I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
I welcome the Budget on behalf of the almost 4,000 hard- working small and medium-sized enterprises in my constituency—companies such as Dutton Contractors in Middlewich, which I visited on Friday and had the privilege of opening two new warehouses for. It is a family business that was started in 1974 by the father, John Dutton, who is a farmer. It sells and transports building construction materials. The son, Richard Dutton, has so developed the business recently that it now has 80 employees. The decision in the Budget to further stop Labour’s planned fuel rises is worth £7 to every family each time they fill up a family car, but it is worth considerably more to companies such as Dutton Contractors, which has a fleet of vehicles, so it very much welcomes the Budget.
Dutton Contractors also welcomed the £2,000 national insurance allowance. It was also welcomed, in particular, by Neon Freight Ltd, which is based in Holmes Chapel. Honours go to Ian Mallon, the proprietor of that freight forwarding company, and currently its sole employee, for giving the fastest response to the Budget. He sent me an e-mail at 1.28 pm—the Chancellor can barely have sat down. The e-mail’s subject was, “Employers tax/Budget”, and it reads:
“Great news… please send my thanks to G.O… I will be taking on staff this year.”
That is what I call a result.
Having said that, however, I am disappointed that the Government appear once again to have done nothing to honour their manifesto commitment—it is a coalition commitment and certainly a Conservative manifesto commitment—to recognise marriage in the tax system through transferable tax allowances for couples where one partner stays at home. Many people are genuinely bemused that such an important commitment should remain completely untouched well into the second half of this Parliament. They are increasingly bemused by the announcement of the introduction of tax-free child care worth up to £1,200 every year for children aged up to 12, but obtainable only by either single parents working or couples where both partners work. The Prime Minister said:
“This is a boost direct to the pockets of hard-working families in what will be one of the biggest measures ever introduced to help with childcare costs.”
But do families with one parent who stays at home not work hard, too? That has not sent out a positive message to mothers and fathers who stay at home and commit themselves to parenting; it does not say to them, as I think we should, “We value you.”