Budget Resolutions - Income Tax (Charge)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 31st October 2018.

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Photo of Colin Clark Colin Clark Conservative, Gordon 5:15 pm, 31st October 2018

I commend this Budget, which stimulates business and puts money back in the pockets of hard-working families. I draw Members’ attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I am also a businessman.

I am known for my brevity—just ask my wife—and I do not intend to disappoint. I want to be a ray of sunshine by focusing on the annual investment allowance, which is moving from £200,000 to £1 million on 1 January 2019. This is transformative for the grafters, for the white van man and for SMEs the length and breadth of this country. This is not a fat-cat tax bonus; it will potentially unlock hundreds of millions of pounds.

There is pent up investment in my constituency. Farmers want to buy combines and tractors, and food manufacturers want to buy labour-saving equipment—companies such as Dean’s shortbread in Huntly and Mackie’s ice cream in Inverurie. And, of course, there is the oil and gas sector. There are 233 service companies in my Gordon constituency, let alone in the neighbouring constituencies of my hon. Friends the Members for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew Bowie), for Banff and Buchan (David Duguid), who has now gone, and for Aberdeen South (Ross Thomson).

The oil and gas sector is the engine room of the Scottish economy, and I would be happy to show the Business Minister or any other Minister around next time they visit. The supply chain is worth a staggering £30 billion, and it supports the majority of the 300,000 oil and gas-related jobs.

Some 233 companies in Gordon will see a fivefold increase in annual investment allowance. If every one of them takes it up, it could release as much as £200 million of investment just in one part of Scotland: high-tech, serious investments by companies such as Hoover Ferguson of Kintore; STATS, the pipeline intervention company, also of Kintore; Hydro Group of Bridge of Don, which makes umbilicals for the oil and gas industry; Sparrows of Bridge of Don, which makes offshore cranes; Flowline of Oldmeldrum, a growing exporting business; and Aker Solutions, a Scandinavian company that has invested tens of millions of pounds in Aberdeen, confident in the future of the Scottish economy. I have visited each and every one of them. Ambitious, confident and positive—that is not just me; it is the companies.

The oil and gas industry is estimated to generate £920 billion over the next 30 to 40 years. If each and every one of those companies invests in the future of oil and gas, we could see that £920 billion flow into this economy. That is a positive message for business. This is a tangible investment in business to boost the UK and Scottish economy and a demonstration of Her Majesty’s Government’s support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The north-east of Scotland had a deep turndown, even though unemployment in the area is only 1.2%—they are a hard-working crowd. The Chancellor has announced continued fiscal stability for the oil and gas industry. He has listened to his Scottish Conservative colleagues. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury for filling the oil and gas industry with confidence. Last year’s transferable tax history incentive has been delivered by Her Majesty’s Government. Fiscal stability for oil and gas has been delivered by Her Majesty’s Government. Low corporation tax has been delivered by Her Majesty’s Government. And a fivefold increase in the annual investment allowance has been delivered by Her Majesty’s Government. Meanwhile, we have had punitive business rates from the SNP Government; the highest personal income tax in the country delivered by the SNP; and empty commercial properties being knocked down in the north-east of Scotland because of SNP policies. Her Majesty’s Government are delivering for business, growing the economy and stimulating jobs. This is a Budget for business.