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Clause 2 - Personal allowance for 2013-14 for those born after 5 April 1948

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 23rd April 2013.

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Photo of Fiona O'Donnell Fiona O'Donnell Labour, East Lothian 3:00 pm, 23rd April 2013

Thank you very much for your wise words, Mr Crausby. If Government Members want to make interventions that are so lengthy that they almost constitute speeches, perhaps they should make individual contributions, because the hon. Member for Braintree made many points.

I am talking about people who are on the basic rate of income tax, which would hopefully be the case of this family, if they achieve a certain level of income. I was not aware that income tax was a barrier to them finding employment, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border.

I absolutely do not think that Labour Members have a monopoly on compassion and understanding. However, there is an attitude from Government Members who have experienced poverty and learned from it that is twisted, in a Thatcherite way, into saying, “Well, if I could get myself out of it, why can’t they?” That shows a complete misunderstanding and a lack of acknowledgement of what poverty can do to people—it can grind them down. Many of us will have struggled on lower incomes with large families, but do we want future generations to face the same difficulties just because it was good enough for us? I certainly want my children to have a better life and a better story than I did, and my grandchildren even more so.

Let me move on to the amendment. The hon. Member for Penrith and The Border spoke about income tax as being a barrier to employment. In general terms, people want to know that they will be better off in employment than if they are living on benefits. When we look at the overall impact of all the changes the Government have made, and put that together with the increase in the cost of living—whether that is putting fuel in a car or food on the table, or having any kind of leisure activities—the cost of living has gone up. The OBR has made it clear that people will be worse off at the end of five years of a Conservative and Lib Dem Government than they were at the beginning.