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Class 4 National Insurance Contributions - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:08 pm on 15th March 2017.

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Photo of Lord Higgins Lord Higgins Conservative 4:08 pm, 15th March 2017

My Lords, my noble friend will know that the Chancellor’s original proposal was widely welcomed by, for example, a leader in the Financial Times and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Would he agree that the way in which the doctrine of the manifesto has developed over almost the last century needs further review now? We find ourselves in a situation where a manifesto appears at short notice, is subject to absolutely no consultation with anyone and is not subject to amendment. In those circumstances, it is not surprising that it sometimes contains rather unfortunate proposals. None the less, one must obviously abide by it in general terms—but one must surely take into account changes in circumstances. The result of the referendum means that the Chancellor will be faced with immense problems in this Parliament. Is it not a mistake to continue to tie his hands, and should we at least give him the possibility of not sticking to the manifesto commitment as it was conceived at the time of the election because of these changed circumstances? He ought not to be bound by the triple lock, which is after all a major aspect of fiscal policy, when we are trying to deal with all the problems that a hard or even a soft Brexit may produce.