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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:19 pm on 24th March 2014.

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Photo of Paul Uppal Paul Uppal Conservative, Wolverhampton South West 6:19 pm, 24th March 2014

My hon. Friend makes a reasonable point. Labour took its eye off the ball when it came to borrowing, and no one can deny that.

Thankfully, today things are different. Taxes on business were too high under Labour and corporation tax was 28% when this Government came to power. As the new tax year approaches, businesses will feel the impact of several important tax cuts. Corporation tax will fall to 21%, help on business rates will come in, and the landmark employment allowance will take up to £2,000 off employers’ national insurance bills.

Politics is always about being local, and in my constituency the Government’s changes are translating into new jobs and opportunities for my city. I have spoken regularly in the House about the positive impact that the arrival of Jaguar Land Rover will have on the city, but I have not so far spoken about the impact of the new Sainsbury’s store on Raglan street, which will create nearly 200 jobs. The sprawling Raglan street site stood empty for 10 years; it was a blight on the city and a sad symbol of our lack of progress. One of my first priorities was for that to change and, thankfully, ground was finally broken at the site last October.

This morning, it was a pleasure to welcome my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to Marston’s, a valued employer and brewery in my constituency. The company, which employs around

1,000 people at its brewery and headquarters, invests in opening dozens of new pub-restaurants every year, creating hundreds of jobs nationwide. I met the chief executives of three breweries, all of whom concurred with the view that the Budget was good news for jobs and growth.

The third and final piece of good news for the city came two weeks ago, when I visited the Woodthorne development by David Wilson Homes on Wergs road in Wolverhampton. Local jobs have been created to provide new homes in the city. The Woodthorne development will provide 58 new homes over the coming months, underpinning nearly 120 jobs for local people. It is great news that new homes are being built in the city and that a local work force is being used to build them. Support for small and medium-sized developers to access development finance through the builders finance fund will provide more than £500 million for two years from 2015-16 to deliver up to 15,000 homes.

The Help to Buy loan scheme has already helped 25,000 people to buy their own homes when they could not previously afford the deposit, and it has helped to build more houses. Owning one’s own home should always be one of life’s biggest aspirations, and the Government will help even more people to achieve that dream.

People who have worked hard and saved hard all their lives will now be trusted with their own finances. The Government will completely change the tax treatment of defined contribution pensions to bring it into line with the modern world. From March 2017, the Government will cut the income requirement for flexible draw-down from £20,000 to £12,000, raise the capped draw-down limit from 120% to 150%, and almost double the total pension savings people can take as a lump sum to £30,000. I am really heartened by that initiative because it constitutes a clear blue line and political divide: we trust people with their own money.

I have been poor in my life—to be honest, I have been dirt poor. What got me and my family out of poverty was taking responsibility for myself, making my own choices and taking my own risks—not a Government body or quango. The Government will empower people by trusting them with their own money, and the changes on annuities encapsulate that sentiment.

The Budget also shows that we are on the side of manufacturers, creating a Britain that makes things again. We are cutting the cost of manufacturing by cutting the cost of energy bills for manufacturers. We are doubling the annual investment allowance to £500,000 and delivering the most competitive export finance in Europe by doubling the Government lending available to exporters to £3 billion, and cutting the typical interest rate on it by more than a third.

Boosting savings, putting the public finances on a stable footing and making it easier for companies to invest were the key themes of this year’s Budget, and I support wholeheartedly the Government’s efforts to continue to rebuild our once broken economy. It is interesting to reflect on those key themes and what we remember from 1997 onwards—golden economic rules, prudence and, more recently, “cutting too far, too fast”. We do not hear those words any more. At least this Budget will build an economic inheritance that we can pass on to our children.