Budget Resolutions - Income Tax (Charge)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:11 pm on 31st October 2018.

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Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Keighley 4:11 pm, 31st October 2018

It is a great pleasure to follow Maggie Throup who spoke with great passion and knowledge about her constituency.

Madam Deputy Speaker, I do not know whether you watch Match of the Day 2 on a Sunday night, but the presenter always ends by saying, “2 Bad, 2 Good”, and they choose two bad incidents from that week’s football games and two good. I thought that I would adopt the same approach on the Budget—[Interruption.] No, I want to be generous and have the two good things.

Let me start with the two bad things. The first disappointment in the Budget is the lack of mention of Yorkshire devolution. Eighteen out of 20 councils, including many of the leading Tory councils in Yorkshire, God’s own county, have come out in favour of a One Yorkshire devolution deal. We desperately need it, and an economic case for it has been made to Government. We do not want to balkanise the county into four sub-regions. A lot can be gained in terms of skills, inward investment and exports if we can get a Yorkshire deal.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Treasury have traditionally favoured this plan more than the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. However, I would like to pass on my congratulations to the Minister for the northern powerhouse. He is on paternity leave and I understand that his second child was born in the last 24 hours. Hopefully, like many new fathers, he will come back a more mellow man and he will begin negotiations on One Yorkshire.

There is good news for Yorkshire today: Leeds has been chosen as the national base for Channel Four. All Yorkshire MPs will be rejoicing in that. It will be a great boost for the creative industry not just in Leeds, but throughout Yorkshire, and there will be celebrations throughout the county tonight.

One bad piece of news has been mentioned. No fewer than five Conservative MPs have asked for more money for their schools. I do not know what bright spark thought up the term, “a little extra”, but they will go to their graves with that phrase. As we approach the Christmas season, it is like one of our loved ones giving us a pair of socks for Christmas. We look at them, and even though we would not say it, we think, “Is that all?” That is what many schools are thinking today. I advise Government Back Benchers that, if they are to rebel on anything, rebel on this, because it was the issue that got me a 249 majority at the last election and, unless the Government change their mind on this issue, it will be at the top of any leaflets that I put out if there is a snap election.

Let me turn quickly to two good items. It would be churlish of me, as deputy chair of the all-party group for pubs, not to welcome the freeze on beer duty, and not to welcome the rates measures, which will bring £120 million to pubs. I have an invite for you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and for any Members of the House. By fortuitous chance, we have a reception in dining room A, which I am hosting tonight, to celebrate Yorkshire beers, particularly Timothy Taylor’s beers in Keighley. All Members of the House are most welcome to join that celebration. Seven o’clock is well timed for the close of this debate.

Drew Hendry made a scathing attack on the Government’s record on carbon capture and storage. In Yorkshire, as in Aberdeen, in 2015 we were looking forward to a substantial project when it was cut. There is good news, however, not in the Budget in particular, but announced just before it—the Government are again looking at carbon capture and storage, and at two clusters of it. The two obvious clusters would be the two areas that lost last time: Aberdeen and Yorkshire.

I want to give some support to the shadow Chancellor for his attitude to tax. We need to be pragmatic. Today, however, the one thing that I disagreed with in the excellent speech from our Front-Bench spokesperson was that the Government side had given up—they have not. They will have to be prised from power, and we have to be careful what we say. I look forward to similar pragmatism as we develop our policies on public ownership of water—we need to pay proper compensation and to have a proper regulator—and on employee ownership. I chaired an employee owned firm, and we need to do better as we develop our policy.

Finally, there could be a snap election. Our party will need a European policy if we defeat the deal that comes before the House. That policy should be to put back the Brexit date to allow the new Labour Government to negotiate a new deal aligning ourselves to the single market and the customs union, with a referendum to confirm that deal.