Finance Bill

Part of Bill Presented — Constitutional Convention (No. 2) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 21st July 2015.

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Photo of Barbara Keeley Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Treasury) 5:11 pm, 21st July 2015

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak. It seems that it is third time lucky.

We have had a lively debate. We heard speeches from the hon. Members for Charnwood (Edward Argar), for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Roger Mullin), for Dudley South (Mike Wood), for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) and for Lewes (Maria Caulfield), my hon. Friend Catherine West, Lucy Frazer, and the hon. Members for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), for East Lothian (George Kerevan), for Foyle (Mark Durkan) and for Edinburgh East (Tommy Sheppard).

Last week, the Labour Opposition voted against the Budget, which my hon. Friend Mr Umunna, the shadow Business Secretary, described as “unfair” and “regressive” and

“not equal to the challenges that we face as a country.”—[Hansard, 14 July 2015; Vol. 598, c. 768.]

This is the context in which we start our scrutiny of the summer Finance Bill. There has been much rhetoric and spin from Ministers but little acknowledgment of the hardship that the Government’s measures will cause to more than 3 million people on low incomes. We heard much on that point today.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh East challenged my hon. Friend the shadow Chief Secretary on Labour’s stance on the general direction of the Finance Bill. I am not a Hansard writer, so I do not claim that this is absolutely verbatim, but it is worth repeating what my hon. Friend said, which was that Labour disputes the Government’s characterisation of the measures in the Budget and the Bill. We do not see them as they see them. They use these descriptions of national living wage, working people and so on, but we do not see it that way. However—this is an important point—the measures we oppose are not all in this Bill. Some will be in delegated legislation. I hope that explains our position to the hon. Gentleman.

Given the hardship that the Budget’s measures will cause to 3 million families on low incomes and that we debated yesterday, the tax lock is of course welcome. However, there were giveaways in this Budget, which are detailed in the Finance Bill, such as the cut to inheritance tax. That featured a number of times in the debate. I want to question the priorities that are behind the choices made by this Government. Whenever we talk about increases to the national minimum wage, we must bear in mind, as many Members have done, that the cuts to tax credits more than outweigh those wage increases. My hon. Friends have taken the opportunity to outline our opposition to these regressive measures that will hit more than 3 million working people. Despite the gimmick of the tax lock on VAT and income tax, the Government’s other tax increases will also have an impact on families over and above the impact from cuts in tax credits.