Finance (No. 3) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:51 pm on 12th November 2018.

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Photo of Bill Grant Bill Grant Conservative, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock 9:51 pm, 12th November 2018

I thank the hon. Lady very much for that intervention—I do not agree with what she says. It is a safety net—it is a security net. My family have benefited from it. Nobody is saying they want to dismantle the welfare system. It has to be a manageable and affordable welfare system for the taxpayer and it must support the individual, as it does—[Interruption.] Thank you very much.

I have previously in this House expressed my delight at the freezing of duties for beer and whisky. That was agreed on, and we certainly found common ground across the Floor. We all like a dram and I am delighted that duties were frozen, particularly given that businesses in Scotland, not least in the whisky industry, will benefit from that freeze.

Having been a smoker, I was among those who noted an increase in duty, but I believe that this increase is fair. Together with the introduction of a duty on heated tobacco, this may guide people and cause them to reflect on their smoking or vaping habits in future, with the obvious health benefits. As one who has given up, I would advocate giving up smoking, whether vaping or conventional smoking, and that way the Chancellor will not get people with the extra duty. I realise that for many, that can be challenging, but giving up smoking is the best way to avoid tax on cigarettes. [Interruption.] It is lawful tax avoidance, as Chris Stephens said.

Similarly, the modest increases in vehicle excise duties for cars, vans and motorcycles to bring them in line with RPI inflation from 1 April 2019 may cause people to think about the type of vehicles that they own. People do not need to drive a gas-guzzler that consumes a lot of fuel, and there is the cost of fuel. They could improve the environment and increase the amount of money in their pocket. It would have a positive effect on the environment. The freeze on heavy goods vehicle excise duty for 2019-20 will, however, assist many small and medium-sized businesses throughout Scotland and the UK.

Opposition Members have sought to criticise the Chancellor for the suggestion that the Budget may need to be revised upon our leaving the EU. I do not see any logic in a notion that a reappraisal would be unhelpful after our country has left the EU. Surely such a reappraisal is entirely sensible and pragmatic, if it is indeed needed. The Opposition seem to concentrate on the same old chestnuts, but I would prefer that we concentrated on the little acorns in the Bill—for out of these little acorns, oak trees will grow. They will help the UK to flourish and austerity will indeed become a thing of the past, if we are all self-disciplined and unite behind the Chancellor, his Budget and this Bill.