Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:18 pm on 25th March 2013.

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Photo of David Ruffley David Ruffley Conservative, Bury St Edmunds 5:18 pm, 25th March 2013

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not hear the second part of my statement, when I mentioned deeper cuts in public spending and a fiscal stimulus with deeper tax cuts.

If we do not have the growth we want in the economy in the next 12 or 18 months, I would like capital gains tax holidays of the kind suggested by my right hon. Friend Mr Redwood, to get investment moneys circulating. I also believe there could be a case for deeper cuts in corporation tax to approximate more closely the Irish model; Ireland has 12.5% corporation tax, which makes it more of a magnet for foreign direct investment.

That said, the Conservative party has indicated that it has the technology should we need to go further and faster in fiscal consolidation. The Conservative economic affairs committee, which is chaired by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham, has discussed proposals from colleagues for a suspension of the carbon price. A key cost that is undoubtedly hampering business confidence is that, in 2011, about one fifth of the energy bill paid by small and medium-sized enterprises was attributable to green, renewable policies. Considering whether we want a holiday from that, and certainly not going further than European countries, would seem sensible.

On Budget day, the Chancellor said two important things about monetary policy. First, he explicitly said that the Financial Policy Committee must co-ordinate better in future, under Mark Carney, with the Monetary Policy Committee. At the moment, the regulators are pulling in different directions. The MPC has pumped in £375 billion by printing electronic money in exchange for purchasing gilts from the commercial banks, but that credit is not flowing into the real economy. On the other hand, the Financial Services Authority, and its successor body the FPC, are telling the banks not to lend any of that money and to rebuild their capital position to de-leverage. Those two impulses fight against each other and it is entirely sensible for the Chancellor to say that the FPC and the MPC must co-ordinate better.

Secondly, the Chancellor talked about forward policy guidance via thresholds to commit to looser monetary policy for a set period. That has had a good effect in Canada and the United States, and it will give British business the confidence that interest rates will not be jacked up just as the recovery begins and that economic activity will not be choked off.

I support the Budget with qualifications.