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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:37 pm on 19th March 2015.

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Photo of Mary Macleod Mary Macleod Conservative, Brentford and Isleworth 2:37 pm, 19th March 2015

It is a privilege to speak in the debate and to welcome the Budget. We have a plan that is working in a Budget that works for people in our constituencies, in contrast to the comments of Meg Hillier. In my constituency, I have a growing economy, a record number of jobs and rising living standards. The deficit is down across the country and our national debt is starting to fall as a share of the economy. Great Britain is becoming great again and in 49 days’ time, hopefully, under a Conservative Government, Great Britain will become even more great.

Why is the Budget good for people in Chiswick, Brentford, Isleworth, Osterley and Hounslow? We have helped to transform their lives. My constituents want stability, jobs, a national recovery and aspiration in their lives. They also want to make work pay, which is why we heard yesterday about the increase in the personal tax allowance to £10,800 in 2016 and £11,000 in 2017. That is taking 3.7 million of the lowest paid out of tax all together. In my constituency, more than 53,000 people have seen their taxes cut since 2010 and nearly 6,000 have been taken out of tax altogether.

Business and jobs are critical to the recovery of this country and employment is at a record high, with 1,000 more jobs created every day under this Government. I will repeat that: 1,000 more jobs per day are created under this Government. We have 9,400 more businesses in my constituency since 2010. My Plumber, which my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary visited in Brentford, is one example of the many businesses that have been set up in my constituency in the past five years. The claimant count is down to 2% in my constituency, which represents a fall of 36%, and youth unemployment is down by 45%. We are also continuing to cut corporation tax.

I fought hard, along with my local Chiswick traders, to get a review of business rates, and we have seen that happen. The Chancellor confirmed that the reform of business rates will be “far-reaching”, which is great to hear. We do have to raise the £27 billion that business rates raise, but there are different and fairer ways of doing it. Businesses want to pay their fair share of tax, but they want to do so in a way that is fair to everyone.

My right hon. Friend has already cut £1,000 off so many business rates on the high street, benefiting about 500 businesses in my constituency.

We also talked about supporting small businesses and abolishing class 2 national insurance contributions for the self-employed. That represents a massive simplification for about 5 million people, with about 8,000 of them being in my constituency. The Chancellor has also raised the annual investment allowance for firms to £500,000, which is part of the reason why business investment is four times higher than it was in the last Parliament. He is committed to looking at that again in the autumn statement, which I know local businesses will welcome.

We also heard yesterday about the creative industries. I have created a west London creative industries hub, and we have a massive sector there. The sector is booming, with so much growth and opportunity in it. It is worth £76 billion to the UK plc economy as a whole, and there is much more that we can do. We heard yesterday about the TV and film tax credits, which will be more generous, and about expanding support for video games. That is great news for businesses in my constituency.

Several hon. Members have mentioned superfast broadband, and I ask the Minister to take this away and look it a bit further, because small businesses in London face a real issue on superfast broadband—I would like it if we just had fast broadband. Perhaps one day we will get to superfast broadband, but this issue is deterring growth in some of our small businesses in this great capital. We need to examine the digital infrastructure for London to make sure we are doing all we can to support small businesses and the growth we need from them.

We also heard yesterday about the support for the brewing industry; we are cutting beer duty for the third year running and taking another penny off a pint, helping companies such as Fuller’s and its brewery in my constituency. That move is great for the local economy. We heard about the freezing of fuel duty, helping small businesses, as well as families. Having that strong economy, which is growing faster than any other advanced economy, is fundamental to the investment for the future that we need.

Secondly, I wish to touch on housing, which has been discussed by some hon. Members, including my hon. Friend Mr Bacon, who spoke eloquently about it. This is the No. 1 issue for Londoners, according to the Mayor’s recent annual survey. Some 45,000 homes on brownfield sites in London have been announced, and my area will have a new Hounslow town centre housing zone, containing 3,500 new homes, including nearly 1,400 affordable homes. We do, in London, need to push for those affordable homes, because it is difficult for people to get on the housing ladder. I was pleased to hear yesterday about the Help to Buy ISA to help people save for their first deposit. For every £200 saved, the Government will add £50—in effect, this is a tax cut—for first-time buyers, up to a value of £3,000. That will be very welcome across London.

Thirdly, I wish to touch on education, because four new schools have been confirmed in my constituency under this Government. That is a huge investment, and I thank the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Education Secretary for it. London has had such a large population growth, with my borough being the fourth-fastest growing borough in London. School places are one of my biggest issues, and this Government have delivered two new primary schools and announced only last week two new secondary schools. They will make a massive difference to families across my constituency, whether we are talking about the Nishkam school, which has already opened, the Floreat Brentford school, which is opening in September, or the two announced recently, the Green school for boys and the Hounslow improvement partnership school. This is exactly what we need for the people in west London.

I was also pleased to hear about the news on skills for London, with more power for the Mayor over skills funding to support apprenticeships and the commissioning role in the National Careers Service. In London, crime has fallen by 16%, and we have had £10 million for domestic abuse refuges from the Home Secretary and £5 million from the Mayor of London. We have been given the Piccadilly line upgrade, with trains stopping at Turnham Green once that upgrade takes place—that is another achievement. If the Government want to make some savings, I suggest that they opt to expand Gatwick rather than Heathrow, because the expansion of Gatwick is simpler, easier, better and it will cost the taxpayer nothing, whereas Heathrow’s expansion will require billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

In conclusion, over the next 49 days I will perhaps be focused on a tough fight I have in west London where every vote counts, but I hope residents will judge me on my record of what I have done and what I still want to do. If I am fortunate enough to be re-elected, I will make sure I go about implementing the approach of more schools, more apprenticeships and more businesses, and transforming lives in my communities.