My Speech in the King’s speech debate

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con):

I have declared my business interests in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

I hope the Government are listening to the right hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) on those important matters for Northern Ireland. It is vital that there are changes to the Windsor framework, so that Northern Ireland is properly a part of our United Kingdom and can accept our commonly agreed laws on everything from taxation through to the arrangements over products and trading.

I welcome very much the emphasis in the King’s Speech on the United Kingdom’s producing more of our own oil and gas in substitution for that which we are currently importing. The logic of substitution is most obvious in the case of gas. We have gas pipelines already installed to bring gas from the fields to the mainland, with capacity in them because gas output has been declining; and, of course, if we deliver it directly through gas pipelines we have none of the extra cost and trouble of transit involved in importing liquefied natural gas, usually from the United States or Qatar. Those who are keenest on the road to net zero should recognise that having our own gas down a pipe greatly reduces the amount of world carbon dioxide because so much more carbon dioxide is generated if it is necessary to liquefy the gas, to transport it for long distances, and then to recreate it as gas when it arrives. All those are very energy-intensive processes which we do not need if we generate more of our own gas from the North sea.

I have good news for Ministers. Let me remind them that although they say they think we need a bit of additional legislation for future licensing rounds, what we really need to do is concentrate on developing the existing fields and the new discoveries that have been well known about, in many cases, for a great many years, and maximising the output of what we already have so that the gas and the oil come more quickly and at lower cost, because we need it now. Most of our constituents still need gas for their domestic heating and will need it for the foreseeable future, most of our industrial plants run on gas as their main source of energy, and most of us have petrol or diesel cars, so we still need the fractions of oil to run our transport. It is important for us to get on with that—and, as the right hon. Member for East Antrim has said, another great bonus for all of us, including the Treasury, is that the sooner we get that oil and gas landed, the sooner we will secure a big increase in tax revenues from which we could benefit, enabling us to get the deficit down and support the public services that we wish to see.

I am very pleased that the King’s Speech began with the mighty topic of the economy. I am sure that the Government and the Prime Minister would agree that what we do over the next year to get inflation down more quickly, to bring about faster growth to create more and better-paid jobs, and to secure the extra investment that we want to see is absolutely vital. Again, I have good news for the Government. I think there are measures that they can take in a future Finance Bill—which, I am sure, will constitute part of our proceedings over the next year—that would help to achieve all those aims. They are not incompatible, and we do not have to wait. Some people seem to think it is necessary to sequence it and to spend a year of misery—with a massive credit squeeze and an austerity Budget—to get inflation down before we can think about doing the other things, but if we cut the right taxes, we can bring forward the reduction in inflation, and that, of course, has a direct knock-on effect on the cost of running public services. One of the reasons we have seen such a big increase in public spending in the last year or so is the massive rise in inflation, because so many things are directly geared to the inflation rate.

So, Government, let us have a year of temporary tax cuts on energy, because British energy is far too expensive. It makes us much less competitive, and it is a burden on household budgets. I would pay for that— because I do not want to increase the overall deficit—by selling all those NatWest shares that we still have. Interest rates have gone up a lot, and banks should be making a lot more money. Let us just sell all the shares and use that for a one-year advantage while the oil and gas prices are still very elevated, and to ease the transition from slow growth to higher growth and to a faster reduction in inflation, which will then help reduce the deficits.

We also need measures to help small business and the self- employed. It is of great concern to me, as it should be to many other Members, that we have 800,000 fewer self-employed people today than were known about, at least, in February 2020. Some of that is due to covid and lockdowns or to natural retirements, but some of it is due to the sharp change in the tax system called IR35, which took place in two tranches, one at the end of the last decade and one at the beginning of this one. It is now very difficult for people to grow businesses, particularly if they want contracts from other businesses. This has put many people off, and we are not seeing the new generation of self-employed people coming through that we have seen in previous generations—and that is mightily important, because they provide much of the flexibility in our economy, and can also provide extra capacity. Such measures would also help to provide worthwhile things for people to do, because some will be currently without a job and will be on benefits generally. So, Government, change the tax system back to the pre-2017 one which allowed a phenomenal growth in the number of self-employed people, and helped the workings of not only products and services markets but the job market itself.

We all have many small businesses in our constituencies and we know how important they are to the services and output of our local community. We know how flexible they are, how hard so many of them work and how prepared they are to go the last mile to win clients and to look after clients and customers. They need a tax break, and the first thing we should do—now that we no longer have to accept the EU rules on VAT registration —is to have a big increase in the threshold level at which businesses register for VAT, because this is now a major constraint. I am sure we all know small businesses that turn down work or close down for a month extra during the year because they do not want to go over the £85,000 turnover, with all the burdens of the compliance, regulation and paperwork that that would cause, as well as having to put 20% on prices and so forth.

Let us allow small businesses to enjoy their flexibility for longer and to get to a bit bigger size—let them have one or two employees—before they have to go through all the hassle of registration and the legal pressures that that generates. I think that would generate more revenue from other types of taxes, and even on the strange Treasury arithmetic it would be quite a cheap item. For example, we could easily pay for it out of modest improvements in productivity, which we will need to ensure if we are to deal with the collapse in public sector productivity identified by my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis). There must be ways to do something about that, and I believe that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury is working on them.

My final point relates to the Bank of England. The Bank is independent in the setting of the base rate and the work of the Monetary Policy Committee, but it is not independent in managing the mighty portfolio of bonds that it currently owns on behalf of the institution and wider taxpayers. The proof of that is the fact that successive Chancellors from Alistair Darling onwards signed a concordat with the Bank of England giving it permission to buy bonds and agreeing to pay any losses, should losses be made, when it came to sell them or when they matured. The Bank of England now wishes to sell £100 billion-worth of bonds over the next few months, now that they have crashed on the markets because of the Bank of England’s changes in interest rate policy and bond policy, meaning that huge bills are being sent to the Treasury. I believe that the bill was £24 billion of losses in the first four months of the current fiscal year, and the theoretical liability is over £170 billion of losses of that kind and of the kind of running losses due to the way in which the Bank holds bonds at the moment.

I would like to advise the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England to look at what the European Central Bank is doing. It too made the colossal mistake of overinflating, over-creating money and buying too many bonds at very expensive prices, just as the Bank of England did, and it too ended up with the predictable excess inflation that we have seen. But the ECB is not panicking out of those bonds; it is holding them until they repay, which will result in fewer losses for it. There will still be losses, because it often paid more for the bonds than their actual repayment value, but it is not incurring big losses by selling them at very depressed prices on the market, now that the central banks have decided to smash the asset values of the bonds that they spent quite a lot of time acquiring just two or three years ago in many cases.

We need to do this because the Treasury should not have to make those huge losses and because money has now lurched from being crazily too expansive and likely to generate inflation to being far too tight and likely to overshoot in slowing the economy too much. So please, Government—listen, watch and on this occasion I say learn from the European Central Bank, which seems to be getting this just a bit more right than we are. Then we might start to make progress in bringing together the perfectly compatible aims of getting some growth, which we will not get if we have too severe a credit squeeze, and getting inflation down, which could be speeded up with the right type of tax cuts.


  1. formula57
    November 10, 2023

    Assuredly “Some people seem to think it is necessary to sequence it and to spend a year of misery…” and we know who they are – the Chancellor and his ex-Chancellor boss, abetted by the inept OBR.

    The Conservative Party has a duty to the nation to remove those blocking our well-being.

    1. Ian+wrag
      November 10, 2023

      Rishy and his mate are following WEF instructions
      Even down to the ludicrous incremental ban on tobacco
      All he is doing is feed the black market.
      Why hasn’t the ban on fracking been lifted. This gas could be sold at a discounted price to the UK consumers as part of the licensing agreement.
      The election is lost and the speech was of no significance
      Reform is the only way with Farage running it.

    2. Bloke
      November 10, 2023

      All parties have such a duty.
      Reform appear to be the only party with solid intent for remedial action.

  2. Javelin
    November 10, 2023

    You clearly see the Conservative Party leading the country to ruin because it does not understand how economies really work.

    The Conservative Party are the victims here, and the next Party will be too. From mass migration, integration into a European superstate, or lockdowns. Nobody had any of these incompetent policies in their manifestos.

    This is not a political problem but a managerial one.

    Politics has been hijacked by the top-level of narcissistic civil servants who are determined to write and implement their own economically and socially illiterate manifesto.

    1. Lynn Atkinson
      November 10, 2023

      ‘It is not a political problem’ – yes you are right, and you cannot therefore apply a political solution. Because ‘solution’ is not an option on the ballot paper.
      Politicians need to comprehend what they are doing by removing the power from the people to redress their grievances through the ballot box.
      Many, not least Douglas Murray, are warning that this will turn very nasty unless politicians grasp the nettle. They are our Servants, not our Masters.

    2. Peter
      November 10, 2023

      “The Conservative Party are the victims here, and the next Party will be too. “

      The people of this country are the victims not the Conservative Party.

  3. Lynn Atkinson
    November 10, 2023

    Thank God that you were there to make this speech. We will hold the front bench accountable if they do not act on it. Because we know that they know. If they continue to attack the People they must not be surprised of the People attack them in self-defence.

  4. Mike Wilson
    November 10, 2023

    If, as suggested, all the remaining NatWest shares were sold – what would the outcome be? I mean – how much did the government put in to NatWest shares and how much would it get out? An overall profit? Or a loss?

    1. graham1946
      November 10, 2023

      About an 80 percent loss. Better keep them as banks are now coining it in again and the shares should go up, but if the ‘market’ (big money) thinks they will be sold off cheap, they will not buy and keep the price low. Why buy shares when loss making and sell just when the profits start come?

      1. graham1946
        November 10, 2023

        PS If the shares were sold, the money would be wasted as usual and we would have nothing. Just like all the money privatisation brought in and all our oil revenues – no Soverign Wealth Fund for the UK, just waste.

  5. Mike Wilson
    November 10, 2023

    Mr. Redwood – has the government ever published what ‘net zero in 2050’ will look like?

    Will there be no more petrol/diesel cars on the road?

    Will we no longer have gas boilers for our central heating?

    If either of those is the intention – fully of partially – what estimate has been made for the increase in electricity generation and how is it to be achieved?

    1. graham1946
      November 10, 2023

      If they truly knew the answer, they would abandon Nut Zero. They have no clue, just a load of cobblers put about by those wishing to profit and they’ve all been sucked in, starting with a disfunctional school girl shouting.

  6. Walt
    November 10, 2023

    A good speech, Sir John. We will see if Government act on it.

    1. Mickey Taking
      November 10, 2023

      don’t hold your breath, the body politic is having an asthmatic attack.

  7. Bloke
    November 10, 2023

    This presents an excellent and comprehensive contribution in areas key to the King’s Speech debate.
    Others in the House should heed the wisdom and act accordingly.

  8. agricola
    November 10, 2023

    In your protracted speech you omit the most critical point that ensures we pay more for our oil and gas than the USA , EU, or anywhere else; the business plan is flawed. If the USA pays much less for its own energy why do we have to pay world prices for our own energy.
    An oil/gas rig is an amalgum of many individual contracted businesses, comprising in part, drilling, controlling drilling., catering, diving, consumable supplies, helicopter communications, etc, etc. A government agency of professionals, definitely not scribes, could pull all this together to ensure we in the UK were the customer of first refusal, at cost plus modest profit, ensuring our energy costs were much the same as those enjoyed by the USA.
    I can think of only two reasons why this does not happen in the UK. Taxes and VAT are percentages so the higher the base price the higher government rake off to add to government income from all other taxes and bond borrowing. Second, who in government and parliament owns shares in this money generating rip off of the UK energy consumer. Its effect is to export manufacturing and employment, and to feed inflation on a grand scale.
    When your diary, speeches, and letters to minister start to recognise the real problem and solutions I will feel you have a grasp of the enormity of the problem. Such grasp is the first step to resolution.

  9. Bryan Harris
    November 10, 2023

    We all know the King had very little input to the ‘speech’ so why don’t we call it more accurately ‘The PMs Speech’?

    There is nothing to get excited about in this speech – More oppressive security measures, while everything is dressed up to provide mere theatre to the occasion. There was nothing that would help the country recover fully from the effects of the last decade of the WEF regime.

    I suppose if the King had written the speech there would have been a lot more about greening Britain, But even that might have been better than what we got.

  10. David Bunney
    November 10, 2023

    Dear John,

    Sorry I didn’t see anything in the King’s Speech to get me excited. We need a radical reform across many areas. I prefer the REFORM UK manifesto these days. Only a few people in the Party like Suela Braverman have the courage and gumption to stand up and say what needs to be said on key issues from within the party.

    Whilst it is great that the government will expand licencing of North Sea Oil sites, there is a need to secure overseas long-term and stable contracts for oil and gas and I would recommend re-introducing coal into the mix for electricity generation. Domestic oil will not cover demand, but could shield us from some of the global market issues were we to have enough of the right refining capacity. The inability to refine British Oil deposits is because of falling refining capacity and the lack of capability to refine heavy crude, since our oil is transitioning from light-crude to heavy-crude. As you start to literally suck the bottom of the barrel so to speak in the natural oil deposits you encounter thicker and thicker sludge heading towards tar. To refine/crack this and make diesel and petrol requires a building of new refinery configurations. We are both losing refining capacity and what we have got is for the wrong sort of oil. We will be just exporting this stuff onto the global market to be refined elsewhere. However, with OPEC+ reducing overall output and refining capacity overseas shrinking as well we might not get the refined products back. Whilst the treasury might benefit from taxation on the exported oil, unless the chancellor drastically cuts tax at the pumps, we will not see any benefit for households and businesses.

    I too want an end to the obsession with CO2 emissions and all the tall-tale fakery around climate emergency and banning useful energy in favour of expensive, ineffective technologies sourced in ways which are not scalable or sustainable or affordable.

    The future is not renewable, the near future most definitely has to remain fossil-fuel based and supplemented only with nuclear. Wind and Solar are a waste of land, resources as well as a waste of public and private money which is being diverted from doing something useful and is instead dismantling a working industrial system to make a dysfunctional and unaffordable one.

    It is time to drop NET ZERO, to drop taxes and promote British Industry and British Agriculture. To stop persecuting car drivers and clogging up roads with stupid ULEZ schemes, low traffic neighbourhoods and high charges on public parking. No body wants it, it costs a fortune to make the towns and cities less accessible, businesses then go bust because of lack of trade, and transportation costs for goods go up making things more expensive and it does nothing measurable for the air quality. It is a very expensive con that hurts the economy and quality of life of our citizens.

    Disappointed with the King’s Speech.

  11. a-tracy
    November 10, 2023

    It would be sensible to raise the vat threshold to have a period of growth and expansion. Thats how you know this government won’t do it and the next one seem to me to want to remove the threshold all together and make things much harder for smaller businesses with Rayners first 100 days commitments.

  12. Original Richard
    November 10, 2023

    We need our own oil and gas for energy and raw product security. Renewable energy is essentially worthless parasitic energy as it produces neither baseload nor dispatchable power and requires a parallel energy source, viz hydrocarbons, to exist at all. As I write the 28 GW of installed wind power is producing just 3.5 GW and there is no plan in place for either the decarbonisation date of 2035 of the Net Zero date of 2050 for renewable energy based storage, only “demand management” through smart meters to ration energy through pricing and rolling blackouts.

    We also need oil and gas for producing everything from pharmaceuticals to hygiene products.

    Net Zero is unnecessary. There is no global warming caused by increasing levels of CO2 (natural or anthropogenic) as a result of IR saturation as shown by the work of Happer & Wijngaarden whose calculations on the real atmosphere, including water vapour (omitted in the IPCC models), fit so well with the measured data that they even show correctly that CO2 COOLS rather than warms above Antarctica. Historically CO2 follows temperature as shown by the Antarctic Vostok and Greenland ice core data and we are still below temperatures reached in the Minoan, Roman and Medieval (barley grown in Greenland 1000 years ago) warm periods whilst still exiting the Little Ice Age. In fact CO2 following temperature is simply Henry’s Law.

    Increasing atmospheric CO2 is entirely beneficial as it increases crop yields.

    1. hefner
      November 10, 2023

      Hee hee hee, ‘water vapour omitted in the IPCC models’. So, my dear friend, how are such models producing clouds and rain/snow?

  13. Denis Cooper
    November 10, 2023

    I see that Sammy Wilson spoke immediately before you, Sir John:

    And he concluded with these words:

    “I hope we will see the Government deliver on strengthening the Union, undoing the damage of the Windsor framework and the protocol, and restoring Northern Ireland’s position within the Union.”

    But without making any specific proposal for changing the present arrangements under which Northern Ireland is in effect a condominium, with sovereignty shared between the King in Parliament and the EU.

    This is why I am now giving up on Northern Ireland. Over two and a half years I have been unable to convince the DUP that they should be pushing for the present EU checks and controls on all the goods imported into Northern Ireland, and on all the goods produced in the province, to be replaced by EU checks and controls on just the goods that are being exported across the border into the Irish Republic – the only goods in which the Irish government and the EU have a legitimate interest that we should respect – so what is the point?

    Here is my most recent letter published in the Belfast News Letter, nothing has changed since then:

    “Letter: Rather than press for relevant export controls, Jeffrey Donaldson is holding out for mythical assurances on the constitutional position

    A letter by Dr DR Cooper:
    By Letters
    Published 2nd Oct 2023, 04:57 BST- 1 min read

    Checks should apply just to the trickle of goods that will cross the border into the Republic of Ireland. Small shopkeepers face rules that should only affect actors who export across the border

    The DUP MP Sammy Wilson is of course right to object to the Irish Sea border, but what is the alternative? Dublin and Brussels long ago rejected out of hand the idea of ‘mutual enforcement’ espoused by his party.

    In August last year I sent Sir Jeffrey Donaldson an outline scheme for the operation of UK export controls to apply necessary EU checks and controls just to the trickle of goods destined to cross the border into the Irish Republic. He never responded to explain why the DUP is not prepared to press for such a scheme, a practical solution which the UK could set up unilaterally, and so demonstrate that there is a feasible alternative to the protocol. Instead he is holding out for some mythical ‘legislative assurances’ about the constitutional position of the province, which in fact could no more resist ‘subjugation’ by a future Act of Parliament than the Act of Union itself.

    Now we have got to the point of small shopkeepers having to deal with complex EU rules which should only affect actors who intend to export goods to the Republic, could he not lend his weight to finding a better solution?

    Dr DR Cooper, Maidenhead”

    I have been taking an interest because Theresa May paved the way for Boris Johnson to betray the unionists.

  14. John Hatfield
    November 10, 2023

    You will have Hunt in a tizwaz with these proposals John. Not his kettle of fish at all. I can’t see any of your ideas being implemented while he and Sunak are in the chair.

  15. glen cullen
    November 10, 2023

    In 2022, the offshore wind auction cleared at ÂŁ35/MWh
    In 2023, the offshore wind auction cleared at ÂŁ44/MWh
    In 2024, the offshore wind auction estimated at ÂŁ70-75/MWh
    Net-Zero isn’t cheap !!!

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