It is a pleasure to speak in this part of the debate. I really do think that this is the best Finance Bill that we have seen in some years. I return to the point that I made on Second Reading: Governments do not have their own money, only taxpayers’ money. It is absolutely imperative to remember that and to remember that taxes are paid in the expectation that they will be spent wisely and necessarily. Where the Government can find a way to enable taxpayers to keep more of their own hard-earned money, they should do so.
Helping families in constituencies like mine better to meet the costs of living is absolutely critical. I am therefore a strong supporter of clause 5, raising the personal allowance for us all and the scope of the basic rate to more of the middle earners who have previously been dragged into higher rates of taxes than they should have faced. These are not the top earners, but will often be the likes of middle management, senior nurses, or lower-rank inspectors in the police, and they have previously been penalised by this punitive higher rate of tax.
The increase in the personal allowance is the latest in a line of such increases. This will mean that a typical basic-rate taxpayer will pay £1,205 less tax in the next tax year than they did in 2010-11. Importantly, the increase to £12,500 comes a year earlier than planned. That can happen because the public finances are in a better shape than had been predicted, thanks to the hard work of the British people and the sound fiscal management of my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary, and the Ministers on the Front Bench. They know that taxpayers’ money is taxpayers’ money, and they have rightly allowed taxpayers to keep more of it as soon as it has been possible to do so, as we see in these clauses. This is combined with inflation coming back under control and wages rising again in real terms. The lowest paid have not only been taken out of income tax altogether but enjoy an increased national living wage.