Clause 11 — Tax relief for married couples and civil partners

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 1:30 pm on 9th April 2014.

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Photo of Stewart Jackson Stewart Jackson Conservative, Peterborough 1:30 pm, 9th April 2014

Indeed—47 minutes, as my hon. Friend says. However, it has definitely been worth waiting for.

In presenting a 10% partly transferable allowance, clause 11 may not yet be worth a huge amount, but it is of seminal importance in supporting marriage in the tax system. For the past 15 years, our tax system has been unusual in not recognising marriage, or indeed any other aspect of family responsibility. Our fiscal policy has been extraordinarily individualistic. Clause 11 changes that by inserting into our system of independent taxation the transferable allowance that former Chancellor Nigel Lawson, the architect of independent taxation, has argued it always should have had. I genuinely believe that qualifying the individualism of our current fiscal policy should be something we can all agree on, and that should appeal to Labour Members. The Opposition spokesperson failed on two occasions to answer the specific question of why, in 13 years in office, her party failed to support the institution of marriage in the tax system in any meaningful way. That is regrettable on her part, because it is disingenuous to say, “We disagree with the policy but, incidentally, this is how you can improve it.” It is churlish and mean-spirited from a party that claims to support the family in the tax system, and children as well.