Budget Resolutions - Income Tax (Charge)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:46 pm on 31st October 2018.

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Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 3:46 pm, 31st October 2018

It is a pleasure to follow Albert Owen. I spoke to him in the Tea Room about fusion, and I think we both remain very excited about the potential of that project. I want to start by looking at unemployment. There was a time when the Library produced monthly assessments of constituencies, and my own constituency was invariably either at the top or near it in terms of best performance in dealing with employment. It should therefore come as no surprise that less than 1% of the economically engaged population in my constituency is unemployed at the moment. The number of young unemployed people—those under the age of 24—across the whole constituency amounts to 50. It is often argued that I know them all. I do not, but I wish I did.

Those figures illustrate an interesting point, which is that there is not a sufficient population within the constituency to fill the jobs necessary for growth and expanding businesses there. Two things need to happen in that regard. First, we need innovative solutions to the transport issue. I am pleased that the county council has helped to engineer smaller buses and lots of local buses, but I would like to see a little more help for this in next year’s spending review. Secondly, we need to make houses really affordable. A number of speakers have already mentioned the fact that houses are not genuinely affordable. There is one policy in the Budget that will help in this regard, and it is interesting that no one has mentioned it so far. It relates to the Chancellor’s attempt to use the discount on houses to keep them for local people. I fully support that policy, and I do so in my role as a Government champion for neighbourhood planning.