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Finance Act 1995
Quote:The Chancellor rises to the despatch box. Budget tipple of choice is a glass of sparkling water [Saxon doesn’t drink]

Mr Deputy Speaker,
Today I report to the House on an economy that is strong and growing stronger. The ingenuity and work ethic of the British people continue to drive this economy forward. Before this budget I promised that this government would look to reduce the deficit whilst conducting a program of smart spending for frontline services and we have done just that. 
As we get into the budget let me first say however that I will report on an economy that will grow under this budget, forcasted to growth by 3.84% over the year. Inflation to the consumer price index is projected to be 2.67% over the year and the Gross Domestic Product is set to rise to £746 billion over the year.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I am pleased to report that this government is undertaking a program of smart spending, seeing investment in key areas such as the NHS, our police and our education systems whilst keeping an eye on the budget deficit. Under this budget unemployment is set to fall, the average wage growth is set to rise significantly and as I say this to the look of shock on the Leader of the Opposition’s face, public spending is also up Mr Deputy Speaker.

Alongside all this, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this Government is cutting direct taxes as our commitment towards supporting taxpayers and small businesses. 

I am delighted to report Mr Deputy Speaker that under this Government the deficit is falling, over the next year Borrowing minus investment is set to fall to £28 billion down from £35 billion. 

Mr Deputy Speaker, before we move onto this Government’s ambitious smart spending programme I have an announcement around interest rates. This Government has analysed market trends and the Treasury has had conversations with the Bank of England. Following consultation I have concluded that interest rates will rise under this budget to 7.25%.

Mr Deputy Speaker, this is a budget for economic growth and prosperity. We have been ambitious in our smart spending but realistic at the same time. 

Mr. Deputy Speaker, in 1992 this Government pledged a long-term commitment to lowering the basic rate of tax down to 20 percent. We believe that government should not gobble up all the proceeds of growth, and that those who create prosperity should enjoy it, through lower taxes and more opportunity to build up personal wealth. I am pleased to announce that we are making progress towards that commitment in this budget by lowering the basic rate from 25% down to 24%, allowing hard-working families to keep more of what they earn.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is also a Government that is ready to bet on British businesses and British entrepreneurs, because we know that if we allow them to do their job, they will not let us down. As such, we’ve lowered the lower rate of corporate tax for small businesses to 18 percent, down from 19 percent last year. This is a Government that knows that the best way to prepare our economy for the future is to make our country,  fertile ground for anyone and everyone wishing to start a business. Small businesses have a significant positive impact on this country and what will prepare us to meet the challenges ahead; they are the ones that can shape and create the economy of tomorrow, so we choose to stand with them and bet on their success. 

Mr Deputy Speaker this Government wants to encourage investment in our country. To promote investment this Government will reduce the Petroleum Revenue tax by 5% ensuring companies involved in oil exploration and production pay less tax on revenue. 

Mr Deputy Speaker, before the opposition shout about how this Government isn't helping motorists pay less at the pump, let me stop them there. We have got motorists covered. I can confirm fuel duty is being lowered by £0.210 to £0.199. This Government is ensuring that the British people will pay less at the pumps. 

Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I mentioned this Government will be increasing public spending. The Prime Minister has spoken about the ideals of “compassionate conservatism” and this is a budget that wholly reflects that. One major aspect of this includes our renewed support for the National Health Service, which is set to receive over £6 billion in new funding for a grand total of £46 billion. We will see the creation of 130 clinics and other services and 13 Hospitals under this budget. I can also confirm that over 21,000 staff are being recruited over the next year to support our NHS. This budget will also provide grants to modernisation funds, research, the international nursing program, Education, contagious disease containment fund and the British Overseas Health Resources. All Health staff will also see a pay award of 2.0% as well.

Alongside this, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this Government will see a real-terms increase across all social security benefits with the exception of unemployment benefit which has been reduced by 1%. More importantly, this extra help is more clearly focused on those groups with the greatest needs - less well-off pensioners, disabled people and low income families.

Mr Deputy Speaker, this Government takes the safety and security of this country and the general public extremely seriously. I can confirm that 3,792 police, 1,216 plain clothes detectives, 572 police staff will all be recruited thanks to this Government’s budget. I can also confirm that 2,412 Fire staff and an additional 1,000 other staff will be recruited. 45 new police stations and 60 new fire stations will also be built. This Government recognises the hard work and determination of our emergency services, therefore a pay award of 2.5% will be awarded to all Home Office personnel.

Mr Deputy Speaker, turning to prisons and I can confirm that 4 new prisons will be built under this budget. 3,000 rehabilitation places will also be provided, with 1,000 going to Basic Skills Education, 1,000 going to Prison Higher Education and 1,000 going to Drug Treatment. I can also confirm under this budget an additional 2,246 staff will be recruited for both existing and new HM prison facilities. This Government is committed to not just stopping crime but also preventing crime, and with this two-pronged approach tackling crime rates and recidivism rates we will be able to make our communities safer.

Turning to Defence, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this Government is awarded a pay award of 2.0% to all Defence staff. This Government has also invested in our military museums, modernisation funds, procurement and our regiments abroad. This budget will also provide funding for supplementary training initiatives. I will also note our increase of war pensions as our commitment to those who have served valiantly for our country.

Moving onto Transport, we recognise that a strong national infrastructure is key to a strong economy. By making Britain better connected through new roads and trains this Government will provide access to better opportunities that were previously out of reach for people. To this end the Government is announcing a major investment in transportation and infrastructure totaling over £3 billion in new spending. I am proud to announce that under this budget we will see the creation of 160 new trains and an additional 2,150 staff. I am also pleased to announce that an additional 15,500 roads and an additional 1150 highways will also be built. We will also see an additional 425 Highways & Roads staff recruited under this Government. This Government will also allocate a pay award to all Transport Personnel of 2.0%. 

All energy and employment personnel will see a pay award of 2%. This Government has also awarded over £18 billion in Central Government Grants to local authorities. All administrative grant requests have also been met by this Government. All EPA personnel will see a pay award of 2%. 

Onto Education and over 1,000 nursery nurses, over 2,800 primary school teachers, over 2000 secondary school teachers and 58 special school teachers will all be recruited under this budget. A pay of 2% will also be granted to all Education personnel. Students will also see a 2% increase in grants. 

In order to take serious steps towards abolishing the deficit, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we did have to raise new revenue in certain areas. But we do this recognising that high-tax policies are not the way to go about this. We have not increased income tax, we have not increased capital gains tax, Inheritance tax, national insurance and we have also not increased stamp duty. I can also confirm Mr Deputy Speaker, that the levels of VAT, both the main and the reduced rate will remain unchanged. I can confirm however that Betting and Gaming will no longer be exempt from VAT, which will raise over £3 billion. Beer duty will rise by 1p to £0.46p, wine will rise by 8p to £2.74 and spirits will rise by 7p to £3.62. Tobacco duty will rise for a pack of 10 cigarettes by 8p to £0.50 and a pack of 20 will rise by 17p to £1.01. Betting and gambling duty will rise by 1%, Insurance Premium Tax will also rise by 2%.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am announcing that in order to raise significant revenue this Government is taking British Coal out of nationalisation which will raise a total of £3 billion. While this was a difficult decision, our nationalisation of the coal industry had been an increasing strain on the public purse with costs continuing to rise and revenues continuing to fall. By moving British Coal into the private sector we not only create major savings needed for our cuts in taxation and increases in public spending but trust that new innovation will breathe new life into the industry.

Mr Deputy Speaker, this budget represents a real investment in the British people. It represents a level-headed approach to the public finance and sets us on a course to pay down our public debt over time. It’s a budget fit for an economy that continues to grow and offers the investment for our frontline services. This is a budget that delivers for the British people, it  is a budget fit for the British economy, a pro-business budget as well as a pro-people budget. It is a budget by a Government that knows that, in the words of a former Prime Minister, “there is no such thing as public money, there is only taxpayers’ money.” We will never forget that it is not our money, but that of the British people, and as the sworn custodians of the people’s money, we promise only to spend it where it is responsible, where it will benefit the people of Britain.

Mr Deputy Speaker, this is a budget for growth and prosperity, this is a budget for pro business and this is the budget for the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. With that, I commend this budget to the House.

(Budget pack )
ORDER! The Leader of the Opposition!

(24hrs from now)
Madam Speaker,

What we have seen this government present today is nothing more than the world’s largest apology. After years of harsh taxes, economic mismanagement, privatisation threats, and overall cuts; the Chancellor has written the last of the Tory love letters to the British people. His speech might as well have included

“Dear Public, we know things have been rocky the last few years. We know about the broken promises, the u-turns, and the recession. We know about the wait times, crowded classrooms, and the VAT. But things will be different this time. We promise” I don’t believe the British people are so foolish to believe them.

The problem with the Conservative ideology can be boiled down to the acceptability of the boom and bust. An increase in pay and employment looks great, and these are welcome figures. But with inflation set to rise, it just points to the same thing- more boom and eventual bust. That is not a healthy vibrant economic policy. Rather it is just getting by and doing well until the road gets hard and when it’s bad, it’s really bad. We need steady and sustainable growth and investment, not this being tossed to and fro by every wind of change. It is imperative that the Government stand on its own feet. Instead what we are seeing is the recessional rebound.

The Chancellor is trying to do the magical. He wants us to gush and his investment and then ignore that investment when we speak of deficit. Essentially he believes we should let him have his cake and eat it too. But when it comes to the deficit, they aren’t really tackling it. We know the Conservatives strategy. Increases in investment this year will mean they have to be paid off. Yes investment is necessary, but there does not seem to be a firm economic policy. It hopes for the boom soon and the bust later.

Moving on to direct taxation, we are in support of a move of basic the basic rate to 20%. However this alone is not a sustainable policy. This government has forced more Britons into tax. So for all of their self acclaimed accomplishments on increasing wages, it gives from one hand and takes from the other. This budget freezes personal allowance. So while more is being made by the working class, more is being paid by the working class. The same can be said for the National Insurance. Coupled with the increase in inflation, this budget isn’t necessarily creating growth. Rather people are paying substantially more in tax. For the party that has crowed and cawed about their dedication to low tax, this budget in quite uninspired. We would’ve liked to have seen a more significant cut to small businesses tax. It is the entrepreneur in Briton that we must be supporting. Despite all their claims to be low taxers, the government have shown that to be spin: they've slapped an £8.6 billion increase in taxes - levelled disproportionately towards working families - another £143 per person. Added with the tax increases hauled on them since 1992, the Tories are making the British people pay up to an extra £1000 per person in taxes. No wonder living standards have gone down.

For the last few years this government has operated under a banner of broken promises. Prior to the last election they swore and promised that this time was different and they wouldn’t expand it. They did it anyway, increasing tax not just in the majority of Britons, but in the working class, the poor, and pensioners. Clearly we could’ve afforded to make a moderate cut as Labour have proposed, but this budget presented does not do it. While we rejoice with the country that the Conservatives have u-turned again and chosen not to raise it right now, they are not alleviating from their broken promises, rather they have doubled down on them. However, they have exposed their most recent excuses as being all talk. Cutting the fuel duty threatens our environmental impact than a VAT cut. We see that those lines of argument were just another excuse to get off the backs of the poor. Remember recently the Conservatives bemoaned the £60 million hit to the coffers. Keep that in mind I’ll return there in a moment. We appreciate them admitting that Labour has been right for sometime and removed VAT exemptions from gambling. I just wished the Chancellor would’ve given us credit where it is due.

However, a major concern that arises is that it’s saddening that the Government is abandoning its support of the pub trade. Alcohol duties in the UK are already higher than most in Europe. These service industry jobs are worked by some of our hardest working people. We would prefer that we prioritise the pub trade by keeping costs low, but the Government clearly has other priorities. Even in the items we do support, such as the cigarette duty increase, we must press for temperance. We believe the main thrust of this budget is best described as knee jerk and reactionary. Steady rises are better than quick fixes. We know that the Conservatives are trying to win back the electorate; but this is not the type of leadership we need. We need a more phased approach and a more steady fiscal strategy. Again we see that this tax policy is inherently unfair. Oil barons are receiving a substantial cut while the working class and pensioners will see a rise in their tax.

The Conservatives will say that these people will have to learn to live within their means. However, instead of taking their own medicine, the Chancellor, Prime Minister, and Foreign Secretary have I sure that their departments have been giving every pound they asked for. Instead of asking Whitehall to be more efficient, they are asking the many to just pay more in tax. Misplaced priorities are seen throughout this budget. Instead of maintaining housing, they’ve refused to full fund there. There apparently just wasn’t enough to make it work.

Turning to the Home Office, it is good to see that the Conservatives have had their Damascus Road experience and seen the light. Their investure is well received. However, reform must also be a focus. Health is another area in which it’s good to see the Government has attempted to make an investment. But, the Chancellor left out the six pence hike in a sick tax. Prescriptions charges must be managed fairly. Tories want to balance NHS funding on the backs of the sick, which is an unfair priority; the Tories have put the burden of their spending and taxation decisions on working people. We do not support the Tories' hospital building plans. The Tories did not meet a single hospital or clinic target. All of their investments, but they couldn’t meet a single target. It’s a shame.

And then we get to Transport. The Conservatives have made this their major priority with large chunks of funding. We need a more sensible approach to transport than throwing billions whenever it is requested and need to effectively balance the short and long term needs of the economy. This kind of approach has shown Conservative irresponsibility. But Madam Speaker, here is the lack of planning shown to bear. The Government has given an addition £320 million to road maintenance over what was requested. Remember that to fully fund housing was £20million. To cut VAT to 5%, it would cost £60million. Which mean we could trim this extra gift, still give £240 million for extra maintenance and fund housing and cut VAT. It’s not a lack of ability- it’s a lack of want to. This isn’t compassionate conservatism; it’s clueless conservatism. They could make the cuts and add the funding, they just don’t want to. The sons and daughters of Thatcher have raised taxes in some areas, refused to cut them on the poorest, all to over-give hundreds of millions for road maintaining.

When it comes to social security, we are delighted to see that this government has not made the situation any worse. However, the actions over the last sixteen years make this increase minimal. Child poverty and pensioner poverty having skyrocketed under the Conservatives, we need more money invested into pensions and into family benefits. The Tories' meagre offer will have no effect in lowering this and leaves the worst off families struggling.

While we understand the government will continue its privatisation of the coal industry, Labour will respond very simply by pushing legislation that requires workers to sit on boards. We hope to see those profits go to the workers, not just corporate friends at the top. However, the lack of research and development is troubling. Apparently the government has given up on innovation. Might I suggest instead of the fat tax cuts, they invest in innovation as well?

We largely support the regional spending plans. However, we do not believe investment in cultural projects is an efficient allocation of funds while we have such a large deficit and this is where the private sector can step in for now. Furthermore, what the Tories put in here is completely undermined by their savage cuts in this department. The cuts in culture and sport undermine any increase in cultural spending the Tories gave to the regions - give with one hand and take with the other - and leaves England completely vulnerable. We support sustainable, phased restraint in culture/sport department while the deficit is high, but this goes a bit far. Once again, no clear strategy; just reacting.

Finally on education, it is good to see the dramatic change of heart by the government. We hope to see it continue. My great grievance is that adult education seems to fall on the Government priority list. That second chance is necessary in order to give people a second chance.

Madam Speaker, while there are good parts to this budget, it lacks any clear strategy. It raises taxes on the workers, raises that with proper planning can be avoided. It gives from one hand and takes from the other. It barely touches the deficit. It’s priorities lie in continued tax cuts for the few, while it makes life harder for the many. For those reasons, it must be rejected.
Order, Second Reading (72hrs then division)
Madam Speaker

I am broadly supportive of this budget. I recognize that it has been constructed against a constrained fiscal backdrop that has given the Chancellor limited room for maneuver.

I welcome the reduction in the basic rate of taxation. I applaud the more modest corporation tax rate for small businesses. I am also pleased to see investments in many areas of critical infrastructure.

Overall, I think the Chancellor has done a good job of trying to balance the books and it is evident that he has succeeded in bringing down the deficit.

However, Madam Speaker, there are some minor disappointments too.

My main one is that the overall burden of taxation continues to rise. The amount people pay in VAT has risen by over £7.7 billion in the course of a year. And the total amounts paid in income tax have risen well above overall economic growth, mainly because the Chancellor has not indexed the thresholds to inflation.

As I indicated, I fully appreciate that the Chancellor is operating within economic constraints. However, I would ask him to get back to an agenda of real-terms tax cutting as quickly as possible. Doing so will not only aid growth but will help restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax system.
Mrs. Margo Leadbetter
Home Secretary and Secretary of State for DEFRA
Conservative MP for Surbiton
Madam Speaker,

I thank the Rt. Honorable Gentleman for what kind words he did manage to give to our budget, albeit selectively so. But that’s what we have to expect of Labour nowadays: no matter what it’s either not good enough or too much. This budget is projected to grow our economy and wages at higher rates than last year - he shouts “boom and bust”. This budget is investing an extra £6 billion in our NHS, he says we haven’t met “targets” - while his party spends nearly £700m less on the NHS, I might add. We continue to cut the deficit and direct tax rate and he suddenly becomes a budget hawk. I just don’t buy it, Madam Speaker, and I don’t think the voters will either.

It pleases me that the Rt. Hon. Gentleman has accepted our target of lowering the basic rate down to 20%, as dramatic as a new policy that is for Labour while we’ve backed it since 1992. I’d add that if we were to lower the basic rate by 1% each year from this budget on we would reach just in time for the millennium. Should wages continue to grow per projected, I think those cuts would be a very welcomed change. The same goes for our progress in cutting small business taxes as well as fuel duty, as we show our support for small businesses and motorists. There’s good reason why living standards have always risen faster under Conservative Governments than under Labour. We’re committed to a long term vision of lowering direct taxes while the best they can do is try and one-up us for the press.

Again, Madame Speaker, the Rt. Hon. Gentleman criticises public investments, this time in our the Cabinet Office, HM Treasury, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - all of which his proposed budget offers real-term cuts. This neglect was clearly intentional when you consider the fact that proposed hike in stamp duty alone would raise enough revenue to create a second Foreign Office, and yet he can’t find the money to properly fund the first one. I take offense to his charge that our investment in these departments is a self-service. His implication that they do not carry the worth and importance of proper investment, especially on the Foreign Office which I had the privilege of serving in for eight years, and I’ll stand proudly against his misguided criticise and cuts.

Madame Speaker, on the Home Office budget the Rt. Hon. Gentleman seemed to offer brief words of approval then brushed by rather quickly. I take this as a sound endorsement of our decisions regarding the Home affairs, but after seeing his own proposals I think a comparison is necessary.  Firstly, I’m happy to point out that our police will be paid better than under a Labour government at a 2.5% pay raise. Secondly, I’m pleased to say that the staffing requests for Home Office personnel have been met under our budget. Under Labour’s, well, offer 231 firefighters when asked for 2,317. God forbid they win the next election if Britons can’t trust a Labour government to put out house fires.

On health, the Rt. Hon. Gentleman actually criticises our £6 billion investment in our NHS because we “didn’t meet targets”. Madame Speaker, he couldn’t even meet the hire target for firefighters! To me this is another weak, desperate line of argument because Labour has nothing else. At the end of the day his party is offering the NHS nearly £700m less, making it clear which party cares more about our world-class health system.

On social security, he says he again welcomes our investment, but says this isn’t enough. But Madame Speaker, he has to tell me which is it: are we disregarding the deficit or are we not investing enough? Because it cannot be both, despite what he wants to believe.

The Rt. Hon. Gentleman suggests that his party is in favor of our decision to privatise British Coal, a change which I am pleased to see as a shift away from socialist dogma. I hope that this will be the start of a shift against fantastical notions of nationalisation and that he’ll back further privatisation of sectors costing more money to support than they bring in.

It is unfortunate to see that the Rt. Hon. Gentleman then goes back to criticises public investment again, this time in transportation and infrastructure. Does he or does he not support a robust infrastructure network to support our economy and job market? While we put forward an ambitious yet sound investment in a sector that will help promote economic growth, his party takes a far more tepid stance on transport, even freezing maintenance grants for road and highways. It’s a rather good metaphor - do you want to smooth, paved road to a strong economy that the Conservatives offer or the bumps, cracks, and pitfalls of a Labour-run economy.

On local and regional spending plans it’s the same claim: too much in one area, not enough in another. He signals his approval on education matters - though I push back to say our investment on education was a “dramatic change of heart”. This investment is consistent with our investment in health, in infrastructure, in our Foreign Office, our Home Office and elsewhere.

It may seem peculiar to voters who remember how far apart party leaders were in the eighties compared to now, but while some of the policies seem similar - Labour having the benefit of seeing our homework before they put out their own budget, the approaches could not be more different. On one side you have compassionate conservatism that makes necessary investments alongside reductions in direct tax rates in a way that doesn’t raise the deficit either. You get a budget that will put more people into work with better paying jobs. On the other side you have opposition opportunism, which simply tries to one-up us even when they have nothing to criticise us over. Here we have Labour adopting pledges to lower the basic rate to 20p, privatising British Coal, and so forth in following our lead. While I say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, it shows that their party is intellectually bankrupt and is desperate enough to shed traditional policies in favor of ours if it helps them win.

Madame Speaker, the Rt. Hon. Gentleman may shout “boom and bust” at any suggestion of a growing economy, but here’s the fact: for the past fifteen years everytime Labour thinks they’ve gone ‘boom’ in the polls they go ‘bust’ at the election! And if they keep this charade up I think we can guess what’ll happen to them again.
Prime Minister John Kenneth Masters, MP for Torbay
Madam Speaker,

This government is weak and is fronted by a weak Prime Minister who spends more of this budget spouting lines he hopes to use for an election rather than managing a good economy. We're here to talk about this budget, the budget that will change the lives of Britons up and down across this country and yet he is obsessed with Labour's proposals and would rather the House focus on them. He knows we're offering a better vision for Britain: smarter public investment, less debt and lower taxes. We're here to discuss how to manage a strong economy and yet he is obsessed with elections, using childish lines about 'copying' instead of acknowledging when parties can come together for the common good - I've seen children display more maturity than the Prime Minister has in this House and it is frankly shameful. 

Labour acknowledges that while our deficit is so high, we must engage in smart spending. The Prime Minister may try to right all the wrongs created by every previous budget he's voted for today, but his fiscally irresponsible binge means that there is less to go to public services tomorrow. Smart spending is not the Chancellor's shoddy vision of thinking that the bigger the number, the better the public service, Madam Speaker. It's how you use that money. 

The Prime Minister should acknowledge the wealth of evidence that finds that smaller hospitals produce better health outcomes. That is what his government should be focusing on - and the result is clear: more targets met, a stronger NHS and less money from the taxpayer as a result. If he had followed a programme of real smart spending we know he would not have to tax the sick to try and balance the NHS on their backs.

Labour supports a reduction to a broad 20% income tax because we believe it benefits working people and unlike the Prime Minister we are guided not by ideology or electioneering but by evidence. However, unlike the Prime Minister we won't give with one hand and take with the other by tweaking income tax and national insurance to force more impoverished people into tax and more middle class families into higher rates - a shameful, cruel policy that hurts the poorest. We will ensure thresholds keep up with inflation, and once a 20% base tax is reached we will ensure that personal allowance can rise so we take the poorest out of tax altogether. He talks about living standards, but they have fallen under this government and with this policy you can see exactly why - gone are the low tax Conservative Party of old he boasts about, but the same ideological worship for boom and bust remains.

And here the Prime Minister shows his own self interest, his ignorance that we have just come out of a huge recession and that there needs to be a tightening of the belt somewhere show. But who does the Prime Minister want to make sacrifices? Not his old office in the Foreign Office, not his Chancellor's office, not his own - and he'll even boast about throwing money their way. We're happy to force the Whitehall bubble to be more efficient and to live within its means while we have a huge deficit. The people the Prime Minister want to make suffer are the poorest and our pensioners. Whitehall can live and thrive with small cuts Madam Speaker, but I can assure you pensioners cannot live when they choose between heating or eating - a choice he has forced them to make so that he never has to make a single tough choice!

This government has proven itself incapable of making any tough choices in order to pay down our debts, Madam Speaker. If the Prime Minister and Chancellor can't do it, there are two people who are more than happy to take their places. Home Office spending is a more than effective example of this: we continue to invest in our fire services in a sustainable way that would leave them stronger, but we prioritise investment to the police force while crime skyrockets. 

What the Conservatives are content to burn is taxpayers money - taxing pensioners out of heating to cut the taxes of oil barons, taxing pubs out of business so that they can waste almost half a billion pounds into projects that weren't even requested in our prisons and for road maintenance and forcing the poorest into income tax so that in a single budget they can try to right the wrongs created by budgets they once voted for, only to try to erase them in one single swoop to try and win an election. But this lavish spending today results in more taxpayers money going into interest tomorrow. It will be eaten up before we see its benefits. 

Instead of fifteen years where we keep building up more and more debt, which will be where the Conservatives' spending proposals take us on even the most optimistic projections Madam Speaker, we want to get the deficit out the way so that we can move on and invest that extra revenue into public services, not on building debt and on more interest. It is that simple.

And we can do it while allocating resources fairly, Madam Speaker. The Prime Minister asks how we can balance increased investment into families and pensioners to tackle child and pensioner poverty, Madam Speaker. That is simple: we do it by forcing Whitehall to be more efficient. We do it by not wasting over £100 million on prison schemes not even requested by Her Majesty's prisons. And we do it by not doubling road maintenance spending when that spending was not even requested - a figure plucked completely out of thin air with no sense of rationale. 

Labour proposed freezing our highways maintenance for a very simple, logical reason: that extra investment was not even requested. Can the Prime Minister confirm that to keep our roads properly maintained the maintenance figure would need to double and that the civil service were consulted on this? We believe in sustainable investment into our transport network: but not this kind of waste. When we get this kind of waste, Britain's pensioners do not get the resources they need to fight their way out of poverty. When we get this kind of waste, we can't meet single hospital building targets or all of our education targets. When we get this kind of waste, we cannot get a proper grip of our finances.

Unlike this budget before us, the budget Labour has presented which is a budget the Prime Minister wants to talk about more than his own is a budget that is rooted in our values, but presents evidence based policies - if those policies are shared by the Conservatives, then all the better. 

That is the way this country should be governed: when it runs on fairness, but presents policies that are practical and sustainable. The Conservatives do not know how to respond to their, as their values aren't fair and their policies aren't practical - so they've resorted to childish playground jibes of copying homework and say Labour's platform both mirrors theirs and is dangerous. That isn't just contradictory, Madam Speaker, it's a message the Conservatives shouldn't be telling the electorate.

Labour understands we were rejected at the ballot box in 1992, Madam Speaker. So we've listened and responded. And the Prime Minister has the gall to sit here and talk about turning ones back on key policies. He is the Prime Minister who simply refuses to fulfil the promise he made in 1992 that the British people voted for to keep VAT off electricity and domestic fuel. And he stands here today, shamefully defending it while lecturing others about principles. I have consistently called for Labour to adopt the pragmatic platform it stands on today, he voted for every budget that got us into this mess and thinks the electorate will turn around and forgive him for trying to reverse it all in one large swoop. For shame, Madam Speaker. 

Madam Speaker, I'll on this note: this Labour Party embraces growth. But that growth cannot be growth that is a rebound out of a recession, and an uptick in inflation has laid down the warning signs. But the Tories have not listened - they have their eyes on their dismal polling, not the economic indicators. 

The Prime Minister talks of copying homework, but he clearly has not done his at all. We need fiscal restraint: that will include tempering spending, tempering taxing and getting the deficit down. With every rush there's a comedown, and I fear for this budget's comedown.

The Conservatives may have moved from being a low tax, tempered party to a high tax, wasteful spending one - but their core strategy of a boom and bust economy remains. Every time they've attempted similar electoral stunts it has ended in tears, such as the Lawson and Barber booms followed by devastating inflation and recession. Madam Speaker, unless we vote this budget down today we could risk a Saxon one. That is not a gamble I am prepared to take and is why Labour cannot support this budget.
Labour - Liverpool Riverside.
Shadow Chancellor
Madam Speaker,

I stand in full support of this budget. Whilst it may not be considered a typical Conservative budget, it will be a budget that delivers what this country needs. The Shadow Chancellor may talk about smart spending, and how she has adopted this approach, it really is too late for that to be adopted by the Party opposite. It is due to smart spending in previous budgets that we are now able to spend in the way that we have. This isn’t just a sudden u-turn. This is the result of good budgeting over the past decade and a half. There has been a build up of needed infrastructure. This has not been ignored or forgotten about deliberately, or to follow some ideological cause that necessitates that we do not spend money on things that we need. It has been the direct result of previous economic mismanagement, to put it politely, by the last Labour government. Difficult decisions were made, were needed to be made, but now we have the pay off for those difficult decisions. We can nw spend massively on infrastructure in a way that we could not in the past.

Labour’s previous stance was to spend when we didn’t have the money. It’s new stance is to not spend when we can. To not invest on essential services when we are able to do so. I’ve said elsewhere that Labour are very good at talking, but not acting. This can only be shown in their stance on a minimum wage, yet it is this government that are increasing pay for Home Office personnel more than Labour would. After facing a decade and a half of questions about how we fund our public services to what is needed, it is this Conservative Government who would increase the pay of firefighters more than Labour, who are building more fire stations, who are hiring over 2000 more firemen.

After being criticised for an increase in waiting lists, after constantly telling the public that the NHS is only safe with them, after telling the public that we would privatise the NHS, Labour now show them for the hypocrites that they are! They wouldn’t even build any new major or large hospitals despite 9 being requested. It is this Conservative Government, this Conservative Chancellor, and this Conservative Health Secretary that are hiring more staff for the NHS than Labour would!

It is more than apparent that Labour can talk, talk, talk, but it is the Conservatives that act, act, act!
Madam Speaker,

What world is the Home Secretary living in? This is the result of good budgeting?

We've been left with an unprecedented budget deficit under this Conservative government and have just come out of a recession. If the government see this as good budgeting, it's no wonder they're showing sudden fiscal irresponsibility now. The government are living in fantasyland - pretending they live in a world where Britain has no budget deficit, where it's economy has not just experienced a major recession and needs stability now more than ever, and pretending that one spending splurge at once can right all the wrongs of the past fifteen years. They won't suffer for their delusions, but the British people will.
Labour - Liverpool Riverside.
Shadow Chancellor
Madam Speaker,

If this is the Government's idea of good budgeting, I shudder to think of what it would consider bad budgeting. 15 years which includes two deep recessions and an unsustainable boom in between those recessions. Now, in spite of improved economic growth, and billions of pounds in tax increases, the Government does nothing to reduce the deficit, but imposes unsustainable increases in spending. This is very much a grasshopper budget. It looks appealing for now, but will do no one any good when winter comes.
Max Power, Labour
MP for Oxford East (1987-present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary (1994-present)

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