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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 12th March 2020.

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Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 4:47 pm, 12th March 2020

I will not give way, for the reasons I have already described. I can continue to waste the hon. Lady’s time and the House’s time responding to these interventions, but we need to press on.

I am sure that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East will also enjoy the investment we have made in further education colleges—more than £1.5 billion for further education capex over the next few years.

Dame Diana Johnson asked where the revenue from the tampon tax would go. The tampon tax fund supports women’s charities, as she knows, and I am happy to tell her that the revenue will go to that. The competition for the next round of funds will be launched by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport shortly for the 2019-20 VAT receipts.

My right hon. Friend Sir John Hayes rightly stressed the importance of long-term investment and as little bureaucracy as possible in making capital investment, and how right he was.

My hon. Friend Tom Tugendhat asked us to reach for wartime analogies in fighting coronavirus. He will have seen that the Chancellor made it perfectly clear that we are prepared to do whatever it takes to assist the British people in dealing with this temporary crisis. We will continue to do that.

Yvonne Fovargue asked about free debt advice. I think she knows that the Government are investing an initial £12.5 million in HMRC in 2020-21 to begin implementing the breathing space initiative. Those in problem debt will be able to get 60 days’ breathing space, including from HMRC, while they engage with debt advice, and I think that is a very important contribution.

What a delight it is to see my hon. Friend Richard Fuller back in this Chamber. He rightly celebrates the small business focus of the Budget and asks us to consider business rates in relation to nurseries, and other petitions have been made in relation to that, including by my hon. Friend Andrew Griffith. Let me remind my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire that most nurseries will pay no rates if their rateable value is under £12,000 because of the small business rate relief. They will now also get a £3,000 coronavirus cash grant, of course, if they are in receipt of small business rate relief. There should be some bounce already in there, but of course we continue to reflect on business rates. We have a business rates review coming up, and he and my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs would be welcome to contribute to that.

Margaret Ferrier raised the question of red diesel. As she will know, there is a consultation associated with the changes we are making and she is welcome to support it and to make a petition to it if she wishes.

Steve McCabe raised a range of questions, some of which I have already touched on, such as business rates. He asked whether we would be monitoring the impact of the reduction in entrepreneurs’ relief. Let me tell him that of course we will. The problem with entrepreneurs’ relief is that it is not very well targeted on entrepreneurship. We wish to support entrepreneurship, small business growth and rapid innovation and that is what we are seeking to do.

Sarah Olney raised the question of green packages and rightly stressed the tough choices involved in a Budget. Let me refer her to the national infrastructure strategy. We already have a green package in this Budget. It is quite wide-ranging, but we intend to do more on it. What will not be true of us is what was true of Lord Prescott when he was in this place, when he said, “The Labour party supports the green belt and we intend to build on it.” We will not be doing that.

My hon. Friend Bim Afolami raised the question of the “Winds of Change” and gave us a historical dimension. I celebrate that, and I celebrate Lord Hennessy in his wisdom, because he is truly an ornament to the House of Lords.

Let me close by saying that this is a Budget for this country as a whole. It will make our economy and our country stronger still.

The debate stood adjourned (Standing Order No. 9(3)).

Ordered, That the debate be resumed on Monday 16 March.