Budget Debate Day Concluding Speech

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Elizabeth Truss)

I am delighted to be here to close the Budget debate. We have had a very good debate over the past few days. To be honest, though, I am just extremely grateful to be able to get a seat on the Front Bench, because, let us be honest, that has not been guaranteed over the past week.

 

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab)

rose—

 

Elizabeth Truss

I am afraid that I only have 10 minutes. The hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd) did not give way, so I am not going to be able to either.

This is a Budget that will help working families and that will grow our economy, and I am pleased to say that it has been welcomed from all quarters—from the cider drinkers of Somerset, to the whisky drinkers of Scotland and Britain’s motorists, who will see better roads and a continued freeze on fuel duty, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mrs Badenoch).

Families have had their taxes cut and their wages hiked, and the FSB says that we are firmly on the side of Britain’s small businesses. The Resolution Foundation has welcomed our changes to universal credit, and even the shadow Chancellor has welcomed our tax cuts, saying that our measure

“will put more money in people’s pockets”

and inject more demand into the economy. It is just a shame that his party does not agree. I can almost hear Momentum sharpening their pitchforks. But I want him to know that all is not lost because, shadow Chancellor, ​you have friends on this side of the House. You might have to sit on the Home Secretary’s knee, but there is space for you on our Front Bench.

It is not an accident that we have seen an additional £100 billion coming into the public purse in this Budget. Contrary to what the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Sir Vince Cable) suggests, this is not a fluke or luck. It is because of the decisions that this Government have taken since 2010: reforming the welfare system, cutting taxes for people, and cutting corporation tax to bring more investment into our economy and get more business start-ups going. What happened on the Opposition Benches? Well, Labour Members opposed all those measures, tooth and nail. They opposed our welfare reforms that got more people into work; they opposed our corporation tax cuts that brought more tax into the public coffers; and they opposed our measures to improve skills and education that have meant that our children are doing better.

Instead of Labour Members realising the error of their ways, they have come up with even more extreme policies. They want to create a socialist superstate controlled by the politicians at the top of the Labour party. Their eye-watering spending pledges would mean £1,000 billion more in tax and borrowing, job-killing tax hikes on hard-working families, and the relentless talking down of everything that is good about our country. If we listened to Labour, there would be fewer jobs, lower wages and less money to spend on public services, so we refuse to listen to this catalogue of envy and despair.

Instead, we have delivered a positive, aspirational Budget, giving people more control over their own money. We have put £630 a year for families into universal credit. We are cutting taxes for those on the basic rate by £130 this year, making people £1,200 better off. And we are raising the higher rate threshold so that people do not start paying higher rate tax until they earn £50,000. This is not about giving tax cuts to millionaires; these are people on medium incomes who were dragged into the top rate of tax under the Labour Government.

At the same time, our strong economy means that we can fund the services on which everyone relies, which is why this Budget has included extra money for defence, schools, the health system and local authorities, and we are going to spend this money in a way that delivers results. The hon. Member for Bootle talked about children’s services. Not only are we giving councils an extra £650 million to pay for adult and children’s social care; we are also rolling out programmes such as “No Wrong Door” in North Yorkshire. That programme has meant fewer children in care, fewer ending up in trouble with the police and fewer ending up in accident and emergency. It is a great example of how, by spending money in the right way, we can cut long-terms costs for the taxpayer and, more importantly, ensure that our children get the best possible start in life.

I also want to applaud the hon. Member for Rotherham (Sarah Champion) for what she said in this debate. I applaud her for her bravery in standing up against those gangs targeting young women in her area. I am very happy to discuss in the spending review the issue that she raised.​

As well as addressing the immediate issues we face, this Budget backs entrepreneurs to take risks, make investments and grow their operations. We have slashed business rates by a third, which has been welcomed by my hon. Friends the Members for St Ives (Derek Thomas), for Aldershot (Leo Docherty) and for Solihull (Julian Knight). We have cut corporation tax to the lowest level in the G20. We have increased capital allowances from £200,000 to £1 million. What all that means is that companies want to grow, want to invest in Britain and want to take more people on. It means more jobs for people across this country. It means higher wages. We are now seeing real wages rise for the three quarters of people who are employed in the private sector. It also means that we are able to afford money for our public services. We are launching 10 new development corporations across the country, so we will not just have Canary Wharf—we will have Canary Wharf in the north and all other parts of the country. We are creating a special economic zone in Teesside, with new freedoms to grow.

But this is not just about cold, hard cash; it is about realising people’s aspirations, dreams and hopes for the future. It is about being able to afford a holiday or a car, and it is about more opportunities for young people emerging from our schools and our colleges.

 

Mr Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)

This is a good Budget and I will, without any question, support it enthusiastically tonight. However, there is the issue of the starting date for the reduction to £2 for fixed odds betting terminals. This is clearly not something we can deal with this evening, but I wonder whether my right hon. Friend would give an undertaking that we will certainly return to it in time for the Finance Bill.

 

Elizabeth Truss

I thank my right hon. Friend for his point. We have brought the date forward for FOBTs by six months. I do not believe that it is an issue for the Finance Bill, but I am certainly happy to discuss with him what more we can do.

Whereas we are making sure that young people emerging from our schools and colleges have opportunities, and that people are able to fulfil their dreams and aspirations, Labour Members would kill those dreams.

 

Jess Phillips (Birmingham, Yardley) (Lab)

rose—

 

Elizabeth Truss

They are driven by pessimism, by envy and by spite. The reality is that they would rather see people kept in their place than succeeding.

 

Jess Phillips

rose—

 

Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)

Order. The hon. Lady knows as well as I do that you cannot stay on your feet if the Minister is not going to give way. [Interruption.] You do know that. Oh come on now, you could not have done that six months ago.

 

Elizabeth Truss

I have only two minutes left, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I am afraid I cannot give way. Labour’s tax hikes would cost jobs and its war on enterprise would crush the very people who make this country great.

The past eight years have been tough, but Monday’s Budget marked a new era. It is about more jobs than ever before. It is about businesses succeeding. It is about ​wages going up. It is about people keeping more of what they earn. It is about people feeling better off in their everyday lives. This is a Budget for a confident, optimistic British future that puts more money in people’s pockets, frees enterprise to invest, and paves the way for a high- growth, high-aspiration post-Brexit Britain. I commend this Budget to the House.

 

Question put, That the amendment be made.