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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:27 pm on 19th March 2015.

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Photo of Edward Balls Edward Balls Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 12:27 pm, 19th March 2015

I am sorry, but I thought the Chancellor was about to stand up and tell us whether he talked to Lord Green about tax avoidance. He knows very well that our policy is to not have any more new free schools, and our £230 million saving is based on that.

We will make fairer choices, reversing this Government’s £3 billion-a year tax cut—[Interruption.] Does the Chancellor want to intervene? The fact is that he cannot give us a yes or no answer about whether he talked to Lord Green about tax avoidance.

We will reverse this Government’s £3 billion-a-year top-rate tax cut for the 1% earning more than £150,000. We will introduce a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2 million, to help save and transform our national health service.

Our plan will deliver the rise in living standards and stronger growth needed to balance the books. It is a better plan for more good jobs and more balanced growth, because we know that if we can get our economy not to slow down, but to keep growing 0.5% a year faster than forecast, Government borrowing would be more than £32 billion lower in the next Parliament.

After this Budget, it is clear that Britain needs a better plan, not a Budget flop from a Chancellor whose failing plan is not working for working people. The choice is now clear: a tough but balanced and fair plan to deliver rising living standards, save the NHS and get the deficit down with Labour, or an extreme and risky plan under the Tories for bigger spending cuts in the next four years than the past five, which would cause huge damage to our public services and put our NHS at risk.

If they ever write a play about this Chancellor, it will be a tragedy of hubris, fantasy and thwarted ambition: the ruthless prince whose desire to be king has blinded him to reality and made him reach too far. Nothing will better reflect his time in office than the leaving of it: a final Budget built on sand and smoke—a Budget signifying nothing. He has run out of lines, and it is time he left the stage.