Value Added Tax Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:48 am on 8th February 2019.

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Photo of James Cartlidge James Cartlidge Conservative, South Suffolk 11:48 am, 8th February 2019

Of course. Although that is a very good point, it does assume a competitive marketplace where that tax change would be passed on in full to the consumer, and it remains to be seen whether that would be the case.

The point that I was trying to make is that when the Labour party makes unfunded commitments, we talk about the magic money tree. I have to say that I was trying to keep a tally as my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch was speaking, and he seems to have opened up something that we might call a wondrous wonga arboretum of revenues. At one point, we were looking at £7.6 billion, once we added in the heating exemptions and the potential increase in the threshold to half a million pounds. These are not inconsiderable sums of money. The key thing that we have to remember is that, yes, there are those who argue about dynamic effect on behaviour, which means that these things are revenue-neutral. Perhaps I am a small c conservative, like a former great Chancellor, my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Clarke, whom I admire greatly. He was talking about this very Budget. He used to take the view that we should never rely on forecasts; everything has to be paid for. If we make a commitment, we have to find a corresponding item to fund it. I take that view as well. That is how one should run a business. It is cautious—one always assumes that there is a downside and an upside. Unfortunately, we now live in an era in which we cannot talk about downsides, because there is this “Project Fear” thing, but that is the sensible way of politics and prudence.