HC Deb 24 February 1983 vol 37 cc1048-9
16. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from industry on the forthcoming Budget.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I have received a number of representations both from individual companies and from national bodies, such as the CBI, which represent their interests.

Mr. Miller

While warmly welcoming the fact that the two main concerns of industry—inflation and interest rates—have been met by the Government, may I ask my right hon. and learned Friend nevertheless, in pursuit of his recognition of the importance of manufacturing industry for employment and its competitiveness, to examine those taxes that discriminate against employment in industry, such as the national insurance surcharge and the special car tax, which is of particular relevance to the west midlands?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I have already done a great deal to reduce the pressure imposed by tax on industry by knocking 2 per cent. off the tax on jobs imposed by the Labour Government. In addition to the pressures on industry, there are tax pressures on people. I shall have to consider all these matters, as well as the fiscal position as a whole, in the weeks that remain before my Budget.

Mr. James Lamond

Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer remember that he won votes at the last general election with the master plan that he was to reduce personal taxation, fill the pockets of working people with rebated tax that they would use to buy consumer goods, which would set the wheels of industry humming and reduce drastically the high unemployment figure of 1 million? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that there remains only the coming Budget for him to do something about that promise and that if he fails to take action his hon. Friends will be disastrously embarrassed when they ask for more votes at the next election?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

Of course the reduction in the burden of taxation on people and industry is, and was, an important objective. That is why the basic rate of income tax and all other rates of tax have been reduced. Unfortunately, to a significant extent that has been offset by the substantial increase in earnings that took place as a result of the collapse of the pay policy over which the Labour Government presided.