New Clause 2 — Rate of VAT

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:15 pm on 18th April 2013.

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Photo of Stewart Jackson Stewart Jackson Conservative, Peterborough 2:15 pm, 18th April 2013

It is always a pleasure to follow Albert Owen. I am not sure that it is necessarily a pleasure for the Whips, because the Committee will know that in the last Budget I was not exactly that supportive of my party on VAT, having opposed VAT on caravans and, by virtue of my being the Member of Parliament for Peterborough, on ecclesiastical buildings.

I would like to develop some of the points made by my right hon. Friend Mr Redwood, although I am hesitant to do so, given his expertise. We are debating an Opposition amendment, which I had hoped would be a coherent alternative to the Government’s Budget and this Finance Bill. However, we do not see that clear and coherent alternative, not least because those on the Opposition Front Bench have not really taken into account the externalities that my right hon. Friend touched on. He has forgotten more than I will ever know about the banking crisis, but he touched briefly on the effect on business confidence of the disastrous market conditions in the European Union. Hon. Members will know that I have consistently taken a robust line on the euro and the ongoing bail-out efforts for southern European countries such as Greece and Portugal. Business confidence is suffering, not least because, in the name of German economic policy, we are inflicting destitution and poverty on thousands of working people across southern Europe. That is an issue.

My right hon. Friend also talked about the availability and adequacy of capital. That, too, is an issue that will not necessarily be addressed or ameliorated by changes in VAT.