The Economy

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:20 pm on 4th June 2015.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 12:20 pm, 4th June 2015

The clue was at the beginning of the hon. Gentleman’s intervention. Labour leaders do work well together in local government, and when we hear the Chancellor’s response to this debate they might find that there are a few surprises and a hidden agenda with a bit of a sting in the tail for them over the next few months.

What about the rest of the spin in the Queen’s Speech, such as extending the right to buy? Everyone is in favour of home ownership, of course, but the scheme proposed by Ministers is so badly thought through, throwing housing associations into chaos, that even the Mayor of London—for it is he—has called it the “height of insanity”.

There was a further piece of spin, of course: a tax lock designed purely to stop the Chancellor raising VAT again. Do not get me wrong, we welcome any effort by the Chancellor to legislate against his own record and his own worst instincts, but this legislation does nothing more than prove that he does not even trust himself on tax. Of course, it does not give any guarantees about other stealth tax rises elsewhere, nor does it prevent him from acting on his other instinct of always prioritising tax cuts for the very richest over those for those on middle and low incomes—[Interruption.] Conservative Members are all shouting from the Back Benches, but the Chancellor’s eyes are down on his notes. Is the Chancellor planning to cut that top rate of tax from 45p on earnings of more than £150,000? I will give way to the Chancellor if he can clarify for us whether that is his plan. Will he cut that rate of 45p for those earning £150,000, or not?