Government. Of the available alternatives, we have gone for the simpler option.

We are deferring the 3p per litre duty increase that was planned for August to January next year. Action by this Government to reduce the deficit and rebuild the economy is already benefiting businesses and families and keeping mortgage rates low. As hon. Members know, this Government have also had to make difficult decisions so we can tackle the deficit left to us by the previous Administration. They include withdrawing child benefit from households earning more than £50,000. That is a fair way to make savings, so we can meet our targets to cut the deficit.

We are also taking steps to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share too. The Budget package ensures that the wealthiest will pay five times more than the cost of reducing the additional rate of income tax. The introduction of a new higher rate of stamp duty land tax of 7% on properties sold for more than £2 million will raise over £1 billion in the next five years. At the same time, this Government are also tackling avoidance, as demonstrated in the Bill. The new SDLT enveloping entry charge rate of 15% will deter those seeking to put their high-value property into corporate structures to avoid tax. Also, debt buy-back measures will raise over £500 million from banks that try to avoid paying the tax due, and the introduction of the UK-Switzerland agreement will ensure we can address the tax loss from those who put their money into Swiss banks to evade tax.

There has been extensive scrutiny of this Bill, including about 44 hours in Public Bill Committee. From looking at some of the new clauses tabled for today, I am happy to see that the Opposition continue to stick to their same theme on this Bill, which is to ask for reports, rather than focusing on policies. We have seen 34 Opposition-requested reports over the last 10 weeks, but no real policy alternatives. Yesterday, we were discussing Groucho Marx, and I wonder if the Opposition ever needed to be reminded of the quote:

“The problem with doing nothing is that you never know when you are finished.”

In order to make progress with Government business in good time, we agreed with the Opposition, through the usual channels, to programme parts of this Bill.

It is a delight to see my hon. Friend Jacob Rees-Mogg once again in his usual place. As he rightly said yesterday, this legislation is the body, soul and guts of this Budget.

I thank all who participated in Committee and on Report.