Spring Budget 2024: Welsh Economy — [Peter Dowd in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:53 pm on 17 April 2024.

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Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Shadow Minister (Wales) 2:53, 17 April 2024

I congratulate my neighbour, my hon. Friend Ruth Jones, on securing this very important debate; in fact, I believe that this is the second year running that she has secured it. As always, she made her points well, as did all the speakers so far. I echo her comments on Gaza and the middle east. We share the city of Newport, and I know that that is a matter of great concern.

As my hon. Friend and neighbour set out, this is a Government clinging on to power, having presided over 14 years of managed decline. They lack the interest, vision and appetite to deliver the fundamental change that our country needs. We have had some excellent contributions from Members who will have had direct feedback from their constituents, be it on the doorsteps in places such as Monmouth, or in their surgeries. I certainly have: over the Easter recess we carried out a cost of living survey in Newport East, and people told us very strongly just how held back they feel by this failing Tory Government.

My hon. Friend put it well when she said that “never have a British Government asked their people…to pay so much for so little.” Having played fast and loose with the public finances, the Conservative party is passing on the cost of its incompetence to those who can least afford it just as public services, on which so many of them rely, are crumbling under the weight of its cuts. My hon. Friend Dame Nia Griffith is quite right: the spring Budget is smoke and mirrors, and people are not taken in by it.

Let us take ourselves back to 2019, when those on the Government Benches stood on manifesto commitments not to raise taxes; to reduce debt; to reduce poverty; and to help people with cost of living pressures. Three Prime Ministers and five Chancellors later, and with the Tory chaos almost halving the Government’s parliamentary majority, those promises lie in tatters. As hon. Members have already said, it is the case, despite cuts to national insurance, which we support, that the income tax threshold freezes mean that taxes are rising at a record pace. They are now at a 70-year high, and rising in each year of the spring Budget’s forecast period. That will make households in Wales £700 worse off, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West said. I was very struck by what was said to me by a constituent I met in Magor on Saturday on the issue of the income tax threshold freezes, which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli. The constituent described to me how her small monthly pension was hit by the impact of that and how unfair that was.