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Part of Finance (No. 3) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 19th November 2018.

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Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth 6:00 pm, 19th November 2018

Before I speak to my new clause 18, I want to gently chastise Richard Graham. He is not in his place at the moment, but I am sure that someone will respond to this for him. He very inappropriately raised quite selective data on inequalities, a subject that I spent nearly 20 years working on before I came to this place. He should know that we are the seventh most unequal country of the 30 developed countries in relation to income inequality. By some measures, we do worse than others, but overall, economic equality is not just about income; it is also about pay and wealth. We need to be mindful of this fact, and selectively reporting data is not a practice that we should be indulging in.

I should like to declare an interest as the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for health in all policies and as a fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, following more than 20 years of national and international work in this field prior to becoming an MP. It is lovely to see you in the Chair, Madam Deputy Speaker. New clause 18 would require the Government to commit to undertaking an assessment of the effects of the personal taxation measures in the Budget—including changes in the personal allowance and the higher rate threshold—on poverty, on the public’s health, including their life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, and in turn on public services.

The reason I have tabled this new clause is that, over the past eight years or so, I have seen the gains made under the previous Labour Government being totally reversed by this Government. Those gains included the reduction in the number of children and older people living in poverty and the improvements in health including an increase in our life expectancy and reductions in health inequalities. As the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, said on Friday, the cuts and reforms introduced in the past few years have brought misery and torn at our social fabric. He went on:

“British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited and callous approach”.

As I mentioned in my point of order earlier, I am afraid the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Kwasi Kwarteng demonstrated this exact point in his comments on the “The Andrew Marr Show” yesterday. The lack of humanity he showed in his response to the plight of Emily Lydon, who is being forced to sell her home because of issues with transitioning on to universal credit, shamed not only himself and the Government of which he is a Minister, but this whole House.