HC Deb 10 April 1984 vol 58 cc350-7

Motion made and Question proposed,

That Clauses 10, 17, 18, 20, 21, 27, 57, 98, 105, 113 and Schedules 6 to 8 and 12 be committed to a Committee of the whole House;

That the remainder of the Bill be committed to a Standing Committee;

That, when the provisions of the Bill considered, respectively, by the Committee of the whole House and by the Standing Committee have been reported to the House, the Bill be proceeded with as if the Bill had been reported as a whole to the House from the Standing Committee.—[Mr. Moore.]

Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Those of us who have an interest in this matter would like to know what is being moved.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. I have proposed the Question to the House. It is the motion on the Order Paper.

Mr. Bermingham

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not test the patience of the House with either the same point of order or a bogus point of order.

Mr. Bermingham

I would not wish to test your patience, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, democracy would be best served if those of us trying to follow the proceedings of the House could hear what is being said. It may be a late hour, and some of us may be tired, but we have a right to hear what is said. If there is hubbub and noise, that denies us the right to hear what is being said. Therefore, it is right to raise a point of order so that we may hear what is being said.

2.46 am
Mr. Terry Davis (Birmingham, Hodge Hill)

I wish to make a brief explanatory statement about why my right hon. and hon. Friends believe that some clauses that have not been included in the motion should be included. It is unfortunate that discussions through the usual channels have broken down, which is responsible for feelings running so high. I shall not comment further on that now but may wish to comment on it later on a point of order.

On the Motion relating to which clauses should be debated on the Floor of the House, I shall begin with clause 1. During our debates the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd) made a most telling point about the difference in taxation on a pint of cider compared with a pint of beer. I was impressed by that point. I have a personal interest in the matter because I live in the same county as the hon. Gentleman. He omitted to mention another important point. The clause also covers perry, which is made in Worcestershire. Therefore, the clause should be debated on the Floor of the House.

Clause 2 deals with tobacco products. It is important because it deals with the taxation levied on cigarettes. My hon. Friends and I have strong feelings—which we are sure are shared by Conservative Members—because we could not make our points in the Second Reading debate due to the closure motion. Clearly the Government did not want to discuss those points. We have strong views about the amount of tax that is imposed on cigarettes. That clause should be debated on the Floor and, as a major interest is involved for the Department of Health and Social Security, we hope that the responsible Minister will take part in the debate.

Clause 3 deals with hydrocarbon oils. The increase in duty proposed by the Government will have an inflationary effect on costs to industry. Industry featured largely in our earlier debates, and would have formed a major part of my speech if I had had the opportunity to reply to the debate. I am sure that the Financial Secretary would also have wished to comment on that point. It is extremely important to industry, especially manufacturing industry, and we would like to explore the matter on the Floor of the House in a Committee of the whole House.

Vehicle excise duty is the subject of clause 4. This topic, too, was mentioned on Second Reading.

Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. interventions are not permitted under Standing Order No. 42.

Dr. Marek

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As a new Member, I am not very happy with the procedure. I am not challenging your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I ask for your guidance on how my right hon. and hon. Friends and I can stop the slide from democracy into a Fascist state, which is evidenced by the guffaws, laughter and rejection of democracy that we have heard and seen from Conservative Members this evening.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have problems sometimes with our Standing Orders, but we have them and we must observe them. The debate is governed by Standing Order No. 42. As for the behaviour of hon. Members, I hope that the House will give the Opposition Front Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis), the courtesy of a fair hearing.

Mr. Davis


Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Brent, South)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I request my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis) through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to speak a little slower? I am having some difficulty following his arguments, because of the speed of his delivery.

Mr. Davis

I was trying to help the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker. There was an earlier complaint about my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), who spoke so passionately on Second Reading that he became rather carried away. I shall try to slow down, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I shall have some difficulty doing so as I tend to speak rather quickly.

I was talking about clause 4, which deals with vehicle excise duty. The clause was referred to on Second Reading and was linked with clause 5, which will have an effect on the disabled. Important issues are raised by the clauses and we should like to discuss them on the Floor of the House.

I shall not discuss clauses 6 and 7 because the Opposition are agreed that it will be appropriate to discuss them in Standing Committee.

Clause 8 deals with free zones, which are an important part of the Government's economic policy. The Chief Secretary has told us that free zones have been considered previously by the House, but the Opposition wish to discuss the ins and outs of the clause, which is extremely important and which will have an effect on firms which set up shop in the free zones and on those who remain outside them. The implications of the clause could be serious for the whole of British industry.

Clause 9 is very important because if it is implemented it will raise £1.2 billion by bringing forward receipt by the Government of revenue. Surely that must be discussed on the Floor of the House. We are sorry that that has not been included in the Government's motion.

Clause 10 is included in the motion and so I shall move on quickly from it. I shall not presume on your good will, Mr. Deputy Speaker, by talking about the effect of the Government's proposals on take-away food, which was discussed quite thoroughly on Second Reading. The same goes for the effect of their proposals on the building and construction industry. We are glad that the Government have acceded to our request that the clause should be debated on the Floor of the House.

Clause 11 is a technical part of the Bill that can be left to the Standing Committee, as can Clauses 12 and 13. Clauses 14, 15 and 16 form a miscellaneous chapter and it will be appropriate to consider them in Standing Committee. The Government have accepted that clauses 17 and 18 should be debated on the floor of the House, but we are disappointed that they have not planned to take clause 19 in the Chamber. It is an extremely important clause, as was demonstrated by the Chief Secretary when he opened the Second Reading debate. To be fair to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, his speech was lighter and more acceptable to my right hon. and hon. Friends than some of his previous contributions, but when he addressed himself to corporation tax he fell below the level of intellectual honesty which we have come to expect from the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and which we have seen demonstrated by him. He referred to the evidence given by the general secretary of the TUC to the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee. He quoted Mr. Murray as saying that he would not argue with the need to reform the structure of corporation taxation. We believe that clause 19 should be debated on the Floor of the House because the Chief Secretary fell far below the intellectual honesty that we expect of him, and to prove that charge I will quote what the general secretary actually said to the Select Committee. At page 33 of the minutes of evidence of the Select Committee, we have Len Murray referring to the Chancellor's suggestion that the phasing out of capital allowances and a reduction in corporation tax would stimulate employment. That was the Chancellor's, not Len Murray's suggestion. Mr. Murray told the Select Committee: Certainly we would not argue with the need to reform the structure of corporate taxation. There are a lot of nonsenses in the way in which it operates. But we do not see how these measures"— the Government's measures— will stimulate capital investment in the way he is implying. What we think they will do is penalise companies with very high levels of capital spending relative to profits; i.e. typically rapidly expanding firms. There will be a tendency for companies to distribute rather than plough back profits into investment, so our conclusion is that the Budget itself will do very little for output in itself and very little for jobs. That is a complete passage from the minutes of evidence, as opposed to the selective quotation which the Chief Secretary gave.

I will not refer in greater detail to the other points that I would have made had the debate not been closured. We believe that there is a good case against investment allowances, but not a case for abolishing them without replacing them with any other incentive to investment.

I come to some of the other provisions that we believe should be included. The Government have agreed to include clause 27, interest paid on deposits with banks. There is a case for saying that the debate on accommodation allowances and the expenditure of hon. Members, clause 28, should be taken on the Floor of the House so that the country may see what we are doing in discussing matters which affect our personal interest.

Similarly, important points are to be made on clause 30 in relation to the reduction in and abolition of reliefs for foreign earnings and emoluments. Many hon. Members, particularly those who represent coastal towns, will have received letters from constituents who earn their livelihood as, say, seamen and who have been receiving reliefs which will be ended by that cause, and therefore the debate should take place in public.

I will not go into all the clauses which, in our view, should be taken on the Floor of the House. The clauses which deal with share options and share incentive schemes, clauses 39 and 40, which give certain benefits to the highly paid, should be debated publicly, and the Government should not be afraid of taking those on the Floor of the House.

I have considerable sympathy with my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek), who said he had difficulty in understanding our procedure. It is a long time since a Government moved the closure on a Finance Bill in the House——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I must remind the hon. Member of the terms of Standing Order No. 42: Mr. Speaker after permitting, if he thinks fit, a brief explanatory statement from the Member who makes and from a Member who opposes the motion shall, without permitting any further debate, put the question thereon. I hope that the hon. Member will make his remarks brief. He has been speaking for more than 10 minutes.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis) was denied the opportunity of speaking in the debate from the Opposition Front Bench due to the way in which the Government moved the closure. In those circumstances, and as undoubtedly — I am sure that no hon. Member will disagree with me on this—what is now being mentioned are matters of great importance which could not be dealt with earlier by my hon. Friend, it should——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I must act in accordance with the Standing Orders, in the same way as every hon. Member must. It is my job to see that the House observes the Standing Orders. They give Mr. Speaker, or the occupant of the Chair, the power, if he thinks fit, to permit a brief statement in opposition, not the speech that an hon. Member would have made on an earlier motion before the House. Let us now get on.

Mr. Davis

I accept your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am trying to be brief. The Chief Secretary when opening the debate told the House that this was an exceptionally long Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman informed the House—this is within the memory of the Chair— that this Bill differed from all previous Finance Bills. We now know what he meant—that he would close the debate. I must not allow myself to be distracted by my strong feelings on that point, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall restrict myself, as you have ruled, to a brief explanatory statement on why some clauses should be taken on the Floor of the House. We are very worried about the Government's behaviour this evening. We have been subjected to a break-down in discussion through the usual channels. [Interruption.] I cannot give way to interventions.

We do not wish to oppose the ending of stock relief, which is part of the Government's changes in corporation tax. We prefer to debate that matter by including clause 19. Similarly, we are happy that the clauses on furnished holiday lettings and taxation of woodlands should be discussed in Committee.

Chapter II deals with capital allowances. The Government propose to debate clause 57 alone, but we should like to press that clauses 57, 58, 59 and 60 be taken together because they are a package. [Interruption.] I am not sure whether the Chief Secretary is trying to intervene or merely conduct a conversation from a sedentary position. At least, he is with us, which is more than we can say for the Chancellor. It must be drawn to your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and to the House generally, that the debate is occurring at this hour at the request of the Chancellor. The Opposition wished to arrange a debate through the usual channels-to be held at a more reasonable hour later this week. The debate is being held at this hour after the emergency debate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that he is straying from the matter before the House. He is also pushing his luck in respect of the point about which I reminded him earlier. His statement in opposition to the motion should be brief.

Mr. Davis

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Clause 61 deals with capital gains tax. The Opposition regard that tax as very important. We are worried about the changes being made by the Government, and we should like to debate that matter at length on the Floor of the House, especially as we were unable to debate it earlier today.

During our earlier debate, a point was made about maintenance funds for historic buildings. Clause 66 should be discussed on the Floor of the House because it is linked with clause 10. The Government were claiming that clause 10 will adversely affect people engaged in maintaining British heritage. Yet, the Government propose to discuss clause 66, which deals with maintenance funds for the treatment of historic buildings, in the Standing Committee.

Clause 70 on the withdrawal of life assurance premium relief is extremely important, and we are worried that the Government do not want to deal with it on the Floor of the House. For many years, people wishing to save in that way could obtain tax relief on insurance premiums.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman again that his remarks must be brief. He is making a long speech. I hope he will deal with his other points quickly in the next couple of minutes.

Mr. Winnick

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I spy strangers.

Notice being taken that strangers were present, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to Standing Order No. 136 (Withdrawal of strangers from House), put forthwith the Question, That strangers do withdraw:—

The House divided: Ayes 7, Noes 217.

Division No. 243] [3.4 am
Craigen, J. M. Pike, Peter
Hoyle, Douglas
Martin, Michael Tellers for the Ayes:
Mikardo, Ian Mr. David Winnick and Mr. Tony Lloyd.
Parry, Robert
Pavitt, Laurie
Aitken, Jonathan Evennett, David
Alexander, Richard Eyre, Sir Reginald
Alton, David Fairbairn, Nicholas
Amess, David Farr, John
Ancram, Michael Favell, Anthony
Arnold, Tom Forman, Nigel
Ashby, David Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Aspinwall, Jack Fox, Marcus
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Franks, Cecil
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Freeman, Roger
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Gale, Roger
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Galley, Roy
Baldry, Anthony Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Batiste, Spencer Goodlad, Alastair
Beith, A. J. Gorst, John
Bellingham, Henry Greenway, Harry
Bendall, Vivian Gregory, Conal
Benyon, William Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Berry, Sir Anthony Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Best, Keith Ground, Patrick
Bevan, David Gilroy Grylls, Michael
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Hampson, Dr Keith
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Hannam, John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Harvey, Robert
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Haselhurst, Alan
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hawksley, Warren
Bright, Graham Hayes, J.
Brinton, Tim Hayward, Robert
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Heathcoat-Amory, David
Brooke, Hon Peter Henderson, Barry
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Hickmet, Richard
Browne, John Hicks, Robert
Bruinvels, Peter Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Buck, Sir Antony Hill, James
Budgen, Nick Hind, Kenneth
Bulmer, Esmond Hirst, Michael
Burt, Alistair Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Holt, Richard
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hooson, Tom
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hordern, Peter
Chapman, Sydney Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Chope, Christopher Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Churchill, W. S. Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hunt, David (Wirral)
Colvin, Michael Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Conway, Derek Hunter, Andrew
Coombs, Simon Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Cope, John Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Couchman, James Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Jones, Robert (W Herts)
Dorrell, Stephen Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Dunn, Robert Key, Robert
Durant, Tony King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Kirkwood, Archibald
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Squire, Robin
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Stanbrook, Ivor
Knowles, Michael Stanley, John
Knox, David Stern, Michael
Lamont, Norman Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Lang, Ian Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Lawler, Geoffrey Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Lilley, Peter Stokes, John
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Sumberg, David
Lyell, Nicholas Tapsell, Peter
McCurley, Mrs Anna Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
MacGregor, John Temple-Morris, Peter
Major, John Terlezki, Stefan
Mather, Carol Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Meadowcroft, Michael Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Moore, John Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S) Thornton, Malcolm
Neubert, Michael Thurnham, Peter
Page, John (Harrow W) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Pike, Peter Tracey, Richard
Powley, John Trotter, Neville
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Twinn, Dr Ian
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Roe, Mrs Marion Viggers, Peter
Rossi, Sir Hugh Waddington, David
Rost, Peter Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Rowe, Andrew Walden, George
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Waller, Gary
Ryder, Richard Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Watson, John
Sayeed, Jonathan Watts, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Shelton, William (Streatham) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wheeler, John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Whitfield, John
Shersby, Michael Winterton, Mrs Ann
Silvester, Fred Winterton, Nicholas
Sims, Roger Wolfson, Mark
Skeet, T. H. H. Wood, Timothy
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Yeo, Tim
Soames, Hon Nicholas
Speed, Keith Tellers for the Noes:
Speller, Tony Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and Mr. Archie Hamilton.
Spencer, Derek
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Terry Davis


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think I should remind the hon. Gentleman of the point that I put to him earlier. He should now be concluding his remarks.

Mr. Davis

I am in your hands, of course, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was seeking to make a brief explanatory statement on why some clauses should be added to the motion. I have covered 69 clauses in just over 10 minutes. Of course, if you feel that I am taking too much time on each of those clauses, I must accept your ruling. I certainly do not want to lose your good will. I was explaining why I thought—[Interruption.] Oppositions have rights. The Conservative party fought the general election on a manifesto which stated that Parliament should control the Executive. I shall not discuss that point any further; I am simply making the point for the record that the Government have truncated discussion on the most important part of Parliament's business in a year — financial business and taxes. What has happened tonight is unprecedented since 1925. Naturally, feelings on the Opposition Benches run high, especially after the earlier breakdown in communications through the usual channels.

I was talking about clause 70, dealing with the withdrawal of life assurance premium relief. That form of relief has existed for over 100 years. The Government are seeking to take a very important step. It particularly affects small savers, because a life assurance policy is one of the first forms of saving to which people turn if they have disposable income.

We have been told in the debate that the clause is badly drafted and that the Government intend to table an amendment in Committee because they overlooked the effect on industrial life assurance policies—a specially important matter for small savers.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not start to make his case now on each future amendment. I remind him that he must bring his remarks to a close.

Mr. Davis

I was not seeking to explore the issues raised by the clause. I wished only to emphasise why we regard it as very important. But I am in your hands, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and, since you have specifically asked me to draw my remarks to a close, I accede to your request.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered, That Clauses 10, 17, 18, 20, 21, 27, 57, 98, 105, 113 and Schedules 6 to 8 and 12 be committed to a Committee of the whole House; That the remainder of the Bill be committed to a Standing Committee; That, when the provisions of the Bill considered, respectively, by the Committee of the whole House and by the Standing Committee have been reported to the House, the Bill be proceeded with as if the Bill had been reported as a whole to the House from the Standing Committee.