Clause 5

Part of National Insurance Contributions Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:30 pm on 7th December 2010.

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Photo of Kelvin Hopkins Kelvin Hopkins Labour, Luton North 5:30 pm, 7th December 2010

My hon. Friend makes a first-class point. In these difficult times in which small groups of people are doing precisely that and trying to set up organisations to fill gaps in social provision, she is absolutely right—in the best of all possible worlds there would be public provision, but such things are not being provided by public authorities. For people setting up such groups, something of that sort will be the difference between success and failure.

My final point is on the constant reference to the wealth-producing sector. I do not accept that dichotomy. All organisations may produce social value of some kind. It is suggested that a burger bar, or something even less health-promoting, is somehow wealth-producing, whereas a charity that looks after people with, say, drug problems is not. Which is the more valuable to society? I suggest that the voluntary sector one is more valuable. We have far too many burger bars and, in fact, we are the fattest people in Europe, partly because we eat too many burgers. I do not personally, although I could do with losing a pound or two. I do not accept that dichotomy—voluntary organisations and public services produce value for society, be it in material terms or in service terms. They also produce employment, which is fundamental, and the income from that employment goes into society and produces demand for other goods and services, too. So I do not accept the idea that there is a wealth-producing sector on which the rest of us somehow depend.