That was a budget – where’s the debate?

Tradition has it that immediately following a Budget statement the Commons gets to vote on urgent tax changes, and then proceeds to a debate extending over several days to go in to all the detail of the Budget.

Today we has a so called Pre Budget Report, which warrants a Ministerial statement followed by a few questions from those MPs that manage to get called. Yet today’s PBR was in effect a huge Budget. The Chancellor plans a large urgent tax change on VAT.

I and three other Conservatives in the Chamber asked for a debate and a vote on all this. We were told there were no plans for one today, as the government had other business. We will return to this matter, as it is a democratic disgrace.

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33 Comments

  1. Amanda
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    Everything this Government now does is a democratic disgrace.

  2. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    What other business could be more important than this? I watched the Pre Budget Report and subsequent questions. None of the questions were answered and there was no attempt by Darling to even try. The Labour benches emptied almost as soon as the questions started and I felt a dreadful sense of the futility of it all. This is not the working of a robust and thriving democracy – it is the very antithesis of it. The country is being led to ruin by a prime minister, smirking like an imbecile, while the so-called Mother of Parliaments is seen to be little more than a chamber for repeating statements already leaked to the press and for which the executive, in the form of this Labour government, has complete contempt.

  3. Posted November 24, 2008 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    This is a despicable PBR from a despicable and discredited Labour Party. This will mess up the economy, the public finances, and will impoverish many people. He should have cut income tax by at least 3p, rather than this nonsense about VAT and all the rest.

    And the business “measures ” he has announced were not much better.

  4. Richard Clarke
    Posted November 24, 2008 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    What's the point of a debate, John? The Government will do what little it can, given that authority to make serious changes in this area has been given to the EU. For example he can't cut VAT below 15% (in the USA Chicago is regarded as heinous because it has the highest sales tax in the nation, at 10%)

    With all due respect John you must be well aware that Parliament is just a neutered talking shop, little more than a rubber stamp to give the appearance of democracy. The real decisions are made in Brussels and implemented by the civil service on its behalf.

    • jean baker
      Posted November 25, 2008 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      The EU is no excuse for labour seeking to sidestep parliamentary procedures and protocols with extremely serious issues. By the same token Brown made time with an irrelevant issue involving Jonathan Ross. The historic financial meltdown created by labour's abolotion of Clause Four had nothing to do with the EU. Nulabor clearly accepts or refutes EU rulings on the basis of 'self interest' as opposed to the good of the nation. Preventing full and open debate confirms labour's growing contempt for democracy and it's citizenship – behaviour akin to dictatorship despots.

      • Richard Clarke
        Posted November 25, 2008 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        I'm not saying the EU is an excuse for what is happening, I'm saying that the gradual surrender of power – by British MPs – over the past 30 years is the explanation for it.

        It was MPs, after all, voted to hand over power to Brussels.

        They can't now complain that the Government treat parliament as an irrelevance!

        They voted themselves into irrelevance, in exchange for generous pay and perks, on the advice of officials who were mostly thinking of all the career opportunities for themselves and their cronies in Brussels.

        Consider what would happen if Parliament was to be suspended for a few years for 'refurbishment' and Brown announced that due to the financial crisis the election would be postponed for 'until he is able to stablise the situation', and offered Cameron and Osborne jobs in his 'emergency' cabinet.

        What is more likely? Riots? Or would people just continue getting on with their lives, and their jobs, going on holiday, getting married, having kids, etc.

        • jean baker
          Posted November 25, 2008 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

          I disagree … Nulabor's contempt for the principles of democracy and longstanding parliamentary procedures is 'self serving'. The acceptability (or otherwise) of EU policies is based on 'self interest'. The European Council's condemnation of the corruptable voting system was ignored.

      • adam
        Posted November 25, 2008 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

        Jean Baker,
        what does clause four have to do with the credit crunch?

        • jean baker
          Posted November 26, 2008 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          Nulabor's abolition of monetary regulation resulted in gross maladministration, corruption of the economy. Historic 'black hole' debts – unaffordable borrowings at taxpayers' expense were obtained for PFI's for profiting closed shop labour unionist benefactors – 'champagne casino capitalism'.

  5. StevenL
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    I've been having a flick through the smallprint, it not only seems Brown was telling the truth about looking for a global solution, it appears he's looked to Columbia and started a ponzi scheme for the impoverished.

    It's called the 'Savings Gateway', and promises a healthy 100% return after two years. Digging deeper, it seems that back in 2001 the government noticed that 'people on low incomes aren't saving enough'.

    The debt-fuelled credit crisis seems to have spurred them on to roll one of their ten years plans out a few months early. So now, through the 'savings gateway' people claiming tax credits (which are set to rise above the rate of inflation and be protected against deflation) will be eligable not to have to put up with the paltry 2 or 3 per cent savings rates on offer to the rest of us.

    I can't find anywhere on the Treasury's website exactly how much they plan on allowing the 8,000,000 people they say are eligable for this scheme to save in it. But let's say they are allowed a maximum of £10 a week each, that still works out at a potential £8.32 billion liability.

    Like they say, there a new taxpayer born every day!

    • jean baker
      Posted November 26, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      StevenL – Brown urged Councils & others to invest taxpayers money in Icelandic Savings Schemes – disastrous. Brown's self serving 'promises' are like pie crusts – made to be broken.

  6. HJ
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Why would Stalin want a democratic debate, that he would clearly lose (on account of having no coherent arguments in his favour), when he can just not have a debate?

    Who cares about democracy? It is secondary to his own preservation.

  7. Posted November 25, 2008 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    There should be a debate and a vote on these tax changes

    Edw. II 1322 Revocatio Novarum Ordinationum

    "Ordinances or provisions concerning the King and the realm made by subjects shall be void and none such shall be made except by the King, Lords and Commons in Parliament".

    Bowles v. Bank of England, [1913] 1 Ch. 57, 84-85

    By the statute 1 W. & M., usually known as the Bill of Rights, it was finally settled that there could be no taxation in this country except under authority of an Act of Parliament. The Bill of Rights still remains unrepealed, and no practice or custom, however prolonged, or however acquiesced in on the part of the subject, can be relied on by the Crown as justifying any infringement of its provisions. It follows that, with regard to the powers of the Crown to levy taxation, no resolution, either of the Committee for Ways and Means or of the House itself, has any legal effect whatever. Such resolutions are necessitated by a parliamentary procedure adopted with a view to the protection of the subject against the hasty imposition of taxes, and it would be strange to find them relied on as justifying the Crown in levying a tax before such tax is actually imposed by Act of Parliament.

  8. John
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    John, despite being an MP for many years, you still seem astonished that New Labour is denying Parliament democratic debate. Blair started it. and the (word left out) Brown has carried on the same way. Brown polished his slimy tactics with numerous budgets that had hidden taxes not mentioned in the speech. As prime minister he has continued in the same fashion. Years ago this sort of thing would lead to revolution. Now, of course, with an ineffectual opposition, and many brainwashed or immigrant voters, we have now decended into a virtual dictatorship. If only I was younger I could emigrate.

    Reply: I know the measure of this government, but do need to show some anger each time they stifle our democracy.

  9. James
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    Must feel fairly good to have been so thoroughly vindicated John?

  10. Posted November 25, 2008 at 1:43 am | Permalink

    I agree and have made the same point with some stabs at why they might have done this on my blog:
    http://markreckons.blogspot.com/2008/11/pre-budge

    I also do not understand why they are being allowed to get away with effectively binding the hands of the next 2 parliaments. Is this not unconstitutional?

  11. Jonathan Cook
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Labour treat democracy and the people with contempt routinely.

    Lack of debate is just scratching the surface. Purposefully leaking the budget to the media was awful. Also the PM and other ministers refusing to answer straight questions with straight answers makes a mockery of parliament.

    The people need to show that we won't be shoved around. A peaceful protest march on London is in order.

  12. Posted November 25, 2008 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    What happened to the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968?

  13. Posted November 25, 2008 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    Democracy in this country is going down the pan. Just a coincidence that on the same day the Chancellor delivered his massive tax bombshell, it was also announced that Police will receive 10,000 tasers? Don't think so John. At it's very heart, we are facing one of the most undemocratic and malignant Governments we have ever seen in this country. They keep the poor poor, and punish the rich, the aspirational and the wealth-creators. Ultimately, I believe that unless we all come round to the way this Government want us to think then they'll eventually declare a state of emergency and cancel all future elections.

    And I am actually a Conservative member, not some internet crackpot conspiracy theorist. I honestly do believe we are seeing the end of democracy in the UK and people need to know just how evil this Government actually is.

    • jean baker
      Posted November 25, 2008 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      People do 'see' and think ….. hence 85% of them wanting a return to honest, democratic government.

  14. Bernard Johns
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Even overlooking the lack of debate. Can they lawfully change a level of Tax (ie on alcohol,fuel etc) without a vote in the House?

  15. Anthony
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    John,
    you may not be aware, but you should be, that there are some extremely angry people in this country and they won't be treated like this for too long.
    We have to get rid of this bunch(very unflattering description left out!). They have no respect for us. Much more and they will find that the worm has teeth.

  16. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    We need to pass an Act of Parliament that makes the British Parliament able to overrule EU law when any government deems it in the national interest. We need to make our law superior to EU law or what is the point of electing our Parliament ?

    Why bother with MP's & Peers when 80% of our laws are made in Brussels ? Could not the billions we ship off to Brussels be better spent here at home especially when you consider that their accounts have yet to be signed off for at least 15 years or so ?

    Their regulations are destroying farming , fishing and small business while our courts are being undermined and freedom of speech is to. The EU need our custom for their goods & services and as the single currency area is in recession & has higher interest rates than the USA just like the UK I can see no gain from axing the £ as we would keep the same problems and have less freedom to improve things owing to top-down Brussels tyranny.

    If we could not get the right interest rate for the North & South of England how on earth can one work for 15 or so nations !

    It is more than getting rid of Labor – to really improve the UK we need our independence back ! The EU's theft of our sovereignty without the consent of the voters has not made us into a better country as we cannot have proper border security any longer.

    We need an Act of Parliament to make our law superior to EU law and we do not need an EU Army as given how little they spend on defense it would not amount to much. Their soldiers do not fight in Afghanistan after all and why not let people keep their pounds & ounces – why should anyone in France care about that ?

    So as I say John by all means try and hold Labor to account for their vast national debt surge – but surely we need real democratic accountability by getting out of the EU ? The lower public spending and reductions in regulatory burdens could be just what the Doctor ordered for our economy ! We could replace VAT with a simpler , fairer and more economically efficient Sales Tax based on the US model . That could be a pro-growth revenue neutral idea !

    UKIP cost the Tories about twenty seven seats at the 2005 general election by polling more votes than the Labor or Lib Dem majority ( just look at Crawley & Romsey and you see my point !)- if UKIP cause a hung parliament by costing the Tories say 50 or 60 seats will you lot get the message then !?!

    We need Labor out & Parliament to do its job by holding them to account over this terrifying national debt surge that threatens future generations with poor services & high taxes ( due to debt interest ) and present day economic stability ( higher long term interest rates and a run on the £). Then we need to get out of the EU !

  17. Posted November 25, 2008 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  18. Posted November 25, 2008 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    John,

    I have a question.

    We are told that the cut in VAT will "cost us" £12.5bln p.a.

    IIRC, VAT is passed on to the EU, so why does it "cost us"?

    People also suggested that the EU would not "allow" The Town Clerk of Britain (Gordon brown) to lower VAT.

    That makes me suspicious. I would not be surprised if the Treasury got the OK as long as it funded the lost 2.5% VAT and passed on the equivalent of 17.5% to our EU "Masters"…

    Reply: We don't pass on all the VAT, and have to meet our EU charges anyway

  19. Posted November 25, 2008 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Now why would someone wish to avoid debate or scrutiny of any kind? hmm…….

  20. Posted November 25, 2008 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    This government still believes that it was elected as the “political wing of the British people” and as such can do as it pleases. I believe that the UK has sleepwalked into being an “elected” dictatorship, I even question whether this Labour government might use legislation such as the Civil Contingencies Act to postpone the next general election.

    • Posted November 25, 2008 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      I know Mr Brown isn’t keen on elections but I think he lacks the political courage to do this in case it unravels and he ends up in Bellmarsh. And why should he? He can retire in guaranteed wealthy comfort and total bitter denial.

      I reckon that there is one female frontbencher however, who would have us ID carded, tazered and marched off to re-education camps before you could say dixie.

      • Richard Clarke
        Posted November 26, 2008 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        You are right Stuart. What I find depressing though, is if you get a bunch of people together discussing this, how many can't see any problem with pervasive government surveillance, DNA collection and snooping. I don't think there will be any shortage of block captains and reeducation camp guards in New Britain.

        • Posted November 26, 2008 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

          Quite right, for all we flatter ourselves, there would be any number of Stasi recruits from our own ranks. These are small men, petty officials given tiny power and driving it to the max. I imagine the 'citizens-on-patrol' demanding to see my ID card at some point in the future!

          Indeed, I'll bet somewhere in the bowels of GCHQ at the moment, there is some fifth-rate list of internet complainants come possible agitators. We are probably on it, but then to be suspected of independant thought by this lot is a badge of honour.

  21. Posted November 25, 2008 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Again, does anyone have a view on whether the "proposed" raises in cigarettes, alcohol and fuel can go ahead without further scrutiny? John, please bring some weight to bear on this…

  22. mikestallard
    Posted November 25, 2008 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    And, on a brighter note……
    Now that there is all this anger and, yes, economic disaster looming too, isn't it a rather good time to rethink the following:
    1. Our position within the EU (see above!)
    2. An overall, say 18%, income tax for everyone – and nothing else!
    3. Unloading a lot of stuff which the government oughtn't to be doing: the lottery, sports, culture, secondary schooling, hospitals, transport, banking…….
    4. Making sure the lights do not go out.
    5. Cherishing the armed services, especially when they get hurt.
    Isn't this just the time to get our brave and hard working little country moving again? We have a noble history: we brought civilization to the whole world!

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

    Promoted by David Edmonds on behalf of John Redwood both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

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