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Rt. Hon. Alwyn Thomas (LAB), Jack Smith (CON)

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  Press Cycle #9 - The Budget
Posted by: Nathan - Yesterday, 10:42 AM - Forum: The Press - Replies (9)

"Do you think the budget will be a good thing for Britain?"

This press cycle will be closed at 23:59 on the 23/02/18.

Remember to bolden the "tagline" of your statement. 

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  Charles Kinbote (Con)
Posted by: Charles Kinbote (CON) - 02-18-2018, 11:19 PM - Forum: New Players -- Register Here - Replies (5)

Name: Charles Kinbote
Avatar: The Duke of Windsor
Constituency: Hexham

Age: 40 (10th December, 1960)
Sex: Male
Ethnicity: White
Marital Status: Unmarried
Education: Royal Grammar School in Newcastle; Durham University
Career: Worked in father's tea company from leaving University, was on board of directors from 1990 until standing for election in 1997. MP for Hexham 1997 onwards.
Party and Faction: Conservative, Cornerstone

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  M-4: Local Government Taxation
Posted by: Rt. Hon. Sean Manning (LAB) - 02-18-2018, 11:07 PM - Forum: Ministerial Statements - No Replies

Madam Speaker,

With permission I would like to make a statement on local government taxation and finances.

We have all I am sure been following the story in the newspapers this week about the case of the Richmondshire council tax protest. It is not for the government to interfere either with local democracy or with the decisions of the courts, and I will not be making a statement specifically on that matter.

However, I do have sympathy with some of the points made by the protesters. Council tax is an unfair tax. It is not based on ability to pay, and is a rushed merging of the old rates system with the poll tax, cobbled together in a panic by the previous Government after the Poll Tax protests. I am not content that the tax was introduced with much thought or with much consideration of the impacts it might have, its sustainability, or its fairness.

Therefore, I am today announcing that the government has formed a Royal Commission to look at the matter of local government finances. I have asked the current chair of the Local Government Association, Jeremy Beecham, to chair the review, and I will be approaching a cross-party set of senior figures from local government to support him. The Scottish Government has responsibility for Local Government finance in Scotland, and we have offered them the opportunity to participate in this review on the basis that its recommendations would apply across Great Britain: they are, of course, entitled to decline that offer.

The terms of reference of the Review will be:

"To examine the current means by which local authorities are funded, and to make recommendations on the matter of -
A) The form of the taxes levied on households and businesses by local authorities, alternatives to the current model, and whether they are fair, sustainable, and economically efficient sources of revenue.
B) The balance between locally financed and centrally funded spending by local authorities, whether that is fair, sustainable, and economically efficient, and whether an alternative balance would be more desirable.

The Commission shall report by the end of 2001."

The government is not asking the Commission to examine the matter of Local Authority capital borrowing, on which the government has already made its position clear.

I commend this statement to the House and am happy to take questions.

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  Downing Street Speech
Posted by: Rt. Hon. Callum Finch (LAB) - 02-18-2018, 09:19 PM - Forum: The Press - No Replies

Good Evening,

I have just returned from Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty has invited me to form a Government to which I have accepted. I did not envisage ever holding this position but I felt myself answering a calling from my country - as I have had throughout my previous occupations - and now feel humbled and honoured to have been appointed Prime Minister of our United Kingdom. I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor and good friend Elizabeth Tanner who unfortunately had to resign due an accident within the family. I hope everyone will join me in wishing Elizabeth and her family well during this time.

As many of you know myself and Elizabeth ran together last year with a joint vision for Britain and there is no need to deviate from this path that we outlined together too much. I wish to continue the legacy of Elizabeth and the late John Smith to build a better Britain. It is in times like these that we need stability and security in our country. We shouldn’t change something that is already working for millions of Britons. If it isn’t broken, there is no need to fix it.

This Government I lead will be tough on crime. I briefly served in the Police Service before I entered politics so I have a good idea on what our fantastic Police Service needs to keep everybody safe. People deserve to feel safe in their own homes. We will focus on making sure that neighbourhoods across the country are properly policed and that Police Forces are given the proper resources to do their jobs.

Often to reduce crime, we have to make a society which is tolerant to all walks of life. Nobody should feel like they are discriminated against because of their race, background, socioeconomic status or religion. We will tackle this type of crime to make people feel safe and secure. We have to send a message to our children to say that discrimination is not acceptable. Not now, not ever. We will increase penalties and deterrants against individuals and organisations who feel it is acceptable to discriminate people in our society.

As we move into the 21st Century, we need to strive to make sure our economy is modernised and ready to embrace the future. In the recent budget, the Government allocated funds to help give people the skills to take full advantage of emerging industries such as Information Technology which will help make our economy more efficient and growth more sustainable in the future. We will adapt our education system to ensure Britain is not left behind as information technology and electronics engineering emerge as large, global market which Britain can be part of and build its future upon.

Before Elizabeth resigned, the Government presented a Budget to Build a Better Britain. I was involved in this process and believe that the Chancellor presented a bold vision which is best in the current climate. I will be assembling a team which will encompass all of the best talents this country has to offer which will be working for you, the British people. They will come together to serve in our national interest; fighting to create a strong economy, tolerant society and a safer Britain. As the business of Governing is bestowed upon me, I shall keep this speech brief. The country demands stability and security and that is exactly what I intend to provide. Thank you.

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  Ralph McKowen (Con)
Posted by: Ralph McKowen (CON) - 02-18-2018, 08:01 PM - Forum: New Players -- Register Here - Replies (3)

[Image: 220px-Ralph_Fiennes_2013.jpg]

Name: Ralph McKowen
Party: Conservative (Conservative Way Forward)
Constituency: Daventry
Age: 50 (02/02/1951)
Avatar: Ralph Fiennes
Sexuality: Heterosexual
Religion: Agnostic

Class: Upper Middle Class
Spouse: Ellie McKowen (m. 1976)
Children: Daniel McKowen (1980), James McKowen (1982)

Daventry Hill School (1962-1969)

Door to Door Salesman (1969-1972)
Small Business Owner | Kowentech (1972-1984)

CEO | Kowen Group Enterprises (1984-1992)
Member of Parliament for Daventry (1992-)

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  Budget Press Conference
Posted by: Rt. Hon. Sean Manning (LAB) - 02-18-2018, 03:50 PM - Forum: The Press - Replies (2)

Good afternoon everyone, thank you very much for coming.

Today I delivered my first Budget in the House of Commons. In it, I set out a blueprint for a better Britain. A more productive economy, supported by investment and high skills. A better deal for hardworking people,  the millions of children who still grow up in poverty and the pensioners who deserve a decent pension. And investment in our world class public services.

You will have all seen the highlights I am sure, and my officials are sharing with you a summary of all of the measures I have taken. But let me be clear that this Budget builds on the actions this government has already taken. It is because we have been prudent with the public finances that we can now afford to invest. Where the Tories doubled the national debt, Labour has been paying it down, and that means we now we can afford to invest while keeping the tax burden low and fair on ordinary families.

The Budget sets out how we will spend an extra £20 billion this year meeting those three priorities I set out. The most significant investments will be in supporting low and middle income families with children - including increasing child benefit to £17.50 immediately; investments in the NHS worth an extra £ 5 billion this year; and in our infrastructure and homes, with the Budget taking action towards our ambition to build at least 500,000 new council homes by 2010.

We have achieved that while keeping taxes low and fair. To that end, the Budget announced a 5p cut in fuel duty, funded by an additional levy on oil company profits; significantly increased the income tax personal allowance; and cut taxes for small businesses and the self-employed. 

This Budget was about one thing above all others: investment. Investment in our future economy, investment in our people, and investment in our public services. I am very happy to take questions.

Handout given to journos:

[Image: sutjkRc.png]

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  Points of Order
Posted by: Nathan - 02-18-2018, 01:18 PM - Forum: The Speaker's Chair - Replies (2)

If you have any qualms with another Member of Parliament's conduct, bring it up here.

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  Alwyn Thomas
Posted by: Rt. Hon. Alwyn Thomas (LAB) - 02-17-2018, 02:44 PM - Forum: New Players -- Register Here - Replies (5)

Name: Alwyn Thomas
Avatar: Justin Turdeau (sorry, Trudeau)
Constituency: Newport West

Age: 30
Sex: Male
Ethnicity: White
Marital Status: Married (Annabel Thomas), 1 child (Hannah Thomas)
Education: Local Comp, Degree in Politics and International Relations from Cardiff University
Career: Party Staffer 1992-1997, Elected MP 1997, Junior Minister in the Foreign Office 1998-2000, Minister of State for International Development 2000-2001
Party and Faction: Labour, Progress.

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  M-3: Hawk T2 Aircraft Procurement
Posted by: Rt. Hon. Callum Finch (LAB) - 02-17-2018, 02:31 PM - Forum: Ministerial Statements - No Replies

Madame Speaker,

With permission, I would like to make a brief statement regarding an element of defence procurement for our armed forces. After consultation with the relevant staff, the Chief of the Air Staff amongst others, we agreed that in order for the Royal Air Force to be the best in the world, we need to make sure that the training equipment that we use for new pilots needs to be adequate and up to date. We need to have enough aircraft to make sure that new pilots can get the relevant flight experience, without having to wait for their peers to finish in the aircraft. It is on this theme which I am delighted to announce the procurement of 20 BAE Systems Hawk 128 aircraft - otherwise known as the Hawk T2 - specifically for training purposes at the Royal Air Forces' discretion. It features new, state of the art LCD instrumentation and its engines are powered by Rolls Royce and manufactured here in the United Kingdom. The role of the Hawk T2 once in service will be performed at RAF Valley and used primarily by 4 Squadron but also support the 208 Squadron Hawk T1's already in service since 1976. Hawk aircraft serve to teach air combat, air-to-air firing, air-to-found firing and low-flying techniques which are ever growing in importance as more urban warfare is present in the theatre of conflict. On conclusion of this training, Mr Speaker, trainees are likely to go on to fly the Tornado GR4, Typhoon and future fast-jet aircraft. 

The cost of this purchase, Mr Speaker, equates to £360million - the cost of which is covered in the latest budget and spread over into the next one. This purchase not only helps equip our Air Force with the best equipment but will allow the expansion of training programmes and subsequently personnel serving within the Royal Air Force, who will be amongst the most skilled pilots in the world. The delivery of this aircraft is scheduled to occur in early 2002 from BAE and will likely enter service within 2 years of its delivery. I am proud to make this announcement, Mr Speaker, and I commend this statement to the House.

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  Budget 2001 (Finance Bill)
Posted by: Rt. Hon. Sean Manning (LAB) - 02-17-2018, 11:11 AM - Forum: Second Reading - Replies (4)

Mr Deputy Speaker,

When this Government came into office nearly four years ago, it did so with a clear mission. To fix the economic wrongs of the previous government, to lock in the economic stability that they failed so convincingly to create, and to invest in modern and world class public services.

It is a long-term mission. But we are making clear progress. Inflation has been low and stable. Unemployment is lower than at any point since the 1970s. And poverty is falling: putting this government on track to be the first that cuts poverty in decades.

And we have achieved that, Mr Deputy Speaker, while maintaining the fiscal discipline that is now paying dividends. The economic stability we have delivered means that year on year we are able to invest billions of pounds more in our public services, in our childrens’ figure, and in fulfilling our commitment to be the last generation blighted by child poverty.

Under the Tories nearly half of every extra pound they spent had to go on debt interest or the cost of unemployment. Under Labour more than 80p in every £1 of extra spending is going on public services.

Over the last four years our actions have repaired our economy and public finances while investing in public services. But our public services need more. Waiting lists in our NHS are falling and class sizes are falling, but without significant additional investment Britain’s public services will continue to fall short of being world class. Over the next Parliament Labour’s mission in government would be to bring those public services up to the world class standards we deserve. And it is because of our prudence and our responsibility we are now in the position to make that investment: with growth expected to continue at 2.5% next year, unemployment to fall, and inflation to remain below target.

And it is also because of our responsibility that we are in a position to do that while supporting ordinary hardworking people, making sure the burden of tax falls fairly on those that can afford it.

And I am well aware, Mr Deputy Speaker, of the representations that I have received on fuel duty. I maintain my position on last year’s blockades. They were counterproductive, and this government will never make policy on the basis of blockades or pickets. That is a fact. However, it is the responsibility of every government and every Chancellor to listen. And I have listened. Beyond the blockades and pickets, there is real concern over the price of fuel. But there is also concern over our schools and hospitals. I am not willing to announce a cut in fuel duty that would result in less money for those priorities.

However, I am also not content that much of the pain of motorists has been borne because of oil price rises beyond their control. That is unjust. And it has been big oil that has benefitted from the sudden and unexpected increase in those prices.

Therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, from 1 March this year I am imposing an 18% surcharge on the profits of oil companies in this country, and raising the rate of Petroleum Revenue Tax to 70% - a rate still lower than the early 1990s when the Tories handed a tax cut to oil companies. These additional taxes will raise nearly £3 billion. And I will immediately cut fuel duty by five pence with that revenue. The House would like to note that this will effectively backdate the abolition of the Tory fuel duty escalator – announced by this government last year - to 1997 and is nearly double the commitment made by the Opposition.

However, there was good environmental reason why fuel duty was increased when it was – environmental causes now fulfilled by higher crude oil prices. But to ensure we continue to do everything we can to improve air quality and to combat climate change, I am introducing a new first-year charge of £100 on the most polluting vehicles, while scrapping it on the cleanest. That change will be revenue neutral: the majority of motorists will pay less or no more, and no one will be charged more for the car they already own. I am also releasing an additional £100 million of investment in green energy research to ensure that Britain is well equipped to meet the challenge of climate change.

On top of our planned cut in Fuel Duty, Mr Deputy Speaker, this Budget will take further action to cut taxes for everyday working people. We will immediately raise the income tax personal allowance to £5,000, taking thousands of people out of tax altogether and handing everyone a tax cut worth £60 a year.

And we will take action to support our smallest businesses and our lower income self-employed. I will cut the small and starting rates of corporation tax by 2p each, and abolish the flat rate national insurance charge on the self-employed – a tax cut worth around £100 to the self-employed just starting out and just about managing.

However, it is important to protect revenue for the funding of our public services – and especially our NHS. Therefore I have tasked HMRC with taking action to recover an additional £500 million in avoided tax this year, raised the upper earnings limit for National Insurance, and over-indexed the duty on cigarettes. Taken together, these measures mean the overall tax burden will fall for the vast majority and in particular for the lowest incomed among employees and the self-employed; but overall spending on our public services will be protected.

This Budget has three spending priorities. First, to invest in the economy, infrastructure, and people of the future. Second, to make good on our promises on poverty. And finally to invest in the world class public services our country deserves. But that investment must be prudent. I remain committed to at least balancing day-to-day spending and taxes in the medium term. But I see no need to continue to run such a substantial budget surplus having repaired the damage the Tories did to our public finances. This year the overall budget surplus will fall to roughly £9 billion, or £21 billion on current spending, and debt as a share of GDP will continue to fall. It is my intention to continue to run down that budget surplus to invest in our people and public services in a prudent way. However, there will be no risks with economic stability: there will be no return to consistently rising public sector debt. And we will focus any additional spending or borrowing on productive, long-term investment that will pay itself back over time, which will rise this year alone by more than £5 billion.

On the first of my priorities, investing in the economy, infrastructure, and people of the future, I would like to thank the Home Secretary for his suggestions during last year’s Labour leadership campaign. I am pleased to announce the creation of a Research and Development Fund on which I will announce more details in the future, and a 10-year Regional Transport Fund worth £8 billion over that period to bring transport across our whole country up to standard. I am also releasing an immediate £200 million to make available for railway repairs in the aftermath of Hatfield. But let me be clear that this will not be another handout to our privatised railways. It will come with conditions. And if I am not convinced taxpayers are getting value or Railtrack is not fit for purpose I stand ready to take action up to and including nationalising the company.

I am making an extra £200 million available for adult skills, focussing on the skills in the new economy such as IT. And as a first step to our commitment to a universal modern apprenticeship scheme I am making £5 million available to the first stages of getting that set up.

Members will know of the government’s disappointment with progress on diversity at our top universities. So this Budget takes action to ensure that every young person has opportunities: increasing maintenance support by £500 a year and investing an extra £200 million in programmes to support widening participation at our universities: including rewarding those institutions that award places to individuals from working class and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Finally, the government will make significant investment available in homes and communities to start to meet our goal of 500,000 new council homes by 2010. I have made an extra £1 billion in credit available to local councils for new homes, and provided an additional £450 million to programmes to refurbish the estates and homes in most need of it.

The Budget’s second priority is on poverty and in particular child poverty. The Budget makes an immediate £3.5 billion investment in our aim to eradicate child poverty by 2020 and halve it by 2010. Child Benefit will increase to £17.50 immediately and will increase to £20 next year. And from September parents will be able to claim a new £1,000 child credit: effectively a means tested child benefit. But defeating child poverty will require more than just restoring our welfare state. It will mean supporting parents – especially lone parents – into work, and local initiatives to tackle the root causes of poverty. So from September I am doubling the childcare entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds to make it easier for parents to work and funding the expansion of Sure Start announced by the Education Secretary, and creating a new £200 million Child Poverty Fund to support local authorities. My long term aim is for free universal childcare service by 2010.

I have also taken the decision to restore the link between the state pension and earnings this year. That is worth an extra £80 a year this year alone – and will grow every single year that earnings outstrip inflation.

My final priority is to invest in public services. This Budget takes significant steps towards that. The NHS budget will grow by more than 10% - the biggest increase in its budget for decades – as we seek to match European levels of funding. And all our public services, including defence and our police, will receive real increases in their funding. And we will provide additional funding to the devolved authorities to allow them to make similar increases in spending in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland too. I will allow the Red Book to set out the details of these spending plans in more detail. But our investment will mean 10,000 more nurses this year, thousands of additional hospital beds, over a billion pounds dedicated to bringing down waiting times, and an extra £50 million to support a public health campaign on measles. And it will mean billions of pounds of investment to begin repairing and refurbishing our run-down NHS and schools estate. We will bring an end to the pre-fab school buildings and the pre-war NHS hospitals in this decade.

Our public servants will all receive the pay rises in line with independent recommendations from the pay review bodies. And I am allowing the pay bill to increase in line with average earnings in the whole economy to allow public sector employers to reward the most talented staff.

This is just the first year of investment in a programme that will take at least four years. And it will be important for us to consider the resources that are needed, particularly in our NHS, the outcomes we should expect for that investment, and what we can do to promote productivity and efficiency. Only then can we take the decisions on tax and spend and borrowing that will be necessary to fund that investment. Therefore I have decided to commission an independent review of NHS funding needs over the next ten years. That review will look at the funding the NHS needs to meet its current level of service, the funding it needs to meet higher standards of service that people expect, and the productivity and efficiency challenges it faces. The action we are taking today will be a first step to the investment to meet peoples’ future expectations of healthcare. But it will take more than this, and we stand ready to take the decisions necessary to make that investment a reality.

Finally, Mr Deputy Speaker, I have one final announcement to make on our NHS.

For most of its existence, the NHS has been free at the point of use for all but a few charged services. I am not content with that. And before I respond to the terrified intake of breath from the honourable member for Stoke on Trent North, my biggest fan on the Labour backbenches, let me be clear that it is the charges with which I am not content. Our NHS is supposed to be free for everyone. And this Labour government will return it to those principles, untarnished and unfettered. So this year I am abolishing prescription charges with immediate effect, and I will work over the coming year to look at the necessary investment to remove charges on NHS optical and dental care. And I encourage NHS trusts to take a close look at their practice on car parking charges. Our NHS is funded on the ability to pay and is for everyone when they need it. There will be no health taxes on the sick through the back door.

Mr Deputy Speaker, this is a Budget that looks to the future. It uses the prudence of the past three years and the repairs we have made to the Tory economy and public finances we inherited to begin a radical programme to transform our economy and our public services. Under this Budget everyone will pay less for their fuel and less in income tax. We will lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. We will all benefit from a substantial increase in investment in our public services. And we will make the NHS free at the point use to everyone who uses it.

It is a Budget, Mr Deputy Speaker, to build a better Britain – for everyone. And I commend it to this House.

.xlsx   Budget Pack 2001 - final.xlsx (Size: 92.41 KB / Downloads: 21)

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