Debates between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell

There have been 17 exchanges between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell

1 Tue 2nd July 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
5 interactions (451 words)
2 Tue 21st May 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
4 interactions (382 words)
3 Tue 9th April 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
4 interactions (437 words)
4 Wed 13th March 2019 Spring Statement 3 interactions (6,987 words)
5 Tue 5th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
2 interactions (206 words)
6 Tue 29th January 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
5 interactions (429 words)
7 Mon 14th January 2019 European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Department for International Trade
2 interactions (653 words)
8 Tue 11th December 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
5 interactions (484 words)
9 Thu 6th December 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Department for International Trade
2 interactions (641 words)
10 Tue 6th November 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
5 interactions (416 words)
11 Tue 11th September 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
5 interactions (455 words)
12 Tue 3rd July 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
4 interactions (499 words)
13 Tue 17th April 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
4 interactions (531 words)
14 Tue 13th March 2018 Spring Statement 5 interactions (5,076 words)
15 Tue 28th November 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
4 interactions (321 words)
16 Tue 24th October 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
HM Treasury
5 interactions (520 words)
17 Thu 29th June 2017 Economy and Jobs
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
18 interactions (1,276 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 2nd July 2019

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
Mr Philip Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
2 Jul 2019, 12:22 p.m.

Yes, it is a vital cornerstone of our institutional structure that the Bank of England remains independent, and those who have suggested that they would seek to politicise appointments to the Bank of England would be doing a great disservice to this country and our economy.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

The Chancellor, like most of us, has been watching the accumulation of spending promises by the Tory leadership candidates. They amount now—[Interruption.] They amount now to nearly £100 billion, and one of the Chancellor’s colleagues commented yesterday that they make me look like a fiscal moderate. May I ask the Chancellor what impact this level of unfunded commitments would have on his economic strategy, or can he tell us how they could possibly be funded?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
2 Jul 2019, 12:24 p.m.

There are many people who could comment on spending commitments that have been made by candidates in the Tory leadership competition, but the right hon. Gentleman is not one of them.

John McDonnell - Parliament Live - Hansard
2 Jul 2019, 12:24 p.m.

Let me try this one. Both Tory leadership candidates are threatening no deal. This morning, the Chancellor has eloquently set out the consequences of no deal. Bearing in mind what he said, may I ask him very straightforwardly whether he will join us and commit himself to doing everything he possibly can to oppose the prorogation of Parliament to try to sneak no deal through, and also to voting against no deal?

With your permission, Mr Speaker, if I may: this might be the Chancellor’s last Treasury questions and I just want to thank him for the civility with which he has always maintained our relationship. I also admit that there have been times when we have enjoyed his dry sense of humour. I gave his predecessor a little red book as a present. We have another red book today, but this is a guide to London’s rebel walks and we hope that he will enjoy it in his leisure periods.

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
2 Jul 2019, 12:24 p.m.

That is very kind of the right hon. Gentleman; I much prefer this little red book to the one he gave my predecessor, although I have to say that I have not read this one and I have read the other one.

On the broader question, I have been consistently clear that I believe that a no-deal exit would be bad for the UK, bad for the British economy and bad for the British people. We cannot rule out that happening, because it is not entirely in our hands, but I agree with him that it would be wrong for a British Government to seek to pursue no deal as a policy. I believe that it will be for the House of Commons, of which I will continue proudly to be a Member, to ensure that that does not happen.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 21st May 2019

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 May 2019, 12:24 p.m.

The Chancellor’s speech to the CBI this evening has been much trailed. I welcome his clear warnings to his Conservative colleagues about the hit the economy would face from a no-deal Brexit, especially those who have said there is nothing to fear from a no deal. For the benefit of Members in the Chamber, will he explain what he sees as the impact of a no-deal Brexit and his clear view that with

“all the preparation in the world”

a no-deal Brexit will still damage our economy?

Mr Philip Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
21 May 2019, 12:24 p.m.

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman: I may not have to take the trouble to go and deliver the speech this evening.

The right hon. Gentleman has raised a serious point. There are two separate effects of a no-deal Brexit that concern me. First, there will clearly be short-term disruption, which will have an unpredictable and potentially significant effect on our economy. Secondly, and probably more importantly, all the analysis that the Government and external commentators have published shows that there will be a longer-term effect, meaning that our economy will be smaller than it would otherwise have been. I did not come into politics to make our economy smaller; I came into politics to make our economy bigger, and to make our people better off.

John McDonnell - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 May 2019, 12:25 p.m.

I shall be happy to deliver the Chancellor’s speech this evening. Any time!

The reality is that for many the Brexit vote was, and may well be again, a kick at the establishment: an establishment that has inflicted nine years of harsh austerity on them, and which many feel has ignored them. As has been revealed this week, that austerity programme has meant children going to school hungry, without warm clothes or dry shoes, and single mothers with no food in their cupboards skipping meals so that their children can eat. Does the Chancellor even acknowledge the role that his austerity politics have played in delivering the Brexit vote?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
21 May 2019, 12:26 p.m.

I think the reasons behind the Brexit vote are complex, and it would be trite to stand here and try to identify them simplistically. Let me also remind the right hon. Gentleman of the contribution that his party’s Government made to the situation that we inherited, which caused us to have to make the tough decisions to which he has implicitly referred.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 9th April 2019

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Apr 2019, 12:24 p.m.

With the Brexit dialogue ongoing it is best to leave exchanges on that topic to the negotiations, although I hope we can all count on the Chancellor, if not everyone on his own side, to continue to insist that no deal is not an option.

Turning to Google, when will the Chancellor tackle the scandal of Google’s tax avoidance? Google has an estimated taxable profit of £8.3 billion in the UK, so it should have a tax bill, according to the Tax Justice Network, of £1.5 billion. That would pay for 60,000 nurses, 50,000 teachers, seven new hospitals, 75 new schools. It pays £67 million. Why is the Chancellor, year on year, letting Google the tax avoider off the hook?

Mr Philip Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Apr 2019, 12:28 p.m.

As the right hon. Gentleman probably knows very well, the issue is a good deal more complex than he suggested in his question. We have announced the introduction of a digital services tax to begin to address the challenge of shaping our tax system to respond to the digital age, but the problem is that we have a set of international tax rules that we are obliged to follow, which were invented in the age when international trade was all about goods. Nowadays it is mostly about services, and much of it is about digital services. The international tax system is simply not fit for purpose and the UK is leading the charge in international forums—including the G20, which will be meeting later this week in Washington—in looking for a new way to allocate profits appropriately between jurisdictions where digital platform businesses are involved.

John McDonnell - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Apr 2019, 12:28 p.m.

After nine years in government, that smacks of an excuse, and let me say to the Chancellor that the Government’s digital services tax has been roundly criticised as being too narrow and having artificial carve-outs. Let me move on from one scandal to another: the scandal of London Capital & Finance. LCF collapsed in January, leaving 11,000 investors in the lurch. They had £286 million invested in the company and most of them were not wealthy people. The Financial Conduct Authority was repeatedly warned of LCF’s dubious structure and operations and failed to respond to those warnings. A decade on from the financial crash and our regulatory system is still not fit for purpose. What action is the Chancellor taking to secure justice for the LCF investors and to reform our regulatory system?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Apr 2019, 12:28 p.m.

We take very seriously the failure of London Capital & Finance. Last week, my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary directed the FCA to launch an investigation into the company. We will carry that investigation out and look carefully at the findings.

Spring Statement

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Wednesday 13th March 2019

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr Philip Hammond) Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 12:45 p.m.

I am acutely conscious of the fact that the House has other pressing matters on its mind today, and to avoid making this statement any longer than necessary, I am tabling a written ministerial statement that contains additional announcements and provides further details of those that I will make.

Last night’s vote leaves a cloud of uncertainty hanging over our economy, and our most urgent task in this House is to lift that uncertainty. But the economy itself is remarkably robust: it has grown for nine consecutive years, with the longest unbroken quarterly growth run of any G7 economy, and is forecast to continue growing in each of the next five years. It is an economy that has created over 3.5 million net new jobs under Conservative-led government, that has almost halved Labour’s shocking legacy of youth unemployment, that has seen female participation in the workforce increase to record levels and that is now delivering the fastest rate of wage growth in over a decade.

It is an economy that has defied expectations and will provide the solid foundation that Britain needs to seize the opportunities that the future offers—a far cry from the eight recessions and mass unemployment predicted by the House’s very own Nostradamus over there, the shadow Chancellor. Perhaps he is not so much an astronomer as a man living in a parallel universe.

And thanks to the difficult decisions that we have taken in the past nine years and the hard work of the British people, I can also report today on public finances that continue to improve, so that, provided we do reach a deal to leave the European Union with an orderly transition and provided we avoid the disaster of a Government led by those now on the Opposition Front Bench, this country for the first time in a decade will have genuine and sustainable choices about its future.

Today’s Office for Budget Responsibility report marks another step on Britain’s journey out of austerity, and I should like to thank Robert Chote and his team for their work. Despite the slowing world economy, the OBR expects Britain to continue to grow in every year of the forecast: at 1.2% this year, with both the International Monetary Fund and the OECD forecasting the UK to grow faster than Germany; then 1.4% in 2020, as forecast at the Budget; and 1.6% in each of the final three years. This represents cumulative growth over the five years now slightly higher than the Budget forecast.

Meanwhile, Britain’s remarkable jobs story is set to continue. By 2023, the OBR expects to see 600,000 more new jobs in our economy. Despite the constant attempts from those on the Opposition Front Bench to talk down our remarkable achievement on jobs, the fact is that last year 96% of new jobs were full time. There is positive news on pay too, with the OBR revising up wage growth to 3% or higher in every year. With inflation now around the target throughout the forecast period, that means real wage growth in every year of the forecast. A growing economy, a thriving labour market and inflation on target—a solid foundation on which to build Britain’s future.

There is good news on the public finances as well. Borrowing this year will be just 1.1% of GDP—£3 billion lower than forecast at the autumn Budget—and a staggering £130 billion lower than in the last year of the Labour Government. But what is really staggering is that the shadow Chancellor’s critique of that Government was that they did not spend enough. Looking forward, borrowing will fall from £29.3 billion in 2019-20, then £21.2 billion, £17.6 billion, £14.4 billion and finally £13.5 billion in 2023-24—its lowest level in 22 years.

We remain on track to meet both our fiscal targets early, with the cyclically adjusted deficit at 1.3% next year, falling to just 0.5% by 2023-24, and with headroom against our fiscal mandate in 2020-21 increasing from £15.4 billion at the autumn Budget to £26.6 billion today. Less borrowing means less debt—now lower in every year than forecast at the Budget, falling to 82.2% of GDP next year, then 79%, 74.9%, 74%, and finally 73% in 2023-24. Our national debt is falling sustainably for the first time in a generation. This is a major milestone on the road out of the crisis we inherited from Labour, and a key dividing line today between a shadow Chancellor whose plans would send debt soaring above 100% of GDP and a Conservative Government committed to delivering world-class public services and keeping our national debt falling.

Since 2010, we have been steering the country on a journey of recovery from Labour’s recession. Back then, the most important task was to get borrowing down to manageable levels. But when I became Chancellor in 2016 I recognised that, with the progress we had already made, as well as getting Britain’s debt down, our continued success as a nation would depend on investing in our future, supporting our vital public services and keeping taxes low to attract talent and investment. I called it a “balanced approach”, and it is delivering, with the highest sustained levels of public capital investment in 40 years, cuts in income tax for more than 30 million people in three weeks’ time—cuts that Labour voted against—and debt on a sustained downward path for the first time in a generation.

I have made over £150 billion of new spending commitments since 2016, and I announced at the Budget that the long, but necessary, squeeze on current public spending would come to an end at the upcoming spending review, setting out an indicative five-year path of 1.2% per annum real-terms increases in day-to-day spending on public services compared with real-terms cuts of 3% per annum announced at SR 2010 and 1.3% at SR 2015. We have made our biggest choice on public spending to put the NHS first in line, as the British public would expect, with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s announcement of £34 billion of additional funding per year by the end of the period—the single largest cash commitment ever made by a peacetime British Government—to support our long-term plan for the NHS. It will deliver improved cancer and mental healthcare, a transformation of GP services, more doctors, more nurses and better outcomes for patients.

Now we need to address wider departmental spending for the next review period. I can confirm today that, assuming a Brexit deal is agreed over the next few weeks and that the uncertainty that is hanging over our economy is lifted, I intend to launch a full three-year spending review before the summer recess, to be concluded alongside an autumn Budget. It will set departmental budgets beyond the NHS to reflect the public’s priorities between areas such as social care, local government, schools, police, defence and the environment, and it will maximise value for taxpayers’ money through a renewed focus on high-quality outcomes.

If we leave the EU with a deal and an orderly transition to a future economic partnership, we will see a deal dividend: an economic boost from recovery in business confidence and investment, and a fiscal boost from a reduction in the minimum necessary level of fiscal headroom once the risk of a no-deal exit is removed. That will give the nation real choices as we use the spending review to decide how much of the deal dividend we can prudently release, and how we would share it between increased spending on public services, capital investment in Britain’s future prosperity and keeping taxes low, while always continuing to keep debt falling. Real-terms increases in public spending, record investment in Britain’s future, more jobs than ever before, higher wages and lower taxes, meaning increased take-home pay, and, for the first time in a generation, our debt going down—that is what I mean by an end to austerity delivered by a Conservative Government.

The progress that we have made will be at risk if we cannot secure a smooth and orderly exit from the EU and a transition to a new partnership that protects the complex trading relationships that businesses have built up over 45 years and on which so many British jobs depend. I had hoped that we would do that last night, but I am confident that we, as a House, will do it over the coming weeks. Leaving with no deal would mean significant disruption in the short and medium term and a smaller, less prosperous economy in the long term than if we leave with a deal. Higher unemployment, lower wages and higher prices in the shops are not what the British people voted for in June 2016. That is why we all have a solemn duty in the days and weeks ahead to put aside our differences and seek a compromise on which this House can agree in the national interest.

The Government also have a duty to plan for every reasonably foreseeable contingency, and we have done so. First, we have plans in place to minimise disruption to our financial system, and the Bank of England judges that it is resilient to any likely no-deal shock. Secondly, we have worked across Whitehall to put in place mitigations at our border, although we cannot regulate how the EU will operate its border following a no-deal exit. Thirdly, we have published today our temporary UK no-deal tariff schedule, carefully balancing the needs of producers and consumers in the context of the pressures that the no-deal economy would face. Fourthly, the Treasury and the Bank of England together have all the tools of fiscal and monetary policy available to us, including the fiscal headroom I have held in reserve.

I need to be straight with the House: a no-deal Brexit would deliver a significant short to medium-term reduction in the productive capacity of the British economy. Our economy is operating at near full capacity, so any fiscal and monetary response would have to be carefully calibrated not to simply cause inflation, compounding the effect of any movement in the exchange rate on the price of goods in our shops. While fiscal and monetary intervention might help to smooth our path to a post-Brexit economy, both could only be temporary and neither would allow us to avoid the effects of a relatively smaller economy nor the pain of restructuring. The idea that there is some simple, readily available fix that can be deployed to avoid the consequences of a no-deal Brexit is, I am afraid, just wrong.

I am confident that we are going to do a deal, and when we do, the British people will fully expect us to fire up our economic plan to seize the opportunities as confidence in our economy returns, but it is not just the spectre of uncertainty that we need to overcome to restore confidence and unlock a brighter future, because while we Conservatives will always be the party of business, and small business especially, the shadow Chancellor identifies business as “the enemy”. A Government led by the Leader of the Opposition would

“chill the very marrow of our economy, destroying jobs and stifling innovation”.

Those are not my words, but those of the hon. Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Angela Smith), a former member of the Labour party, and she is right.

Our task is to demonstrate to the British people that, working with business through the mechanism of a well-regulated market economy, our plan will deliver a brighter future for them, so that they are never ever tempted by the empty promises and dangerous rhetoric of Opposition Front Benchers. The plan will make the most of the opportunities ahead as we make our own way independent from, but in continuing partnership with, the European Union. It will embrace the technologies of the future and equip British workers to use them, back the enterprise and ambition of British business, support our world-leading entrepreneurs, creators, innovators, inventors and discoverers, and build on the UK’s fundamental strengths and competitive advantages so that we can slay, once and for, all the twin demons of low productivity and low wages and build an economy that works for everyone.

The only sustainable path to higher wages and rising living standards is to boost productivity. To do that, we are investing in infrastructure, skills, technology and housing under our plan for Britain’s future, with £37 billion in the national productivity investment fund, the largest ever investment in England’s strategic roads, the biggest rail investment programme since Victorian times and a strategy for delivering a nationwide full-fibre network by 2033. At SR 2019, we will set multi-year capital budgets following a zero-based review, protecting our record levels of capital spending, while ensuring that investment is focused to deliver the greatest impact on productivity.

Our investment strategy is benefiting the whole the UK. I can announce today up to £260 million for the innovative borderlands growth deal, covering the border regions of England and Scotland, which comes on top of the £100 million housing infrastructure funding already announced for Carlisle. Negotiations are progressing on future deals for mid-Wales and Derry/Londonderry, and I reiterate our commitment to the Northern Powerhouse Rail project and look forward to considering Transport for the North’s business case ahead of the spending review. We will publish the updated national infrastructure strategy alongside the spending review, and I am publishing today a consultation on our approach to supporting private infrastructure investment once we leave the European Investment Bank and now that we have retired Labour’s discredited private finance initiative.

Raising our productivity is not just about investing in physical capital—it is also about investing in people. The Augar review will be published shortly and will represent an important contribution to our overall plan for post-18 education. The Government will respond later in the year. We are committed to returning technical and vocational skills to the heart of our education system, with the new T-level system on track to deliver the first three routes in 2020; the first phase of the national retraining scheme starting this summer; and the apprenticeship programme rolling out 3 million new high-quality apprenticeships. To help small businesses take on more apprentices, I can announce that I am bringing forward the £700 million package of reforms that I announced at the Budget to the start of the new financial year in April.

The productivity agenda is above all about increasing the wages of the lowest paid, and the pay of a full-timer on the national minimum wage has risen by £2,750 a year since 2016. We have confirmed the Low Pay Commission’s remit for the national living wage to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020, but later this year we will need to set a new remit beyond 2020. We want to be ambitious, driving productivity across the income distribution, with the ultimate objective of ending low pay in the UK.

We also want to take care to protect employment opportunities for lower-paid workers, so we have asked Professor Arin Dube, a world-leading expert in the field, to undertake a review of the international evidence on the employment and productivity effects of minimum wage rates. This study will support the extensive discussions that we will have with employer organisations, trade unions and the LPC itself over the coming months, starting with a roundtable that I will chair next month. While the Opposition Front Bench grandstands, this Conservative Government are delivering sustainable pay rises for millions of British workers.

Alongside our commitment to giving British workers the skills that they need is a commitment to maintaining the openness of our economy to talent from around the world. As we leave the EU, free movement of people will end, and we will take back control of our borders. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has set out a framework for a future immigration system in the immigration White Paper, focused on attracting those with the skills we need in the UK economy, no matter where they come from. We have committed to consulting business to ensure that the new system supports the needs of our economy, and as we do so, I can announce that from June we will begin to abolish the need for paper landing cards at UK points of entry and we will allow citizens of the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore and South Korea to start using e-gates at our airports and Eurostar terminals, alongside the EEA nationals who can already use them. Our ambition is to be able to go further in due course—a signal to the world of our commitment to global Britain.

Another key pillar of our plan is backing Britain to remain at the forefront of the technology revolution that is transforming our economy, and to support that ambition from this autumn we will completely exempt PhD-level roles from the visa caps. Since 2016, we have launched our modern industrial strategy and committed an additional £7 billion to science and innovation—clear progress towards our target of total research and development spending reaching 2.4% of the economy.

But technology does not stand still, and neither can we. To maintain the UK’s technological edge, we will invest £79 million in ARCHER 2, a new supercomputer to be hosted at Edinburgh University. I am told that it is up to five times faster than the current generation of supercomputers, capable of a staggering 10,000 trillion calculations per second. I am told that with the right algorithms it might even be able to come up with a solution to the backstop.

I am allocating £45 million of the northern powerhouse investment fund to the European Bioinformatics Institute, ensuring Britain’s continued lead in genomics research. I will guarantee our commitment to the UK’s funding for the JET—Joint European Torus—nuclear fusion reactor, whatever happens with Brexit, and invest £81 million in a new extreme photonics centre in Oxfordshire to develop new types of laser— literally the cutting edge of technology. [Hon. Members: “Oh!] Sorry about that.

The digital economy presents enormous opportunities, but enormous challenges as well. I have already responded to concerns about unfairness in the tax system with a new digital services tax so that digital platform companies pay their fair share, but we also need to adapt our regulatory environment to ensure that competition works for consumers in the digital marketplace, as it does in the real marketplace. I asked Professor Jason Furman, Barack Obama’s former chief economist, to review competition in the digital market. I welcome his report, published today, in which he sets out far-reaching recommendations, including new powers for consumers and an overhaul of competition regulation, updating our regulatory model for the digital age. As a first step towards implementing reforms, I am asking the Competition and Markets Authority to undertake a market study of the digital advertising market as soon as possible.

The UK will remain a great place to do digital business, but it will be a place where successful global tech giants pay their fair share, where competition policy works in consumers’ interests, and where the public are protected from online harms. Under this Government, Britain will lead the world in delivering a digital economy that works for everyone.

We on this side of the House, and many on the Opposition Back Benches, understand that a well-regulated market economy is the best—indeed, the only—way to deliver a brighter future for our country. Our challenge is to demonstrate to the next generation that our market economy can fulfil their aspirations and speak to their values, so before I finish I want to talk about two subjects dear to them: housing and the environment. Last year, housing delivery exceeded 220,000 additional homes—the highest level in all but one of the past 31 years. Our ambitious plan to restore the dream of home ownership to millions of younger people is already delivering: planning reform to release land in areas where the pressure is greatest; a five-year, £44 billion housing programme to help raise annual housing supply to 300,000 by the mid-2020s; the Help to Buy equity loan scheme; and the abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers, which has so far helped 240,000 people on to the property ladder and restored the proportion of first-time buyers to above 50% for the first time in a generation.

Today I can announce a new £3 billion affordable homes guarantee scheme, to support the delivery of around 30,000 affordable homes; the launch next month of the £1 billion Enable Build SME guarantee fund that I announced at Budget; and £717 million from the housing infrastructure fund to unlock up to 37,000 new homes on sites in west London, Cheshire, Didcot, and Cambridge, the last two being at opposite ends of the Oxford-Cambridge arc, for which I am publishing a new vision statement today.

As with the challenge of adapting to the digital age, so with the challenge of shaping the carbon-neutral economy of the future. We must apply the creativity of the marketplace to deliver solutions to one of the most complex problems of our time—climate change—and build sustainability into the heart of our economic model.

The UK is already leading the world, reducing the carbon intensity of our economy faster than any other G20 country, with ambitious and legally binding targets for the future. Today I can announce our next steps: first, we will publish a call for evidence on whether all passenger carriers should be required to offer genuinely additional carbon offsets, so that customers who want “zero-carbon travel” have that option and can be confident about additionality; secondly, we will help small businesses cut their carbon emissions and their energy bills, publishing today a call for evidence on the business energy efficiency scheme that I announced at the Budget; thirdly, we will publish proposals to require an increased proportion of green gas in the grid, advancing the decarbonisation of our mains gas supply; and, finally, we will introduce a future homes standard, mandating the end of fossil-fuel heating systems in all new houses from 2025, delivering lower carbon and lower fuel bills, too.

Climate change is not our only environmental challenge. We are already consulting on new tax and regulatory measures to tackle the scourge of plastic waste defacing our countryside and choking our oceans. Now, for the first time in 60 million years, the number of species worldwide is in sustained mass decline. The UK’s 1,500 species of pollinators deliver an estimated £680 million of annual value to the economy, so there is an economic, as well as environmental, case for protecting the diversity of the natural world. So, following consultation, the Government will use the forthcoming environment Bill to mandate biodiversity net gain for development in England, ensuring that the delivery of much needed infrastructure and housing is not at the expense of vital biodiversity.

But this is a global problem, so later this year, the UK Government will launch a comprehensive global review of the link between biodiversity and economic growth. This is to be led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Cambridge. We in this House should be proud that the UK, with its overseas territories, has already declared more than 3 million sq km of marine protected area. Today, I can announce our intention to designate a further 445,000 sq km of ocean around Ascension Island as a marine protected area. This Conservative Government are taking action today on our pledge to be the first in history to leave our environment in a better condition than we found it.

Before I conclude, I have three further short announcements to make. First, in response to a rising concern among headteachers that some girls are missing school attendance due to an inability to afford sanitary products, I have decided to fund the provision of free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges in England from the next school year. I congratulate those hon. Members, in all parts of the House, who have campaigned on this issue, and my right hon. Friend the Education Secretary will announce further details in due course.

Secondly, I announced a year ago that we would take definitive action to tackle the scourge of late payments for our small businesses. A full response to last year’s call for evidence will be published shortly, but I can announce today that as a first step we will require company audit committees to review payment practices and report on them in their annual accounts. My right hon. Friend the Business Secretary will announce further details in due course, and I congratulate the Federation of Small Businesses, in particular, on its tireless campaign on this issue.

Thirdly, the recent surge in knife crime represents a personal tragedy for the scores of families of victims, and I know I speak for the whole House when I offer my deepest sympathies to them. We must, and we will, stamp out this menace. Police funding is due to rise by up to £970 million from April. Many police and crime commissioners have already committed to using this extra funding to recruit and train extra police officers, but that takes time and action is needed now. So the Prime Minister and I have decided, exceptionally, to make available immediately to police forces in England an additional £100 million over the course of the next year, ring-fenced to pay for additional overtime targeted specifically on knife crime, and for new violent crime reduction units, to deliver a wider cross-agency response to this epidemic. Ahead of the spending review, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will work with the police to consider how best to prioritise resources going forward, including newly funded manpower, to ensure a lasting solution to this problem.

To be frank, last night’s events mean we are not where I hoped we would be today. Our economy is fundamentally robust, but the uncertainty that I hoped we would lift last night still hangs over it. We cannot allow that to continue. It is damaging our economy, and it is damaging our standing and reputation in the world. Tonight, we have a choice: we can remove the threat of an imminent no-deal exit hanging over our economy. Tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to start to map out a way forward, towards building a consensus across this House for a deal we can, collectively, support, to exit the EU in an orderly way and to a future relationship that will allow Britain to flourish, protecting jobs and businesses. We have huge opportunities ahead of us: our capital is the world’s financial centre; our universities are global powerhouses of discovery and invention; our businesses are at the cutting edge of the tech revolution; and we have shown that we are not shy, as a nation, of the tasks that lie ahead.

We are addressing the environmental challenges that threaten our planet; we are building the homes that the next generation desperately need; and we are investing in our future, tackling the productivity gap and embracing technological change—rising to its challenges and seizing its opportunities. Our potential is clear. Our advantages are manifest. We are the fifth largest economy in the world. We are a proud, successful, outward-looking nation, with no limit to our ambition and no boundaries to what we can achieve. A brighter future is within our grasp. Tonight, let’s take a decisive step towards seizing it and building a Britain fit for the future—a Britain the next generation will be proud to call their home. I commend this statement to the House.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 1:19 p.m.

Let me thank the Chancellor for providing me with an early sight of his statement, no matter how heavily redacted. We have just witnessed a display by the Chancellor of this Government’s toxic mix of callous complacency over austerity and their grotesque incompetence over the handling of Brexit. While teachers are having to pay for the materials their pupils need, and working parents are struggling to manage as schools close early and their children are sent home, and as 5,000 of our fellow citizens will be sleeping in the cold and wet on our streets tonight, and young people are being stabbed to death in rising numbers, the Chancellor turns up today with no real end to or reversal of austerity. He threatens us—because this is what he means—saying that austerity can end only if we accept this Government’s bad deal over Brexit.

Let us look at some of the claims this Chancellor has made. He has boasted about the OBR forecast of 1.2% growth this year, but what he has not mentioned is that this has been downgraded from 1.6%. Downgrading forecasts is a pattern under this Chancellor. In November 2016, forecasts for the following year were downgraded from 2.2% to 1.4%. In autumn 2017, forecasts for the following year were downgraded from 1.6% to 1.4%. Economists are warning that what little growth there is in the economy is largely being sustained by consumption, based on high levels of household debt.

On the public finances, the Chancellor boasts about bringing down debt. Let me remind him that when Labour left office—having had to bail out his friends in the City, many of them Tory donors—the nation’s debt stood at £1 trillion. The Government have borrowed for failure and added another three quarters of a trillion to the debt since then. That is more than any Labour Government ever.

The Chancellor boasts about the deficit; he has not eliminated the deficit, as we were promised by 2015. He has simply shifted it on to the shoulders of headteachers, NHS managers, local councillors and police commissioners, and worst of all on to the backs of many of the poorest in our society. The consequences are stark: infant mortality has increased, life expectancy has reduced and yes, our communities are less safe. Police budgets have faced a £2.7 billion cut since 2010. Nothing that the Chancellor said today will make up for the human and economic consequences of those cuts.

The Chancellor talks about a balanced approach; there is nothing balanced about a Government giving over £110 billion of tax cuts to the rich and corporations while 87 people a day die before they receive the care they need. The number of children coming into care has increased every year for nine years. Benefit freezes and the roll-out of universal credit are forcing people into food banks in order to survive. Let me give the Chancellor a quote:

“Sending a message to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society that we do not care”.—[Official Report, 20 October 2015; Vol. 600, c. 876.]

That was the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Heidi Allen) referring to the cuts to tax credits in 2015.

The number of pensioners now officially living in severe poverty, in the fifth largest economy in the world, has reached 1 million. We have a Government condemned by the UN for inflicting destitution on its own citizens. There is nothing balanced about the Government’s investment across the country. There is nothing balanced about a Government investing more than £4,000 per head for transport in London and only £1,600 per head in the north. There is nothing balanced about the fact that a male child born in Kensington in Liverpool can expect to live 18 years less than a child born in Kensington and Chelsea.

On employment and wages, this is the Government who have broken the historic link between securing a job and lifting yourself out of poverty. The Chancellor has referred to a “remarkable jobs story”; what is remarkable is that this Government have created a large-scale jobs market of low pay, long hours and precarious work. More than 2.5 million people out there are working below 15 hours a week. Some 3.8 million people are in insecure work. The Chancellor talks about pay; average wages are still below the level of 10 years ago. So it is hardly surprising that 4.5 million children are living in poverty, with nearly two thirds of them in households where someone is in work.

The Chancellor has bragged about his record on youth unemployment. Let us be clear: youth unemployment is 7% higher than the national average, it is higher than the OECD average, and it is at appalling levels for some communities. Some 26% of young black people are unemployed and 23% of young people from a Bangladeshi or Pakistani background are unemployed.

The Chancellor has claimed an advance with regard to women’s unemployment. What he does not say is that women make up 73% of those in part-time employment and are disproportionately affected by precarious work. Let me give one example: by 2020, the income of single mothers will have fallen by 18% since 2010. According to the much-respected Women’s Budget Group, women are facing the highest pay gap for full-time employees since 1999. All that on his watch.

On infrastructure and housing, the Chancellor has been claiming that he is on the way to delivering record sustained levels of investment. Let us be clear: he is talking about wish lists; he is not talking about what the Conservatives have actually done. The UK ranks close to the bottom of OECD countries for public investment. We are 24th out of 32 countries, according to analysis done by the Trades Union Congress.

The Chancellor describes

“the biggest rail investment programme since Victorian times.”—[Official Report, 27 February 2018; Vol. 636, c. 667.]

Well, tell that to the people who faced the timetabling chaos of last year. Tell that to the rail passengers who have to deal with the incomparable incompetence of the Secretary of State for Transport.

The Chancellor has been hailing his announcement of a national infrastructure strategy. Let me remind the House that the Government announced a national infrastructure delivery plan for 2016 to 2021, and then announced a national infrastructure and construction pipeline. So, there are plans, pipelines and strategies, yet today he announced another review of the financing mechanisms, but no real action to deliver for our businesses and communities. The Institute for Government described this Government’s decisions on infrastructure as

“inconsistent and subject to constant change.”

The Chancellor made announcements on housing, again. Let us hope he has learned the lessons of the Government’s recent initiatives, which have driven profits of companies such as Persimmon to over £1 billion, with bosses’ bonuses at more than £100 million.

The Chancellor has some cheek to speak about technical and vocational skills: almost a quarter of all funding to further and adult education has been cut since 2010. The number of people starting apprenticeships has fallen by 26%.

On research and development, this Government have slashed capital funding for science across all departments by 50%.

Unlike at the Budget, the Chancellor has at last actually referred to climate change. The review of biodiversity he mentioned might, hopefully, show that the budget of Natural England, the body responsible for biodiversity in England, has more than halved over a decade. A review of carbon offsets might reveal that they do not reduce emissions, and that offsetting schemes such as the clean development mechanism have been beset by gaming and fraud. This from a Government who removed the climate change levy exemption for renewables; scrapped the feed-in tariffs for new small-scale renewable generation; and cancelled the zero-carbon homes policy. Gordon Brown pledged a zero-carbon homes policy standard. We endorsed it and celebrated it; the Tories scrapped it in 2015, just one year before it fully came into force.

Of course, Brexit looms large over everything we discuss. Even today, the Chancellor has tried to use the bribe of a double-deal dividend or the threat of postponing the spending review to cajole MPs into voting for the Government’s deal. What we are seeing is not a double dividend; we are seeing Brexit bankruptcies as a result of the delay in the negotiations. The publication of the tariffs this morning was clearly part of this threatening strategy. It is a calamitous strategy. It is forcing people into intransigent corners rather than bringing them together.

What we need now is for the Chancellor to stand with us today and vote to take no deal off the table; to stand up in Cabinet against those who are trying to force us into a no-deal situation; and then, yes, to come and join us to discuss the options available, including Labour’s deal proposal and yes, if required, taking any deal back to the public.

Outside this Westminster bubble, outside the narrow wealthy circles in which the Chancellor moves, nine years of hard austerity have created nine years of hardship for our constituents. Today, and in recent times, the Chancellor has had the nerve to try to argue to those who have suffered the most at the hands of this Government that their suffering was necessary. If austerity was not ideological, why has money been found for tax cuts for big corporations while vital public services have been starved of funding? Austerity was never a necessity; it was always a political choice. So when the Chancellor stands there and talks about the end of austerity and about a plan for a brighter future, how can anyone who has lived through the past nine years believe him?

This Government have demonstrated a chilling ability to disregard completely the suffering that they have caused. To talk of changing direction after nine years in office is not only impossible to believe, but much too late. It is too late for the thousands who have died while waiting for a decision on their personal independence payments; too late for the families who have lost their homes due to cuts in housing benefit; too late, yes, for the young people who have lost their lives as a result of criminal attack; and too late for those youngsters whose clubs and youth services have been savaged. This is the Chancellor’s legacy; it is this that he will be remembered for. He was the shadow Chief Secretary to George Osborne and designed the austerity programme. History will hold him responsible for that. There are no alibis. He is implicated in every cut, every closure, and every preventable death of someone waiting for hospital treatment or social care. It is time for change. People have had enough, but increasingly they know that they will not get the change that they so desperately need from this tainted Chancellor or from his Government. It is time for change, and it is time for a Labour Government.

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 1:33 p.m.

We have just heard the same old recycled lines. I must be going a little bit deaf, because I did not hear any mention of record employment. Perhaps the shadow Chancellor is so ashamed of Labour’s record: no Labour Government have ever left office with unemployment below that which they inherited. I did not hear anything about rising wages; they are rising the fastest in a decade. He did not mention the extra £1.3 billion for local government, or the extra £1 billion of police funding, both of which he voted against. He did not mention the fact that we have had nine years of unbroken growth. He did not mention the fact that this economy is out-performing that of Germany this year. He witters on about manufacturing without any recognition of the global economic context in which this sits—perhaps he does not inhabit the global economy. If he did, he would know very well that the downturn in manufacturing is happening across Europe and is affecting everyone. He did not mention the remarkable turnaround in our public finances and the real choices that we have as a consequence. He just relentlessly talked Britain and its economy down.

Once again, we hear this absurd proposition that the decisions that we took in 2010 were some kind of political choice—as if we could have gone on borrowing £1 for every £1 spent indefinitely, racking up interest bills and burdening future generations with debt. No responsible politician could credibly believe that these were choices in 2010.

The shadow Chancellor talks about homelessness. We have committed £1.2 billion to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping—I did not hear any mention of that. He talks about the downgrade of the 2019 economic forecast without mentioning the global context. He confuses the debt and the deficit. The reason that the debt has risen—[Interruption.] He is not listening, but it is very, very simple. It is not even economics; it is just maths. It is very, very simple. If you have a £150 billion deficit in your last year in office, your successor will find that debt is rising, and that is what we found. I have announced, since 2016, £150 billion of additional public spending as well as getting the forecast deficit down to 0.5% of GDP. That means that we have real and genuine sustainable choices in this country for the first time in a decade.

The shadow Chancellor delivers repeated misinformation which we have heard countless times from those on the Labour Benches. Let us take transport funding for example. He knows that central Government transport funding is higher per capita in the north than it is in London and the south—that is a fact. He knows that there are 665,000 fewer children in workless households now than there were in 2010—that is a fact. He knows that public investment set out in the OBR report today represents Britain’s biggest public capital investment programme for 40 years—that is a fact. He accuses me of talking about housing again. Well, I will talk about housing again, and again, and again, because we have announced £44 billion-worth of investment in housing, and that is an awful lot of announcements that I will have to make.

The ultimate audacity is the moral lecturing tone in the shadow Chancellor’s closing remarks. I really do take exception to being lectured to by a man who has stood idly by, turning a blind eye, while his leader has allowed antisemitism to all but destroy a once great political party from the inside out. Attlee and Bevan must be rotating in their graves. People should look at what this pair have done to the Labour party and just think what they would do to our country.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 5th March 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
John McDonnell - Parliament Live - Hansard
5 Mar 2019, 12:28 p.m.

I can understand why the Chancellor has broken convention today in not responding, because I think he would be ashamed to respond. Let me tell him what the answer is: if a DUP vote is worth £100 million, what Labour MPs were offered yesterday was £6 million.

Let me ask the Chancellor to undertake another calculation. Seven days ago, he was forced to publish the Government’s assessment, again, of how much a no-deal Brexit would cost this country—in today’s prices, nearly £200 billion. How much of a threatened cost to this country will it take for this Chancellor to find a backbone to stand up to the Prime Minister and the European Research Group to prevent no deal or a bad deal? Or is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions the only Cabinet Minister willing to put country before career?

Mr Philip Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard

Oh dear, oh dear. As the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, I have been working tirelessly to ensure that we avoid a no-deal exit—that we leave the European Union in a smooth and orderly fashion to a new negotiated partnership that allows our complex and important trade relationships to continue to flourish in the future. That is what is spend every working day doing.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 29th January 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Jan 2019, 12:25 p.m.

I welcome the work that is going on in Cheltenham to build on the magnetic effect of GCHQ and to attract innovative cyber-based firms to the area. In autumn Budget 2018, I announced £5 million to support proposals for university enterprise zones, which will encourage collaboration between universities and businesses, promote knowledge and skills exchange, and deliver a boost to local productivity. The funding will allow excellent institutions such as the University of Gloucestershire to develop locally led proposals to build on strengths like cyber-security, technology and engineering.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Jan 2019, 12:25 p.m.

Let me bring the Chancellor back to Brexit. He knows full well the impact that no deal would have on people’s everyday lives. As we have heard, the British Retail Consortium warned yesterday that a no deal would lead to higher food prices, and even to empty shelves. The Government’s own economic analysis suggests a 10% hit to real wages. Knowing all this, would not a responsible Chancellor—a senior member of the Cabinet—stand up to the Prime Minister to insist that she rules out a no deal?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Jan 2019, 12:26 p.m.

We are absolutely determined to avoid no deal, but the way to avoid no deal is to deliver a deal. As the Prime Minister has said from this Dispatch Box many times, the choice is stark: do the deal or face no deal or no Brexit. No Brexit would be a betrayal of the democratic decision of the British people, and no deal would be a betrayal of our economic future. The deal is the only way forward that protects our democracy and our economy.

John McDonnell - Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Jan 2019, 12:27 p.m.

It is a deal that lost in this House by a majority of 230. Just as business leaders were not reassured by the Chancellor’s phone call, I do not think the House will be reassured by his response today. The Bank of England has warned that we are potentially facing an economic crisis even more severe than the financial crisis of 2008. Past holders of his great office of state would have had the strength and authority around the Cabinet table to prevent the Prime Minister from behaving so recklessly. At a time when the country is facing a potential national economic crisis, has there ever been a Chancellor so weak?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Jan 2019, 12:27 p.m.

If the right hon. Gentleman believes what he has just told the House, he should get off his backside and get the Leader of the Opposition off his backside, and they should get themselves over to Downing Street to sit down and engage with the Prime Minister so that we can solve this problem in the national interest.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Monday 14th January 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for International Trade
John McDonnell - Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 1:16 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman clearly has not been listening. My hon. Friend the Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) explained how we would, as a third country, be able to negotiate a deal that would give us that say. [Interruption.] If Government Members doubt that, they should give us the opportunity to start the negotiations.

Tomorrow this deal will go down, and it is now time to put the mistakes of the past two years behind us and clear away the debris of this deal and the Government’s failed negotiations. It is clear that, to break the deadlock and deliver a clear mandate for a new approach, we need a general election. It is time to let the people have their say.

If that is not achievable, this House will need to work together to secure the best compromise to protect our country, and the Executive need to recognise that Parliament must rule on this matter, not the Executive. At that stage, Members may want to confirm that new deal with the people in a public vote. People will be looking to us to judge whether we have the maturity, good sense and commitment to our country and the national interest to secure a deal that protects jobs and the economy. I believe we can live up to that, and we must.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr Philip Hammond) Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 1:18 a.m.

This has been a wide-ranging and interesting debate that has exposed clearly the different and passionately held views on all sides of the wider argument about Brexit. In my contribution to this debate on 6 December, I set out the economic case for a deal, the damage that would be likely to result from disruption of cross-border supply chains in a no-deal scenario, and how a deal would deliver a dividend for the UK economy in terms of both economic growth and the public finances. Those arguments remain valid, and you will be relieved to hear, Mr Speaker, that I do not intend to repeat or elaborate on them.

We have heard arguments in favour of the full range of options for both exit mechanics and the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Indeed, I think I heard pretty much the full range within the speech of the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner). At one moment, I thought he might be on the brink of applying for associate membership of the European Research Group.

A large group of my hon. Friends recognised in their contributions the logic of the Prime Minister’s deal and the need for a compromise so that we can move on as a country. My hon. Friends the Members for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy), for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake), for Harborough (Neil O’Brien), for Chichester (Gillian Keegan), for Waveney (Peter Aldous), for Gloucester (Richard Graham), for Hitchin and Harpenden (Bim Afolami), for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow), for Elmet and Rothwell (Alec Shelbrooke), for North West Norfolk (Sir Henry Bellingham), for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant) and for Halesowen and Rowley Regis (James Morris), and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North East Hertfordshire (Sir Oliver Heald), all made that point. I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea and Fulham (Greg Hands) was in that category as well.

My hon. Friend the Member for North West Norfolk probably summed it up best when he said that he himself would like “a 100% Brexit” but recognised that only 52% voted for it, so that to unite the country we all have to compromise. This is a time for individual sacrifice in the greater good.

Two of my hon. Friends were a little more blunt in their contributions: my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Dame Cheryl Gillan) recognised explicitly that their motive for voting for the Prime Minister’s deal was a fear that the alternative might be no Brexit at all.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 11th December 2018

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard

I would be very happy to meet my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend the Exchequer Secretary is the expert on this matter and he might find a meeting with him more fruitful, but either one of us is very happy to meet him.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Dec 2018, 11:45 a.m.

Many of the shops and firms located on the high street are represented by the Federation of Small Businesses. Has the Chancellor seen what the FSB has said about the current Brexit position? Its chair has said:

“Planning ahead has now become impossible for a lot of firms as we simply don’t know what environment we’ll be faced with in little more than 100 days’ time…the economic warning signs are now flashing red.”

The Chancellor knew full well in our debate last week that the Prime Minister’s deal was not going to receive the support of the House. Is it not only right that he is straight with her by telling her that businesses cannot face any more uncertainty and that a decision on the deal cannot be delayed and put off until late January, as some around her are suggesting?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Dec 2018, 11:45 a.m.

I would be the first to agree that businesses need an end to uncertainty and clarity about the future, but frankly I think that the shadow Chancellor is probably the last person who should give us that lecture, because his policy agenda has been designed to create uncertainty and a lack of clarity for business in the future. What the Prime Minister is doing—absolutely rightly—is making a last attempt to see whether she can get further concessions from our partners in the European Union, which is clearly the desire of this House. She will come back and report to the House when she has done so.

John McDonnell - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Dec 2018, 11:45 a.m.

Both sides of the House have to address the seriousness of the situation we face. The director general of the British Chambers of Commerce has said:

“Firms are looking on with utter dismay at the ongoing saga in Westminster”.

Today’s Treasury Committee report is devastating in its criticisms of the way in which the Government have sought to assess options not even on the table. A month ago, the Chancellor committed his support to a deal that guaranteed frictionless trade with the EU. Will he now be absolutely straight with the Prime Minister and tell her that unless she comes back with a deal that does fulfil his promise of frictionless trade, it will not succeed in protecting our economy and could not be supported?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman can practise his synthetic concern at the Dispatch Box, but the remedy lies in his hands. There is a deal on the table that will end the uncertainty and allow this country to move on, and our polling shows that that is exactly what the British people want. All he has to do is get behind it, vote for the Prime Minister’s deal and we can all move on.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Thursday 6th December 2018

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for International Trade
Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Dec 2018, 12:42 p.m.

My hon. Friend could have added that those industries also have a high trade penetration with the European Union, and they depend critically on maintaining open and free-flowing trade arrangements with it. The deal before the House today allows us to maintain those trading patterns with the European Union and protect our supply chains, businesses and commercial relationships, while also having the opportunity to go out and make new trading partnerships with friends, old and new, around the world. In my view, that is the best possible outcome for businesses in my hon. Friend’s constituency.

We have to make our choice as a nation, and it falls to this House to act on the nation’s behalf, setting aside narrow party interests and focusing on what is in the national interest of our United Kingdom. After two and a half years, it is time to choose and time for Britain to move on. This deal will ensure that we move forward as a nation, taking back control, protecting jobs, getting business investing again, growing, thriving, and bringing the nation back together. It sets the United Kingdom on a course for a prosperous future, with a close relationship with our biggest trading partner and the ability to strike trade deals with the rest of the world. It supports our economy and lets us get back to the priorities that the British people elected us to deliver: investing in the infrastructure and skills of the future, keeping taxes low, reducing our debt and supporting our vital public services. Let us get on with it. Let us back this deal, honour the referendum, protect our economy and work together in the national interest to build a brighter future for our country.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Dec 2018, 12:43 p.m.

Next week we will make one of the most significant decisions that most hon. Members will ever make in this House, and it will impact on current and future generations. So far, hon. Members have ensured that we approach the debate leading to that decision with the seriousness of tone that it warrants—indeed, I think we have seen some of the best of the House over the past few days—and we have to find a way through.

On Wednesday, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) said:

“My final plea to the House is as follows. Now is the moment to tell each other the truth… No one is going to get everything they thought they would get. No one is going to receive all the things they were told they would receive. All of us are going to have to compromise, and we are going to have to find a way forward that a majority can agree upon.”—[Official Report, 4 December 2018; Vol. 650, c. 802.]

I fully concur with those sentiments, and that is what we are about in this coming period.

I wish to focus on four points—I recognise that a large number of Members wish to speak, so I will be as succinct as possible. My first point, on which I hope we can find widespread majority and common ground across the House, is that we must seek to prevent a no-deal situation occurring by either imposition or default. Secondly—and I say this in as straight a way as possible—it is increasingly obvious that the Prime Minister’s deal is neither politically nor economically acceptable, and neither is it capable of bringing the House or country together.

Thirdly, as the House looks for an alternative, Labour has proposed a plan that we believe could unite the country, by addressing the concerns raised in the referendum campaign while securing the benefits of a close and collaborative relationship with our European partners. That is what we are about. My fourth point is an expression of a worrying concern, given the current state of our economy, about the impact of a bad deal on our communities.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 6th November 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Nov 2018, 12:24 p.m.

Yes, I have a very firm plan to reduce the debt. My hon. Friend will see from the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast published last week that the debt will fall from over 85% of GDP to below 75% by the end of the forecast period. But my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have decided to take a balanced approach, where reducing the debt has to take place in tandem with keeping taxes low, supporting our public services and, probably most important of all, investing capital in Britain’s future.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Nov 2018, 12:24 p.m.

There are reports that the Cabinet has been briefed on a possible deal with the EU that includes a customs union that can be ended through a review mechanism at any stage in the future. So after two years of uncertainty, of business holding back investment and of jobs relocated abroad, we are now presented with a fudge that gives no guarantees on a long-term basis of our future trading relationship. Investment in our economy today is the lowest in the G7 and falling. If a customs union with our largest trading partner can be ripped up at any stage, how does the Chancellor expect businesses to have the confidence to bring forward the long-term investment needed to support our economy?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Nov 2018, 12:24 p.m.

That was a perfectly reasonable—if a little long—question, but unfortunately, it was built on a false premise. The Cabinet has received no such briefing.

John McDonnell - Parliament Live - Hansard

Well, it is interesting, because the Chancellor knows then that a free trade agreement without a permanent customs union will not protect our economy from the damage that a hard Brexit would cause, so to guarantee frictionless supply chains, we need a secure, permanent customs union with the EU. Businesses and workers are looking to the Chancellor to fight their corner, so will he join me and MPs across the House in calling on the Prime Minister to do the sensible thing and agree a permanent customs union that protects our economy, and yes, the livelihoods of millions of our people?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Nov 2018, 12:24 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman and I do not share very much in common, but we do share the desire to maintain frictionless trade between the UK and the European Union to protect British businesses and British jobs. His preferred way of achieving that is through a customs union; the Prime Minister has set out an alternative plan that will ensure that we can continue to have frictionless trade with the European Union. I prefer the Prime Minister’s plan.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 11th September 2018

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 12:21 p.m.

I think it comes back to the same point: it depends if my hon. Friend is buying.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 12:19 p.m.

There are only weeks to go now before a deal has to be agreed with our European partners, but there are still mixed messages coming from Government Ministers. The Foreign Secretary says that crashing out of the EU without a deal would be a

“mistake we would regret for generations”,

the Brexit Secretary says that no deal would bring “countervailing opportunities”, and the Prime Minister says that it

“wouldn’t be the end of the world.”

The Chancellor has a critical role to play in bringing some rationality to this debate. The Treasury has calculated that no deal could result in the UK’s GDP being over 10% smaller. Will he outline, and be absolutely clear to some of his colleagues, what that would mean for jobs, wages, investment and living standards?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 12:22 p.m.

There is no ambiguity at all about the Government’s objective. We want to strike a deal with the European Union based on the White Paper that we have published, which we believe will be good for Britain and good for the European Union. We are devoting all our efforts over the coming weeks and months to securing that deal and protecting the British economy.

John McDonnell - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Sep 2018, 12:23 p.m.

The problem is that time is running out, and increasingly people on all sides of this issue are feeling let down, so let me put this to the Chancellor: can we both try to get the message across to the Prime Minister, who continues to insist that no deal is better than—[Interruption.] She continues to insist that a bad deal is better than—[Interruption.] I will negotiate that again, Mr Speaker. She continues to insist that a bad deal is better than no deal. Business organisations are clear. The CBI is warning of a “catastrophe”, the National Farmers Union says it would be “an Armageddon scenario”, and, according to the TUC, a no deal Brexit would be “devastating for working people”. So may I appeal to the Chancellor? He knows the consequences of a no deal scenario, so will he now show some leadership and make it clear to his colleagues that he will not accept it?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard

First, I would love to know what it actually said on the right hon. Gentleman’s bit of paper. Let me be very clear to him. I, the Prime Minister and all members of the Cabinet are committed to achieving a deal that protects British jobs, British businesses and British prosperity going forward. That is what we are committed to. He is absolutely right that time is running out. We are working against the clock; we understand that. We will be working flat out over the coming weeks and months to achieve that.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 3rd July 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 11:30 a.m.

As my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich West (Mr Bailey) pointed out, the British Chambers of Commerce has said today that its patience with the Government over Brexit is at “breaking point”. Its sense of frustration reflects accurately what trade unions and businesses across the country feel. All the British Chambers of Commerce wants are answers to some very basic questions, so will the Chancellor and those on the Treasury Bench provide some answers today? Post-Brexit, will goods be subject to new procedures and delayed at border points? Will regulation checks on goods conducted in the UK be recognised in Europe? Will firms be able to transfer staff between the UK and the EU as they do now? Above all else, will Ministers stop squabbling and provide some answers to these vital questions?

Mr Philip Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 12:14 p.m.

It is fascinating to see the right hon. Gentleman posing as the champion of business when he has been attacking and undermining business ever since he got into his current position. Yes, I recognise all the questions he asked. The Cabinet will meet on Friday to set out our way forward in our negotiation with the European Union. We recognise that this is now urgent and that we need to make progress. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned minimising frictions and maximising flexibility for employers in order to protect jobs and investment. We agree with him and the British Chambers of Commerce on all those things, and we will be looking to deliver a Brexit that maximises employment and prosperity in this country.

John McDonnell - Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 12:14 p.m.

The Chancellor does not have to worry about others undermining capitalism; the Government are doing a pretty good job themselves.

When the warring factions in the Cabinet meet this weekend, it is the role of Treasury Ministers to bring them into the real world and point out to them firmly the real cost of a no-deal Brexit for jobs, the economy and all our living standards, so will the Chancellor tell us today the Treasury’s latest estimate of the cost of no deal, its consequences for the economy and the potential loss of jobs? Surely it is time for him to show a bit of grit and to make it clear that no responsible Chancellor could remain in a Cabinet that is so recklessly putting our economy at risk through no deal?

Mr Hammond Hansard
3 Jul 2018, 12:24 p.m.

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I will be setting out for my colleagues, in the privacy of our Cabinet meeting on Friday, the Treasury’s assessment—indeed, the cross-Whitehall economic group’s assessment—of the implications of potential routes forward. However, as the Prime Minister has said, we cannot give a running commentary in public on a matter about which we are in intensive negotiation with our European interlocutors. I have said before, and say again today, that when the time comes for Parliament to vote on our proposed package, I will make sure that all the available material is put into the public domain so that Members of Parliament are properly informed.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 17th April 2018

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Hansard
17 Apr 2018, 12:23 p.m.

In advance of today’s debate on Syria, I welcome financial measures to sanction the Syrian regime. According to past Government figures, £151 million of assets belonging to leading figures in the Assad regime in Syria have been frozen by authorities here. Since then, 261 Syrian individuals have been listed as financial sanctions targets in the UK. Can the Chancellor tell the House what the Treasury’s best and latest estimate is of the total value of assets held in the UK by individuals connected with the Syrian regime?

Mr Philip Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard

I do not have a figure for the latest valuation of those assets. Many of the assets in question will be property assets, I suspect, meaning that the values will move from time to time. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Treasury is fully engaged in the process across Whitehall of seeking to deal with unacceptable behaviours of the type that we have seen in Syria. Financial sanctions will remain an important tool in our armoury, whether we are dealing with chemical attacks in Syria or attacks on the streets of the UK.

John McDonnell - Hansard
17 Apr 2018, 12:24 p.m.

I welcome the Chancellor’s response, but the problem is that the lack of transparency in our financial system makes it virtually impossible for him to know exactly how many assets linked to such regimes are owned in the UK. It is estimated that more than £5 billion of assets owned by Assad and his associates are being held overseas and, according to international reports, the UK is recouping far less of the corrupt assets owned by individuals linked to the Syrian regime than is being recouped by other countries. For example, assets linked to the Assad regime worth more than half a billion pounds have been not just frozen but seized by the Spanish authorities. So far, no unexplained wealth orders have been used against Syrian regime figures.

The Government promised to give a date for the publication of a register of owners of UK property based overseas back in 2015, but now, three years later, we are told that a register will not be published until 2021. Will the Chancellor bring forward the date for the introduction of what is an essential defence against corruption?

Mr Hammond Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Apr 2018, 12:26 p.m.

I think that the right hon. Gentleman is being a little bit harsh on the unexplained wealth orders. The legislation has been in place for only a couple of months, and we will of course look at opportunities to use it. As for his challenge on the date for the registers, I will look into the matter, as he has asked me to do. I will then write to him to let him know the reason for the date that we have set, and whether there is any opportunity for it to be brought forward.

I think that we are all in the same place on this issue. We all want to ensure that London cannot be used as a route for dirty money—for the ill-gotten gains of regimes that are stealing from their people and channelling money offshore. It must be recognised that London is the world’s largest global financial centre, which presents us with some challenges, but we will continue the work.

Spring Statement

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 13th March 2018

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr Philip Hammond) Hansard
13 Mar 2018, 12:34 p.m.

I am pleased to introduce to the House the first spring statement. The UK was the only major economy to make hundreds of tax and spending changes twice a year, and major international organisations and UK professional bodies alike have been pressing for change. In 2016, I took the decision to move to a single fiscal event in the autumn, giving greater certainty to families and businesses ahead of the new financial year and allowing more time for stakeholder and parliamentary engagement on potential fiscal changes.

Today’s statement will update the House on the economic and fiscal position, report progress on announcements made at the two Budgets last year and launch further consultations ahead of Budget 2018, as I set out today in my written ministerial statement. I will not be producing a Red Book today, but of course I cannot speak for the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell).

I am pleased to report today to the House on a UK economy that has grown in every year since 2010—an economy that, under Conservative leadership, now has a manufacturing sector enjoying its longest unbroken run of growth for 50 years, that has added 3 million jobs and seen every single region of the UK with higher employment and lower unemployment than in 2010, that has seen the wages of the lowest-paid up by almost 7% above inflation since April 2015 and that has seen income inequality lower than at any time under the last Labour Government. That is solid progress towards building an economy that works for everyone.

So I reject the Labour party’s doom and gloom about the state of the nation. Every Wednesday, we have to listen to the Leader of the Opposition relentlessly talking Britain down, and every year since 2010 we have had to listen to the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington predict a recession—none of which has actually happened. So if there are any Eeyores in the Chamber, they are on the Opposition Benches; I, meanwhile, am at my most positively Tigger-like today, as I contemplate a country that faces the future with unique strengths: our language is the global language of business; our legal system is the jurisdiction of choice for commerce; we host the world’s most global city and its international finance and professional services capital; our companies are in the vanguard of the technological revolution, while our world-class universities are delivering the breakthrough discoveries and inventions that are powering it; British culture and talent reaches huge audiences across the globe; and our tech sector is attracting skills and capital from the four corners of the earth, with a new tech business being founded somewhere in the UK every hour, producing world-class products, including apps such as TransferWise, Citymapper and Matt Hancock.

Today, the Office for Budget Responsibility delivers its second report for the fiscal year 2017-18, and I thank Robert Chote and his team for their work. It forecasts more jobs, rising real wages, declining inflation, a falling deficit and a shrinking debt. The economy grew by 1.7% in 2017, compared with the 1.5% forecast at the Budget, and the OBR has revised up its forecast for 2018 from 1.4% to 1.5%. Forecast growth is then unchanged at 1.3% in 2019 and 2020, before picking up to 1.4% in 2021 and 1.5% in 2022. That is the OBR’s forecast, but forecasts are there to be beaten; as a nation, we did it in 2017, and we should make it our business to do it again.

Our remarkable jobs story is set to continue, with the OBR forecasting more jobs in every year of this Parliament and over 500,000 more people enjoying the security of a regular pay packet by 2022. I am pleased to report that the OBR expects inflation, which is currently above target at 3%, to fall back to target over the next 12 months, meaning that real wage growth is expected to be positive from first quarter of 2018-19 and to increase steadily thereafter.

I reported in the autumn that borrowing was due to fall in every year of the forecast and debt was to fall as a share of GDP from 2018-19. The OBR confirms that today, and further revises down debt and borrowing in every year. Borrowing is now forecast to be £45.2 billion this year. That is £4.7 billion lower than forecast in November and £108 billion lower than in 2010, which, coincidentally, is almost exactly the total cost of the additional spending pledges made by the Labour party since the general election in June last year; it has taken them just nine months to work up a plan to squander the fruits of eight years’ hard work by the British people.

As a percentage of GDP, borrowing is forecast to be 2.2% in 2017-18, falling to 1.8% in 2018-19, 1.6% in 2019-20, then 1.3%, 1.1% and finally 0.9% in 2022-23, meaning that in 2018-19 we will run a small current surplus, borrowing only for capital investment. And we are forecast to meet our cyclically adjusted borrowing target in 2020-21 with £15.4 billion of headroom to spare, which is broadly as forecast at the Budget. The more favourable outlook for borrowing means the debt forecast is nearly 1% lower than in November, peaking at 85.6% of GDP in 2017-18 and then falling to 85.5% in 2018-19, then 85.1%, 82.1%, 78.3%, and finally 77.9% in 2022-23.

That is the first sustained fall in debt in 17 years; a turning point in this nation’s recovery from the financial crisis of a decade ago; light at the end of the tunnel; another step on the road to rebuilding the public finances that were decimated by the Labour party. And it is one that Labour would again place at risk, because under Labour’s policies, our debt would not fall over the next five years; it would rise by more than £350 billion to more than 100% of our GDP, undermining our recovery, threatening investment in British jobs, burdening the next generation and wasting billions and billions of pounds more on debt interest. There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel, but we have to make absolutely sure that it is not the shadow Chancellor’s train hurtling out of control in the other direction towards Labour’s next economic train wreck.

In autumn 2016, I changed the fiscal rules to give us more flexibility to adopt a balanced approach to repairing the public finances. We are reducing debt not for some ideological reason, but to secure our economy against future shocks, because we in the Conservative party are not so naive as to think that we have abolished the economic cycle, because we want to see taxpayers’ money funding our schools and hospitals, not wasted on debt interest, and because we want to give the next generation a fair chance. But I do not agree with those who argue that every available penny must be used to reduce the deficit; nor do I agree with the fiscal fantasists opposite who argue that every penny should be spent immediately. We will continue to deliver a balanced approach. We are balancing debt reduction against the need for investment in Britain’s future, support to hard-working families through lower taxes and our commitment to our public services.

Judge me by my record. [Interruption.] We will see whether the Opposition have done their homework; they might be surprised. Since the 2016 autumn statement, I have committed to £60 billion of new spending, shared between long-term investment in Britain’s future and support for our public services, with almost £9 billion extra for our NHS and our social care system. There is £4 billion going into the NHS in 2018-19 alone and, as I promised at the autumn Budget, more to come if, as I hope, management and unions reach an agreement on a pay modernisation deal for our nation’s nurses and “Agenda for Change” staff, who have worked tirelessly since the autumn, in very challenging circumstances, to provide the NHS care that we all value so highly. There is £2.2 billion more for education and skills and £31 billion to fund infrastructure, research and development and housing, through the national productivity investment fund. That takes public investment in our schools, hospitals and infrastructure in this Parliament to its highest sustained level in 40 years.

At the same time, we have cut taxes for 31 million working people by raising the personal allowance again, in line with our manifesto commitment. We have taken more than 4 million people out of tax altogether since 2010. We are freezing fuel duty for an eighth successive year, taking the saving for a typical car driver to £850, compared with Labour’s plans, and raising the national living wage to £7.83 from next month, giving the lowest paid in our society a well-deserved pay rise of more than £2,000 for a full-time worker since 2015.

Since becoming Chancellor, I have provided an extra £11 billion of funding for 2018-19 to help with short-term public spending pressures and to invest in Britain’s future. In the longer term, I can confirm that, at this year’s Budget, I will set an overall path for public spending for 2020 and beyond, with a detailed spending review to take place in 2019 to allocate funding between Departments. That is how responsible people budget: first, they work out what they can afford; then they decide what their priorities are; and then they allocate between them. If, in the autumn, the public finances continue to reflect the improvements that today’s report hints at, then, in accordance with our balanced approach and using the flexibility provided by the fiscal rules, I would have capacity to enable further increases in public spending and investment in the years ahead, while continuing to drive value for money to ensure that not a single penny of precious taxpayers’ money is wasted. We are taking a balanced approach—getting our debt down, supporting our public services, investing in our nation’s future and keeping taxes low—as we build a Britain fit for the future and an economy that works for everyone.

There is much still to do. Since autumn 2016, we have set out our plan to back the enterprise and ambition of British business and the hard work of the British people. It is a plan to unleash our creators and innovators, our inventors and discoverers, to embrace the new technologies of the future and to deliver the skills that we will need to benefit from them. It is a plan to tackle our long-standing productivity challenges and to say more loudly than ever that our economy will remain open and outward looking, confident of competing with the best in the world.

We choose to champion those who create the jobs and the wealth on which our prosperity and our public services both depend, not to demonise them. The shadow Chancellor is open about his ideological desire to undermine the market economy, which has driven an unparalleled increase in our living standards over the past 50 years. We on the Conservative Benches reject his approach outright. The market economy embraces talent, creates opportunity and provides jobs for millions and the tax revenues that underpin our public services, so we will go on supporting British businesses. We are reducing business rates by more than £10 billion, and we committed at autumn Budget 2017 to move to triennial revaluations from 2022. Today, I am pleased to announce that we will bring forward the next business rates revaluation to 2021 and move to triennial reviews from that date. We will also launch a call for evidence to understand how best we can help the UK’s least productive businesses to learn from, and to catch up with, the most productive, and another on how we can eliminate the continuing scourge of late payments—a key ask from small business. We are the party of small business and the champions of the entrepreneur.

Since the Budget, we have made substantial progress in our negotiations with the European Union to deliver a Brexit that supports British jobs, businesses and prosperity. I look forward—[Interruption.] I do not know what the hon. Member for Wansbeck (Ian Lavery) does, but I look forward to another important step forward at the European Council next week. We will continue to prepare for all eventualities. Today, my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary is publishing the departmental allocations of over £1.5 billion of Brexit preparation funding for 2018-19, which I announced at the autumn Budget.

Our modern industrial strategy sets out our plan to keep Britain at the forefront of new technologies with the biggest increase in public research and development spending for four decades. Much of this new technology depends on high-speed broadband, and today I can make the first allocations of the £190 million local full-fibre challenge fund announced at the autumn Budget and confirm £25 million for the first 5G testbeds.

As our economy changes, we must ensure that people have the skills they need to seize the opportunities ahead, so we have committed over £500 million a year to T-levels—the most ambitious post-16 reforms in 70 years. From next month, £50 million will be available to help employers to prepare for the roll-out of T-level work placements. Last week the Education Secretary and I chaired the first meeting of the national retraining partnership between the Government, the TUC and the Confederation of British Industry. I can reassure the House that there was no beer and no sandwiches—not even a canapé—but there was a clear and shared commitment to training in order to prepare the British people for a better future ahead. Next month our £29 million construction skills fund will open for bids to fund up to 20 construction skills villages around the country.

The Government are committed to delivering 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020, with the support of business through the apprenticeship levy, but we recognise the challenges that the new system presents to some small businesses looking to employ an apprentice, so I can announce today that my right hon. Friend the Education Secretary will release up to £80 million of funding to support those small businesses in engaging an apprentice. We publish a consultation on improving the way in which the tax system supports self-funded training by employees and the self-employed. Because we currently understand more about the economic payback from investing in our infrastructure than we do about investing in our people, I have asked the Office for National Statistics to work with us on developing a more sophisticated measure of human capital so that future investment can be better targeted.

We are undertaking the largest road building programme since the 1970s. As Transport Secretary in 2011, I gave the green light to fund the new bridge across the River Mersey, and I was delighted to see it open late last year. The largest infrastructure project in Europe, Crossrail, is due to open in just nine months’ time. We are making progress on our plans to deliver the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor. We are devolving powers and budgets to elected mayors across the northern powerhouse and midlands engine. We are in negotiations for city deals with Stirling and Clackmannanshire, Tay cities, borderlands, north Wales, mid Wales and Belfast. Today we invite proposals from cities across England for the £840 million fund that I announced at the Budget to deliver on their local transport priorities as part of our plans to spread growth and opportunity to all parts of this United Kingdom.

At the heart of our plan for building an economy that works for everyone is our commitment to tackle the challenges in our housing market, with an investment programme of £44 billion to raise housing supply to 300,000 a year by the mid-2020s. Today I can update the House. The Housing Minister is working currently with 44 authorities who have bid into the £4.1 billion housing infrastructure fund to unlock homes in areas of high demand. We are concluding housing deals with ambitious authorities that have agreed to deliver above their local housing need. I can announce today that we have just agreed a deal with the West Midlands Combined Authority, which has committed to deliver 215,000 homes by 2030-31, facilitated by a £100 million grant from the land remediation fund. My hon. Friend the Housing Minister will make further announcements over the next few days on the housing infrastructure fund.

We will more than double the size of the housing growth partnership with Lloyds Banking Group to £220 million, providing additional finance for small builders. London will receive an additional £1.7 billion to deliver a further 26,000 affordable homes, including homes for social rent, taking total affordable housing delivery in London to over 116,000 by the end of 2021-22.

My right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) has outlined his initial findings on the gap between planning permissions granted and housing completions in a letter that I have placed in the Library. I look forward to his full report at the Budget. I am delighted to inform the House that an estimated 60,000 first-time buyers have already benefited from the stamp duty relief that I announced at the autumn Budget. I remind the House that the Labour party voted against this.

In the autumn we published a paper on taxing large digital businesses in the global economy. Today we follow up with a publication that explores potential solutions. I look forward to discussing this issue with G20 Finance Ministers in Buenos Aires at the weekend. We also publish a call for evidence on how online platforms can help their users to pay the right amount of tax, and we will consult on a new VAT collection mechanism for online sales to ensure that the VAT that consumers pay actually reaches the Treasury. We will also call for evidence on how to encourage cashless and digital payments while ensuring that cash remains available for those who need it.

The Government are determined that our generation should leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it and improve the quality of the air that we breathe, so we will publish a call for evidence on whether the use of non-agricultural red diesel tax relief contributes to poor air quality in urban areas. Following our successful intervention to incentivise clean taxis, we will help the Great British white van driver to go green with a consultation on reduced vehicle excise duty rates for the cleanest vans.

We will follow up on the vital issue of plastic littering and the threat to our oceans with a call for evidence to support us in delivering on our vow to tackle this complex issue. It will look at the whole supply chain for single-use plastics, and at alternative materials, reusable options and recycling opportunities. It will look at how the tax system can help to drive the technological progress and behavioural change that we need—as a way not of raising revenue, but of changing behaviour and encouraging innovation. We will commit to investing to develop new, greener products and processes, funded from the revenues raised. As a down payment, we will award £20 million now from existing departmental budgets to businesses and universities in order to stimulate new thinking and rapid solutions in this area during the call for evidence.

We are delivering on our plan with a balanced approach, restoring the public finances, investing in our economy and our public services, raising productivity through our modern industrial strategy, building the homes our people need, tackling the environmental challenges that threaten our future, embracing technological change and seizing the opportunities ahead as we build our vision of a country that works for everyone and an economy where prosperity and opportunity are in reach of all, wherever they live and whatever their gender, colour, creed or background, where talent and hard work alone determine success, as a beacon of enterprise and innovation and an outward-looking, free-trading nation, confident that our best days lie ahead of us, a force for good in the world and a country that we can all be proud to pass on to our children. I commend this statement to the House.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Hansard
13 Mar 2018, 12:59 p.m.

I thank the Chancellor for providing me with early sight of his statement, but I have to say that his complacency today is astounding. We face in every public service a crisis on a scale that we have never seen before. Has he not listened to the doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers, carers and even his own councillors? They are telling him that they cannot wait for the next Budget. They are telling him to act now. For eight years they have been ignored by this Government, and today they have been ignored again.

The Chancellor has proclaimed today that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This shows just how cut off from the real world he is. Last year, growth in our economy was among the lowest in the G7—the slowest since 2012. The OBR has just predicted that we will scrape along the bottom for future years. Wages are lower now, in real terms, than they were in 2010—and they are still falling. According to the Resolution Foundation, the changes to benefits due to come in next month will leave 11 million families worse off—and, as always, the harshest cuts fall on disabled people.

The gap in productivity between this country and the rest of the G7 is almost the widest for a generation. UK industry is 20% to 30% less productive than in other major economies—and why? In part, the reason is that investment by the Government, in real terms, is nearly £18 billion below its 2010 level. This is a Government who cut research and development funding by £1 billion in real terms. Business investment stagnated in the last quarter of 2017. Despite all the promises, the Government continue to fail to address the regional imbalances in investment. London will, again, receive five times more transport investment than Yorkshire and Humberside and the north.

How dare this Government speak on climate change? This is a Government who singlehandedly destroyed the solar industry, with 12,000 jobs lost as a result of subsidy cuts. The Chancellor talks about the fourth industrial revolution, but Britain has the lowest rate of industrial robot use in the OECD. The Government have put £75 million into their artificial intelligence programme—less than a tenth of what the US is spending.

Break in Debate

John McDonnell - Hansard
13 Mar 2018, 1:05 p.m.

I am appealing to Tory MPs today, if they are serious about ending austerity, to vote with us this afternoon to give those children the free school meal they are entitled to.

The Chancellor has shifted the deficit on to the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary. Crime is rising, yet he has cut the number of police officers by 21,500 and the number of firefighters by 8,500, and our prisons and probation service are in dangerous crisis.

In shifting the deficit on to the shoulders of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, in reality he has shifted the burden on to local councillors—Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative councillors alike. I raise again the stark reality of what that means for the most vulnerable children in our society. There has been a 40% cut in early intervention to support families. The result is the highest number of children taken into care since the 1980s. Children’s charities—not us but children’s charities—are saying that this crisis could turn into a catastrophe without further funding. Last year, 400 women seeking refuge were turned away because there were no places available for them in refuges. There are now nearly 5,000 of our fellow citizens sleeping rough on our streets—more than double the number in 2010. Tragically, one of our homeless citizens died only feet away from the entrance to Parliament.

The Chancellor mentioned additional housing funding in London. The additional housing funding announced for London today is not a new announcement: this is money already announced. Any new funding is welcome, but it is simply not enough and it represents a cut in London’s budgets compared with the money that Labour allocated in 2010. One million vulnerable older people have no access to the social care they need. Conservative Councils are going bust. Many will be forced to hike up council tax. Councils are running out of reserves, as the National Audit Office explained to us. I ask the Chancellor: will he listen to Conservative council leaders, such as the leader of Surrey, who said:

“We are facing the most difficult financial crisis in our history. The government cannot stand idly by while Rome burns”?

How many more children have to go into care? How many more councils have to go bust? How many more have to run out of reserves before the Chancellor wakes up to this crisis and acts?

Today’s statement could have been a genuine turning point but it is, depressingly, another missed opportunity. People know now that austerity was a political choice, not an economic necessity. The Conservatives chose to cut taxes for the super-rich, the corporations and the bankers, and it was paid for by the rest of us in society. They even cut the levy on the bankers in the Finance Bill. We were never “all in this together” as they claimed—never. They cut investment at the very time when we should have been developing the skills and infrastructure needed to raise productivity and grasp the technological revolution with both hands. And when they had a responsibility to meet the challenge of Brexit, we have a Chancellor who this weekend admitted he has not even modelled the Government’s options.

Today we have the indefensible spectacle of a Chancellor congratulating himself on marginally improved economic forecasts, while he refuses to lift a finger as councils go bust, the NHS and social care are in crisis, school budgets are cut, homelessness has doubled and wages are falling. This is not a Government preparing our country for the future; it is a Government setting us up to fail.

Mr Hammond Hansard
13 Mar 2018, 1:09 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman supported the switch to a single fiscal event, and now he is complaining that I have not delivered a mini Budget today. I am not surprised that he cannot quite understand anybody passing up the opportunity to introduce some new taxes, because that is what a Labour Government would be doing, not once a year or twice a year but every other week.

I heard the right hon. Gentleman referring to some of my hon. Friends as “Tory bully boys”. I remind the House that this is the man who still refuses to apologise to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, so I do not want to hear anything about bullying from the Labour Benches. The public will draw their own conclusions.

The right hon. Gentleman knows his Lenin, of course. The task is to win power, and that is why we see from him the smooth reassuring mien of the bank manager, but every now and again, the mask slips, and we get a glimpse of the sinister ideology that lies beneath—an ideology that would wreck our economy if he ever gets anywhere near the controls, threatening confiscation, dismissing property rights, undermining the cornerstones of our economy and the basis of our freedom and prosperity.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about political choices. Let me tell him the political choices we have made. We have closed the tax gap to one of the lowest in the developed world. We have raised £175 billion by 100 measures against tax evasion and avoidance. We are collecting 28% of all income tax from the richest 1% in our country—a higher percentage than in any year under Labour. He says that real wages are falling. I have good news for him: the OBR expects real wages to rise from quarter one 2018, which, in case he has not worked out, starts in two weeks’ time.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about spending on the disabled. Well, I have good news for him again: spending on the disabled will be higher in every year of this Parliament. He talks about research and development to support our economy. Research and development spending is at a record high.

The right hon. Gentleman reels out the same old bogus statistics on regional distribution; I think he has got the briefing from Russia Today. Let me tell him this: the Infrastructure and Projects Authority has published figures that clearly show that the highest per capita spending on transport infrastructure investment is in the north-west region, not, the last time I checked, one of the southern regions. All regions have benefited from the boom in employment. All regions will end this Parliament with lower unemployment and higher employment.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about £700 billion of increased national debt. We have had to deal with the legacy of Labour’s meltdown in 2009 because they did not fix the roof while the sun was shining. Our historical function is to clean up Labour’s mess, and my report today shows that we are doing it once again.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about funding for the NHS. I have put £9 billion into the NHS since autumn statement 2016. He talks about school budgets. School budgets are increasing per pupil in real terms. On children’s services, he must know that Department for Education research shows that spending on the most vulnerable children has increased by around half a billion pounds in real terms since 2010. We have committed £1 billion to tackling rough sleeping and homelessness and made a manifesto pledge to eliminate rough sleeping by 2027 and halve it by 2022.

No one watching our exchanges today can be in any doubt that Britain faces a choice. We have a plan to get our economy growing. The shadow Chancellor says it does not matter whether GDP grows or not. We have a plan to get people on the housing ladder, while the shadow Chancellor does not want “to get bogged down in property rights”. We have a plan to deal with our debts. The shadow Chancellor wants to send debts soaring because he fantasises that he can borrow for free.

The choice is clear: our vision of a dynamic, modern economy, or the Labour party’s vision of an inward-looking, narrow-minded country. We have to win this argument, because if we do not, it will be ordinary people—not the rich and the powerful and not the globally mobile—who pay the price, as they always do for Labour’s failings.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 28th November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Hansard
28 Nov 2017, 12:21 p.m.

Why have the Government not brought forward an amendment of the law resolution in today’s Budget resolutions? This is almost unprecedented and a tactic used only when the issue to be dealt with is urgent. It will restrict the ability of hon. Members on both sides of the House to move amendments and to address the range of economic and social needs of our community.

Mr Hammond Hansard
28 Nov 2017, 12:22 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is wrong: it is not without precedent. We did not move an amendment of the law resolution in relation to the Finance Bill that has just gone through Parliament. It is a small but worthwhile modernisation measure that focuses the debate on the measures that we are putting before Parliament in the Finance Bill.

John McDonnell - Hansard
28 Nov 2017, 12:23 p.m.

I will tell the Chancellor why he did not bring forward an amendment of the law resolution: it is because he wishes to avoid debate on some of the key issues facing our communities. Let me raise one of those questions, which was totally neglected last week in the Budget. The Chancellor received representations from Action for Children, the Local Government Association and Barnardo’s on the crisis in children’s services. Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, has said that

“children’s services are on an unstable and dangerous footing. We’re calling on the Government to prioritise the services children need before this crisis turns into a catastrophe”.

What was in the Chancellor’s mind when he prioritised giving nearly £5 billion to the banks rather than plugging the gap in children’s services for those most in need in our society?

Mr Hammond Hansard

There will be more than adequate time to discuss the measures in the Finance Bill, but the debate on the Finance Bill is a debate about the measures being put forward by the Government under the Finance Bill. That is what Parliament is here to debate and that is what we will have time to debate under this arrangement.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Tuesday 24th October 2017

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
Mr Hammond Hansard
24 Oct 2017, 12:22 p.m.

I refer my right hon. Friend to the analysis of the Opposition party’s proposals, if we can call them that, done by the Conservative party at the time of the general election. The Government’s policy is to sell assets when there is no longer a policy reason to retain them and to reinvest the proceeds of such sales in policy priorities. Nationalising assets would increase public sector net debt, which would increase our debt interest bill and divert public spending away from more valuable areas. It would also mean that the future investment needs of any nationalised industries would have to compete for capital with our public services.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) - Hansard
24 Oct 2017, 12:22 p.m.

I listened very carefully to the Chancellor’s response to the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) and my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) on the issue of no deal. May I tell him that his response was crushingly disappointing? Expressions of hope of a deal are just not good enough. The Chancellor knows the economic perils our country faces if there is no deal: he described it, rightly, as a worst-case scenario. May I urge him, in the interests of our country, to have the courage of his convictions, and stand up and face down his opponents in Cabinet and confirm today that, like us, he will not support or vote for a no-deal Brexit?

Mr Hammond Hansard
24 Oct 2017, 12:23 p.m.

As the right hon. Gentleman very well knows, our clear objective and priority is to achieve a deal with the European Union. Our preference would be for a deal that gives a comprehensive trade, investment and security partnership between the UK and the European Union in the future. As part of such a deal, we will seek an implementation phase that gives British businesses, and indeed Government agencies, proper time to prepare for the new circumstances they will face.

John McDonnell - Hansard

If the right hon. Gentleman cannot stand up to his opponents on a no-deal Brexit, can he at least stand up to them on the transition period? Business leaders yesterday made it clear that they need certainty now on a sensible transition period, yet the Prime Minister yesterday sowed more confusion in her statement, giving the impression that the transition is to be negotiated only after we have settled on what, as she describes it, the “future partnership” with Europe will be. Businesses cannot wait: they need to plan now; jobs are in jeopardy now. If the Prime Minister is not willing to stand up to the reckless Brexiteers in her party, will the Chancellor? Will the Chancellor make it clear, in a way that the Prime Minister failed to do yesterday and as business leaders have been calling for, that we need the principles of any transition confirmed by the end of this year?

Mr Hammond Hansard
24 Oct 2017, 12:24 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is correct to say that this matter is urgent and pressing, which is why we were so pleased that last week at the European Council the 27 agreed to start internal preparatory discussions for an implementation period. I am confident that we will be able to give businesses the confidence and certainty they need.

Economy and Jobs

Debate between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
Thursday 29th June 2017

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
John McDonnell - Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 12:55 p.m.

It is a party that has used the taxation system to cut corporation tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and the bank levy, which has meant a redistribution from the poor to the wealthy.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr Philip Hammond) Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 12:56 p.m.

Will the right hon. Gentleman just clarify for the House what the standard rate of capital gains tax was under the last Labour Government and what it is now?

John McDonnell - Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 12:56 p.m.

This is a Government who want to cut corporation tax from 28p—[Interruption.] I thought the right hon. Gentleman was referring to corporation tax. Remember who the capital gains tax cut is going to: the 60,000 wealthiest families in this country. That is what this cut is all about.

Mr Hammond Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 12:56 p.m.

Will the right hon. Gentleman just tell the House what the rate was under the last Labour Government and what the basic rate is now?

John McDonnell - Hansard

When it comes to—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

John McDonnell - Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 1:21 p.m.

Yes, united behind. I am proud to say it.

The failed and deeply unpopular austerity programme, the deeply divided rudderless Cabinet, the directionless Brexit negotiation strategy and a contentless Queen’s Speech surely confirms it is time for this Government to now go. It is time for change. Our amendment addresses the change that is needed. As the Labour party demonstrated during the general election campaign, there is an alternative. We can address the deep-rooted problems our economy faces. The Labour party has forged ahead with a serious credible alternative to the Government’s failed approach. Our society can afford decent public services. We are the fifth-richest economy in the world. If we have a fair taxation system, we can end the cuts to schools’ budgets. We can end the horrific sight of children sleeping on chairs in hospital corridors. We can end the bedroom tax and the punitive benefits sanctions regime. We can do that, as the IFS confirmed, while remaining on target to eliminate the budget deficit in accordance with our fiscal credibility rule.

It is not just about a fairer taxation system. We need a Government to invest what is needed to secure our future: not the derisory numbers floated by the Chancellor in the autumn statement with so little to back them up, but a serious, long-term vision of the economy that tackles the regional disparities and the changes taking place in the labour market. We need a Government committed to driving up productivity by increasing investment, as demanded by the CBI and many others, and to delivering a serious industrial strategy. It is a transformative programme that we look forward to implementing in government shortly.

This Queen’s Speech does nothing to solve these problems. It confirms a Government isolated from the real world in which our people live. Labour’s amendment today sets out the alternative our country so desperately needs. I urge all hon. Members to support the amendment.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr Philip Hammond) Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 1:24 p.m.

I welcome the opportunity to respond to this debate, to set out our economic record since 2010 and our plans for Britain’s future, and to comment on Labour’s plans for our economy.

This Government have a job to do, and a large part of that job over the next 18 months or so will be focused on securing a Brexit deal that is good for Britain and helps to deliver the strong economy that will underpin our public services, create jobs and support our living standards. Of course our country and our economy face some significant challenges. I shall set out today how we intend to address them. However, we also have within our grasp some significant prizes and we need to ensure that we are able to seize them.

I have listened for the past half hour, as have my right hon. and hon. Friends, to the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) talking Britain’s economy down. It is clear that he has, and Labour has, no credible plan for addressing the real challenges this country faces. His solutions, such as they are, would put most of those prizes beyond our reach.

Break in Debate

Mr Hammond Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 1:39 p.m.

I will in just a moment.

Then there is the nationalisation programme. Let me explain these plans, Madam Deputy Speaker, because they are important. The Labour party wants to nationalise gas and electricity, water and Royal Mail. They would borrow a fortune to do it, and it would deliver no economic benefit whatsoever.

First, a Labour Government would have to buy up the shares of publicly listed companies on the stock exchange. Taking over just the single largest company in each sector would cost close to £44 billion, and the Government would have to pay a market premium on top, because a programme to buy the shares would drive up the price. Moreover, the taxpayer would take on those companies’ debts; that is another £26 billion. So that is £70 billion of public debt. When the Labour Government were done with the publicly listed companies, they would have to strike deals with scores of private investors and funds to buy the rest. All told, we are looking at more than £120 billion. [Interruption.]

The right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington says from a sedentary position, “You do not understand. It is a financial transaction, so it does not need any money, and it does not require us to go out and borrow any.” He is simply wrong. Financial transactions add to public debt—[Interruption]—and that is before we even get to the railways, which he has been chuntering about. I have deliberately left the railways out of my equation, because his proposals for those are more complex.

John McDonnell - Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 1:41 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman fails to understand that we will gain an asset when we take over the railways. It will give us an income that will cover any borrowing costs, and as the franchises drop out, it will be cost-free.

Mr Hammond Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 1:42 p.m.

So the proposition is this: would I entrust an asset to the right hon. Gentleman? Would I lend him the money to buy that asset, on the assumption that he would be able to produce an economic return by operating it? Let me ponder on that one, Madam Deputy Speaker.

John McDonnell - Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 1:42 p.m.

It will be managed by the people of this country, in whom I have confidence, not by the profiteers whom the right hon. Gentleman represents.

Mr Hammond Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 1:42 p.m.

Let us test that proposition. When these industries were last in public ownership, who were they managed by? They were managed by intervening, interfering politicians and their buddies in the trade unions.

Break in Debate

Mr Hammond Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 1:58 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes a good point. The shadow Chancellor likes to talk about tax avoidance, but the Labour Government did nothing to deal with it—[Interruption.] Well, let me phrase it differently for the right hon. Member for East Ham (Stephen Timms), who takes offence at that. He was a member of that Government, and they left £150 billion on the table. That is how much we have taken through clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion—[Interruption.] And before the shadow Chancellor stands up, I will tell him—he did not know the answer—that under the last Labour Government, the main rate of capital gains tax was 18%. Under this Conservative Government, it is 20%, with a 28% rate on residential property and hedge fund managers.

John McDonnell - Hansard

It was increased under George Osborne and then cut back again. Let me remind the Chancellor of the Financial Times survey that found that the measures on tax evasion and avoidance introduced by Gordon Brown were 10 times more effective than anything that this Government have done.

Mr Hammond Hansard
29 Jun 2017, 1:59 p.m.

Let me do the maths. Hmm, it would be £1.5 trillion that they raise. Perhaps one of my hon. Friends will check down the back of the Treasury Bench in case the previous Chancellor hid that away down there. As usual, the right hon. Gentleman is talking absolute nonsense.