Impact of provisions of section 5 on child poverty and equality

Part of Finance (No. 3) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:30 pm on 8th January 2019.

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Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy), SNP Deputy Leader 4:30 pm, 8th January 2019

I want to talk about a few issues, many of which have been brought up during the debate. The first is the subject of new clauses 1 and 5, both of which I support, and the way in which they have been written. I stress to the Government, and particularly to Kevin Foster, that the reason why the new clauses call for reviews is that we have no amendment of the law resolution, which means that we cannot put forward more robust amendments that ask the Government to do things. If we could have tabled more robust amendments, we would have done so, and I am sure that the Labour party would have done so as well. The Government have chosen to hamstring us and, as I have said before, when Conservative Members are sitting on the Opposition Benches, they will regret this behaviour. The fact that they chose not to move an amendment of the law motion makes it much more difficult for us to table any substantive amendments, but we are doing our best.

The things that we have managed to do during these Finance Bill debates are unparalleled in the Scottish National party’s history. We have managed to have two substantive amendments accepted to the Bill. I had two amendments accepted to the previous Finance Bill, but they were particularly minor. These ones are much more substantive and call for reviews. One of those amendments fits nicely in this section of our proceedings, as it relates to the public health effects of gambling. I am pleased that that amendment continues to be in the Bill, and I look forward to the Minister bringing forward that review in the next six months, as we have called for him to do.

There are various reasons why a Government can choose to change or introduce taxes. They can choose to have a tax to raise funds for the Government. They can choose to have a tax relief to encourage positive behaviour, or a tax to discourage negative behaviour. They can choose to have a tax to do one of the things that the Opposition and Simon Hoare have been keen to talk about. They can choose their priorities. They can choose to have a tax system that aims to reduce child poverty, reduce inequality and increase life expectancy, and we are asking for that to be the Government’s focus when they are setting taxes.

The Government should be looking at the life chances of the citizens who live on these islands and doing what they can to improve those life chances. That is the most important thing—it is why these reviews are being asked for. Whether or not the taxes that the Government have set are appropriate, we are asking for a change of focus and a change of priority, and I think the hon. Member for North Dorset was agreeing with that.