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Finance (No. 3) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:59 pm on 12th November 2018.

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Photo of Jonathan Reynolds Jonathan Reynolds Shadow Economic Secretary (Treasury) 9:59 pm, 12th November 2018

I have seen that analysis. The Resolution Foundation said that the cost is greater, so the question for the hon. Gentleman is this: if more money is going in and so many people are still losing out, what terrible choices have the Government made to produce a situation as bad as that?

My hon. Friends the Members for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) and for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh) mentioned the Government’s shameful delay in limiting the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals. Many Members, including me, see the damage done in our constituencies by these machines every week. They both gave forceful and persuasive speeches, but I am hopeful that the will of the House on this matter is clear and that the Government will be forced to do the right thing, especially given several speeches by Conservative Members. My hon. Friend Bambos Charalambous gave a powerful testimony about what austerity has meant in his borough. I only hope that his school governors’ meeting was quorate without him.

There was a lively exchange on the environment. I do not think it is unreasonable to say that, given the potential catastrophe we face—as outlined in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published in October—this Finance Bill is unsatisfactory. I sat in Mansion House in June, listening to the Chancellor promise that the UK would be leading the way on green finance, but we have yet to see any tangible evidence of the Government’s intentions on the statute book. We are lagging behind our European counterparts, which already have mandatory climate disclosure laws, and those that have issued their own sovereign green bonds. This just does not seem to be a priority for the Government.

The good news for all my colleagues is that they can join me tonight in voting for Labour’s reasoned amendment, which declines to give this Bill its Second Reading on the basis that it continues the austerity policies that have caused so much damage, and instead proposes a progressive taxation system, real funding for public services, greater public investment and a halt to the roll-out of universal credit.

I say to colleagues across the whole House, is it really unreasonable in Britain today for people to want to take their children into a city centre without having to explain to them why so many people are now sleeping on the streets? Is it really unreasonable to believe that, if we really had a strong economy, thousands of our fellow citizens would not be dependent on food banks to get by? And is it really unreasonable to believe that, when a Government present a Finance Bill, their priorities should be those most in need, not those who are already better off? We do not think that any of those things are unreasonable, so we will vote against the Finance Bill tonight. We know that this country does not just need new ideas; it needs new hope for the future. The Bill sadly offers neither and it does not deserve the endorsement of the House tonight.