HC Deb 25 June 1998 vol 314 c1170
17. Miss Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove)

How many representations he has received regarding his forecasts for the tax burden. [46165]

19. Mr. Richard Spring (West Suffolk)

If he will make a statement on his Department's forecast for the future tax burden. [46167]

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Alistair Darling)

The Chancellor receives many representations on issues relating to taxation. The tax to gross domestic product ratio is projected to be constant over the next two years.

Miss Kirkbride

I thank the Minister for that answer, but is he now prepared to come clean about the true state of the public finances? The working families tax credit will not be properly accounted for in inflationary revenue and spending statistics. Rather than being a public spending commitment, it will be regarded as a tax forgone, and therefore will not be truly affected by public expenditure.

Mr. Darling

The hon. Lady has misunderstood the position. The way in which we account for the working families tax credit is laid down by international accounting standards, by which this Government, like all Governments, abide.

Mr. Spring

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the burden on the average family of tax and mortgage increases now amounts to some £1,000? How does he reconcile that with the disgracefully misleading statements about tax before the general election?

Mr. Darling

The hon. Gentleman will no doubt recall that he supported the previous Government, who imposed 22 tax rises in complete contradiction to everything that they had said at the election. I remind him of two central facts. Measured in whichever way one likes, taxes are lower in Britain than in continental Europe. Corporation tax in the United Kingdom is 30 per cent.—[Interruption.] It is all very well for Opposition Members to get upset about that, but I was not the first to say it. The shadow Chancellor said it last night at the Carlton club. If the shadow Chancellor knows that taxes are lower in Britain than elsewhere in Europe, it should be good enough for Conservative Back Benchers.

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