Last night we had a trip down memory lane to a time when Parliament had some rights. The government allowed us to talk for as long as we liked about parts of the Finance Bill. We had a rare Parliamentary day without a guillotine. We could carry on with our work after 10 pm.
The House held debates on corporation tax, small business taxation, and VAT. The government refused to accept a Conservative amendment to take the Corporation Tax rate down to 25%, to attract more business and investment to the UK. They refused to believe that if you set lower tax rates you can end up with more tax revenue. They declined to put the small business rate down to 20%, at a time when every little helps small business under pressure.
By 10 pm we had reached Clause 11, the big increases in alcohol duties. There was substantial interest in this debate, given the strenuous lobbying by the industry and the licensed trade. They have made the case that the sharp increase in pub closures results from high duty levels and therefore higher prices. The government got bored with having to face arguments about job losses, closures and the impact on communities, so it reverted to form and moved a premature end to the business.
Nonetheless, we did have three hours or so to examine the problems of a highly taxed industry, and did have a Parliament capable of functioning after 1 am. I felt nostalgic for a more democratic era as I spoke on the topic after 1 am this morning. If only we were allowed democracy more often, we might be able to educate Ministers some more. They still do not seem to understand the impact their fiscal decisions are having on jobs and output.