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Budget Resolutions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:52 pm on 16th March 2020.

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Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 9:52 pm, 16th March 2020

It is a pleasure to speak at the end of this long but very interesting debate, with 34 contributions by Back-Bench Members from across the House. Before I attempt to respond to many of the questions, I would first like to extend my very best wishes to Anneliese Dodds on her birthday today. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

We have been fortunate in this debate to hear three excellent maiden speeches. My hon. Friend Antony Higginbotham said that he is the first Conservative to be elected in Burnley since 1910. He spoke about his passion to end hospital car parking charges. It is great that the Budget has moved us forward in that regard, with the changes beginning in April.

We heard from my hon. Friend Nick Fletcher, who, very movingly, told the story of Tommy in two different scenarios, speaking very much to the aspirations of the Government in terms of investment in life opportunities. He also spoke very openly and bravely about his Christian faith.

We also heard from my hon. Friend Lia Nici, who, supported by my hon. Friend Martin Vickers, made the case for a free port in her constituency. The Government will take very seriously the representations she made.

I recognise that the debate was punctuated by a very important statement from the Secretary of State for Health. I also recognise that the hon. Member for Oxford East raised a number of questions, some of which I will be able to respond to. I am sure my colleagues across Government will be making further statements in coming days to clarify some of those points. The Government are committed to supporting our world-class public services with the investment they need: investment in the here and now, with a £30 billion package for the country to tackle covid-19, including a £5 billion Cobra response fund for the NHS and other public services; and investment for the future. She is right that there has been a material development as a consequence of today’s announcement, and there are matters that we in the Treasury will reflect on carefully, but a support package for business was set out last week and we will look at that in terms of what we say later this week.

In last year’s spending round, the Government pledged an additional £34 billion for the NHS by the end of this Parliament, together with 20,000 more police and an additional £14 billion for education over the next three years. That was only the beginning of our ambition, however. We are determined to deliver for the people who put their trust in us. We are ready to take the big decisions necessary to transform our country. The Budget is proof of that commitment.

By the end of this Parliament, day-to-day spending on public services will be £100 billion more in cash terms than when we came into government a decade ago. Nowhere is our commitment more evident than in the national health service. In 2018, the Government agreed a historic multi-year funding settlement and committed to spend an additional £34 billion by 2024. Through the Budget, the Government will commit a further £6 billion.

Together, that provides the financial security and certainty that the health service needs to prepare for the future at a time when it is under unprecedented pressure to once again step up and go beyond the call of duty. It means that we can proceed with delivering 50,000 more nurses. It will fund the creation of 50 million more GP surgery appointments a year and it will enable work to start on 40 new hospitals. Crucially, we will also invest in the future health and wellbeing of our society, with £1 billion extra for adult social care every year of this Parliament, and nearly £650 million to help rough sleepers into permanent accommodation.

The Government’s most important task is to keep the public safe. Thanks to the £750 million we made available at the spending round, the first of 20,000 additional police officers are now being recruited. Last week’s Budget confirmed that we will make available an additional £114 million in support of counter-terrorism efforts. Ultimately, a safe and secure society rests on a firm but humane justice system that can reform and rehabilitate offenders back into society, as my hon. Friend Rob Butler said. We will improve conditions for those living and working in our prison system, which my hon. Friend John Howell raised, while increasing the number of offenders required to wear electronic tags and expanding the number of hours offenders can spend doing unpaid work.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor made it clear that this was a Budget for businesses. If we are to unleash the potential of businesses across the country, we need to equip people with the skills to match our ambition. Last year’s spending round provided schools with a three-year settlement, so that per pupil funding can rise at least in line with inflation, which was welcomed by my hon. Friend Laura Farris in her thoughtful contribution.

In this Budget, the Government will invest a further £95 million to support the roll-out of T-levels, and we will fund 11 maths schools across every region of the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, £1.5 billion will be made available for capital spending in the further education sector and we will bring together employers and educators to open eight new institutes of technology. Those measures will help to ensure that our country has the skills it needs to prosper, not just today, but into the 2030s, 2040s and beyond.

Alongside our increased investment in public services, we will redouble our efforts to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion. The vast majority of taxpayers in this country—businesses and individuals alike—pay their correct taxes on time and expect others to do the same. For that reason, the Government will give Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs more funding to tackle non-compliance and secure an extra £4.4 billion of revenue that is not currently obtained. Every penny that HMRC can recover will mean more money for frontline public services.

Now that we have left the European Union, our future is in our hands. The Government are determined to seize the opportunity to create a country that is not only stronger and more prosperous, but safer, fairer and healthier too.

This Budget will ensure that our police have the resources that they need to keep our streets safe. We will ensure that the NHS has the doctors, nurses and other professionals that it needs to continue delivering world-class healthcare, free to every man, woman and child, for decades to come. The Budget will also help our schools, colleges and universities to equip young people to thrive in life, and our economy to access the talent and skills that it needs to grow. I urge Members in all parts of the House to support the Budget tomorrow evening.

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

Ordered, That the debate be resumed tomorrow.