Finance Bill

Part of Bill Presented — Constitutional Convention (No. 2) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 21st July 2015.

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Photo of Shabana Mahmood Shabana Mahmood Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 1:49 pm, 21st July 2015

My hon. Friend makes an important point. I wonder whether we would have the tax lock had it not been for the VAT bombshell poster we unveiled or for the exchanges at Prime Minister’s questions ahead of the general election. Ministers were certainly very quick to write such a law, and despite the Chancellor having suggested in 2009 that passing laws to ensure promises on taxation are kept was a very bad idea, he was very quick to convert to that cause. Nevertheless, they are passing a law on the tax lock. It was Labour party policy, and we are very pleased that we pushed the Conservative party into our territory in agreeing that the rates for ordinary people on lower and middle incomes should not go up.

Another change we support is on the annual investment allowance. I am pleased that the direction of travel has been set out for the whole Parliament. That contrasts very strongly with what happened during the last

Parliament, when lots of chopping and changing on capital allowances definitely undermined business investment. Even if the deal is less generous, with a decrease from £500,000 to £200,000, it is important that businesses at least know that the deal they are going to get will last a lot longer than it previously did.

As my hon. Friend Andrew Gwynne has mentioned with respect to the expected changes on corporation tax, there is a lack of concrete proposals for business rates. The Financial Secretary has raised expectations and hopes of real change on business rates when the consultation is finally unveiled later this year. We will certainly look at whether the business rates burden will come down for small and medium-sized companies.