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I certainly do. Some Opposition Members were snobby about potholes, but those of us in the real world know that potholes matter. They affect people’s working lives, and we want to fix that problem. In answer to my right hon. Friend, Barnet will shortly be receiving £690,0000 for potholes.
Kirsty Blackman and many others welcomed the transferable tax history, which we announced in the Budget and which she advocated. She was strongly supported by our Scottish Conservative colleagues. The oil and gas industry is a national economic asset and one that we want to support. It supports 280,000 jobs across the Union, but particularly in north-east Scotland. In the Budget, the Chancellor reaffirmed our commitment to strong, competitive and predictable taxation, so that the industry—which is, as the hon. Lady said, still fragile—can continue to strengthen in the years ahead.
Many of my hon. Friends, including my hon. Friend Kevin Hollinrake, welcomed the introduction of the increase in the personal allowance and the increase in the higher-rate threshold—a tax cut for 32 million people, more than 1.5 million more working people taken out of tax altogether and achieving an increase in the personal allowance by more than 90% since 2010, which is a promise made in our manifesto and a promise delivered in the Budget.
My hon. Friend Eddie Hughes, as well as quoting Tiberius—I am yet to know whether Tiberius is quoted in No. 11; perhaps the Chancellor will invite my hon. Friend round for a cup of tea—was absolutely right to say that the Bill takes forward the measures in the last Budget to create a stamp duty relief for first-time buyers in other properties and extend it to those in shared ownership. That encourages and increases the dream of home ownership to a new generation.
As the Financial Secretary said at the beginning of the debate, the Bill also makes a number of changes to make our tax system fairer, and many Members across the House welcomed the new digital services tax. Some asked why we do not go further and faster, but let us remember that we will be the first major economy to create a tax of this nature. We are genuinely leading the international community and we hope to lead a multinational agreement, but the UK, under the leadership of the Chancellor, will lead the way. With those measures and others in the Bill, we will continue to close the tax gap, which is at its lowest ever and lower than in any year of the last Labour Government.
Mary Creagh, at the beginning of the debate, and other hon. Members later, asked what action we are taking to support the environment and on climate change. One such measure, of course, is our proposed plastics packaging tax—again, leading the world by creating an innovative tax that encourages the producers of plastic packaging to take responsibility and change their packaging, and building on great Conservative environmental taxes of the past, such as the landfill tax created by my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Clarke.
My hon. Friends the Members for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew Bowie) and for Moray (Douglas Ross), among others, said very clearly—this is an important dividing line in British politics—that we are excited about the future of this country, and want to support and invest in science and technology and in research and development to drive the economy forward. From the Labour party, we heard no ideas as to how to grow the economy. We heard about more spending and higher taxes, but nothing about how to create wealth and make our country more prosperous. We heard only ideas that we know have failed in the past.
Let us be clear: a vote against the Bill tonight would be a vote against enabling investment and new jobs in the north-east of Scotland and a vote against the transferable tax history, which the hon. Member for Aberdeen North says she has campaigned for and advocated over many years. It would be a vote against further investment in manufacturing to raise productivity, which Opposition Members have said should be a national priority, and a vote against the increase in the annual investment allowance. It would be a vote against extending the stamp duty land tax relief for first-time buyers to those who want to live in shared-ownership properties, something advocated by my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North. A year ago, the Opposition voted against our first policy in this area. Today, we know that more than 120,000 people across the country have benefited from that stamp duty relief. Surely the Labour party will not make the same mistake again.
Anyone who votes against the Finance Bill tonight will be voting against further actions to close the tax gap and to make it harder to evade and avoid taxation, and against making our tax system fairer. It would be a vote against a tax cut for 32 million people, and a vote against taking more than 1.5 million of our fellow citizens out of income tax altogether.
The Bill will make the UK more competitive, more innovative and more entrepreneurial. It will deliver lower taxes and put more money into the pockets of our British working public. It will make our economy and our country stronger, and I commend it to the House.
Question put, That the amendment be made.
The House divided:
Ayes 279, Noes 302.