We are in the midst of the debates about the Finance Bill in Parliament. I voted against the whole Bill last week, and will be seeking amendments to it this.
The budget was not the budget we need at this time of national financial crisis. We needed a budget that would start to control public spending and borrowing, before the whole country is up to its neck in oppressive government debt. Instead we got a spend more ,waste more, borrow more budget.
We needed a Finance Bill that eases the tax burden on people and companies to help the recovery. Instead we got a budget which marks the transition from Stealth taxes to Spite taxes.
I reminded the Commons in my speech that the way to tax the rich more is to set internationally competitive rates of tax. Then more rich people stay here and set up business here. They pay more tax here. When the Conservatives cut the top rate of tax from a confiscatory 83% to a more normal 40% the amount of tax the rich paid went up, and the proportion of income tax paid by the rich went up. Surely that is what we need again today? The economy grew faster.
The Irish did that on a bigger scale, slashing business tax rates and income tax rates. Their economy grew well for years, as more and more businesses and enterprising people opted for an Irish base.
We need to set a rate which attracts more entrepreneurs and capital here, and encourages people to set up the new manufacturing businesses we need to start to reduce the huge balance of payments deficit. We cannot go on living so far beyond our means. The day of reckoning has arrived. We need to make more and sell more.
The Finance Bill hit all the usual groups that Labour dislikes. Car drivers will have to pay more thanks to the fuel escalator and higher Vehicle Excise Duty in many cases. Drinkers and smokers will be hit again. Business people will need to wade through another 400 pages of legislation to make sure they are complying with the latest requirements.
Just to add to the misery, there are stronger powers for Revenue and Customs. Tax law is now so long and so complicated it is difficult even for the experts to tell you what you owe and what you have to pay. With the government in its current mood of wanting to rob anyone who works hard or makes a good investment, these new Revenue powers are worrying.