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Budget Resolutions - Income Tax (Charge)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:56 pm on 1st November 2018.

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Photo of Luke Graham Luke Graham Conservative, Ochil and South Perthshire 3:56 pm, 1st November 2018

I rise to support the Budget. I will start with two points on the criticism and rebuttals we have received from the SNP.

First, universal credit has received a lot of criticism. I think every single Member knows that there are improvements to be made to universal credit. That is what the Budget does. It allocates more money to universal credit. It puts the SNP at odds with the chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Trussell Trust, who both recognise the improvements to universal credit, which will help to tackle poverty more effectively.

Secondly, on tax, where the SNP tax changes delivered £20 a year for the most vulnerable, a pathetic 38p a week, our Budget delivers £130 a year, which is £1,200 for the basic rate income taxpayer, helping people who need it most.

The SNP talks about having a different path and attracting more people to Scotland, but here is the interesting thing. They want to bring more people in. I will give them a hint about how to do that: do not tax our doctors, our teachers and our servicemen and servicewomen more than everywhere else in the United Kingdom.

What does the Budget deliver for Scotland and for Ochil and South Perthshire? It gives £950 million extra for the block grant, which is a real and cash increase. It delivers a spirits freeze, which helps companies in Menstrie, Madderty and Kinross in my constituency. It delivers £550 million more for the NHS, which even the SNP recognises is a positive thing and, if devolution works correctly, there will be £43 million more for business rate relief to help our high streets in Crieff and Alloa, £41 million to improve roads across Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire, and £87 million more for social care. Those are positive steps in the Budget, and that is before I even mention the £150 million of new money that is being allocated in the Tay cities deal. The Budget will also deliver a crackdown on tax avoidance, including VAT, and measures on the hidden economy and on offshore tax compliance.

Some of the smaller measures in the Budget have been lost. It expands the operations of the British Business Bank in Scotland by allocating personnel on the ground to help our businesses to access more patient capital. In addition, it allocates £1.6 billion to strengthen science innovation, with £235 million for quantum technologies and £20 million for fusion power, which is a subject very close to my heart.

We on the Government Benches want to empower people. We do not want to tie them to dependency. The Budget provides more support for the most vulnerable and more opportunity for all. That is why I support it in this House.