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By Matthew Barrett
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Earlier this week I covered some of the Budget debate contributions from backbenchers. On Thursday, other Tory MPs gave their verdicts on the Chancellor's financial plans. I have compiled the best speeches below.
David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford) was pleased the Chancellor had partially retreated from his earlier Child Benefit limit of £40,000:
"The family is the backbone of our society, and the issue of child benefit is always difficult. Fairness remains the key, and the original changes proposed caused considerable difficulty. I am pleased that the Chancellor listened to our concerns, and those of constituents, that the proposed changes were not really acceptable. By amending the proposals and tapering the benefit from an annual income of £50,000, some 90% of families will continue to benefit from financial support during these difficult financial and economic times. This Government are listening and changing policies after representations have been made, and that is to the credit of the Chancellor and the Treasury team."
Michael Fallon, the Deputy Chairman, noted Labour's strange priorities in opposing the Budget:
"One of the most remarkable things about the Opposition’s response to this Budget is that we have not heard a single pledge to reverse any of the changes being proposed. We have heard a lot of carping and that they are going to vote against some of the measures on Monday, but they are not actually going to change them should they ever come back to power. When they do carp, they seem to be carping on behalf of some rather strange interests. They want the top 10% of households to keep their child benefit. They want the better-off pensioners to keep their age-related allowances. Indeed, they want the super-rich to go on enjoying some £65 million-worth of evasion of stamp duty and abuse of tax reliefs. That seems to me an extraordinary position for the Opposition to get into."
Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) stated his concern at the Government's plan to remove tax relief from alterations to listed buildings:
"Some of the matters in chapter 2 of the Red Book will not matter to many people, such as VAT being put on the rental of hairdressers’ chairs. Others have not been spotted by many, such as VAT relief being taken off alterations to listed buildings. Anyone who has had dealings with English Heritage, as I have, will know that sometimes it is very helpful and that at other times it adds to the cost of what one is trying to do. If we have to take the VAT relief off alterations, perhaps we should consider giving VAT relief to the maintenance and repair of such buildings, or to a portion of those costs, because meeting the requirements of the listed buildings authorities can be expensive."
Sam Gyimah (Surrey East) highlighted a salient point – all of the big parties agreed the 50p tax rate would be temporary in the first place:
"All three main parties agreed that the 50p tax rate was to be a temporary measure. Also, we must ensure that any tax that is imposed actually raises the required revenue for the Government coffers. If it does not do so, it would be irresponsible of a Government to carry on with that tax just because it is good politics. It is right for the Government to set that tax at a rate that discourages avoidance and encourages people to pay."
The full debate can be read in Hansard.
An amusing moment in the debate came when Harriet Harman (the niece of an Earl)'s husband, Jack Dromey was speaking, and the following exchange took place:
"Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con) rose —
Jack Dromey: I give way to the hon. Member for Downton Abbey.
Jacob Rees-Mogg: I am extremely grateful for that substantial promotion in my class standing. Will the hon. Gentleman explain why, when tax rates were cut in 1979 and again by Nigel Lawson, that led to more revenue coming in? This point has been ignored by the Labour party.
Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Just before the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey) resumes his speech, I want to make sure that he meant North East Somerset."