Health and Social Care Levy Bill DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Christopher ChopeMain Page: Christopher Chope (Conservative - Christchurch)
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Legislation Debates - View all Christopher Chope's contributions to the Health and Social Care Levy Act 2021
I think it will, which is why the Government have decided to make this rather important change. It may well be that this is not the end of the story, and in due course the desire for clarity about how money is spent, which is expressed elsewhere in the tax system, might manifest itself in other ways. I do not want to speculate on that, but my right hon. Friend has outlined the importance of accountability, clarity and perspicuity in how money is spent.
I do not think that is true at all. The reason for putting it on the payslip is so that taxpayers can see that this new tax is clearly represented. If they need reassurance that the support for social care, in their own life and in the life of their family and community, will be long standing and enduring, they need only look at their payslip.
My hon. Friend invites us to think of social care as a completely separate thing, but of course there is a tremendous overlap between social care and some aspects of health. It is important to make sure that the system, which I think all hon. Members realise is too disjointed, is more joined up. This treatment therefore appears to be more appropriate to an area where we want to see more integration.
I have to say I was not quite sure about that. I thought that the hon. Member for Leeds East (Richard Burgon) had finished, but the hon. Member for North West Durham (Mr Holden) nevertheless managed to make his intervention. He may indeed have wanted more, but the hon. Member for Leeds East read the mood of the House very well.
I thank colleagues for their contributions to the debate. It has been very wide ranging—especially the last speech—occasionally touching on the subject of the Bill and the clauses and amendments in it.
Let me start with the hon. Member for Ealing North (James Murray) who speaks for the Opposition. He asked why the dividend tax has not been brought in. The answer to that question is that it does not fall under a national insurance contributions Bill. Dividends are subject to a separate dividend tax regime. That is a tax that is already in existence and it will be handled, as the Government have already made clear, in the course of the forthcoming Finance Bill.
The hon. Gentleman asked questions about levelling up and multinationals’ tax avoidance. I think he is aware that the Government’s approach to levelling up is extremely manifest, most recently in the work that we have done with the UK Infrastructure Bank, which is specifically dedicated to net zero and levelling up and which has just recruited a world-class new chief executive. On the case of multinationals, he has obviously forgotten that the Government have been in the vanguard of the G20 and the G7 in arranging and leading on a new settlement on Pillar One and Pillar Two multinationals’ tax avoidance.
The hon. Gentleman repeated his untrue claim from the earlier debate that these measures contain no new funding for social care. In fact, as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said a few minutes before he first said that, the measures contain £5.4 billion to support social care, which is in the plan. In case he missed it, it is in paragraph 36 of the plan. It is no wonder that those on the Labour Front Bench do not think that we have a plan if they cannot be bothered to read the plan that we have actually published.
The Bill is designed to fund the plan and the plan has been published. The plan is perfectly explicit as to where the money is going with regard to social care and how much is going to social care. It is in paragraph 36. The hon. Gentleman only needs to look at the plan to see it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr Fysh) tabled a probing amendment and explained the background to his own amendment 7, and I thank him for that. I mean him no disrespect when I say that the Government have taken the amendment on board, and will take it on board, but I still ask him to withdraw his amendment.
The hon. Member for Aberdeen South (Stephen Flynn) talked airily about unfunded social care plans controlled, as it were, by England over Scotland. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that Scotland has social care plans that are underfunded. Audit Scotland said that more money was needed. The Independent Review of Adult Social Care in Scotland said that more money will need to be spent over the longer term. Unfortunately, he also ignores what has been accurately described by the Prime Minister as the Union dividend from which all the devolved Administrations will benefit.
My hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) asked the important question of why a new tax. It is important to focus on this. The reason there is a new tax is that this is a fundamental change in how we have been thinking about social care. Andrew Dilnot himself has said that he does not think it inappropriate to have a new tax funded to support this.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) talked about Treasury concern with hypothecation, which remains intact. There is already an existing level of hypothecation within the national insurance contributions system and this plays off that. The hon. Member for Nottingham East (Nadia Whittome) went into a long diatribe, in which she accused the Government of seeking to protect the richest people in society, to which the only simple answer is that that is absolute nonsense. I think she missed the debate on Second Reading, but if she read the distributional analysis, she would see that this package means that the 20% of highest income households will contribute 40 times the amount contributed by the least well off 20% of households. It is also worth pointing out that the highest earning 14% will pay roughly half of all revenues. Even the Wealth Tax Commission, which is independent of Government and dedicated to the idea of arguing for a wealth tax, acknowledged that the UK is on par with G7 countries as regards a wealth tax. Under a more inclusive definition—one that includes, for example, stamp duty land tax—the UK is near the top of the G7 countries in terms of a wealth tax.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham talked about hypothecation; I perfectly understand that. He also mentioned gross net revenues. These are net revenues—revenues that have been calculated net of the effects. The detail is set out in the technical annex to the published plan.
The hon. Member for Leeds East (Richard Burgon) revisited some of the themes set out by the hon. Member for Nottingham East, but I am afraid no more persuasively.
My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) went on a glorious canter, or possibly a ramble, around various public spending concerns. I fully appreciate his concerns. Very little of what he said actually bears direct relation to the levy, but let me address the parts that do. He asked why there is no distinct social care levy. Of course, it is possible to claim, as I did, that there is a need for greater integration between healthcare and social care, without suggesting that the funding for those things needs to be handled in exactly the same way across both. This provision blends the funding in a way that is felicitous for both elements.
My hon. Friend argued vigorously for co-payment. I take his arguments as I am sure he means them and look forward to seeing his Bill. He also mentioned millionaires in hospitals. He is right that maths is eternal; our noble Friend Lord Bethell may have been referring to the fact that calculations are not eternal, but may be in time and premature.