Elizabeth Truss contributions to the Finance Act 2019

Thu 1st November 2018 Budget Resolutions (Commons Chamber)
1st reading: House of Commons
12 interactions (1,289 words)

Budget Resolutions

(1st reading: House of Commons)
Elizabeth Truss Excerpts
Thursday 1st November 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Peter Dowd Portrait Peter Dowd - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 4:43 p.m.

No, I will not.

There is nothing in the Budget for teachers, police officers and local government workers. There is not a penny for most frontline services, while local council funding is being cut by £1.3 billion next year alone. The Government have broken all their economic targets. They keep setting their own work, but they are marked an F grade every single time. Economic growth has been sluggish and is set to stay below 1.6% for the next five years. Productivity remains 15% lower than in other developed economies and the Government are doing nothing about it. Regional economic disparity is vast. Public sector investment is more than £18 billion lower than in 2010—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Aldershot talked about Marxism and brutal regimes. This is a man who has been to Saudi Arabia many times. That is the sort of brutal regime that he should be worrying about. It is an absolute disgrace.

Public sector investment is more than £18 billion lower than it was in 2010. That is not talking down the economy; that is talking up the truth. If austerity is over, why then is the Chancellor pressing ahead with a further £7 billion of social security cuts? The Health Foundation says that the money for the NHS is not enough. There is, of course, no mention of the £12 billion of outstanding loans and deficits that the NHS has had to use to get by.

On social care, the £650 million announced is less than half what the King’s Fund estimates is needed. Our children’s services are in meltdown. The additional money announced for universal credit is only half what was cut in 2015, and the list goes on and on. There is, of course, no shortage of gimmicks in the Budget. The introduction of a digital services tax is, I am told, already sending the tech companies into a frenzy. My right hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge) says that it is media management.

In the labour market, one in nine workers across the country is in insecure work. Many are relying on credit cards to survive. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford South (Judith Cummins) reminded us earlier this week, since 2008 only one in 40 net jobs created has been full time. There was no mention of that particular fly in the ointment by the Chancellor. Eight years of austerity have ripped through our society and our communities, driving in-work poverty and inequality, and further entrenching the economic crisis caused by greed and avarice. Therefore, in that context, we will not stand in the way of more income for low and middle earners; they deserve some respite from the Government. That is unlike the Liberal Democrats, who evidently will be voting against their own flagship tax policy set out in their manifesto.

The Opposition’s amendment to resolution 1 sets out our progressive taxation policy, which we laid out in our manifesto in 2017, of increasing taxes for the top 5% to help pay for improvements in public services, which we all need and which many people across the country need. This amendment highlights our tax reforms, which would shift the emphasis on to the wealthy few, while guaranteeing no further increases of tax on anyone earning less than £80,000. Labour will challenge the Government every step of the way to introduce a more progressive taxation system despite their rigging of Parliament. This is yet another broken-promise Budget that does nothing to end the slowest recovery since the great depression.

Austerity has damaged our economy, weakened our recovery and divided our society. It has made poor people poorer, made them angry, made them fearful, and made them distrustful of the politicians on the Government Benches who they feel do not stand up for them against powerful lobbies. Austerity has made the richest richer; that cannot be right and that cannot be just. It is not in the national interest. Government Members have made a point of claiming that they are not ideological, that they are pragmatists. Let them prove their pragmatism and their open-mindedness. If they are so confident of their policies, so sure of their convictions, then quite simply let them support our amendment. What do they have to fear?

Elizabeth Truss Portrait The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Elizabeth Truss) - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 4:48 p.m.

I am delighted to be here to close the Budget debate. We have had a very good debate over the past few days. To be honest, though, I am just extremely grateful to be able to get a seat on the Front Bench, because, let us be honest, that has not been guaranteed over the past week.

Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 4:48 p.m.


Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 4:48 p.m.

I am afraid that I only have 10 minutes. The hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd) did not give way, so I am not going to be able to either.

This is a Budget that will help working families and that will grow our economy, and I am pleased to say that it has been welcomed from all quarters—from the cider drinkers of Somerset, to the whisky drinkers of Scotland and Britain’s motorists, who will see better roads and a continued freeze on fuel duty, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mrs Badenoch).

Families have had their taxes cut and their wages hiked, and the FSB says that we are firmly on the side of Britain’s small businesses. The Resolution Foundation has welcomed our changes to universal credit, and even the shadow Chancellor has welcomed our tax cuts, saying that our measure

“will put more money in people’s pockets”

and inject more demand into the economy. It is just a shame that his party does not agree. I can almost hear Momentum sharpening their pitchforks. But I want him to know that all is not lost because, shadow Chancellor, you have friends on this side of the House. You might have to sit on the Home Secretary’s knee, but there is space for you on our Front Bench.

It is not an accident that we have seen an additional £100 billion coming into the public purse in this Budget. Contrary to what the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir Vince Cable) suggests, this is not a fluke or luck. It is because of the decisions that this Government have taken since 2010: reforming the welfare system, cutting taxes for people, and cutting corporation tax to bring more investment into our economy and get more business start-ups going. What happened on the Opposition Benches? Well, Labour Members opposed all those measures, tooth and nail. They opposed our welfare reforms that got more people into work; they opposed our corporation tax cuts that brought more tax into the public coffers; and they opposed our measures to improve skills and education that have meant that our children are doing better.

Instead of Labour Members realising the error of their ways, they have come up with even more extreme policies. They want to create a socialist superstate controlled by the politicians at the top of the Labour party. Their eye-watering spending pledges would mean £1,000 billion more in tax and borrowing, job-killing tax hikes on hard-working families, and the relentless talking down of everything that is good about our country. If we listened to Labour, there would be fewer jobs, lower wages and less money to spend on public services, so we refuse to listen to this catalogue of envy and despair.

Instead, we have delivered a positive, aspirational Budget, giving people more control over their own money. We have put £630 a year for families into universal credit. We are cutting taxes for those on the basic rate by £130 this year, making people £1,200 better off. And we are raising the higher rate threshold so that people do not start paying higher rate tax until they earn £50,000. This is not about giving tax cuts to millionaires; these are people on medium incomes who were dragged into the top rate of tax under the Labour Government.

At the same time, our strong economy means that we can fund the services on which everyone relies, which is why this Budget has included extra money for defence, schools, the health system and local authorities, and we are going to spend this money in a way that delivers results. The hon. Member for Bootle talked about children’s services. Not only are we giving councils an extra £650 million to pay for adult and children’s social care; we are also rolling out programmes such as “No Wrong Door” in North Yorkshire. That programme has meant fewer children in care, fewer ending up in trouble with the police and fewer ending up in accident and emergency. It is a great example of how, by spending money in the right way, we can cut long-terms costs for the taxpayer and, more importantly, ensure that our children get the best possible start in life.

I also want to applaud the hon. Member for Rotherham (Sarah Champion) for what she said in this debate. I applaud her for her bravery in standing up against those gangs targeting young women in her area. I am very happy to discuss in the spending review the issue that she raised.

As well as addressing the immediate issues we face, this Budget backs entrepreneurs to take risks, make investments and grow their operations. We have slashed business rates by a third, which has been welcomed by my hon. Friends the Members for St Ives (Derek Thomas), for Aldershot (Leo Docherty) and for Solihull (Julian Knight). We have cut corporation tax to the lowest level in the G20. We have increased capital allowances from £200,000 to £1 million. What all that means is that companies want to grow, want to invest in Britain and want to take more people on. It means more jobs for people across this country. It means higher wages. We are now seeing real wages rise for the three quarters of people who are employed in the private sector. It also means that we are able to afford money for our public services. We are launching 10 new development corporations across the country, so we will not just have Canary Wharf—we will have Canary Wharf in the north and all other parts of the country. We are creating a special economic zone in Teesside, with new freedoms to grow.

But this is not just about cold, hard cash; it is about realising people’s aspirations, dreams and hopes for the future. It is about being able to afford a holiday or a car, and it is about more opportunities for young people emerging from our schools and our colleges.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Mr Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 4:56 p.m.

This is a good Budget and I will, without any question, support it enthusiastically tonight. However, there is the issue of the starting date for the reduction to £2 for fixed odds betting terminals. This is clearly not something we can deal with this evening, but I wonder whether my right hon. Friend would give an undertaking that we will certainly return to it in time for the Finance Bill.

Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 4:57 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his point. We have brought the date forward for FOBTs by six months. I do not believe that it is an issue for the Finance Bill, but I am certainly happy to discuss with him what more we can do.

Whereas we are making sure that young people emerging from our schools and colleges have opportunities, and that people are able to fulfil their dreams and aspirations, Labour Members would kill those dreams.

Jess Phillips Portrait Jess Phillips (Birmingham, Yardley) (Lab) - Hansard


Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 4:57 p.m.

They are driven by pessimism, by envy and by spite. The reality is that they would rather see people kept in their place than succeeding.

Jess Phillips Portrait Jess Phillips - Hansard


Sir Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 4:57 p.m.

Order. The hon. Lady knows as well as I do that you cannot stay on your feet if the Minister is not going to give way. [Interruption.] You do know that. Oh come on now, you could not have done that six months ago.

Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 4:58 p.m.

I have only two minutes left, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I am afraid I cannot give way. Labour’s tax hikes would cost jobs and its war on enterprise would crush the very people who make this country great.

The past eight years have been tough, but Monday’s Budget marked a new era. It is about more jobs than ever before. It is about businesses succeeding. It is about wages going up. It is about people keeping more of what they earn. It is about people feeling better off in their everyday lives. This is a Budget for a confident, optimistic British future that puts more money in people’s pockets, frees enterprise to invest, and paves the way for a high- growth, high-aspiration post-Brexit Britain. I commend this Budget to the House.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Main Question put and agreed to.