National living wage—the clue is in the title—but what the Government have proposed is not a living wage.
The Chancellor did not use the phrase “climate change” once during his hour-long speech—it felt longer than an hour, I’ll grant you that—despite the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which warned that we only have 12 years to avert climate catastrophe. The Government cling to their woeful plastic straws initiative, but the only measure in the Bill addressed to the 100 corporations that produce 71% of our global emissions was yet another tax break. That is the sort of stuff that the Government should be tackling. This is for the oil industry. The Government have really got to get to grips with its approach to climate change. This oversight is catastrophic. History will remember the Government’s failure to tackle the greatest threat to humanity—that does not overstate it.
Meanwhile, the vulnerable suffer. The Government reneged on their promise to tackle the social devastation wreaked on our communities by fixed odds betting terminals, causing the resignation of a yet another Minister. It has since become apparent that they reneged after lobbying by the gambling industry, in spite of the known link between these machines and people taking their own life. Here we have it: the Chancellor of big business pays little regard to the tragedy of lives lost to this awful addiction, as long as the gambling industry can keep making a return and continue its donations to the Conservative party—a fact.
So what remains in the Bill when all these pressing issues have been left out? There has been much discussion about the Government’s change to tax thresholds in clause 5. Let me make our argument clearly: after eight years of austerity, we will not stand in the way of any change that will put additional income into the pockets of low and middle earners, regardless of how that is brought about—[Interruption.] We have said that time after time. However, Labour’s policy remains that we believe we should be taxing the wealthiest more to deliver the end of the austerity that the Tories have failed to provide. We will therefore table an amendment to clause 5 setting out our tax proposals. These proposals would protect everyone earning below £80,000 a year— 95% of the population—from any further tax increases, while ensuring that the top 5% of our society pay their fair share. We call on the House to support our amendment in the Committee of the whole House.