There have been 17 exchanges between Mr Philip Hammond and John McDonnell
|1||Tue 2nd July 2019||
Oral Answers to Questions
|5 interactions (451 words)|
|2||Tue 21st May 2019||
Oral Answers to Questions
|4 interactions (382 words)|
|3||Tue 9th April 2019||
Oral Answers to Questions
|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
|2 interactions (206 words)|
|6||Tue 29th January 2019||
Oral Answers to Questions
|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
|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
|5 interactions (416 words)|
|11||Tue 11th September 2018||
Oral Answers to Questions
|5 interactions (455 words)|
|12||Tue 3rd July 2018||
Oral Answers to Questions
|4 interactions (499 words)|
|13||Tue 17th April 2018||
Oral Answers to Questions
|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
|4 interactions (321 words)|
|16||Tue 24th October 2017||
Oral Answers to Questions
|5 interactions (520 words)|
|17||Thu 29th June 2017||
Economy and Jobs
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
|18 interactions (1,276 words)|
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
(3 years, 3 months ago)Commons Chamber
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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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.