There have been 68 exchanges between John Bercow and HM Treasury
|Tue 29th October 2019||Early Parliamentary General Election Bill||8 interactions (409 words)|
|Thu 24th October 2019||The Economy||6 interactions (108 words)|
|Tue 8th October 2019||HMRC Impact Analysis: Customs||3 interactions (44 words)|
|Tue 1st October 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||41 interactions (202 words)|
|Mon 30th September 2019||No-deal Brexit: Short Positions against the Pound||10 interactions (133 words)|
|Wed 4th September 2019||Spending Round 2019||21 interactions (733 words)|
|Thu 25th July 2019||Summer Adjournment||6 interactions (88 words)|
|Mon 15th July 2019||High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill||3 interactions (468 words)|
|Mon 8th July 2019||NHS Pensions: Taxation||2 interactions (1 words)|
|Mon 8th July 2019||Precious Metal Markets||2 interactions (55 words)|
|Tue 2nd July 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||13 interactions (98 words)|
|Mon 24th June 2019||Kew Gardens (Leases) (No. 3) Bill [Lords]||2 interactions (32 words)|
|Wed 19th June 2019||Breathing Space Scheme||5 interactions (189 words)|
|Mon 10th June 2019||National Insurance Contributions (Termination Awards and Sporting Testimonials) Bill||3 interactions (430 words)|
|Tue 21st May 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||33 interactions (208 words)|
|Thu 11th April 2019||Loan Charge||2 interactions (71 words)|
|Tue 9th April 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||15 interactions (79 words)|
|Tue 2nd April 2019||Privileges||4 interactions (216 words)|
|Tue 19th March 2019||Clydesdale Bank and SMEs||2 interactions (67 words)|
|Tue 5th March 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||39 interactions (278 words)|
|Wed 20th February 2019||Leaving the EU: Economic Impact of Proposed Deal||18 interactions (341 words)|
|Tue 19th February 2019||Making Tax Digital||3 interactions (16 words)|
|Tue 29th January 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||43 interactions (416 words)|
|Tue 8th January 2019||Finance (No. 3) Bill||23 interactions (3,745 words)|
|Tue 18th December 2018||ONS Decisions: Student Loans||10 interactions (102 words)|
|Tue 11th December 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||35 interactions (331 words)|
|Wed 28th November 2018||Leaving the EU: Economic Analysis||21 interactions (389 words)|
|Wed 28th November 2018||Points of Order||20 interactions (1,072 words)|
|Mon 12th November 2018||Finance (No. 3) Bill||2 interactions (45 words)|
|Mon 12th November 2018||Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations||2 interactions (60 words)|
|Tue 6th November 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||28 interactions (193 words)|
|Mon 22nd October 2018||EU Customs Union and Draft Withdrawal Agreement: Cost||27 interactions (220 words)|
|Tue 9th October 2018||Food Labelling and Allergy-Related Deaths||3 interactions (67 words)|
|Tue 24th July 2018||Public Sector Pay||7 interactions (120 words)|
|Tue 24th July 2018||Summer Adjournment||16 interactions (427 words)|
|Mon 16th July 2018||Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill||62 interactions (4,328 words)|
|Wed 4th July 2018||Ivory Bill||3 interactions (14 words)|
|Tue 3rd July 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||44 interactions (383 words)|
|Tue 3rd July 2018||Treasury Spending: Grants to Devolved Institutions||5 interactions (25 words)|
|Mon 2nd July 2018||Saddleworth Moor and Tameside: Ongoing Fire||7 interactions (94 words)|
|Tue 22nd May 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||29 interactions (239 words)|
|Wed 16th May 2018||Leaving the EU: Customs||10 interactions (85 words)|
|Thu 3rd May 2018||May Adjournment||3 interactions (30 words)|
|Tue 1st May 2018||Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill [Lords]||20 interactions (5,374 words)|
|Thu 26th April 2018||Stamp Duty Land Tax||18 interactions (289 words)|
|Thu 26th April 2018||Customs and Borders||40 interactions (545 words)|
|Tue 17th April 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||57 interactions (357 words)|
|Thu 29th March 2018||Easter Adjournment||23 interactions (232 words)|
|Mon 19th March 2018||Leaving the EU: UK Ports (Customs)||3 interactions (47 words)|
|Thu 15th March 2018||European Affairs||3 interactions (59 words)|
|Wed 14th March 2018||Banking in North Ayrshire||3 interactions (17 words)|
|Tue 27th February 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||22 interactions (221 words)|
|Wed 21st February 2018||Finance (No. 2) Bill||3 interactions (78 words)|
|Tue 16th January 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||7 interactions (52 words)|
|Thu 11th January 2018||Business of the House||10 interactions (102 words)|
|Tue 9th January 2018||Parole Board and Victim Support||7 interactions (86 words)|
|Mon 8th January 2018||Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill||6 interactions (137 words)|
|Wed 29th November 2017||Exiting the EU: Costs||3 interactions (19 words)|
|Tue 28th November 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||15 interactions (127 words)|
|Wed 22nd November 2017||Budget Resolutions||5 interactions (232 words)|
|Mon 20th November 2017||Duties of Customs||2 interactions (59 words)|
|Tue 14th November 2017||Tax Avoidance and Evasion||34 interactions (420 words)|
|Mon 6th November 2017||Paradise Papers||7 interactions (52 words)|
|Tue 31st October 2017||Finance Bill||7 interactions (57 words)|
|Tue 24th October 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||34 interactions (241 words)|
|Tue 12th September 2017||Finance Bill||7 interactions (46 words)|
|Tue 18th July 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||20 interactions (361 words)|
|Wed 5th July 2017||Public Sector Pay Cap||26 interactions (295 words)|
(11 months ago)Commons Chamber
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Today’s vote lays down precedents which override the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, thus overriding one of Parliament’s checks and balances against excessive Executive power. Can you advise how to protect democracy in this place from further such government by fiat?
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] I know that it is sometimes uncomfortable to speak truth to power. Mr Speaker, would it be in order to record that, in private, many of us have come to the conclusion that the majority of Back Benchers on both sides do not want a general election? As the right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) has said, fear, from whatever quarter it may come, will be an abiding thing that will come out of this Parliament, and history will record that. A lack of courage from too many is also a mark of the end of this Parliament. Would it also be in order to record that I know from the conversations that take place in private—as you understand, Mr Speaker—that it is undoubtedly a fact that the majority of Members of this Parliament support a people’s vote rather than a general election?
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. For three and a half years, the Liberal Democrats have campaigned for the people of this country to have the final say. We would have preferred that to be in the form of a people’s vote, and we would now have preferred the general election to be on 9 December. But, Parliament having decided, we are ready to take this issue back and give people the chance to say whether Brexit is something they want to stop. [Interruption.]
I beg to move amendment (g), at end add
‘but respectfully regrets that the Gracious Speech fails to rebuild the UK economy, tackle the housing crisis, further pushes public services into crisis and contains no vision to bring this divided country back together; calls on the Government to bring forward a plan to rebuild the economy so that it works in the interest of the many, not just handing out rewards to those at the top; and further calls on the Government to address the climate emergency by bringing forward a green industrial revolution to decarbonise the economy and boost economic growth.’
Mr Speaker, may I just say this? This is the last time that you will be chairing a day of the Queen’s Speech and I may not get the opportunity in other tribute debates to say this. It has been a privilege to serve in this House while you have been Speaker. Thank you.
I listened to the Prime Minister introducing the Queen’s Speech. What I always find most startling about the Prime Minister is his ability to create his own truth and, when confronted with any reality that contradicts his truth, to bluster his way through. I believe he believes that, with a combination of bluster and the occasional pretentious use of Latin, he can always avoid confronting reality or answering for it. So, if we can achieve anything in today’s debate, let us at least try to confront the reality of what some of our people face and assess whether the announcements in the Queen’s Speech in any way meet those challenges.
On the economy, the Prime Minister referred in his speech to “economic success” and “free market success”. He also said:
“in important respects this country is the greatest place to live and to be—the greatest place on earth.”—[Official Report, 14 October 2019; Vol. 666, c. 19.]
I think many of us feel that way, but I just wish it was the same for everyone. For so many of our people, tragically, it is not at the moment. There is a multitude of statistics evidencing just how far the Prime Minister is out of touch and how he appears to have no understanding of what our people have gone through over nearly a decade. Let me start with three stark examples of what the austerity the Conservative party has inflicted on our people has meant and continues to mean, and which I deeply regret were not addressed in the Queen’s Speech.
First, on infant mortality and child poverty, earlier this month, the British Medical Journal published a research project into infant mortality. Declines in infant mortality have been reversed for the first time in 100 years. The research found that, between 2014 and 2017, there were 570 excess infant deaths. The research concluded that 172 of those infant deaths were associated with the increase in child poverty. Out there, there are nearly 200 families who are grieving as a result of the Government’s austerity policies. There is nothing in the Queen’s Speech—nothing—that will tackle the poverty affecting 14 million of our people, and nothing that will tackle the poverty that 4.5 million of our children are being brought up in, or help the 125,000 children who are forced to live in temporary accommodation. There is nothing to address the £3 billion funding gap local councils face in trying to provide the services needed to support those very families. I will not forget, and many Labour Members will not forget, that this is a Government who have closed over 500 Sure Start centres, the very institutions we founded to support those families and to prevent infant mortality and morbidity on the scale we have seen.
Let me take the second example of what the Tories have done to our people. Earlier this month, the Office for National Statistics reported a record number of deaths of homeless people in England and Wales in 2018. Last year, 726 homeless people died. That represents the highest year-to-year increase since data was first collected. The Government have cut £1 billion from support to the homeless since 2010, so it is hardly surprising that rough sleeping has risen by almost 165%. In London, rough sleeping has more than tripled since 2010. Again, there is nothing—nothing—in the Queen’s Speech to tackle the scourge of homelessness.
My third example is the distance between what the Government claim and what employment and wages are like in this country. The Prime Minister claimed that
“we have unemployment at its lowest level since 1974”.—[Official Report, 14 October 2019; Vol. 666, c. 22.]
The reality is this: more than 3 million people are missing from the unemployment rate because they report themselves as “economically inactive,” we have over 2.5 million people counted as employed even though they work fewer than 15 hours a week and there are 3.7 million people in insecure work.
Break in Debate
This has been an interesting debate, in which strong views have been expressed by 41 Back Benchers.
Let us look at the UK economy. This year we have seen more people in work than ever before, with more women in work than ever before. The number of workless households is down by more than 1 million since 2010, and there are 200,000 more businesses than last year. Wages have grown at their fastest rate in 11 years and there has been the biggest ever increase in the national living wage. We are investing in the skills of the future, with more than 800,000 people participating in an apprenticeship in England in the last full academic year.
We have every reason to believe in our ability to succeed. We are the world’s fifth biggest economy and the ninth biggest manufacturer. We speak the world’s international business language. We have the best contract law and one of the most trusted judicial systems in the world. We have the most creative and innovative financial services sector anywhere, and three of the top 10 universities in the world. For the seventh year in a row, we have the most powerful capital city on earth.
But let us look at what Labour has on offer. Labour has proposed a punitive new tax every two months since Corbyn took office. Jeremy Corbyn’s party—
Thank you so much, Mr Speaker.
The Leader of the Opposition has voted against £7,800-worth of tax cuts for hard-working people, and the British Chambers of Commerce has warned that Labour’s plans for our economy would send an “icy chill” up the spines of business owners and investors.
There have been too many contributions for me to mention them all, but I have picked out some that were particularly interesting. The hon. Members for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) and for Glasgow East (David Linden) both talked about the importance of immigration to Scotland, and I am delighted to mention at the Dispatch Box the amazing contribution that EU citizens have made to our country. That is why I am so pleased that over 1 million people have already been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme, enshrining their rights in law.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Devon (Mel Stride) on being elected as the new Chair of the Treasury Committee, and I commend his call for Barclays to reconsider pulling out of the new UK banking framework, which was agreed with 28 UK banks. He is right to look into that issue.
The hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) talked about the tax gap. He should be reassured that, since coming into office, this Government have secured and protected more than £200 billion that would otherwise have gone unpaid. Our tax gap is at a near record low.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Worcestershire (Harriett Baldwin) talked about the financial services Bill. I can assure her that that Bill will maintain the UK’s world-leading regulatory standards and ensure that the UK remains fully open to international markets after we leave the European Union.
The right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) was right to welcome the United Kingdom’s amazing efforts on offshore wind. I commend him for the part he played in ensuring that the UK is a world leader in the deployment of offshore wind.
My hon. Friends the Members for Aberdeen South (Ross Thomson) and for Ochil and South Perthshire (Luke Graham) spoke as true Unionists and supporters of the Union. They highlighted how no-deal Nicola is not acting in the interests of Scotland.
My hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Scott Mann) talked about how this Government are dealing with climate change, not just talking about it. Labour, on the other hand, has promised something that it cannot deliver and does not understand. Several unions have voiced their concern about the damage of a 2030 target for decarbonisation. The GMB dismissed it as threatening “whole communities” and “jobs”, as well as being “utterly unachievable”. The “30 by 2030” report put out by Labour today shows plans to hike up stamp duty on millions of homes, with home owners forced to spend tens of thousands to move home and local communities losing any say on onshore wind. On the other hand, this Government have a positive record on decarbonisation. We are the first major economy to legislate for net zero. Since 1990, we have reduced carbon emissions by 42% while growing our economy by nearly three quarters. We have shown that decarbonising can create jobs and prosperity. It has already produced 400,000 jobs in the low-carbon sector, and we hope that the number will reach 2 million by 2030. Our path to reaching net zero is realistic. It is based on science and has been supported by the Committee on Climate Change. We care too much about this issue to make pointless political promises that are just not deliverable.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West (Chris Green) welcomed the Government’s investment in towns and cities, with the £3.6 billion new towns fund, which will support our high streets. I also wish to mention the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Albert Owen), who highlighted the fact that this would be his last Queen’s Speech. I wish him well and thank him for his contribution in this place. My hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Trudy Harrison) talked movingly about her daughter’s new apprenticeship in the nuclear sector—we wish her well with that. My hon. Friend is rightly a great champion for new nuclear.
The hon. Member for Bury North (James Frith) raised the issue of Orkambi. All of us across the House are delighted by the achievement of my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary on Orkambi, which can be a vital drug for many cystic fibrosis sufferers. I also wish to mention the hon. Member for Newport West (Ruth Jones), who is calling again for the BBC to honour the right of the over-75s to get their free TV licences. I completely agree with her about that.
Finally, may I say that it is very refreshing to have spent a whole six days—albeit with a brief interval—debating the exciting positive future that awaits this country? As the Prime Minister said, this is
“a new age of opportunity for the whole country.”—[Official Report, 14 October 2019; Vol. 666, c. 19.]
As MPs, we should never lose sight of whom we serve, and this Queen’s Speech is about the people’s priorities. It is about the things that really matter to people in their everyday lives: more police; better schools; a stronger NHS; more support for those in need; and a United Kingdom that rewards hard work today, that protects the environment for tomorrow, that spreads opportunity right across our shores and that flies the flag for global free trade.
Instead of self-doubt we need self-belief in ourselves and in our abilities as a country to build the low-carbon, high-tech, business-backing United Kingdom we all want to see, spreading opportunity right across our shores. From our universities to our creative industries, from offshore wind to outer space, we have so much to shout about in this great country, and this Queen’s Speech will help us to do even more. From attracting the best minds in the world to exporting the best products to the world, we can make the United Kingdom the greatest place on earth. I commend this Queen’s Speech to the House.
Question put, That the amendment be made.
I do not need to tell the hon. Gentleman that conservatism, as a body of thought, has many virtues, and business has traditionally benefited from the Conservative party’s commitment to low taxation and a supportive business economy. If he casts an eye over the spending round, he will see an enormous array of investments designed to complement growth in business with growth in public services. It is that balance that makes for good government.
How many businesses would be affected if we left the EU without a deal—a deal that some Opposition Members seem to be opposing?
I must say, I am surprised to hear a man of my right hon. and learned Friend’s legal standing and status regard this as retrospective, because it plainly is not. [Hon. Members: “It is!”] There are many parts of tax policy that have to look back to the basis of an asset or a liability, and that has happened here. In this case, HMRC has taken quite vigorous action over the years, in different forms, to let people know. Of course, it is subject to the loan charge review; we will see what that concludes. However, I remind my right hon. and learned Friend that these people were in many cases paying very little or zero in tax. [Interruption.] Of course the circumstances can differ, but there are a large number of people who knew, or should have known, that they were avoiding tax, and doing so un—
4. What recent assessment he has made of the effect of his fiscal policies on living standards. 
Break in Debate
The Chancellor will know that one of the Government’s fiscal policies that is fundamentally wrong is the loan charge retrospective taxes on our constituents. Whether it is one death, no deaths or seven deaths, families are being destroyed because of the retrospective charge. Surely we should put a stop to it now.
Well, it is fiscal policy, Mr Speaker, in the interests of my right hon. Friend, and he is right to raise the matter. He will have heard the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, in answer to the previous question, point to the independent inquiry that is taking place, led by a gentleman who has considerable respect. We will await the outcome of that inquiry.
Break in Debate
Use of cash has reduced significantly faster than expected over the past 10 years. I am meeting UK Finance and LINK tomorrow to ensure that their mechanism is good for the current situation. The new initiative to which I referred in my previous response will give communities up and down the country the opportunity to engage with UK Finance on better and new solutions.
Is not the closure of ATMs linked to the decision by high street banks to close their branches left, right and centre? Will the Minister, in his regular meetings with the chief executives of high street banks, remind them that they do have some duty to elderly customers and small businesses?
Break in Debate
I welcome my right hon. Friend’s comments. She is absolutely right: the only way we get strong public services is with a strong economy, and the only way we get a strong economy is with a Conservative Government.
You are very kind, Mr Speaker. In his announcement this week, the Chancellor chose not to invest a single penny in the Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal, but will he at least end the Treasury’s 3% deficit tax on our local hospitals trust, which has cost £4 million from hospital spending in the past three years? That is money that should have been spent on a new radiotherapy centre for local cancer patients.
Break in Debate
The hon. Gentleman might call these fantasy figures, but this is the biggest increase in funding for 16 to 19-year-olds in a decade, and it has been hugely welcomed by the sector. It includes £212 million of targeted interventions, on the courses that are the most costly to deliver, such as engineering and construction. I would have thought he would have welcomed that.
20. The Chancellor will know that in Shropshire we have received a fraction of schools funding compared with inner-city metropolitan areas. This has a significant impact on the fabric of our school buildings and the opportunities for helping children with special educational needs. What steps is he taking to ensure that more money is provided for the Department for Education to support rural schools such as my local schools in Shropshire? 
Break in Debate
Responsibility for this issue falls between the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. A late-payment regulator has been set up. I talked about this issue with businesses at the Conservative party conference on Sunday; I take it very seriously and they highlighted it as an ongoing concern. It should come out loud and clear from the House that all businesses, particularly larger ones, have a responsibility to meet their payment terms, because that is crucial for small businesses. I think everyone in the House can unite around that common principle.
Is the Minister aware that one of the main difficulties facing small rural businesses is the non-availability of fast and reliable broadband? In the light of the announcement that the Chancellor made yesterday in Manchester, can we now assume that the days in which a geographically isolated business is also digitally isolated really are numbered?
Break in Debate
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He has been a great champion for the growth deal, which will unlock huge benefits for the people of Moray. We hope to settle the heads of terms this month to allow this whole project to move forward quickly.
21. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Local growth deals like Moray’s would greatly help regional development. The shared prosperity fund would greatly help with improvements to the Ebbw Vale to Cardiff train line, so will the Minister please meet me to consider that possibility? 
Break in Debate
I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend. I believe that it is his birthday today, so I wish him a happy birthday. I am happy meet him and his colleagues from Poole to discuss free ports. We believe that these should be opportunities for the entire country to take advantage of.
16. What assessment his Department has made of the effect of increases in income tax thresholds on income distribution in the last 10 years. 
Break in Debate
I can see that this is an important issue, and I will ensure that a meeting takes place with the appropriate Minister.
I am sure whatever cachet I had has now been completely ruined; thank you, Mr Speaker. There are reports that the Government are looking at bringing forward the date of the banning of diesel and petrol cars. Does the Chancellor share my concerns about the fiscal damage of lower new car sales, the lack of electric car infrastructure and the negligible impact that such a virtue-signalling move will have on emissions?
Break in Debate
Announcements on welfare will of course be for the Budget, but it is important to note that this Government have done the most important job in lifting people out of poverty, which is getting them into work. Today, a million fewer people are living in workless households as a result of the actions taken by this Government.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Government seem to be making pre-election spending pledges with all the velocity of a high-power water jet. I wonder whether the Chancellor will point it in the direction of Hammersmith bridge. It has been closed for several months, but even its repair plan would not enable it to take double-decker buses. Will he look at whether his bus pledge can extend to the capital required to enable it to be successful?
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. We cannot hear what is being said.
I will do my best, Mr Speaker. One would not want to be accused of being unduly meek in the circumstances.
We accept the market-based price of sterling and do not have a view on what level this should be. Were the Government to speculate on the value of sterling, it could hurt confidence in our macroeconomic framework. However, as the price of sterling fluctuates in the normal way, Her Majesty’s Treasury believes that investors should be entitled to hedge, including by short selling. The foreign exchange market is a global market, and it is essential that we work with other jurisdictions to ensure a consistent international approach to the oversight of these markets. That is why the UK has supported the work of the Bank for International Settlements to create a single global foreign exchange code, and work is ongoing to ensure that it embeds common standards of good practice in this area.
The United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union on 31 October, whatever the circumstances. We must respect the referendum result. We would prefer to leave with a deal, and we will work in an energetic and determined way to get that better deal done.
Break in Debate
The right hon. Gentleman makes a point that we have often debated in the House. We believe on the Government Benches in delivering on the referendum mandate, which was to trigger article 50 and leave the European Union. The operation of article 50 is clear—we leave with a deal if we can secure it, but without a deal if we cannot. The Government have invested billions of pounds in no-deal preparation. Much of that money has been invested subsequent to the November 2018 report, which did not touch on dynamic policy options open to the Government after we leave the European Union. I think in my own region, for example, of free ports. The modelling is not perfect, and does not encompass all the options that are open to us. None the less, as I say, the base case—the Government’s working assumption—is that we will leave the European Union with a deal.
That is what we are working towards. The crucial summit is only three weeks away, and it would help if the House got behind the Government’s efforts to try to secure a sensible deal, take us out and move the country forward. This is the umpteenth debate that we have had in the House on this issue. We go round in circles and do not make progress, because one side of the House refuses to contemplate any sensible way out of this impasse.
Thank you Mr Speaker, you are very kind. It is wonderful to see the Minister in his place, oozing calm and authority, in sharp contrast to the stoking of fears and division on the Opposition Benches. We have just heard about the risk to the economy, but the real risk to the economy is not Brexit nor yet a no-deal Brexit. The real risk is letting the shadow Chancellor anywhere near No. 11 or the Treasury.
Break in Debate
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. What has this got to do with the spending review?
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Let me reassure people of this: if we leave with no deal, we will be ready. Within my first few days as Chancellor, I provided £2.1 billion of extra funding for Brexit and no-deal preparedness, and today I can announce that we will provide a further £2 billion for Brexit delivery next year as well. That means more Border Force staff, better transport infrastructure at our ports and more support for business readiness. I have tasked the Treasury with preparing a comprehensive economic response to support the economy if needed, and will work closely with the independent Bank of England to co-ordinate fiscal and monetary policy.
Sensible economic policy means that we should plan for both outcomes, and we are doing so, but we should be careful not to let our focus on planning and preparedness distract us from the opportunities that lie ahead. Brexit will allow us to reshape the British economy and reaffirm our place as a world-leading economic power. We will have the opportunity to design smarter, more flexible regulation and to cut red tape that stifles innovation. We will be able to replace inefficient EU programmes with better, home-grown alternatives. Even if we leave with no deal, I am confident that we will be able to secure a deep, best-in-class free trade agreement with the EU and pursue a genuinely independent free trade policy with the rest of the world. Deal or no deal, I am confident that our best days lie ahead.
Although the immediate outcome of the talks is uncertain, there are some things that we can be certain about when it comes to the economy and our ability to set out what we can afford to spend. As we look towards our future outside the EU, we can build on some extraordinary economic strengths. At its heart, this country is an open, outward-looking trading nation. We are at our best when we look out to the world beyond our shores. That is not just a slogan. We are the No. 1 destination in Europe for inward investment. Our language, our location, our legal system and, most of all, our people make the UK a global hub for business. We are the home of world-class businesses. A stream of ideas and innovations flows from our brilliant universities and research institutes, making the UK second only to the United States in the all-time rankings of Nobel prize winners. We also have an economic landscape that has been watched over by long-standing, well respected institutions. All that will continue as we forge a new economic relationship with the EU.
But the vision of an open free-market enterprising economy is under threat, and if that threat transpires, it will have a direct impact on our spending power. It is under threat not from the people on the other side of the channel, but from the people on the other side of the Chamber. Let us be in no doubt about the biggest threat to the UK economy. The No. 1 concern raised by businesses and international investors is not the form of our exit from the EU; the real “Project Fear” is the agenda of the Labour party. If the Opposition had their way, whole sectors of the economy—
Mr Speaker, you will recall that when I first took my seat as the Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove, the economy was in a very difficult and different position. Since then we have had to work hard to restore the nation’s finances, and it is precisely because we have restored the nation’s finances that we can have the spending commitments that I am about to make today. I have to—if I may, Mr Speaker—set out the context of the situation then and how we got out of it, so that we can focus on how we can generate the spending power that we are able to deploy today.
Back then, our budget deficit was 10% of GDP. We borrowed £150 billion in Labour’s last year in office. It was the highest deficit in our peacetime history. We were borrowing £1 in every £4 that was spent. The Labour party lost control of the nation’s finances, as it always does, and it fell to the Conservatives to pick up the mess.
My two immediate predecessors took the difficult decisions that we needed to bring the deficit under control, allowing us to have the spending that I am setting out today. They did that not for ideological reasons, but because running an enormous deficit meant that our debt was rising at an unsustainable rate, making our economy vulnerable to shocks and passing on a huge burden to the next generation. The deficit is now 1.1% of GDP. For the first time in a generation, public sector debt is falling sustainably as a share of our national income, and we have boosted our credibility around the world and built confidence in the UK economy again. Labour left behind a bankrupt Britain, and we have fixed it.
Thanks to those difficult decisions and the hard work of the British people, we can now afford to turn the page on austerity and move forward from a decade of recovery to a decade of renewal. Our careful management of the public finances means that we can now afford to spend more on vital public services, so today I am deciding to set the real increase in day-to-day spending next year at £13.8 billion, delivering on the people’s priorities across the NHS, education and police, and giving certainty to all Departments about their budgets for next year—clearing the decks for a Government who are delivering Brexit.
I have always believed in the importance of living within our means, and—unlike the Labour party—I will not squander the hard work of the last nine years, so even with the extra spending, we are still meeting the current fiscal rules. While the biggest challenge a decade ago was getting the deficit down, our biggest challenge today is getting our long-term economic growth back to where it was before Labour’s great recession. If we can do that, we can ensure that there can be future spending increases that can also be sustainable, boosting wages and raising living standards, which have stagnated for too long, levelling up across the regions and nations.
We need to improve our productivity—the amount that is produced every hour worked. That is not just a technical term. Slower productivity means lower wages and uneven growth across the country. If productivity had continued to grow at its pre-crisis levels, then average annual wages would be £5,000 higher. That pressure on people’s pay packets speaks to a wider sense of disillusion and unfairness, especially in so many towns and cities outside London and the south-east. Even as the economy has grown, and people have worked hard, not everyone feels they have benefited. There is a real sense of anxiety that has emerged over the years: a sense that politicians are not listening and that the system is not working; that the free market model is not living up to its promise. We are seeing divisions emerge throughout society between regions and communities, rich and poor, rural and urban, young and old. Addressing those concerns will be a serious effort, and that is what will be shown in these spending plans today. We will develop a new economic plan for the years ahead—a plan that moves beyond the last decade of economic recovery and looks forward to a decade of renewal; a plan that invests more in the future growth of this country.
We can afford to invest more because our economy is growing and our public finances are strong. We are also deciding on our fiscal approach at a time when the cost of Government borrowing is at record lows. Interest rates have been low for many years, and in recent weeks the cost of Government borrowing has fallen below 1% across all maturities. In the years after the financial crisis, many expected interest rates to swiftly rise to pre-crisis levels, but structural factors have kept interest rates low, not just in the UK but across the developed world, increasing our confidence that we will be able to continue to see low rates for a number of years. So it is my judgment today that with a strong fiscal position and record low cost of borrowing, we can invest more in our growing economy.
That does not mean that we can borrow more for ever and ever. The sustainability of our public finances depends on wider factors, not just the cost of borrowing: our population is ageing; the global economy is slowing; the challenge of decarbonisation is real. So we will not be writing blank cheques, unlike Labour. We will not be able to afford everything, and we will need to prioritise investment in policies that deliver real productivity gains and boost economic growth in the long term. We will still need to make difficult choices about our national priorities, within a clear set of rules, to anchor our fiscal policy and keep control of our national debt. So today I can announce that ahead of the Budget later this year I will review our fiscal framework to ensure that it meets the economic priorities of today, not of a decade ago.
The first priority of our new economic plan will be to rebuild our national infrastructure. High-quality and reliable infrastructure is essential to how we live, work and travel, but the truth is that across many decades Governments of all colours have underinvested in infrastructure. The quality of our infrastructure means that we have fallen behind our competitors. We are the fifth largest economy in the world. It is not good enough that we are so far behind on infrastructure. It is not good enough that so many commuters spend their morning staring at a “Delayed” sign at their train platform. It is not good enough that our small business owners waste so much time because of slow internet speeds and poor mobile communications. We are going to change that. We want faster broadband for everyone in the country, quicker mobile connections and better signal coverage, cleaner energy, greener transport, and more affordable fuel bills for our homes and offices. We want more trains and buses to connect the great cities of the north. We want to build world-class schools and hospitals. We want to push the frontiers of science and technology and turbocharge our ambition on research and development. We want to build and invest in every region and every nation of this great United Kingdom. From the motor highway to the information highway, we will settle for nothing less than an infrastructure revolution.
To keep spending under control, we will of course set a high bar for funding projects. They will have to show real value for money with credible delivery plans and budgets, starting with the Government’s rapid review of HS2. We will target that investment at national priorities like regional growth and decarbonisation. Let me take this opportunity to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford) for her tireless work as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on infrastructure. So yes, we will use the Government’s resources to kickstart the infrastructure revolution, but we will also do more to give private investors the confidence to back these projects too. We want all this to be underpinned by strong, independent institutions. We set up the National Infrastructure Commission in 2015, and we will continue to rely on its expert advice as we look carefully at other institutional reforms that might be needed. So our infrastructure revolution will be strategic and carefully planned.
Speaking of revolutionaries, let us contrast that with Labour’s approach. I will invest in new infrastructure that will grow the economy, and Labour will borrow hundreds of millions to renationalise unproductive assets and then run them into the ground. The choice for the country is clear, between a wasteful ideological Opposition with outdated ideas and a Government who will kick start a decade of renewal for this country.
Today we lay the foundations of a new economic plan. We are turning the page on a decade of necessary work to fix the public finances and writing a new chapter in our public services. Health and Education are not just the names of Departments; they are lifelines of opportunities, just as they were for me when I was growing up: the teachers and lecturers who persuaded me to study economics in the first place—[Interruption.]
Health and education are lifelines of opportunities, just as they were for me when I was growing up: the teachers and lecturers who persuaded me to study economics in the first place; the police officers who kept us safe when the street I grew up in became a centre for drug dealers; the NHS that cared for my dad in his final days. These are not just numbers on a spreadsheet; these are the beating heart of our country, and we invest to support them today.
As I turn to the details of today’s announcement—[Hon. Members: “Hooray!”] Wait—it is coming. Let me first thank the dedicated officials in the Treasury for all their hard work delivering what I am told is the fastest SR in history. Let me particularly thank the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Rishi Sunak), who takes the approach to spending you would expect from an adopted Yorkshireman. He has displayed his typical mix of energy, courtesy and rigour. Let me just say that there is no productivity problem in the Chief Secretary’s office.
Next year, I will add £13.4 billion to the plans for total public spending, including £1.7 billion pounds added to capital spending. These extra funds take the real increase in day-to-day spending to £13.8 billion pounds, or 4.1%. That means I am delivering the fastest increase in day-to-day spending for 15 years. That funding allows us to start a new chapter for our public services and to fund the people’s priorities. Our decisions today have been guided by our ambition to build a safer Britain, a healthier Britain, a better educated Britain and a more global Britain.
My family grew up on a road in Bristol that a national newspaper described back then as Britain’s most dangerous street, but to us it was just home. After we left, my brother became a policeman and has been in the force for over 25 years. I have seen the impact the job has on the lives of those who are courageous enough to do it. So today I pay tribute to the bravery, courage and dedication of our hard-working police officers. As Home Secretary, I saw first-hand how the demands on our police forces are changing and increasing. Yes, traditional crime is down by a third since 2010, but the threats from terrorism have escalated and evolved. The internet is changing how criminals operate and break the law, and we have seen too many horrifying stabbings on Britain’s streets. With our frontline officers reporting that they are overstretched, it is clearly time to act and do more.
Today I can announce a 6.3% real-terms increase in Home Office spending—the biggest increase in 15 years. That means £750 million to fund the first year of our plan to recruit 20,000 new police officers, with an extra £45 million this year, so that recruitment can start immediately, getting the first 2,000 officers in place by the end of March. Let me thank my hon. Friend the Member for South West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous), my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) and my hon. Friends the Members for Isle of Wight (Mr Seely), for Nuneaton (Mr Jones) and for Telford (Lucy Allan) for championing the police and police resourcing,
The threats facing our police officers are evolving too, so the way we resource them will have to evolve in three areas. First, serious and organised crime is the most deadly national threat faced by the UK, costing the nation at least £37 billion a year. The scale and complexity of this threat means that we need to do more to develop our response, so I am announcing today a formal review to identify the powers, capabilities, governance and funding needed ahead of a full spending review next year.
Secondly, this year sadly has seen more attacks on places of worship, including mosques and synagogues. That is unacceptable in a diverse, open, tolerant society like ours. To protect our religious and minority communities, I am announcing today that I will double the places of worship fund next year. I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Hendon (Dr Offord) and for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer) for their tireless work in combating hate crime. I am also today announcing £30 million of new funding to tackle the scourge of online child sexual exploitation.
A better resourced police force will deliver better outcomes for the British people, and it will increase the demands on our already overstretched criminal justice system. So today we invest more in our criminal justice system to manage that increasing demand, with a 5% real-terms increase in the resource budget for the Ministry of Justice, an increase in its capital budget to £620 million next year and an extra £80 million for the Crown Prosecution Service. Taken together, today’s spending round will dramatically improve the functioning of the criminal justice system, with more prosecutors, a reformed probation system, better security in prisons and funding to begin delivery of 10,000 new prison places.
The spending round is delivering on the people’s priorities, and there is no higher priority than the NHS. Last year, we increased NHS spending by an extra £34 billion a year by 2023-24. That was the single largest cash increase in our public services for more than 70 years. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to the NHS with a £6.2 billion increase in NHS funding next year. We are investing more in training and professional development for our doctors and nurses, and over £2 billion of new capital funding, starting with an upgrade of 20 hospitals this year, and £250 million for groundbreaking new artificial intelligence technologies to help solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges today, such as easier cancer detection, discovering new treatments and relieving the workload on doctors and nurses.
We cannot have an effective health system without an effective social care system too. The Prime Minister has committed to a clear plan to fix social care and give every older person the dignity and security that they deserve. I can announce today that councils will have access to new funding of £1.5 billion for social care next year. Alongside the largest increase in local government spending power since 2010, and on top of the existing £2.5 billion of social care grants, that is a solid foundation to protect the stability of the system next year and a down payment on the more fundamental reforms that the Prime Minister will set out in due course.
But that is not the only action I am taking today to support vulnerable people. On any given night, there are too many people sleeping rough on our streets. The human cost is too high. Today we do more, with £54 million of new funding to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping, taking total funding to £422 million next year. That is a real-terms increase of 13%. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) for his tireless work in fighting homelessness.
A healthy environment is a precondition for a healthy population, and that is why we have set out an ambitious 25-year plan for the UK’s natural environment. Today we go further. Leaving the EU provides an opportunity to set world-leading environmental standards, and we are giving the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs £432 million of funding to do so. We are providing £30 million of new money to tackle the crisis in our air quality and another £30 million for biodiversity, including the expansion of our Blue Belt programme—a vital part of our campaign to protect precious marine species such as turtles, whales and seabirds. We are stepping up our leadership on climate change, with new funding for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to develop new programmes to help meet our net zero commitment by 2050, and we will set out further details of our plans for decarbonisation in the infrastructure strategy later this year, keeping our promise to be the first Government in history to leave our environment in a better condition than we found it.
Alongside providing for the health of our population, the most important task of a Government is to educate the next generation. Education and skills are at the heart of our vision for national renewal. The economy is not just about GDP or PSNB—there are many broader tests that matter too. Are children growing up to be better off than their parents? Do hard work and talent matter more than where you are born? A good school and inspirational teachers are the most effective engine for social mobility. That is why today we are delivering on our pledge to increase school spending by £7.1 billion by 2022-23, compared with this year.
Next year, we will make sure that day-to-day funding for every school can rise at least in line with inflation and rising pupil numbers, with the schools that have been historically underfunded benefiting the most. Every secondary school will be allocated a minimum of £5,000 for every pupil next year, and every primary school will be allocated at least £3,750 per pupil, on track to reach £4,000 per pupil the following year. This funding will mean that teachers’ starting salaries can rise to £30,000 by 2022-23, so that we can attract more of the best graduates into teaching. We have allocated nearly £1.5 billion per year to contribute to teachers’ pensions, and we are providing over £700 million to give more support to children and young people with special educational needs—an 11% increase compared with last year.
Nearly every other Department I am announcing today will be funded for just one year, but we recognise the importance of schools being able to plan, so we are announcing today a full three-year resource settlement for schools, levelling up education, improving standards and giving every young person the same opportunities in life wherever they live in our great country. Let me particularly thank my hon. Friends the Members for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman), for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) and for St Albans (Mrs Main) for championing schools.
The education system is about more than just schools. For too long, further education has been a forgotten sector. Over 1 million young people continue their education beyond the age of 16 at colleges or sixth-forms—and I know because I was one of them. I went to my local FE college. If I had not had the teachers and the lecturers that I did, I would not be standing here today as Chancellor. Further education transformed my life, and today we start transforming further education, with a £400 million increase in 16-to-19 education funding next year. The base rate will increase to £4,188, a faster rate of growth than in core school funding. Let me congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) and my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Neil O’Brien) on their representations on further education.
The Government will also increase early years spending by £66 million to increase the hourly rate that is being paid at maintained nursery schools and other childcare providers that deliver the Government’s free childcare offer. I want to thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) for raising this issue with me.
Our young people deserve high-quality services and support even after the school day is over. Earlier this year, following a recommendation from my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith), I visited the fantastic OnSide youth zone in Barking. It was a brilliant example of how much Britain’s network of youth centres adds to their local communities, getting young people off the streets and changing lives for the better. Today, I am asking the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to develop proposals for a new youth investment fund, and to set out plans to build more youth centres, refurbish existing centres and deliver high-quality services to young people across the country.
Better schools, higher pay for teachers, more youth centres—that is how this Government will improve social justice and create opportunity for all, but our ambitions for a truly national renewal do not stop there. We are a one nation party and this is a one nation Government, so at the heart of our new economic plan is the need to level up across this country. Every region and nation in the United Kingdom will benefit from the new funding I am providing today for the police, schools, health and social care, and much more. Today, we confirm funding of £3.6 billion for the new towns fund, providing a wave of investment to our regions and places, and better transport links across the country will be a crucial part of levelling up across the nation. We have already allocated a total of £13 billion for better transport across the north. We will fund the Manchester to Leeds route of Northern Powerhouse Rail, and we will set out more details—far more details—in the autumn on our new infrastructure strategy.
Mr Speaker, you may not know this, but my dad was a bus driver. Having watched him work, I know that local buses can be a lifeline for many communities. Today, we put the wheels back on the great British bus, with more than £200 million to transform bus services across the country. We are funding ultra low emissions buses, and we will trial new on-demand services to respond to passenger needs in real time. We will set out more details of our new buses in due course—once my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has finished painting models of them.
Our new economic plan will not stop at the borders of England; it will be a plan for all the nations of the United Kingdom. In Scotland, decisions taken in today’s spending round will provide over £1.2 billion of extra funding for next year. We are taking a further step today to support Scottish farmers. In 2013, when the UK Government allocated common agricultural policy funding within the UK, Scottish farmers lost out. Today, we correct that decision, making available an extra £160 million for Scottish farmers—something I know my hon. Friends from Scotland on the Conservative Benches will be pleased to hear. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank my friend Ruth Davidson for everything she has done for that great nation.
In Wales, today’s spending round means an extra £600 million of funding for the Welsh Government. In Northern Ireland, we are providing an extra £400 million from today’s announcements. I welcome the case that has been made by the DUP for improved hospice care and for support for those who have been tragically wronged in the contaminated blood scandal. Those are rightly devolved matters, but I sincerely hope that the Northern Ireland Administration will use some of the new funding that we are providing today to address those issues. Taken together, today’s announcements will give the devolved Administrations the biggest spending settlement for a decade.
Throughout our history, Britain has always been at its best when we are open, global and outward looking. Trading with the world beyond our shores has always been key to Britain’s economic prosperity. As we seize the opportunities of Brexit, we can establish new partnerships and trade relationships across the globe. For too long, we have let those trading relationships wither. As my right hon. Friend the International Trade Secretary would be the first to acknowledge, this is a disgrace. Today, we invest in securing Britain’s influence in the world. We support diplomacy, with £90 million of funding for 1,000 new diplomats and overseas staff, and 14 new and upgraded diplomatic posts. We will boost trade with £60 million to extend the GREAT campaign for next year.
If hon. Members are in any doubt about Britain’s important role on the world stage, they should just look at the bonanza of international festivals and events that I am funding today. In December, we will welcome the NATO leaders meeting. Next year, we will host the COP 26 discussions, if our bid is successful, thanks to the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Claire Perry). In 2021, we will host the G7, and in 2022, we will host the Commonwealth games in Birmingham. Today, I can confirm the Government’s total commitment to this celebration of sport will be over half a billion pounds. The games will be a huge boost for the west midlands, and I would like to congratulate Andy Street on the leadership he has shown in that region.
One of my personal highlights of the summer was meeting the England cricket team in the Downing Street gardens. That world cup winning side showed us the importance not just of talent and hard work, but of diversity—a skipper from Ireland, a bowler from Barbados and an all-rounder from New Zealand. As with our cricket team, so with our country: we are the most successful multi-ethnic democracy in the world. I am proud to live in a country where someone with my background can be Chancellor of the Exchequer. This spending round embraces modern Britain in all its diversity. We make available today an additional £10 million to continue the integration areas programme that I first announced in 2018 as Communities Secretary. That fund will continue to support thousands of the estimated 1 million adults in the UK who do not speak English well or at all.
Openness to talent from around the world matters for our economy, too. Once we have left the EU, we will be able to create a points-based immigration system that meets the needs of the UK economy and the British people. We have already dropped arbitrary immigration targets. We have recently announced a new, highly flexible fast-track visa for scientists. Today, I am putting funding in place to give victims of the Windrush scandal the compensation that they deserve. This is all part of confirming, once and for all, that Britain will always be open to the world’s brightest and best talent.
Nowhere are our values of openness and tolerance better expressed than in international aid. The UK aid logo can be seen around the world—on health clinics, school books, emergency food suppliers. Today, we protect our commitment to spending 0.7% of our national income on aid.
Global Britain is about projecting our values into the world, but we know that hard power matters, too. Britain already spends more on our defence and national security than any other country in Europe. We are one of only seven countries to meet the 2% commitment to NATO. Today, we go further still, with an additional £2.2 billion of funding for the Ministry of Defence—a real-terms increase of 2.6% for the budget next year—increasing again the share of our national income we spend on defence and national security.
This year is the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings. We pay tribute to the sacrifices of the extraordinary generation of British soldiers who fought and died during that campaign. Today, I can announce £7 million of funding for the Normandy Memorial Trust to complete its memorial overlooking Gold beach, where so many troops came ashore. We will also support the veterans of today’s wars, as we confirm the funding today for the new Office for Veterans’ Affairs. I congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer) on his tireless work in championing veterans.
I have set out today a big increase in public spending that will pay for more police and safer prisons, more nurses and better hospitals, and more money for schools and further education. I now turn to the remaining Departments across Whitehall, those that have not been protected over the last decade. Investing in the people’s priorities inevitably means difficult decisions elsewhere. Every spending review presented to this House over the past 15 years has had to find cuts from those Departments. This party has never shied away from taking the difficult decisions to make sure that we live within our means. Those decisions were tough, but they have paid off, so I can announce today that no Department will be cut next year. Every single Department has had its budget for day-to-day spending increased at least in line with inflation. That is what I mean by the end of austerity: Britain’s hard work paying off, and our country living within its means and able to spend more on the things that matter.
I am delivering today’s spending round in unusual circumstances. Understandably, much of our attention and the attention of the country is focused on the important matters before the House later today, but we must not forget that Brexit is not all that matters to the British people; it is not the only topic at the dinner table. Today’s spending round ensures that if you fall ill, you can get the care and support that you need; that when you drop off your child at the school gates, you can trust that they will get the best possible education; and that when you walk down the street, you can feel safe and secure. Today, we move from a decade of recovery to a decade of renewal. Yes, we will keep control of the public finances, but we will invest, too, in the long-term growth of this country.
It was just six weeks ago today that this new Administration took office. The Prime Minister promised that we would not wait until Brexit day to deliver on the people’s priorities, and today we meet that promise with a new chapter for our public services, a new plan for our economy and a new beginning for this country. I commend this statement to the House.
Break in Debate
Mr Speaker, I believe that the right hon. Member for Uxbridge is shouting at me. The last time he was shouting at someone, they had to call the police. I do not think we need to go as far as that. Mr Cummings, who had the member of staff escorted—[Interruption.]. You might need to call the police.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The member of staff was escorted off the premises by an armed police officer. Can I just say that that is no way to treat a member of staff? I ask the Chancellor to tell Mr Cummings, on the spending review: do not insult the intelligence of the British people. The people will see today’s statement as the grubby electioneering that it is.
This is not a spending review as we know it. This is straight out of the Lynton Crosby handbook of opinion-poll politics. The Tories have checked what the top three or four issues in the polls are and they have cynically judged how little money they have to throw around to try to neutralise those issues and the concerns of people. To come here and try to fool us with references to people’s priorities is beyond irony.
When did this extremist, right-wing Tory group ever put the people first—ever? Were they putting the people first when they froze child benefit year after year or when they introduced universal credit, a brutal regime? The result this summer, according to the Childhood Trust, was children scavenging for food in bins because they did not have free school meals in the summer holidays. Were they putting people first when they cut council budgets, and prevented 1 million elderly and disabled people from getting the social care they needed? Were they putting people first when they cut social services budgets so much that we now have record numbers of children coming into care and 155 women a day turned away from refuges?
We are expected to believe that these Tories, who for years have voted for harsh, brutal austerity, have had some form of damascene conversion. I tell you, they treat our people with contempt. Announcements have been dripped out over the last week or so, all designed to give the impression of a spending spree—announcements dictated by No. 10 and meekly accepted by a Chancellor too weak to conduct a full multi-year spending review as he should, even before the Government’s majority disappeared yesterday.
We have seen the so-called headroom, which the Chancellor’s predecessor had claimed was needed to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, spent instead on preparing for a general election. We all know that the Chancellor may not be in his job very long and maybe that is why he felt he needed to rush a spending round based on figures from March, rather than wait for the Office for Budget Responsibility to tell him officially what the rest of us have known for some time: that the economy, after nine years of Tory austerity, is in bad shape and, yes, is getting worse, stagnating.
A full fiscal event would have meant new economic forecasts and the need for a fiscal framework to give Departments security over the Parliament, allowing them to plan ahead after years of cuts. Instead we get this sham of a spending review. The Tories are claiming to be against austerity after years of voting for it. They are claiming to be using headroom, which the Chancellor knows has largely disappeared, yet they are still failing to deliver a real end to austerity.
Let us take a look at some of the announcements that the Chancellor has confirmed today. For schools, the Chancellor announced new spending of £1.8 billion next year. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has previously estimated that it would cost £3.8 billion this year alone to reverse the cuts that have been made. Was the Chancellor aware, when drawing up his spending plans, that the Department for Education budget as a whole has been slashed by almost £10 billion in real terms since 2010? The reality is this, is it not: heads will still be sending out begging letters and teachers will still be buying basic materials for their classes?
The Government have some front to mention childcare after hundreds of Sure Start centres closed on their watch, undermining the start in life for our children. They mention that £700 million was announced for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Does the Chancellor know that the Local Government Association found that councils already face a funding shortfall for SEN children of £1.2 billion by 2021? The reality is that these children will still be left vulnerable and in need, with their futures in jeopardy. That is what it means today.
Further education colleges are getting a one-off £400 million. Does the Chancellor really think that they should be grateful when he has cut £3.3 billion from them since 2010? The reality is that the economy will continue to desperately need skills and training, and our young people will still be denied them.
On the NHS, the announcement of £1.8 billion spending for the NHS has already been exposed as largely a reannouncement of existing money. There is no mention, is there, of the £6 billion backlog in the maintenance we need in our hospitals? Our hospitals are still using buckets to catch water coming through leaking roofs. Operating theatres are closed because of the lack of maintenance over the past nine years of austerity. The Government mention GP waiting times. Any announcement on GP waiting times is likely to turn out to be totally undeliverable. Why? Because we have just lost 600 full-time equivalent GPs over the past year. They are just not there because of nine years of lack of investment.
On local government, any new money for local government today will be a drop in the ocean compared with the 60% funding cuts that councils have suffered in recent years. What effect does the Chancellor estimate his announcement today will have, for example, on the crisis in children’s services that we have highlighted at every spending review and budget over the past two years? There has been a 29% drop in Government funding after eight years and as a result vulnerable children are left at risk.
On homelessness, the Chancellor mentioned £54 million of additional spending to tackle homelessness. There has been a 160% increase in people sleeping rough. In the past two years, people have died near the doors of Parliament. The LGA says that there is a £100 million spending gap just to get by. The most vulnerable in our society have been put at risk as a result of the Government’s austerity over nine years, and he expects us to celebrate an inadequate attempt to plaster over the problems we have.
On bus services, the Chancellor mentions £200 million allocated to them. That is a third of the £645 million that has been cut from bus services since 2010.
The Government seem to forget that they cut 20,000 police officers. The Chancellor expects us to celebrate what he has announced today, when we now know that at best there will be only 13,000 on the streets. Can he tell us how many will be frontline? We will support him in the investment to protect religious establishments and communities, and we will support him in tackling the problem of protecting young children from online abuse—of course we will—but the real protection comes from the safer neighbourhood teams that we constructed under Labour and that we had in every one of our wards, with a sergeant, police officers and police support officers, all of whom have been wiped out. [Interruption.] An hon. Member shouts, “Not true.” He needs to go out into the community and talk about the increase in violent crime in our communities as a result of what has happened.
The Chancellor spoke of money to create another 10,000 prison places. Can he just tell us: are they the same 10,000 prison places promised by previous Justice Secretaries in 2016, 2017 and yet again in 2018? Can he answer how many suicides and how many assaults on staff have taken place because of the Government’s cuts to prison staff over the past nine years? Will he, or someone in the Government, ever apologise to the Prison Officers Association for ignoring its warnings about the effect of staff cuts on safety in our prisons?
Those are just some of the announcements we heard today, but there are many that we have heard very little about. What about those who have been effectively forgotten in the Chancellor’s opportunist, one-year spending round? What about real structural reform to address the social care crisis, which we have been waiting for, for how many years—three, four? All we have now is a sticking plaster of £1 billion, which will leave this sector in the same sorry state as it is in now. What does that mean in real terms? It means 1.4 million people not getting the care they need and 87 people a day dying before they get the social care they need to support them.
I understand that the Chancellor’s mates, the bankers, were pushing the other day for more tax cuts and less regulation. I suppose they think they have a soft touch in No. 10 and No. 11. I hope he sent them packing. When we compare how much has been cut from the basic social services that we and vulnerable people need for support, with what is calculated to be, by the end of the next couple of years, £110 billion given out in tax cuts to corporations, we can see why people do not believe the Government have any concept of social justice or equality. Does the Chancellor have any words for the thousands suffering—[Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) said, “Pathetic.” I’ll tell you what develops real pathos. Many of us in our constituency surgeries are having to deal with people who are dependent on universal credit. Yet the Chancellor did not have any words for the thousands who are suffering from the brutal roll-out of universal credit—the people we represent who are now queueing up at food banks as a result of the cuts. Traditionally, the spending review concentrates on departmental expenditure limits, rather than social security. I appreciate that. But there was no reason why the Chancellor could not have signalled the Government’s intent at least to end the misery and hardship that their policy is causing and to end the roll-out of universal credit as it now is.
Most shockingly, the Chancellor has given no sign that he understands the scale of the climate emergency facing us and the urgency of the significant Government response that is needed. He mentions the climate but allocates minuscule amounts of funding to address an existential threat to our society. I hope that in the next few weeks Members will remember those who got no comfort from today’s announcements, if the Government push ahead with their plans for tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy, as is widely rumoured. I hope that Members will remember all those individuals and services that were deemed too unimportant by the Chancellor to address today. I tell him that whenever that election comes—in any election campaign—he can be sure that the Labour party will remind those people and the voters what nine years of austerity have done to them, and of today’s failure to act. The opportunity was there today really to end austerity—to start reversing austerity—and to give people some hope. What a missed opportunity.
We remember when we were told that there was no alternative, and that there was no money. We all know the lines—we have heard them enough times. They were not true then and they are not true now. The majority of economists have always agreed that there was another approach that the Government could have taken, rather than austerity, and we always argued—and we were right—that austerity was a political choice, not an economic necessity. As recently as March, the Conservatives ploughed on, saying that there was no alternative. Look at them now suddenly proclaiming an end to austerity—after 125,000 excess deaths as a result, after £100 billion has been taken out of the economy, and after the worst decade for wage growth since the 19th century—just because there may be an election around the corner. After all that, to deliver a pathetic sum to spending Departments, who are on their knees at the moment, is just adding insult to injury.
This is a Government that is not just callous and uncaring, but hypocritical as well. This is not a Government—it is a racket. They pretend to end austerity when they do nothing of the sort. They pretend to plan ahead while they plot a no-deal Brexit that would devastate parts of our economy. They are a Chancellor and a Prime Minister, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) said yesterday, with no mandate, no morals and no majority. They are trying to distract us from the crumbling public services and stagnating wages that they have created after a decade in charge. It is almost as if they forget they have been in government for nine years. They seek to fool the British public with fantasy promises of a Brexit deal that they knew they could not deliver and they were not even trying to negotiate. This short-lived Government will go down in history for its unique combination of right-wing extremism and bumbling incompetence. This is a Government that betrays the people it is meant to serve—a Government that will never be forgiven, but will soon be forgotten.
At least the shadow Chancellor did not try to throw a little red book at me this time. He attacks the decisions that were made over the last decade to restore the nation’s finances. He attacks the same free enterprise system that has delivered the prosperity that our nation enjoys. He refuses to understand that a strong economy is absolutely necessary to pay for public services.
Why have we made these decisions over the last decade that get us to where we are now, where we can properly end austerity for good? Labour trashed the economy the last time it was in power, like it always does. The shadow Chancellor talked about cuts that were made to public services over the last decade. Let us just remember what we inherited—the absolute mess that we inherited—in 2010: a deficit that was 10% of GDP, with £150 billion in borrowing in that year. It was the biggest budget deficit in our peacetime history and the biggest budget deficit of any large industrialised nation. Labour was borrowing £5,000 a second. There was the deepest recession that we had seen in almost 100 years. The shadow Chancellor talked about the bankers. Which Government gave us the biggest banking bailout in global history? It was the last Labour Government. That was our inheritance.
It was absolutely clear that had that unsustainable rate of spending continued, with no link between what was coming in and what was going out, the country would have gone bankrupt, just like it did with Labour in the past, when we had to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund. That is the legacy of every Labour Government. It took Conservatives to clear up Labour’s mess, bringing the deficit under control, bringing debt under control—having it falling for the first time in a generation in terms of the proportion of national income—reducing taxes for 40 million people and backing millions of businesses. And we have had a jobs miracle, with more people employed today in Britain than at any other time in our history and the lowest unemployment rate since 1975.
The shadow Chancellor talked about the impact of our policies on economic growth. Let me tell him about the impact on economic growth: since 2010, since the Conservatives were back in office, our economy has grown by 18.7%—faster than the economies of France, Italy and Japan. I will tell him about the risk to the economy—the only risk to the economy is from the shadow Chancellor, his policies and the entire Labour party. They have a tax hike for everyone. They have a tax hike if you happen to own a garden, if you want to give a gift to someone, if you want to go on holiday, if you own a home—whoever you are, they have a tax hike for you. They want to raid private pensions. Just this week, we learned more about their plans. They want to confiscate 10% of almost all our large companies. That is £300 billion that they want to confiscate from pensioners’ private plans. They also want to renationalise industries—is it seven, eight or nine? I do not know how many industries they want to renationalise—
I have to say, Mr Speaker, I did not detect many questions, so I will finish very quickly to give an opportunity for Members to ask proper questions.
The simple truth is that Labour is unfit to govern. It would not deliver Brexit. It would wreck our economy over again. Hard-working families will pay the price and we will not let it happen.
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The hon. Lady complains about the settlement with respect to Scotland. I remind her that, under the Barnett block grant, Scotland will see an increase of £1.2 billion in its spending power next year. On top of that, it will receive an additional £160 million for Scottish farmers, thanks to the representations of Scottish Tory MPs, who seem to actually care about Scottish farmers. Despite that, she complains.
The hon. Lady talked about uncertainty. I would have thought, therefore, that she would have welcomed today’s statement. I think she referred to it as a Budget. First, there is a spending round, which is focused only on spending, not taxes or capital investment, and designed to give certainty to all Departments across Government on funding for the next year. Without it, they would not have that certainty. She claimed that Brexit uncertainty was damaging the economy. Need I remind her that, since the referendum, we have had record growth in British businesses, record growth in jobs—almost 1,000 new jobs created a day, with more people employed today than ever before—and record inward investment? If she wants to end uncertainty, she should support this spending round and make sure we leave the EU on 31 October.
Wokingham and West Berkshire Councils need money for social care and schools. The current funding is not adequate. I am grateful to the Chancellor. This is very welcome. Does he agree that, at a time of world slowdown, led by a manufacturing recession in several leading countries, a boost to the economy is much needed here and that this is part of that boost?
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Yes, I can absolutely give my hon. Friend that guarantee. I should also like to congratulate her on the excellent work that she has done locally to bring this issue to the attention of the Treasury, especially in relation to infrastructure investment in the north. She has done a fantastic job, and I would be happy to meet her and listen to her ideas, especially on infrastructure.
Before the House adjourns for the summer recess, there are a number of points I wish to make. It is really good to see so many colleagues recognising that this is such a valuable debate.
The all-party parliamentary fire safety and rescue group will not shut up until sprinklers are installed in all high-rise buildings and the cladding issue is dealt with following the disaster at Grenfell, just as I will not shut up about city status until it is awarded to Southend-on-Sea. I am glad that the new Prime Minister has said we are going to get it.
Two of my constituents, Stephen and Rosalind Clifton, have paid full contributions for 47 years and, extraordinarily, now find that they do not qualify for a full state pension, so I want an answer from the Treasury Bench on that.
Recently, Mrs Margaret Tothill came to my surgery and told me that in January this year, her granddaughter, Maisie, died in her sleep from a sudden epileptic seizure at the age of 22. The condition is called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy or SUDEP. The charity SUDEP Action has been helping the family with their loss and is calling on the Government to do more to prevent such incidents. Specifically, it is calling for a Government inquiry into avoidable epilepsy deaths and a funded annual risk check for people with epilepsy.
I am very concerned about the number of constituents whose visit visas are being turned down. There does not seem to be any fairness in this. An Australian constituent of mine signed up to an organisation called Sopra Steria and paid £2,400 to try to get a visa. It was a complete mess and now they find they have lost their money and they are having to pay for access again.
Carl Beech—I mean, for goodness’ sake! Harvey Proctor was my neighbour when I was Member of Parliament for Basildon. Leon Brittan died with his name being trashed, and there is Lord Bramall. The way the courts dealt with this matter just is not good enough. People can never restore their reputations, but there should be some compensation. My former colleague, Harvey Proctor, has lost everything, including his home and any future employment.
I recently had a meeting with the Schools Minister—I hope that he is still the Schools Minister—together with my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge) , regarding primary and secondary school funding in our area. We are losing out to London’s schools. Darlinghurst Academy has recently had a wonderful Ofsted report, and I congratulate Emma Nicholls, the executive head, and Mrs Beverley Williams, on all that they have achieved.
I was once a paid advocate for the Caravan Club, although I am not any more. It has advised me that two motor homes that are identical in almost every way can be charged either £265 or £2,135 in vehicle excise duty. This really needs to be looked at by the Treasury, and these vehicles should be classified as commercial vehicles. Recently, I parked my car on a meter but did not have my mobile phone—
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The hon. Gentleman is making a really important point. Is he aware that many manufacturers around the country, including Forge Europa in Ulverston, which makes lights for many motor homes, are deeply concerned by this proposed tax change?
You are too generous, Mr Speaker. I did not want to deprive other colleagues of their time, but I thank the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock) for making that point.
Prost8 tells us that 12,000 chaps lose their lives as a result of prostate cancer every year. I congratulate Paul Sayer, a local constituent, on his work on this. We had a reception in the Jubilee Room that was attended by colleagues, and a new non-invasive treatment is now available.
Last weekend, I was in Albania supporting the National Council of Resistance in Iran and visiting the home of Mother Teresa, but I could not see a statute of Norman Wisdom. We really need to do more to support those people, and it was great to visit Ashraf-3 camp.
On ending the debt trap, I absolutely support The Sun newspaper’s “Stop the credit rip-off” campaign. So many of our constituents are being tempted to get even further into debt, which is not satisfactory.
All colleagues apparently love Southend airport, but the residents of Wells Avenue are not too keen on the huge jets that are now are pouring fumes into their back gardens. I am meeting them on Friday, when I hope we can deal with that matter.
I recently attended the Tamil sports day. They are wonderful people, but there is still concern about the people lost in Jaffna, and we need some reconciliation there.
The Smart Energy Partnership showcase is doing its best to help blind and partially sighted people to switch suppliers.
A local constituent called Kelly Swain is an absolute inspiration for what she has done for Young Minds to show how beneficial alternative therapies can support people with their various challenges.
Recently, I attended the hearing loss action day—I think I am beginning to need help with that myself—in Southend, and it was very good indeed in the way it was run.
Mrs Sharon Williams and the N-Act Theatre Company are touring Essex with shows that are trying to encourage young people to turn away from crime.
South Essex College has built a new facility in Stephenson Road, and it is doing a wonderful job with apprenticeships. Westcliff High School for Girls is now the computer hub for the whole of Essex, which is a wonderful achievement. It is a marvellous school.
The Lighthouse care home is a wonderful care home that is helping people with learning difficulties.
I recently visited the Refill Room, where Gemma and Alan are recycling products, and I support them.
I recently hosted the Bengal Pride awards in the House of Commons.
Jota Aviation is giving all sorts of opportunities to young people to go into the aviation industry.
Figure of Eight is helping people with learning difficulties, and we saw the unveiling of pictures by some of its pupils.
The South East Essex Schools Music Association festival was a wonderful celebration of musical talent at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend.
The 150th anniversary of St Helen’s Church was led by the Philippine community and was a wonderful day of celebration. The mosque open day in Southend was a great success.
Armed Forces Day was on 29 June, but it is so sad that Charles Benford has died today at the age of 100 before he could be awarded the freedom of Southend. That is such a shame.
Leigh Town Council’s community day was a wonderful event.
I wish all colleagues, the Speaker, the Deputy Speakers, and all the servants of the House a very happy summer. I am looking forward to returning on 3 September and getting Brexit done.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
May I thank you, Mr Speaker, for selecting the new clauses that stand in my name and those of my hon. Friends? When Labour envisaged HS2, it was a very different infrastructure project from what we see today. We recognised that the generations, particularly across the north and the midlands, needed far better connectivity. We wanted to regenerate the northern towns and cities of our country, and we saw the potential in the midlands to spark a new industrial age and how that was not being met.
After decades of disproportionate investment in London and the south-east, it was a Labour Government who saw how improved connectivity was needed to attract vital inward investment and to revitalise economies in the north. That is what Labour is about: creating high-quality jobs and opportunities to inspire a generation. It is in our name, Labour. Of course, we all knew that rebuilding connectivity had to start in the north, particularly with the east-west connections, to truly join up what is now aspiring to be the northern powerhouse. However, without the power of investment in the transport system, that will be nothing more than a soundbite. That is why Labour supports phase 2a, which will be the shortest leg of the route, at just 37 miles in total, and provide that vital north-south link, north of Birmingham to Crewe. Our support is not unreserved, though, and we believe colleagues should join us in the Lobby today to vote for Labour’s new clauses.
That is also why the Secretary of State is meeting representatives of the medical profession today. The hon. Lady asks whether the 50:50 scheme is enough and whether more can be done. Those are precisely the issues that the Health Secretary is discussing with those representatives of the medical profession. Of course he is working hand in hand with the Treasury to find NHS-specific solutions to deal with the problems that we all acknowledge, and which have been raised today by my hon. Friend the Member for South West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous). We all acknowledge that.
The important thing to remember is that, while we need to look for NHS-specific solutions—which is precisely what the Health Secretary is working on—the broader issue of taxation cannot be looked at just for one profession. The broader issue of the pension system has to be looked at in the round and in the whole. I am not going to stand at the Dispatch Box today and announce an entirely new pensions policy. We are pragmatically dealing with the situation that has arisen in the NHS, and of course we continue to review our pensions system to ensure that it makes financial sense for those people contributing to it as well as for the Exchequer. We pay more than £50 billion-worth of pension tax relief and it is important that we get value for money for that—that is why the reforms were conducted earlier—but of course we continue to review the arrangements to ensure that they are providing value for money as well as the right incentives for people to save for their later age.
I am just coming on to that, and I will make reference to some of the observations that have been made.
We are confident under MAR that where market abuse behaviour relates to exchange-traded commodity derivatives, as in the J.P. Morgan case, we have robust transparency systems and controls in place. Furthermore, in terms of enforcement, there have been examples in similar markets where traders have been caught attempting a similar type of market manipulation. For example, in 2013 a trader was fined almost £600,000 by the FCA for the manipulation of exchange-traded oil and gas futures.
The recent J.P. Morgan manipulation case in the US involved activity on a US-regulated exchange. The FCA’s regulatory scope obviously does not extend to oversight and enforcement in the US market. The FCA’s remit covers instruments traded on UK markets. The US authorities, therefore, have a remit over this behaviour, and it is in their competence to act against it on behalf of consumers.
On the manipulation of bullion markets, it is important to distinguish between the underlying market for commodities and the market manipulation of exchange-traded commodity derivatives. With regard to the former, precious metals are global commodities, where price is determined by the forces of demand and supply.
It should be noted that the Government have already taken action to ensure that specific commodity benchmarks for price-setting are in scope of the market abuse regime. The London Bullion Market Association gold price and silver price—the global benchmark prices for unallocated gold and silver delivered in London—are within scope of the UK’s domestic benchmarks regime, which is the world’s first framework for regulating benchmarks. This means the administrators of those benchmarks, and those firms submitting to them, became subject to FCA authorisation and regulation. Manipulating the benchmarks is a criminal offence. The benchmarks are also regulated under the EU benchmarks regulation, which will supersede the UK regime when it comes fully into force in 2020.
My hon. Friend raised the potential risk of “paper gold” contracts, which are designed to reflect the market price of gold. Investors may use the contracts for hedging or speculative purposes, and without any overall intention to receive or deliver the physical asset. For example, a customer may have a claim on a bullion bank account provider for an amount of gold without physically possessing it.
This type of activity, relating to unallocated gold, does not guarantee an equal exchange for metal. Therefore, the risk that delivery is not met as part of the contracts should not undermine the overall market, given that this delivery is not guaranteed and the risk is priced into the instrument.
The Government commissioned the “Fair and Effective Markets” review in 2014 to restore trust in fixed income, currency and commodities markets. This review made several recommendations for the commodities markets, including the benchmark reforms I spoke of earlier. The review also established the FICC Markets Standards Board—the FMSB—an industry body to improve standards in wholesale fixed income, currency and commodities markets. The FMSB has already produced several industry-led standards and statements of good practices that have seen widespread adoption. The FMSB also supported work by the London Bullion Market Association to develop and issue the global precious metals code in May 2017. The code applies to the LBMA’s members’ dealings in the bullion market. It sets out the standards and best practice expected from market participants in the global wholesale precious metals market. It covers a wide range of topics, such as conduct, information to clients and the avoidance of market abuse. The code applies to LBMA members, who must publicly attest their compliance with it.
To conclude, I am confident that the robust regulatory framework in place in our country provides the FCA with the right tools in its regulatory perimeter to detect and respond to these attempts, and ensure that the market works in a way that is fair and effective for all who wish to participate. I thank my hon. Friend for raising these important issues in the manner that he has. I trust that this response gives him considerable confidence in the sophistication of the regulatory regime that we have in place. There is never room for complacency in these matters. I acknowledge the concerns he has raised and I will take them on board as we look to the future.
The Minister should make no mistake: communities up and down Britain are being deliberately starved of cash and banking services as the banks, with the support of Government, are trying to create a near cashless society. Can he say a bit more about what he is doing to help the more than 1 million poorer people who do not have access to a bank account?
I recognise the difficulty and I am happy to meet my right hon. Friend to discuss the issues in his constituency. We have invested considerably in the post office network and I am meeting the Lending Standards Board to look at the mechanism for transfer to the Post Office and to consider solutions on a case-by-case basis.
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I fear that the right hon. Gentleman is manifestly asking the wrong person that question. I literally cannot answer it. The purpose of a spending review is that such matters can be looked at in the round, and the responsible way to do a spending review is first to set the envelope of what is affordable, and then to look at the different bids, which will—I can confidently predict—greatly exceed the available spending power, and prioritise. That is the difficult business of government, and that is why I am not in favour of ad hoc spending commitments or tax cut commitments being made.
Homes England indicates a current pipeline of some 15,000 community- led homes in England. That shows the significant positive impact of the community housing fund. Will my right hon. Friend confirm the continuance of the fund so that those much-needed homes can be built?
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T6. My constituent Karen Harrison-Taylor’s parents are among the tens of thousands of pensioners who are stranded in their homes due to shared appreciation mortgages saddling them with debts of up to nine times their original loan. What steps are being taken to assist those who are unfairly tied up in these schemes? 
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My hon. Friend knows that I do share his concerns on this matter. The Public Works Loan Board is there to support local authorities’ capital spending. Some of the development activities of local authorities are perfectly legitimate: for example, the regeneration of urban areas. What is not legitimate is local authorities arbitraging the low interest rates of the PWLB to buy commercial property for yield, in order to develop income-yielding property portfolios. The Treasury is looking at how we can manage that situation.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
As the Minister in the House of Commons with responsibility for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, I am delighted to present a Bill that will provide the ability to grant longer leases on Crown land there, opening new streams of revenue that will support the great British institution and enable it to flourish in the future.
Let me place on record, at the outset, my appreciation of the work of Members in this House—my hon. Friends the Member for Bridgwater and West Somerset (Mr Liddell-Grainger) and for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith)—who have promoted similar private Members’ Bills on Kew Gardens. I also note the keen interest of noble Lords in supporting Kew. A similar Bill was promoted by Lord True, and this Bill, before coming to this House, was amended by Lord Whitty so that he and others could be reassured in placing the duty to prevent inappropriate development at Kew unequivocally on the face of the Bill.
Indeed, I think it fair to say that the Bill has already received support from Members on both sides of the other place. Baroness Jones of Whitchurch considered the Bill, and Lord Whitty’s amendment, supported by the Government, provides a double lock on future extended leases. Baroness Kramer and Lord Rooker were pleased that the Bill strengthened the protection of Kew and allowed us to look to a future as distinguished as its proud history.
Kew is a scientific institution of the utmost importance, not only for the United Kingdom but as a global resource—the global resource—for knowledge of plants and fungi. We are facing immense challenges when it comes to the preservation of the natural world, and it is clear that there is an essential role for plants and fungi in that regard.
We certainly keep all matters under review, but the 60-day period has not come from nowhere; it has come from deep engagement with the sector. As Joanna Elson, the chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, has said,
“this new scheme could well be a game-changer in our efforts to tackle problem debt as a society.”
I recognise that there are a range of views, but we have looked at what is out there and considered the Scottish experience, and we believe that this is the right policy response.
I take your advice, Mr Speaker. You think I was not here at the very start, and you are surely correct, so I will sit down.
Financial difficulties are considered an adverse childhood experience. Facing problem debt in the family as a child can perpetuate cycles of poor mental health, low achievement, poor employment opportunities, prison, drug addiction and so on. I am very pleased that the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Vicky Foxcroft) earlier drew attention to ACEs. Will the Minister assure me that the breathing space scheme will include advisers being trained in adverse childhood experiences and trauma, so that the problems of financial hardships are not perpetuated into the next generation?
(1 year, 3 months ago)Commons Chamber
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
Although he is not here, may I welcome the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury to his post, and congratulate his predecessor, the new Leader of the House, on his elevation to the Cabinet? I understand that the elevation was short-lived, as he realised that he still had to sit across a table—a Cabinet table rather than a Treasury one—from the Chief Secretary. I expect that if some of his colleagues get their way on proroguing Parliament, he may well even be put on a zero-hours contract, because there would be little else to do.
I have previously stated, both on Second Reading and in Committee, when we had wide ranging discussions on the Bill, as we always do with financial Bills—we talk about a whole range of issues and get into all sorts of discussions about various things, even quoting Cicero and going into all sorts of Greek mythology; it is helpful to broaden our horizons when dealing with these Bills—that the Bill is a pale imitation of the great national insurance reforms that the Government promised to enact just a few years ago, in those halcyon days of the 2010-15 Tory Government, who were going to conquer the world and who proposed massive changes to national insurance contributions. Of course, in effect, nothing came of that. The former Chancellor went west and the proposals lay around gathering a little bit of dust, then more dust and then even more dust on the shelves at the Treasury.
As we all know, national insurance is paid by employees, employers and the self-employed, and it is used to fund a variety of contributory benefits such as the state pension, contributory employment and support allowance, maternity allowance and other benefits. In 2018-19, national insurance contributions raised around £137 billion, which is more than was raised by VAT but less than was raised by income tax, at £132 billion and £192 billion respectively. National insurance contributions are clearly a substantial revenue raiser for the Exchequer.
Along with the Prime Minister, the Government’s credibility and all sense of reason in the Tory party, gone are the proposed abolition of class 2 national insurance contributions and the planned expansion of class 4 national insurance contributions, along with the Government’s parliamentary majority to boot. Those proposals have been replaced with these meagre clauses, which masquerade as a real Bill. They will introduce a limited class 1A employer charge on termination payments over £30,000 and on payments over £100,000 related to non-contractual sporting testimonials.
While we are on the subject of sport—loosely—I reaffirm my congratulations to Liverpool football club for its win, albeit as an Everton supporter. As I said in Committee, I can say that in the clear knowledge that it probably will not get much further than the people present, so I will not be criticised by my Everton-supporting friends and family. Saying it here tonight makes it more or less a secret, in essence.
Consideration of the Bill’s remaining stages has been brought forward to pack out an empty parliamentary timetable. The timing could not be more fortuitous, as we enter the first official week of the long-running Tory leadership campaign. It is a burden for everybody else to have to put up with it, and I am sure it is a burden for those on the Government Front Bench and Back Benches, too. I suspect that they will not say that, but I will say it for them.
There is a backdrop to this debate. We have already seen a sneak preview of the chaos and dysfunction that any of the hard Tory Brexiteers who are running for prime Minister will soon unleash on the country. The right hon. Member for Tatton (Ms McVey) has suggested purging the Cabinet of remain-supporting MPs. The frontrunner, the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), is flirting with the idea of the UK going AWOL with around £48 billion in October. That figure is almost as big as his ego. The Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for South West Surrey (Mr Hunt), has more positions on Brexit than the “Kama Sutra”.
Meanwhile, the right hon. Member for Esher and Walton (Dominic Raab) is threatening to put two fingers up to parliamentary sovereignty and prorogue the House, denying the elected representatives in this Chamber a say over the biggest issue facing this country since the second world war, and perhaps beyond that—I do thank you for your indulgence, Mr Deputy Speaker. So much for bringing back control. To what—an empty, locked Chamber? It is important, because had Parliament been prorogued, would we have been able to debate this Bill on national insurance contributions? No, we would not. Where would all the money go? We would not have it. We are here making the case for why Parliament should not be prorogued, but more importantly we are making the case because we have to get the cash in. All this is taking place while our European partners look on in polite bemusement, along with the rest of the country, as we are subjected to a month-long Conservative party psychodrama. That context is important to the matter at hand.
The Opposition continue to have concerns about how the new class 1A national insurance charge will impact on the level of termination awards that workers receive, particularly in respect of women, employees over 50 and pregnant women. Opposition new clauses 1 and 5 would require Ministers to adequately address our concerns. The tax and national insurance treatment of termination payments remains a sensitive topic to workers and employers alike. Employees facing redundancy often consider this final payment as an evaluation of the work that they have done for their employer, so it is psychologically important for them. As I have previously said, termination payments therefore have an emotional and a financial significance, and the amount awarded is often determined by painstaking and careful negotiations between managers and trade union representatives.
The Government’s rationale for the change apparently remains one of simplification: they cite many employers’ previous confusion as to what parts of a termination payment might qualify for exemption from tax and national insurance. However, Ministers have also cited the opportunity for well-advised employers to avoid paying the right amount of tax and national insurance on termination payments as justification for wider reform. It is important to repeat that that seems to have been given as justification for wider reform. We do not necessarily accept that justification. Neither the Office of Tax Simplification nor Treasury Ministers have been able to provide figures on the number of employers who have taken advantage of the existing loophole or on the amount that has been lost to the Exchequer as a result. That is important, because if a case is going to be made for something, the least we could be given is a little evidence—a few facts and statistics—to back up the assertion.
Will the Minister commit to ensuring that survivors of domestic abuse with insecure immigration status have safe and confidential reporting systems, without fear of being returned to their country of origin?
I have to agree, Mr Speaker; I am slightly struggling with the link between fiscal policy and the hon. Lady’s question. However, she might be interested to know that in the spending review we are specifically looking at how we can help women suffering domestic violence and how we can take the matter into account when deciding the future of our public spending.
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It was certainly a weekend to remember on the Isle of Wight. It was my first ever visit to that great place, and I was impressed. The Isle of Wight provides a good opportunity to look at how we can do things differently, including how we can integrate services to cut down on bureaucracy and put more money on the frontline.
4. What assessment his Department has made of the effect of the annual tapered allowance on members of the NHS pension fund. 
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I am a little mystified by this story about Boots, which I too read in the newspapers. When I announced the policy, I said that it was designed to help small independent retailers, and Boots, with 22,000 providers, does not fall within my definition of a small independent retailer. We always understood that this policy initiative was designed to support small independent retailers as they transition to the high street of the future.
On the next one I believe, Mr Speaker; I am terribly sorry.
Last Friday, I met members of the Chamber of Trade at Newtownards. Of three small shops in the town of Ards, one started off employing 10 and now employs 60, one started off employing six and now employs 30, and one started off employing 20 and now employs almost 100. Would the Chancellor consider rates reduction for those high street shops that increase employment?
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I agree with the hon. Lady that Leeds does need flood protection. I remember visiting with her a few years ago to see the scheme. We have already achieved phase 1 with the £32 million for that, and the Government are putting forward £65 million for phase 2. My understanding is that Leeds City Council is keen to work with us on that, and we are keen to make progress.
Thank you, Mr Speaker; take two. The Environment Secretary said to Extinction Rebellion that he, at least, had got the message, but of course days later his Government were panned by the Solar Trade Association for new tax changes that will affect solar and storage schemes. That contrasts with Labour’s announcement last week of plans for 1.75 million households to benefit from the solar energy revolution. So will this Government abandon the damaging changes to VAT, match Labour’s solar investment plans and actually start taking renewables seriously?
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Absolutely. This Government will always support working people. We want to raise living standards. We are particularly conscious of those men and women who work in parts of the country, like the area my hon. Friend represents, where it is not easy to get to work. They need that extra money in their pockets to get on, do their jobs and run their businesses.
That was a very, very complacent answer to a very important question. Is it not a fact that the house is on fire? We want a radical tax like the one Mrs Thatcher introduced with Geoffrey Howe in 1981. Why do we not have a tax on banks, Amazon and all the other people making profits, and put the money into fighting climate change now, when the house is on fire?
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In short, yes. I always look sympathetically on any representations to reduce taxation.
13. What recent assessment he has made of the economic effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU. 
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The answer is lots. Had I known my hon. Friend was going to ask me that, I would have been able to give him a precise answer. I will write to him.
My party has advocated the raising of the personal allowance, and I am glad that the Chancellor has done that over the past few years, but does he agree that part of the problem now is that part-time and full-time employees on low pay, just below the threshold of £12,500, pay national insurance contributions? Will he consider eliminating that to the same level as the allowance?
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If we want more renewables and more electric cars we need a more resilient electricity grid, and that needs more investment. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the last thing we need for a cleaner, greener Britain is for the Labour party to wipe billions of pounds off our National Grid’s investment capacity?
Thank you for calling me so early in this resumed debate, Mr Speaker. I have to say that I had never imagined that I was going to speak in it, seeing as rain stopped play at about this time last week. I am by no means an expert on the 2019 loan charge, but I, like many others who expressed an opinion last week, have been contacted by numerous constituents who have set out in clear terms how they believe it would impact on them. They are being asked to pay back thousands, tens of thousands, and in some cases even hundreds of thousands of pounds that they never believed would be due.
Do not get me wrong: I believe that everyone should pay their fair share of tax. We know that that is what funds our public services, and we should clamp down on tax evasion at every possible opportunity. However, minimising tax exposure has always been a legitimate part of our tax system.
When looking at this issue, I have been on a journey. Initially I was in two minds about the validity of the arguments presented. Obviously, I had great sympathy for my constituents on both a personal and an individual level, but I felt that the old adage, “If something looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true,” applied. I have now, however, come to a different conclusion. I have looked at the individual cases presented and at the wider issues. To demonstrate why I have come to that conclusion, I want to use the words and sentiments that one particular constituent has sent me. He wants me to do this anonymously, as he does not want to prejudice himself or his case. As an aside, I am not sure that it is a healthy state of affairs when constituents are scared to speak out against a Government agency.
My constituent is a freelance IT professional who was advised to enter one of these schemes. When he entered the scheme, to give himself confidence that it was legally compliant and that what he was being told by his professional adviser was true, he contacted Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. The correspondence my constituent has from HMRC shows that in 2012, when he was checking for compliance under disclosure of tax avoidance schemes legislation, he asked HMRC to review the particular arrangements he had joined. I am informed that the HMRC anti-avoidance group concluded that no hallmarks of tax avoidance were in evidence and so HMRC did not assign a DOTAS number to that arrangement.
If that is true, which I obviously believe it is, I think it is fair to say that, under HMRC’s duty of care and due diligence, it had plenty of opportunity to inform my constituent that things had changed and that the particular arrangement that he had entered into would be liable to taxation. HMRC completely failed to notify my constituent that anything was amiss, so for years he relied on the initial HMRC advice he had received and continued as a customer of the arrangement.
As I have already mentioned, hauliers have benefited very significantly from the freeze in fuel duty, but the hon. Gentleman asks a wider question. If we were to find ourselves leaving the European Union without a deal—a situation that I sincerely hope will not arise—we have a full range of tools available to us, including all the usual tools of fiscal policy. I have headroom within the fiscal rules of just under £27 billion, as I set out at the spring statement, and the Government will work closely with the Bank of England in those circumstances to ensure that fiscal and monetary policy are used to support the UK economy.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Of course, hauliers and motorists warmly welcome the fuel duty freeze, but they are concerned about the disparity in fuel costs across the country and the impact of the cost of oil—they are not seeing that at the pumps. Will the Chancellor, or a member of his ministerial team, meet me to discuss an independent fuel price regulator and to see whether we can sort out these issues?
We have a marketplace in fuel in this country, but I understand my hon. Friend’s point. I am sure the Exchequer Secretary would be very happy to meet her to discuss it.
I chair Labour’s Back-Bench environment, food and rural affairs committee.
The Chancellor always impresses me. He is thoughtful, and I like him a lot. He is thoughtful on Europe and on the environment, but can I take him back to what my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Daniel Zeichner) said? Is it not about time we had a modern taxation system that encourages sustainable transport? We are killing kids and poisoning pregnant women. We know that air pollution is of the utmost importance. I appeal to the Chancellor’s radical instinct: let us have a new form of sustainable taxation.
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I am sorry, but I cannot give the hon. Lady that undertaking. I really passionately believe that we need to resist additional Financial Conduct Authority fees, product reviews, increased compliance and monitoring costs for businesses, stifled product innovation and narrower product choice for small and medium-sized enterprises, which would be the consequences if we followed Labour’s advice on this policy area.
22. Mr Speaker, thank you very much. The scourge of late payments is a major problem for small businesses, as I know from my many small businesses in Witney, as a member of the Federation of Small Businesses and as the chairman of the all-party group on small and micro business. Is it not about time that we started celebrating those companies that support the small business supply chain by paying on time? 
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We have had to take difficult decisions because of the state of the public finances that we were left with. We have already made improvements in relation to those women being able to retire, but it is right that we do not burden future generations as a result of our existing commitments.
I beg to move,
That this House—
(i) approves the First Report from the Committee of Privileges (HC 1490); and
(ii) endorses the conclusions of the Committee in respect of the conduct of Mr Dominic Cummings that the evidence sought by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee from Mr Cummings was relevant to its inquiry and that his refusal to attend constituted a significant interference with the work of that Committee; concludes that Mr Cummings committed a contempt both by his refusal to obey the Committee’s order to attend it and by his subsequent refusal to obey the House’s Order of 7 June 2018; and therefore formally admonishes him for his conduct.
In a week of constitutional innovation, we have one more, whereby I am standing in for the Leader of the House, who sends her apologies. I understand that she has been in touch with the Chairs of the Committee of Privileges and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to explain the reason for her absence.
The House deeply respects the work of Select Committees across the House. They do incredibly important work on behalf of all the peoples of the United Kingdom, and the Government remains a strong supporter of the Select Committee system. In accordance with traditional practice, the Leader of the House brought forward motions on Thursday 7 June and Thursday 28 June 2018 to raise the activities of Dominic Cummings as a matter of privilege following his refusal to obey the DCMS Committee’s order to attend and his subsequent refusal to obey the House’s order of 7 June 2018.
It is vital to the work of Select Committees that they can obtain full and accurate evidence from witnesses as part of their inquiries. I thank the members of the Committee of Privileges for undertaking the report and the members of the DCMS Committee for their work on behalf of Parliament. The report from the Privileges Committee concluded that it accepted the DCMS Committee’s view that the evidence it sought from Mr Cummings was relevant to its inquiry and that his refusal to appear constituted a significant interference with its work. The report states that Mr Cummings committed a contempt both by his initial refusal to obey the DCMS Committee’s order to attend and by his subsequent refusal to obey the House’s order. The Committee recommended that the House admonish Mr Cummings for his contempt, and it is for the House to determine whether to endorse these conclusions.
Mr Cummings has raised questions about the enforceability of the House’s powers and those of its Committee’s to secure evidence. I know that the Committee of Privileges intends to consider this matter further, and we await its conclusions, but today’s debate underlines the right of Select Committees to undertake their duties as assigned to them by the House. The Government have full respect for the privileges of the House of Commons and will continue to uphold them. They are crucial to the independence of Parliament and the strength of our democracy. I therefore commend the motion to the House.
I thank the Deputy Leader of the House for presenting the motion, and note that the Leader of the House is occupied with important matters elsewhere. I also thank the Committee of Privileges, chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), for all its work in producing the report.
This is not the first Committee report on the conduct of Mr Dominic Cummings. On 5 June 2018, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published a special report stating that it had first invited, then ordered Mr Cummings to give oral evidence as part of its inquiry into fake news, and that he had failed to comply with that order. On 7 June 2018, the House resolved that Mr Cummings should
“give an undertaking to the Committee, no later than 6pm on 11 June 2018, to appear before that Committee at a time on or before 20 June 2018.”—[Official Report, 7 June 2018; Vol. 642, c. 492.]
However, on 20 June 2018 the Chair of the DCMS Committee, the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins), reported to the House that Mr Cummings had failed to comply with the order of 7 June. The Leader of the House tabled a motion on 28 June that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges, and the House supported it.
In the annex to the report, on page 11, the Committee of Privileges helpfully set out the procedure that it would follow in inviting Mr Cummings to provide the DCMS Committee with oral and written evidence, so he has benefited from due process. It made a number of recommendations, and accepted the view of the DCMS Committee that the evidence that it sought from Mr Cummings was relevant to its inquiry and that his refusal to attend constituted a significant interference with its work. The Committee of Privileges
rejected Mr Cummings’s argument as to why he did not appear before the DCMS Committee. He had been offered a series of dates for a hearing, and had not supplied any evidence that suggested he was at significant risk of prosecution. The report states :
“The fact that a prospective witness takes a different view on policy or political issues from a select committee…does not constitute grounds to refuse to appear before that committee.”
Many of us who are members of Select Committees often hear evidence from all sides. It is the right of a Select Committee to do that, and to form a view based on the evidence.
The Committee of Privileges accepted the DCMS Committee’s view that in not giving it the evidence that it sought, Mr Cummings had committed a contempt both by his refusal to obey its order to attend and by his subsequent refusal to obey the House’s order of 7 June 2018. The report states:
“Attending the hearing and defending his position when called upon to do so would have been the right thing to do.”
The Committee recommends that the House should admonish Mr Cummings for his contempt, and that the admonishment should take the form of a resolution of the House. The resolution, if agreed to, should be communicated to Mr Cummings by the Clerk of the House.
I thank the Committee again for its work, and I support the motion.
As my hon. Friend will know, we have funded a study into the Shipley bypass. It is absolutely right that, often, the highest-value road investments can be relatively modest local schemes that relieve pressure and allow town regeneration, the release of housing land and the more efficient operation of local industry. We will have a record-sized fund available through the hypothecation of vehicle excise duty.
7. What steps his Department has taken to mitigate the potential effect on the economic sustainability of the manufacturing sector of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. 
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I thank the Minister for that response. Last month I surveyed businesses in my constituency and they overwhelmingly said that they wanted Brexit cancelled. Will the Chancellor stand up for British businesses, end the uncertainty and use his immense personal prestige in the Cabinet and with the Prime Minister to stop Brexit once and for all?
It is just little old me, I am afraid, but I have to say that I believe we should respect the result of the June 2016 referendum, a democratic exercise that saw a higher turnout than for any other democratic event in the history of our country. The important thing now is that we get the right deal for us to leave, which we are working on. When it comes back to Parliament, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will support it.
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. This Government’s strategy is to relentlessly pursue growth in the economy and opportunities for all. We have seen 18.3% growth since 2010, and a record 32.6 million people in work. We will continue to prioritise interventions around technical education, cuts in business taxes and support for new technologies to recognise the new jobs that need to be provided for.
13. What assessment he has made of the effect of the freeze on benefits on the level of personal debt of benefit recipients. 
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