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Tax Credits

Part of Opposition Day — [7th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:54 pm on 20th October 2015.

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Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee 3:54 pm, 20th October 2015

I am immensely grateful, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is a pleasure to follow Mr Clarke. Like him, I will set the scene, but much more briefly, I hope.

The record shows that even when it was not popular on the Labour Benches, I spoke about the need to reduce the deficit, so I do not come here as a Johnny-come-lately who has suddenly discovered when we are not in government that that is a crucial aspect of economic stability. Similarly, when I pleaded in this place, on both sides of the Chamber, not to build up the tax credit strategy, I never got one Conservative Member to help me to divide the House so that we could show our disapproval of a method which, in the long run, has the consequences that the right hon. and learned Gentleman explained to us—that if we subsidise wages by that means, there is an effect on employers in the long run. Most employers, like individuals, are rational creatures. Why should they increase the wages of the lowest paid when taxpayers will do the job for them? That is the setting.

I make three pleas to the House. Although it would be tremendous news if a large number of Conservative Members, or even if one or two, joined us in the Lobby this evening, we should not raise our hopes too high. When we were in government it was almost a capital offence to vote with the Opposition on such motions.