Budget Resolutions - Income Tax (Charge)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 31st October 2018.

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Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn 3:41 pm, 31st October 2018

I agree with one point that Richard Drax made: it is very welcome that we have had extra expenditure on our armed forces. Of course the Chancellor of the Exchequer made that announcement with pride, but he was in the Government who took the money away in the first instance and made things very difficult for our armed forces over the last eight years.

Stephen Hammond rightly highlighted his school, and said it was a very good comprehensive school. My school was the first comprehensive school in this country. Like many schools, it has suffered from cuts over the past few years, and it will, I think, be upset that not much money has gone into education. Certainly the Barnett formula will not help schools in Wales.

This was a political Budget and its main target audience was the different factions of the Conservative party. The slogan—and it is a slogan—that austerity has ended is cruel in many ways, because that is not the reality. Why should we believe this Government? It was a Conservative Government who told us they would end the deficit by 2015, yet under the figures given by the Chancellor on Monday the deficit will still be there in 2023-24. They have missed their target by a little over nine years, and even then the figure will be 0.8%.

There was a missed opportunity on low carbon and climate change. A decade after we in the House of Commons introduced the Climate Change Act, which I was very pleased to vote for, the Government had an opportunity to move forward. They have invested in some low carbon measures through the growth strategies, and I welcome the nuclear sector deal, but one area where investment is greatly lacking is marine and tidal technology. The Government are missing a trick there, because many companies now want to invest in this country, and are doing so in research and development, but the money simply is not there for them to go from prototypes to actual commercial delivery. The Government need to look at that, because many of these companies are international and they will go elsewhere and manufacture the prototypes in other countries, and Britain will lose out.

I urge the Minister to put pressure on this issue. I have discussed it with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, and he does understand, but he needs to ring-fence a subsidy—and it is a subsidy—to help this new technology, as we did with wind. When Labour was in government the Conservatives criticised us for subsidising wind farms, yet they are now saying it is their flagship policy. That turnabout is most welcome, but we now need to concentrate on marine technology, because we have the resource, the research and development and the skills, and we need to develop them moving forward.

Finally, I want to talk about the north Wales growth bid announcement. Like my right hon. Friend David Hanson, I cautiously welcome the £120 million for the 600,000-plus people of north Wales. It does not quite compare with the amount that appeared on the magic money tree for the Democratic Unionist party in Northern Ireland, which has half the population but got double the money. I wonder why that is, Madam Deputy Speaker. However, the money will be useful for the Welsh Government, for local government and for the business sector working with MPs to develop our economy, which has struggled over the past decade, and I very much welcome it.

Some of the bids involved include energy developments in north-west Wales, which is a good thing. We are building on the energy sector deals, which is good for the economy of north Wales, but we need to see the details. We need to see how much money is available now, so that the other areas of the Welsh Government can match-fund it to maximise the potential to make north Wales a centre of excellence in low carbon energy. That is something that I have campaigned for, alongside the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He was very good on this when he was in opposition.

We need to see more action from this Government, and I hope that the politics will be put to one side and that we will work together to develop low carbon energy so that we as a country can be a world leader. I hope that the region of north Wales can work with the regions of north-west England to develop and become more connected as a region of the United Kingdom, and that we can develop top-class jobs there, because that is what we need. We do not need slogans; we need real jobs. We do not want hollow remarks about ending austerity; we want actually to end it.