Finance (No. 2) Bill

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 5:32 pm on 1st April 2014.

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Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Shadow Minister (Defence) 5:32 pm, 1st April 2014

I was referring to some of the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues and I do not know whether he is included, as I did not look up his figures. Mr Redwood, who was in the Chamber earlier, earned £213,000 last year on top of his salary. He will therefore gain from the tax cut that the Government have given him. The Conservative Member with the highest figure earned something like £800,000 a year.

VAT, the cuts to housing benefit, the bedroom tax and the changes to tax credit have all affected those individuals. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow North East also mentioned national insurance, which affects those who are on very low pay. As for the idea that the increase in the personal allowance is somehow a great gift to the low paid, it is, as somebody said earlier, simply about giving with one hand while taking away with the other.

One missed opportunity in this Budget is that of putting investment into our economy. Clearly, the narrative is about a small state and the Conservative party wants as small a state as possible. The view expressed by the hon. Member for Macclesfield gave the game away and that is, basically, that the only people who create wealth in this country are entrepreneurs and business, that somehow public expenditure is a bad thing and that spending money on services does not create any wealth at all. In the early days of this Government, the one thing that sucked more money out of the economy than anything was the cuts to public services and local councils. Councils do not sit on money, they spend it in their local communities. I know that many small businesses, including one small building company in Chester-le-Street, nearly went to the wall because their main contracts were with the local authority.

The hon. Member for Redcar used a comparison with maxing out credit cards, but the idea that the state is like an individual’s personal bank account is complete nonsense. Clearly, if the state invests in infrastructure and other things, we get growth in the economy.