Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:25 pm on 12th September 2017.

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Photo of Ruth George Ruth George Labour, High Peak 5:25 pm, 12th September 2017

It is a great pleasure to follow the two excellent maiden speeches of Douglas Ross and my hon. Friend Dan Carden. I will not try to expand on the points made so well by my hon. Friend Stella Creasy. She gave us a masterclass in why Labour Members have no cause for shame on our economic record, whereas Government Members have many questions to answer. I look forward to hearing the replies to those questions in the Minister’s response.

As a relatively new Member of the House, I must echo the concern I expressed earlier today about how a Bill is not only of such weight and length, but has been published, together with the explanatory notes, only today. John Redwood said that the Bill had been written at the time of the Budget back in March, but in that case why could it not have been published sooner. Anyone would think that the Government were keen to avoid scrutiny and to prevent Members from being able properly to debate what is in the Bill. That may be why so many speeches have been not about the Bill, but about the economic record of the Labour party.

I echo the points made by Members from both sides of the House who have set out the economic challenges of productivity that are so important to making sure we have an economy that is sustainable for the long term and works in the interests of all our people. The lack of certainty that certainly exists among businesses in my constituency and across the country is leading to a downturn in the level of investment that they are able to make. As my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow said, household incomes are dropping, and the higher taxes on lower-income households—VAT has an impact on households with very low incomes—means that they are now paying far more tax than they did in 2010. That has an impact on the incomes that, in lower-income households, are primarily spent in the UK, not overseas. Those are the people who support our economy and our local businesses on a day-to-day basis.

The same is true of public sector workers. We heard earlier about the way in which our public sector workers have been treated, and how the Government feel that they have not managed the economy well enough to be able to give our public sector workers the pay rise they deserve. That is a shame for millions of public sector workers, who work hard—day in, day out—to help all the people of this country.