Budget Resolutions - Income Tax (Charge)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 1st November 2018.

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Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Conservative, North East Derbyshire 4:13 pm, 1st November 2018

It is a pleasure to follow Sarah Champion, who made a powerful speech.

I welcome many elements of the Budget: the relief for business rates; the reduction in tax on the personal side, and help for coalfield communities such as mine. Those sorts of changes and the economic environment that the Government have created in the past eight years have allowed us to become so attractive that even in a historically challenging part of my constituency like Barrow Hill, there is now the opportunity for Spanish train manufacturers to come and open factories that could create hundreds of jobs. I very much welcome what the Government have done in this and previous Budgets.

Today, we have talked a lot about the challenges in our fiscal policy and the problems in our budget. I would like to draw attention to several points made by my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Clarke and by my hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh, who is not in his place. The macroeconomic indicators are moving in the right direction. Our deficit is reducing and our debt is finally going down, but by the end of the period covered by the predications in the Red Book we will still be spending more than we take in as a country, and we will have done so for 20 years.

The challenge we face in western democracies such as ours is that we spend in the good times, we spend in the bad times and we spend in the in-between times. Whatever our views are about spending—I recognise that there are respectful and different views in all parts of the House about the levels of spending we need—we cannot continue to spend in the way we are without paying for it. We are writing cheques in this House without any responsibility for how we are going to cash them. We talked a moment ago about the morality of some of the decisions we have made here. I think the morality before us now is that of not continuing to load problems on to our children and our grandchildren.

Richard Burden is no longer in his place, but he made a powerful speech about the yawning chasm between certain elements and communities in our country. In my view, there is a yawning chasm between what we are deciding to do here and now, and the money we are choosing to spend, and the people who will have to pick up the tab and pay for that in 20 or 30 years’ time. In the limited time I have left, I would like to draw attention to a number of countries that have decided to say, “Wherever we are and whatever Government we have, we should put in place fiscal rules that mean that should not happen.” Chile did it, the United States tried to do it—not very well, honestly—and Switzerland has done it through its debt break. We should consider fiscal changes that ensure we do not load a lot more debt on to our children and grandchildren in years to come.