HC Deb 25 June 1997 vol 296 cc842-3
Q8. Mr. Baker

To ask the Prime Minister when he next plans to visit the Lewes constituency. [3892]

The Prime Minister

I have no immediate plans to visit that constituency, but I shall certainly do so when I can.

Mr. Baker

I am sorry that the Prime Minister does not plan to visit Lewes, but if he were to speak to my constituents he would find that the three priorities that have been identified are the same as those in Bolsover—investment in health, investment in education and more police on the beat. Can he help to solve a problem for my constituents, who want to know why the Government are committed to cutting tax for those at the top of our society by introducing a starting rate? Would it not be fairer and provide more than £1 billion if he increased the top-rate tax to 50p in the pound for the I per cent. who did well under the Tory Government? That would release £ 1 billion for health, education and law and order. Is it more important for the Prime Minister to featherbed the top 1 per cent. than to provide decent public services for everybody else?

The Prime Minister

First, as the hon. Gentleman knows, it is not our policy to raise the top rate of tax, but the 10p starting rate of tax would help many low-income families. Many of those low-income families often face high marginal rates of tax—sometimes 80 or 90 per cent., and sometimes even over 100 per cent. As the top marginal tax rates have come down, we believe that it is right and just to try to reduce the marginal rates of tax at the bottom end. That is the reason for that.

On funding programmes, I hope that the Liberal Democrat party will review its opposition to the windfall tax, which is entirely fair and absolutely right, and could help many young people to find the jobs and education that they need.

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