HC Deb 06 July 1999 vol 334 cc918-37

Amendment made: No. 35, in page 175, line 26, at end insert—

Chapter Short title Extent of repeal
1992 c. 12. The Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992. Section 193.
This repeal has effect in accordance with section (Business assets: roll-over relief)(2) of this Act.'.—[Mrs. Roche.]

Order for Third Reading read.

9.46 pm
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Alan Milburn)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The Finance Bill reforms and strengthens the British economy by rewarding work, enterprise and families. Quite rightly, it has been subjected to detailed scrutiny, both on Report and in Committee. I thank all right hon. and hon. Members, some of whom are in the Chamber, who contributed to our consideration of the Bill in Committee. I particularly thank my hon. Friends for the excellence of their work on the Bill, but also thank Opposition Members for their work—not least because it has given us some profound insights into where they stand on so many key issues of tax policy, spending policy and economic policy.

The Bill helps to lock in the economic stability that the Government have been creating since we entered office, and introduces new measures to improve—for the long term—the productivity and performance of the British economy. The Bill contains measures to improve investment, to strengthen links between business and education, and to improve the tax position of growing firms.

The Bill's measures give Britain the lowest rates of company taxation in our history. Indeed, the measures give us the lowest tax rates of any major industrialised country anywhere in the world. Moreover, those rates will not apply for only one year, but will remain at that level, or below, for the remainder of this Parliament. They are evidence of the Government's determination to make Britain the very best place for businesses to invest, and the very best place for businesses to do business.

The Finance Bill helps put in place the building blocks not only for an enterprise economy, but for a fair society—the current Government, unlike the previous one, recognise that the two go together. In our two previous Budgets, we helped people move from welfare to work. We are now taking that fundamental reform a step further, by ensuring that, when people go into work, it pays.

For years, successive Governments have taken too much tax from those who work hard but are by no means wealthy. All too often, the working poor have paid the price for that failure. Some people have faced marginal tax rates of as much as 100 per cent. or more when trying simply to move off benefit and into work.

The Finance Bill, with the minimum wage and the working families tax credit, begins to end the perverse incentives that have encouraged benefit dependency. We do so in recognition, first, that work is the best way out of poverty; and, secondly, that—for too many people, for far too long—financial uncertainty has acted as a real barrier.

The Bill ensures that we now have the lowest starting income tax rate in 35 years. Next year, we will have the lowest basic rate of income tax in some 70 years. On any count, those are major reforms to the tax system. They will make working families better off. They will cut the tax burden on the average family to below 20 per cent. for the first time in more than 20 years.

In contrast to the practice of the Conservative party when it was in power, those tax cuts honour the pledges that we made at the last election. [Interruption.] Before the shadow Chancellor starts to chunter too much, I say to him that the cuts are a reminder—if reminder were needed—that, while this Government keep our tax promises, the previous Government failed to do keep theirs. We said that we would cut VAT on fuel and that we would introduce a 10p rate of income tax. We have done so.

We said that we would do something else—we promised more support for families. This Finance Bill delivers that promise. The new children's tax credit will provide more help to those who need it most, when they need it most—families bringing up children. By the end of this Parliament, we will be spending £6 billion more on children than we were at the beginning. In total, as a result of the measures that we have taken to date, some 700,000 children will be lifted out of poverty.

All those measures are opposed by the Conservative party. Frankly, the Opposition have done the House and the country a favour during the passage of the Bill. They have helped put clear blue water between us and them. While this Labour Government's policies are helping the poorest families in the land, it is now clear from the passage of the Bill that the Tories' policies would penalise the poorest families in the land.

The Tories' pledge to abolish the working families tax credit would land 1.5 million families—many of them the poorest in the land—with an extra £24 a week on their tax bills. Their opposition to the minimum wage, to the 10p starting rate of income tax and to the children's tax credit would mean less help for hard-working families, middle and low income alike.

Mr. Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton)

Where in the Labour manifesto did it say that the Labour Government would raise taxes to the tune of £40 billion over the lifetime of this Parliament? Where did it say that newly retired couples who will reach the age of 65 after next April will lose £500 of income that they had expected to have at retirement?

Mr. Milburn

I will come to that £40 billion in a moment because the hon. Gentleman, before he was moved on, helped contribute to the £40 billion black hole in the Tories' spending plans. The Bill and previous measures will help to cut taxes and will ensure that tax plans for this year, next year and the year after are all lower than if the Conservative party had been returned to power at the last general election.

By reversing policies that are designed to make work pay, the Opposition would reinvent the spiral of benefit dependency that they now say they want to eradicate. However, the Opposition have revealed something else, too, during the passage of the Bill. They have revealed that they cannot be trusted with our country's public finances or with our country's key public services.

In the last two years, the state of the public finances has been transformed. We have cut public sector borrowing by some £32 billion. The approach that we have taken has been prudent and disciplined, and this Finance Bill continues that process. It locks in the stability that we have been creating by keeping the public finances under control.

Over the next five years, there will be a current budget surplus of £34 billion. The Government are now living within our means, and yet we have been able to invest extra money in our key public services—an extra £40 billion for our schools and hospitals alone over the next three years.

Mr. Maude


Mr. Milburn

When the right hon. Gentleman comes to the Dispatch Box, perhaps he will say how he intends to match those plans.

Mr. Maude

I shall say for the umpteenth time that we support those increases in health and education spending. However, let the Chief Secretary answer this. Before the last election, the Prime Minister said in clear terms that Labour had no plans to increase taxes at all. What does the Chief Secretary think that he meant by that?

Mr. Milburn

What we said before the general election is contained in our manifesto. We said that we would not increase income tax rates, and we have not; indeed, we have reduced them. We said that we would not extend VAT to children's clothes, food, books and newspapers and public transport fares, and we have not. We said that we would introduce a 10p rate of income tax, and we have.

If the shadow Chancellor wants to compare and contrast the tax promises that we made at the general election with those that his party manifesto made at the 1992 election, I am happy to go through that charade. He might have come to the Dispatch Box and explained how it is that one moment he describes our spending plans as reckless—and the Leader of the Opposition accuses my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of embarking on a spending spree—and the next he says that he wants to match our spending on health and education.

It is no good willing the end without being prepared to will the means. The Conservatives have failed to put their money where their mouth is. Worse, they have tabled proposals that would take money away from the very services that they say they support.

Mr. Maude

As the Chief Secretary seems unwilling to defend the Prime Minister on his clear statement before the general election, will he say what he understood the Prime Minister to mean when he said just after the election that the Government would cut social security bills? Did he believe that the Prime Minister meant that he would increase those bills by £38 billion?

Mr. Milburn

The right hon. Gentleman must be aware of what has happened under this Government as compared to what happened under the previous Government. He must know that social security spending is rising at half the rate under this Government, so we will take no lectures from him.

During our proceedings on the Bill, the Conservative party tabled amendments that would rob the public purse of almost £25 billion over the next three years and Conservative amendments to last year's Finance Bill would add another £15 billion to that total. [Interruption.] If the shadow Chancellor would stop chuntering and start listening, he might learn something. His party lost the trust of the British people at the general election because it broke its promises and it continues to make promises that it cannot keep.

Our proceedings have highlighted all too clearly the contrast between the Government and the Opposition: £40 billion extra for our key public services with the Government or £40 billion less with the Conservatives; more help for families with the Government or less with the Opposition; more help to get people into work and to help them to stay there with the Government or less for both with the Conservatives; economic stability with the Government or a return to stop-go, boom-bust with the Conservatives.

We have seen that today's Conservative party is not only out of touch and out of date but out of the political mainstream; it is no wonder that people say that it is the most extreme in living memory. The Bill will help to build a stronger economic future for our country and ensure that there is opportunity for the many and not only the few. It provides the right incentives for people to work and for business to invest. In short, it offers a better deal for both British business and the British people. It deserves the support of the House.

9.59 pm
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

In March, the Chancellor introduced a tax-raising Budget, followed in short order by a tax-raising Finance Bill. Even more recently, we have been faced with a tax-raising Report stage. Unusually—it is certainly unprecedented in my experience—the Government only yesterday tabled eight additional money resolutions, each of which was, by definition, tax-raising. We have had a series of Budgets, each of them tax-raising, and a series of provisions this year whose object has also been to raise taxation.

This is a bad Bill. However, in the debates during its progress through the House, we have managed to puncture the Chancellor's self-satisfied arrogance and complacency. Instead of strengthening the British economy, as the Chief Secretary claimed, he has put at risk the golden economic legacy that he inherited from the previous Conservative Government at the general election.

The Chief Secretary made the truly remarkable claim that social security expenditure was rising less sharply now than under the previous Government. That is flatly untrue, as statistics from the ever-helpful House of Commons Library show. In the three years to 1998–99—in other words, the Conservative Government's last year of office and the years for which Conservative planning was taken over by the Labour Government—social security spending fell by 0.2 per cent. per year, in real terms. Conversely, the Library figures show that, from 1998–99 onwards, when the Labour Government have been on their own, social security spending is set to rise by 3.2 per cent. each year, in real terms.

That is a graphic illustration of how the Government have turned a satisfactory plateau of real-terms social security expenditure into a steep rise. That is where the money is being spent. Instead of taking money from the social security budget and spending it on other desirable areas of social expenditure, the Government are wasting it on an acceleration of social security expenditure. That is documented in the figures that I have given.

Mr. Leslie

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

No. I am correcting the facts and figures misrepresented to the House only a few moments ago by the Chief Secretary.

The Bill, and the Budget before it, contain some gimmicky handouts. Interestingly, however, some of the handouts announced in the Budget speech are not to be found in the Bill. For example, in his Budget speech, the Chancellor proudly announced research and development tax credits. Business looked forward to them, but the Bill says nothing about them. The proposal is a fraud. Conversely, the Bill contains some tax increases that were not announced in the Budget speech. That is all so appropriate for a stealth-tax Government.

On Budget day, the Government published a leaflet called "Budget '99", which purports to be a summary of the Budget measures. In the section entitled "Raising Productivity", the research and development tax credit is said to be an item that will be "delivered" in the 1999 Budget. Yet, as I have explained, it was not delivered, in either the Budget or the Bill.

The leaflet does not mention something that is in the Bill—the sharp and damaging increase in stamp duty. That is set to raise £300 million a year, mostly from the business sector. The research and development tax credit may come into effect in the year 2001, and will benefit business by a maximum of £100 million.

The leaflet is nothing short of state-sponsored propaganda. It is biased, partial and a disgrace. The taxpayer was expected to finance a leaflet—at a cost of more than £100,000—that gives a distorted and misleading account of the Budget measures.

The Finance Bill has been criticised for making the system more complicated. Every Finance Bill introduces more rates, more tax bands and more complex relief. Last year, the capital gains tax system—again unreformed this year—set up all sorts of perverse incentives, additional rates and multiple allowances. The Government say that they are trying to make the tax system simpler to aid self-assessment, but it is becoming more difficult for individual taxpayers and more expensive for businesses. The Government have begun a regulation drive to make everything more complicated and expensive, and that—just as surely as tax increases—is undermining the competitiveness of the British economy.

The Bill abolished married couples allowance, but there was another trick. The Chancellor announced that, although the allowance was being abolished, it would be replaced by children's tax credit. The trick is that married couples allowance is abolished immediately, saving the Government over £1.5 billion a year, but children's tax credit will not come in until 2001, and will cost less than the amount saved.

We have debated fuel duties again today, so I shall say only that the Government no longer seriously deny the damage to the road haulage industry. Fuel represents a third of the industry's running costs, and making our fuel the most expensive in Europe obviously makes the industry uncompetitive in Europe. Road haulage, by definition a mobile industry, will lose out in the single market. Those blindingly obvious truths are beginning to register with the Government, but it is too late for many in the haulage industry who have already suffered, and too late for British manufacturing industry, which has been made uncompetitive. I hope that it is not too late to persuade the Government to end the damaging fuel escalator in next year's Budget.

Mr. Geraint Davies


Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

I cannot resist giving way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Davies

Having mentioned stealth tax, would you agree that, when you add up the reversal of your policy—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord)

Order. The hon. Gentleman must use the correct parliamentary language.

Mr. Davies

When the right hon. Gentleman adds up the effect of his policies on the fuel escalator, elimination of the tobacco escalator and the married couples allowance, does he not find that the Conservative party will offer the electorate a bill amounting to tens of billions of pounds at the next election? How will he pay it?

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

I am glad to give way to the hon. Gentleman, because he is always helpful. He has given me the chance to state that we are trying to chip away at the extra taxes that the Government are levying on British industry and individual taxpayers in defiance of their manifesto and election promises. The hon. Gentleman should thank us for trying to return the Government to the platform on which he was elected.

On savings, the Government do not seem to understand that it is no good exhorting people to save more, or trying to get people off welfare and on to depending on their own savings, if savings are being made more expensive and less attractive. They have done it in every Budget since the general election. In the first one, they carried out a £5 billion a year raid on pension funds. No one will trust the Government on pensions again.

Then we had the quite unnecessary vandalism against personal equity plans and tax-exempt special savings accounts—two successful and established savings vehicles that were trusted by the saving public. The Government introduced the wholly unknown, untried and untested individual savings accounts, with which they are having so much difficulty. We confidently expect that they will in due course produce amendments to try to retrieve the situation. Why put the saving public to all the expense and difficulty of changing from a product that they understand to one that they do not?

In this Finance Bill, the l0p starting rate of income tax was announced. However, the Government deliberately did not make it applicable to savings. What sort of a message does that send? Do not bother to save; the Labour Government do not believe that it is necessary.

Exactly the same is true of the continuing scandal over dividend tax credits and the Government's failure to repay those credits, or an equivalent sum, to non-taxpayers. They have compensated everyone else—the better off—for the withdrawal of dividend tax credits, but despite being asked, they have deliberately refused to compensate the poorest non-tax paying savers. They are operating a sort of means test. They have looked after the better-off savers, but they are refusing to compensate the poorest category of saver—those who are below the tax threshold. That is a continuing scandal and it goes some way to explain why the Government are losing touch with their traditional supporters and why those ex-supporters have been making known their views in the recent local government and European elections. It is not surprising that the savings ratio has fallen and continues to fall.

Before I conclude, I must touch on another extraordinary fact that we unearthed from the Government despite all their efforts to keep the information to themselves: the fact that at least three of the provisions in the Bill may be incompatible with the requirements of the European Union and may in due course have to be withdrawn or repealed. One such provision is the measure to help the film industry. The second is the 40 per cent. first-year allowance for small and medium-sized companies and the third is the 100 per cent. first year allowance for small and medium-sized companies in Northern Ireland.

We have discovered that each of those measures, which were all introduced by the Government, are under investigation by the European Union business tax committee, which is chaired by the Paymaster General. We did not know that when we debated those measures in Committee. The Government did not tell us that they might all have to be withdrawn if that committee concludes that they represent unfair tax competition. They may have to be repealed because that committee is not advisory but mandatory. The Government have voluntarily agreed in advance to honour its conclusions. In a debate in Committee in November 1997, the Paymaster General said that, if the Government agreed to the code of conduct on unfair tax competition in Europe, they would honour the committee's conclusions and abide by its recommendations.

So, there we have it. The House of Commons and this Chamber this evening may think that they are regulating tax matters on which they are sovereign, but I am afraid that that is no longer the case. The Government have admitted—the information had to be extracted from them—that at least three of the measures that we are being invited to pass this evening are vulnerable to being withdrawn because of the conclusions of a European Union committee. If that is not the case, the Government still have time to reassure us to the contrary. When we debated the matter yesterday, they not only gave us no assurances on that, but they appeared to confirm that it was indeed the case.

A recent example is provided by the debate on amendment No. 31, introduced by my right hon. Friend the shadow Chancellor. The House is being asked to give the Government authority to spend unspecified amounts, during an unspecified period, on unspecified items in respect of the national changeover plan. That is a disgrace, and, in her response to that debate, the Economic Secretary made matters worse by refusing to give the House the details that it reasonably requires.

In conclusion, the Bill remains a bad Bill; it is a tax-raising and stealth-taxing Bill. It is interfering and damaging; we shall vote against it.

10.16 pm
Mr. Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton)

Sometimes our debates generate a great deal of heat, and sometimes they shed a great deal of light. Unfortunately, the former is true of this Third Reading debate. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory), failed to mention the two most historic tax changes in the Bill. Those truly historic changes are the abolition of mortgage interest tax relief—[Interruption.]—and of the married couples allowance. From a sedentary position, the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love) cheers the abolition of mortgage interest tax relief; he is right to do so. That relief needed to be abolished, and I am surprised that the Chief Secretary failed to mention it in his speech.

Mr. Geraint Davies

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Davey

If I must.

Mr. Davies

Can it be true that the spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats has written his speech on Third Reading on the back of an envelope?

Mr. Davey

Although the hon. Gentleman may need to print out the full text of his own speeches, some of us have only a few notes—to which we often do not even need to refer.

I was making a rather more serious point: there are some major tax changes in the Finance Bill, which one would have thought the Chief Secretary would mention. Perhaps he is rather embarrassed by them, and is not prepared to advocate them to the public—therein lies the truth. Perhaps the shadow Chief Secretary failed to mention them because he realises that the Conservative Government began those reforms. He does not want to admit that the measures are the logical conclusion of Conservative tax policies.

The Liberal Democrats support those two historic tax changes. However, we do not support the way in which the money freed by the changes has been spent. The Government have spent the money in several ways, none of which will promote full social justice and fairness—as should have been done. They have followed the Tory route of cutting marginal tax rates. In taking that approach, they are making the same mistakes as the Tory Government made in the past; they are not targeting those freed-up resources on the working poor. That is an historic mistake.

The l0p tax rate will not help the poorest in society; it will be worth just as much to those on higher incomes. We could have taken hundreds of thousands of the working poor out of tax altogether, if the money saved by abolishing mortgage interest tax relief and the married couples tax allowance had been used to raise personal allowances. The Government failed to do that.

There was an extremely Tory policy in the Budget: cutting the marginal rate of income tax by a penny in the pound. That money could have been spent on public services; we could have improved our health and education services, using the money squandered by the Government in an unnecessary tax cut. Alternatively, the money could have been used to raise personal allowances. Unfortunately, the Government failed to take that opportunity. The Finance Bill fails to promote social justice.

To be fair to the Government, on Report, there were one or two concessions—on buses, bicycles and employee share ownership. We welcome that and we are grateful that constructive opposition occasionally bears fruit. Indeed, in Committee, we managed to delete the word "other" from one schedule. That clarified the law, for which I am sure the tax lawyers outside this place will be grateful.

However, those minor improvements have not improved the fundamental quality of the Bill. As the right hon. Member for Wells said, the Bill increases the complexity of the tax system. An allowance and a relief have been abolished, but in their place has come a l0p tax rate, which creates huge complexities because it means that we now have a multiplicity of tax rates on different sorts of income. People filling in their self-assessment tax returns will suffer headaches as they try to work it all out; many of them will have to pay hundreds of pounds for professional advice. As we enter an era in which we ask the average citizen to fill out a tax return, we ought to make the tax system more simple, especially for elderly people. As the Financial Secretary will recall, we debated that point early this morning.

Not only does the Bill fail the test of improving the tax system by promoting simplicity: it fails to enhance the fairness of the tax system. The Chief Secretary said that fairness was the Government's aim and that, through the working families tax credit and the 10p rate, they were achieving that. However, there are many other ways in which they could have achieved it, specifically, by raising personal allowances. In next year's Budget, the Liberal Democrats want a massive increase in personal income allowances that takes hundreds of thousands—even millions—of people out of the tax system altogether. It is nonsense that people on low earnings pay income tax. We should return to a fairer tax system that does not trouble many low income earners with the attentions of the Inland Revenue. I hope that the Government will learn the error of their ways and that next year we will have a Finance Bill that increases simplicity and promotes fairness.

10.22 pm
Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)

I shall concentrate on only one clause—clause 27—and the children's tax credit. In his Budget speech this year, the Chancellor made much of fairness. When introducing the children's tax credit, he said: In the Budget last year, I set down the two principles that govern my approach: we must substantially increase support for families with children and we must do so in the fairest way. It is in fulfilment of those two principles that the children's tax credit will be tapered away for the higher-earning family where there is a top-rate taxpayer."—[Official Report, 9 March 1999; Vol. 327, c. 183.] Fair enough—if the Chancellor intends to introduce a new children's tax credit in a fair way, there is nothing wrong with that. However, if we look at the Finance Bill, we find that that is not going to happen: the way in which the tax credit is to be implemented is not fair.

A couple in which one partner stays at home to look after the children or an elderly or dependent relative will find that their children's tax credit starts to taper away once the earnings of the partner in work exceed £32,000 a year, and that once that partner's earnings exceed £38,000 a year, no credit will be due. At first sight, that might appear to be perfectly fair—after all, we want to concentrate resources on those who are most in need. However, it is not fair, because a couple in which both partners are in paid work will continue to draw the credit in full until their joint income exceeds £64,000 a year, if each of them earns broadly the same amount as the other and they are not higher-rate taxpayers. What is fair about a system that pays a credit in full to one couple who together earn £64,000 a year, but withdraws it completely from another couple whose income is only £38,000 a year? I cannot perceive the fairness in that.

The children's tax credit is not to be introduced until April 2001. We cannot change this year's Finance Bill, because it is too late, so, looking ahead to 2001, my plea to Treasury Ministers is that they should reconsider that single aspect of the Bill and try to ensure that there is greater fairness in the system. All I am asking is that the Government treat each couple fairly. Surely, as a matter of principle, the Government should allow couples if they so wish—there is no compulsion—to live their lives in the way in which they want to. The Government should allow couples to pool their income and allowances for the purposes of calculating their entitlement to credit. That seems entirely fair.

In that case, the make-up of couples' incomes would be immaterial. It would make no difference whether it was wholly earned by one partner or earned by both—or in what proportion it was split between them. They are a couple, living together and pooling their earnings. If they choose to live their life in a certain way, why should they be penalised so heavily by the state? That is unfair and cannot be just. All couples should be given the opportunity to be treated exactly the same.

There is an even stronger case for my argument. The Government cannot reasonably argue that couples with higher incomes should not be given the opportunity to pool their incomes for the purposes of CTC, since at the very same time under the working families tax credit, they are requiring people at the bottom end of the income scale to disclose to each other their incomes, savings and other details.

The CTC is seen by the Government as part of the benefits system. It is designed to help couples with children. In effect, it is a benefit, although it is termed as a tax credit. Indeed, it was introduced instead of further increasing child benefit. The Government are also considering integrating the CTC with the child premiums in income support and the working families tax credit. All that is fair enough; I do not have any argument with any of it. Does it not show that the Government view the children's tax credit as part of the benefit system?

We know that the basic unit in the benefits system is not the individual but the family—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) must not keep passing to and fro in front of hon. Members who are addressing the House.

Mr. Leigh

I am sure that the Whip was trying to be helpful.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That is not the point. It should not be done.

Mr. Leigh

If the benefits system views the family as a unit, and the CTC is in effect a benefit, why cannot it be treated as such?

Are we to try to build a society that is fair, allows couples to live their lives and does not penalise a couple in which a wife, or possibly a husband, wants—I stress that there is no compulsion—to stay at home to look after the children? Such penalties are unfair and I plead with those on the Treasury Bench to reconsider.

10.28 pm
Mr. Fabricant

This Finance Bill and the Budget statement are typified by the leaflet that was produced by the Treasury at a cost of more than £100,000 and distributed to more than 1.5 million people. This little leaflet is a distortion of the truth; the entire Finance Bill is a distortion of the truth.

The Budget statement made on the day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave all the good news and none of the bad news. It took journalists at least three or four days to read the Finance Bill and all the attendant literature in order to extract the truth. This has been one of the most dishonest Finance Bills before Parliament this century.

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have claimed that this Bill would reduce taxes. Yet the House of Commons Library, after detailed analysis, stated unequivocally that this Budget will raise £40.7 billion of extra funds from taxpayers. That figure is equivalent to £1,500 per taxpayer over the course of this Parliament. I am astonished that during the proceedings on the Finance Bill and at Treasury questions, Ministers have consistently denied that. At the end of the day, they are claiming that they are right and the independent House of Commons Library is wrong. The Labour party is endeavouring to fiddle the figures, and that must be wrong.

Labour claims that it is in favour of hard-working families, but the Finance Bill has hit families by scrapping the married couples allowance. The abolition of the tax relief on mortgage payments will cost home owners more than £200 a year, and that is wrong.

The Budget has resulted in Labour taxing motorists off the road. We now have the highest petrol charges in Europe. The Government trumpet that they are in favour of green policies and have introduced the tax break of lower vehicle excise duty for vehicles below 1100 cc, but that is a joke. We all know that even a Fiat Punto's engine is over 1100 cc. That makes a mockery of all the Government's claims. Of course, we do not expect the Labour party to know about such matters. We all know that the Deputy Prime Minister owns two Jaguars, so what would he know about Fiat Puntos?

The Chief Secretary claimed that 10p was the lowest rate of tax, but we know that scrapping the 20p income tax band will result in a tax rise of £60 a year for most people. That is yet another distortion.

In conclusion, this Budget has been driven solely by the Government's desire to disguise the fact that they are raising taxes by stealth and by their desire to win the next election for the Labour party, but the Government underestimate the electorate if they think that they will be fooled indefinitely. The Finance Bill destroys the golden legacy inherited from the previous Government and sows the seeds of economic decline.

10.33 pm
Mr. Loughton

If, after the long haul on this Finance Bill, there is one word that encapsulates what the Bill is all about, that word is stealth. Uncharacteristically, it was the hon. Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Davies) who put his finger on that. This is the stealth tax Budget.

Throughout the proceedings on the Finance Bill, including this evening's debates, Ministers have boasted of the headline rates of income tax and corporation tax. Never once have they tackled the most important issue of the overall tax burden. As my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) rightly pointed out, the Library explicitly said that the overall tax burden—not the tax rates—of the Government's three Budgets will, over the lifetime of this Parliament, add £40.7 billion to the tax bill. According to the president of the CBI, there will be £20 billion of extra taxes on industry alone. That is from a Government who, in opposition, had no plans to raise taxes.

The British people are wising up to taxation by stealth. The fuel duty and so-called environmental taxes are the biggest red herring, painted green, in the Finance Bill. As we heard earlier, the Bill will destroy large swathes of this country's freight industry. The measures are counterproductive in terms of the revenue coming into the Treasury and in their effect on the environment. It took a great deal of questioning and requestioning to drag out, at long last, the admission from the Economic Secretary that the price of fuel under the Labour Government has increased by 13p per litre in excise duty. People who live in the country will feel the brunt of that. The disabled who rely on their vehicles will also feel the brunt of that. Those who rely on community bus transport, who have no exemption from this tax, will feel the brunt of the increase in excise duty more than anyone else, through no fault of their own.

Environmental measures in the Budget that we applaud, like the 29 per cent. reduction in local gas charges, pale into insignificance without the kick-start that is needed through the capital tax reliefs for which we called. As a result, the reduction becomes meaningless.

The public are waking up to the highest fuel duty in Europe. It is all the making of the Government, when 85 per cent. of the cost of a litre or gallon of fuel is down to tax as per Government instructions in the Bill.

There is the stealth tax of the 10p rate of which we learn with great fanfares while nothing is said about the 20p rate that will be abolished, to be increased to 23p. There is stealth in that the 10 per cent. rate does not apply to people's savings. There is the stealth of the fact that the married couples' tax allowance is to be abolished, to be replaced two years later by the children's tax credit, which is no good if one's children happen to be older than 14. That is no good for prospective pensioners born after a certain date.

With the Finance Bill, the Government are all about giving with one hand with great fanfares and taking by stealth with the other. We have heard this evening about the biggest black hole of them all. There will be unlimited, unaccounted for and unaudited expenditure on the euro handover plan. So much power is being delegated through the Bill to secondary legislation, let alone what may be delegated to the superior powers of the code of conduct group, about which we hear so little.

This is government by stealth. It is government by presentation and headline rather than by practical implications and detail. It is a thoroughly dishonest Budget from a Government who are obsessed by spin, and we should vote against it.

10.37 pm
Mr. Quentin Davies

We have had some very effective contributions in this debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight) spoke extremely persuasively about the stealth tax policy of the Government. That is the hallmark of the Government, of the Budget and of the Finance Bill, which I hope the House will shortly be rejecting.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) spoke with his usual vigour about how disingenuous the presentation of fiscal and economic policy has become under the Government. The Budget speech is no longer a serious occasion when the light and the shade, the pluses and the minuses are presented. All the unpleasant news is either entirely passed over in silence or is hidden with a few glib phrases supplied by a spin doctor from Millbank. Such has been the decline in our proceedings and in the standards of parliamentary presentation that the Government have sadly brought about.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) spoke extremely well about the children's tax credit. He is a recognised authority in this country on social security matters. I add only that the children's tax credit brings with it the extremely negative historic achievement in our tax policy that it destroys the principle of independent taxation. That principle was introduced under a Conservative Administration in the 1980s by Lord Lawson, as he now is. That great achievement is the pillar of a fair and just tax system in a modern society. It is now being destroyed as a by-product of this ill-thought-through policy.

The hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Mr. Davey) made a good speech, but confirmed that the Liberals are to the left even of the Labour party. They are the highest tax-raising party in the country. They are welcome to that position, and I hope that they enjoy it.

The most striking feature of the debate this evening was not the effective and often interesting speeches to which I referred, but the complete silence from the Government Benches. The most revealing—because it is entirely objective—aspect of the debate has been the utter failure of the Government to generate the slightest enthusiasm among their own supporters for their taxation measures and fiscal policy.

I remember that when I entered the House in the 1980s, I looked forward to intervening from the Back Benches in support of the momentous Budgets of the time. I was proud to do so. Not a single hon. Lady or hon. Gentleman spoke this evening from the Government Back Benches, and my goodness, we all know that there are far too many hon. Ladies and hon. Gentlemen on those Benches. We shall have to wait a couple of years to get rid of most of them. Not a single one could muster the slightest enthusiasm for the Government's proposals. Many of them must have had the greatest difficulty in hiding their deep embarrassment.

The cracks are appearing in the apparently bright facade of the new Labour Government. They are appearing in the areas of tax policy and economic management as much as, or more than, in any other field. Let us consider the growing rift in public expenditure between the Government's promises, to which my right hon. Friend the shadow Chancellor rightly referred—promises to spend more money on desirable public services such as health and education—and their total failure to deliver the other half of that commitment: to make savings in social security expenditure.

Mr. Christopher Leslie (Shipley)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Davies

The hon. Gentleman has had plenty of opportunity to take part in the debate. He knows that I like taking interventions, including those from him, and I often take them, but it is a pretty poor show that Labour could not muster a single speaker tonight. Now, because Labour Members are so pained by my strictures, they put up the hon. Gentleman to try at the last minute—and after time—to remedy the obvious deficiency of the parliamentary Labour party in the debate. That will not wash. The hon. Gentleman will have to do better next time and get in during the debate, as he could so easily have done.

If a rift is appearing in the Government's public expenditure policies and the facade of new Labour, that facade is crumbling to dust on the revenue side of the Government's tax policies. We all know that their behaviour has been characterised by a series of stealth taxes. They started right away with the dividend tax credit. We have lost count, but I am sure that someone in Conservative central office is keeping a record—he or she must be employed full-time adding the number of stealth taxes introduced by the Government.

Several of those stealth taxes were revealed in this evening's debate, not least that nasty little trick of bringing to an end the married couples allowance one year, then waiting a full year before introducing its supposed replacement, the children's tax credit, thereby taking hundreds of pounds surreptitiously out of families' pockets. What a sickening thing to do, when the Government continue with their rhetoric about supporting the family. They are doing no such thing. They are making an entirely cynical and opportunistic attempt to take money out of households with children while pretending to do nothing of the kind.

Many Government policies are in shreds.

Mr. Geraint Davies

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Davies

I have already explained why I will not—[Interruption.] I am sorry, but if Labour Members lack either the courage or the conviction to take part in debates on these important budgetary matters, and if they do not have a good word to say about the Finance Bill or the Government's tax proposals, I am afraid that I shall rub it in by deliberately not taking interventions from them. As the hon. Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Davies) knows, I am making an exception by not taking interventions, but tonight's events have been striking. Although no hon. Member will have missed the significance of the silence of Labour Members on the Finance Bill, it is important that the public realise what is going on and how little conviction Government policy carries even among Labour Back Benchers.

The Government's taxation policies are already unravelling and many are in shreds. Only pigheaded obstinacy—or a desperate desire to save face at any price, including the national interest—is holding up the concessions that everybody knows are required and must be delivered. The Opposition have pressed for them during proceedings on the Bill. We must have a change in the annuity rule to get rid of the 75-year rule so that people's pension savings are not thrown away on an annuity that will accrue hardly more interest than that which they would receive from putting their money on deposit or in the gilt market. We must allow draw-down indefinitely and the Government must think again about our proposal to abolish the 75-year rule.

The situation in respect of personal equity plans and individual savings accounts has made the Government a laughing stock in every section of our society that follows financial matters. Every independent financial adviser in this country would endorse that. The Government came to power and destructively decided to get rid of extremely successful policies only to replace them with a colossal failure. The sooner they recognise that, and get rid of the mini ISAs in particular, the better.

As my hon. Friends have said so clearly throughout proceedings on the Bill, the Government have come to the end of the road on the fuel duty escalator as well. Increasing the rate to 6 per cent. was extremely foolish and unsustainable, and the escalator must go. Above all, they have come to the point at which they can no longer defend what they are doing on personal tax. I made that point yesterday, and it is going to be made again tonight, but we have had not a single response.

What is the justification for taking hundreds of pounds out of the pocket of someone who has only £5,000 a year to live on? Last night, I referred to a case involving someone who had £1,000 taken out of his pocket and he has only £4,000 a year to live on because people below the income tax threshold are being made to pay tax on their dividend income. What is the justification for introducing a 10 per cent. lower rate of tax and not applying it to savings income? There is no justification in terms of economics or of basic good or evil. Nor is there a common-sense justification for what the Government are doing. They must think again, and it is obvious that their Back-Bench supporters think that they should do so as well.

10.49 pm
Mrs. Roche

After that performance, let me assure the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Mr. Davies) that I managed to hear his every word. I remember his record on Finance Bills from when I was in opposition, and it was very helpful to us. Given his views on Europe, he will continue to be of use to us.

I thank my hon. Friends on the Back Benches who so ably supported us and spoke so frequently in Committee—unlike Conservative Members, who, during their years in power, never spoke on Bills.

I want to correct a few of the comments made by Conservative Members. The right hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory) alleged that social security spending is out of control. How wrong can he be? The forecast of real growth is 1.9 per cent. a year over this Parliament, compared with 4.1 per cent. during the previous Parliament. The rate has halved, but we are still providing extra resources for the poorest in society. Once again, that is absolute proof that a Labour Government are much better managers of the economy.

The right hon. Gentleman had the cheek to allege that savings were less attractive under a Labour Government. The real enemies of savers are instability and high inflation. The Government have no intention of returning to the sky-high inflation rates of the Tory Administration. The savings ratio fell to 3 per cent. in 1988 under the Tories, and we will not let them forget that.

The hon. Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) poked fun at the 1100 cc cut-off for vehicle excise duty. He had the temerity to call it a joke. Drivers of 1.8 million cars will benefit from a £55 cut in the annual VED, and they will not regard it as a joke—and neither will members of the public in the hon. Gentleman's constituency when he goes into the Lobby tonight to vote against the Bill.

The hon. Gentleman spoke about the road haulage industry. The total tax burden on UK hauliers is lower than that in other major EU states, and is below the EU average. The Government have been able to achieve that because we support business. [Interruption.] Conservative Members may mock, but we remember what happened to businesses when they were in power. Under the previous Government, a business went bust every three minutes.

The hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) referred to the child tax credit and the taper. The taper works according to an individual's income, so if one person in a couple is a 40 per cent. taxpayer, the taper will bite, but if neither of them is, they can each earn about £32,000 and the taper will not bite. During that debate, there was a split between the hon. Member for Gainsborough, who made a plea to abolish independent taxation, and the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford who, only a couple of minutes later, made an even more passionate plea to save it. That is why we like the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford.

The Budget builds on a strong foundation of economic stability, advances a modern framework of efficient public services and encourages a dynamic Britain of enterprise and fairness. That is what the country said when people heard the Budget proposed by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. The Budget and the Finance Bill that implements it are about building a better Britain and a better economy for all our people. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 326, Noes 149.

Division No. 226] [10.54 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Casale, Roger
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Caton, Martin
Ainger, Nick Cawsey, Ian
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Alexander, Douglas Chaytor, David
Allen, Graham Chisholm, Malcolm
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Clapham, Michael
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Ashton, Joe Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Atherton, Ms Candy Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Atkins, Charlotte Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Austin, John Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Barnes, Harry Clelland, David
Barron, Kevin Coaker, Vernon
Battle, John Coffey, Ms Ann
Bayley, Hugh Coleman, lain
Beard, Nigel Colman, Tony
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Connarty, Michael
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Corbett, Robin
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Corbyn, Jeremy
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield) Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Bennett, Andrew F Cryer, John (Homchurch)
Benton, Joe Cummings, John
Bermingham, Gerald Cunliffe, Lawrence
Berry, Roger Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Best, Harold Curtis—Thomas, Mrs Claire
Betts, Clive Dalyell, Tam
Blackman, Liz Darvill, Keith
Blears, Ms Hazel Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Blizzard, Bob Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Boateng, Paul Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Dawson, Hilton
Bradshaw, Ben Dean, Mrs Janet
Brinton, Mrs Helen Denham, John
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E) Dismore, Andrew
Browne, Desmond Dobbin, Jim
Buck, Ms Karen Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Burden, Richard Doran, Frank
Burgon, Colin Dowd, Jim
Butler, Mrs Christine Drew, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Campbell—Savours, Dale Edwards, Huw
Cann, Jamie Efford, Clive
Caplin, Ivor Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Etherington, Bill Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Field, Rt Hon Frank Laxton, Bob
Fisher, Mark Lepper, David
Fitzpatrick, Jim Leslie, Christopher
Flint, Caroline Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Flynn, Paul Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Follett, Barbara Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings) Linton, Martin
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) Livingstone, Ken
Fyfe, Maria Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Gapes, Mike Lock, David
Gardiner, Barry Love, Andrew
Gerrard, Neil McAllion, John
Gibson, Dr Ian McAvoy, Thomas
Gilroy, Mrs Linda McCabe, Steve
Godman, Dr Norman A McCafferty, Ms Chris
Godsiff, Roger Macdonald, Calum
Goggins, Paul McDonnell, John
Golding, Mrs Llin McGuire, Mrs Anne
Gordon, Mrs Eileen Mclsaac, Shona
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) McNamara, Kevin
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) McNulty, Tony
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Mactaggart, Fiona
Grogan, John McWalter, Tony
Gunnell, John McWilliam, John
Hain, Peter Mahon, Mrs Alice
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) Mallaber, Judy
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Hanson, David Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Marshall—Andrews, Robert
Healey, John Martlew, Eric
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Maxton, John
Hepburn, Stephen Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Hesford, Stephen Meale, Alan
Hewitt, Ms Patricia Merron, Gillian
Hinchliffe, David Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Hodge, Ms Margaret Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Hoey, Kate Mitchell, Austin
Home Robertson, John Moffatt, Laura
Hope, Phil Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hopkins, Kelvin Moran, Ms Margaret
Hoyle, Lindsay Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford) Morley, Elliot
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Humble, Mrs Joan Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Hurst, Alan Mudie, George
Hutton, John Mullin, Chris
Iddon, Dr Brian Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Illsley, Eric Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead) Naysmith, Dr Doug
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough) O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Jenkins, Brian O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) O'Hara, Eddie
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield) Olner, Bill
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn) O'Neill, Martin
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark) Organ, Mrs Diana
Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW) Osborne, Ms Sandra
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Palmer, Dr Nick
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak) Pearson, Ian
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Pendry, Tom
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa Perham, Ms Linda
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Pickthall, Colin
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Pike, Peter L
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Plaskitt, James
Kemp, Fraser Pollard, Kerry
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Pond, Chris
Khabra, Piara S Pope, Greg
Kidney, David Pound, Stephen
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth) Powell, Sir Raymond
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green) Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Kumar, Dr Ashok Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce Stoate, Dr Howard
Quinn, Lawrie Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Radice, Rt Hon Giles Stringer, Graham
Rammell, Bill Stuart, Ms Gisela
Rapson, Syd Sutcliffe, Gerry
Raynsford, Nick Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough) Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N) Taylor, Ms Dad (Stockton S) Temple—Morris, Peter
Roche, Mrs Barbara Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Rooker, Jeff Timms, Stephen
Rooney, Terry Tipping, Paddy
Rowlands, Ted Todd, Mark
Roy, Frank Trickett, Jon
Ruane, Chris Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Ruddock, Joan Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk),
Ryan, Ms Joan Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Salter, Martin Vaz, Keith
Savidge, Malcolm Vis, Dr Rudi
Sawford, Phil Walley, Ms Joan,
Sedgemore, Brian Wareing, Robert N
Shaw, Jonathan Watts, David
Sheerman, Barry White, Brian
Short, Rt Hon Clare Whitehead,Dr Alan
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Wicks, Malcolm
Singh, Marsha Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Skinner, Dennis Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Wills, Michael
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S) Wilson, Brian
Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale) Winnick, David
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch) Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Wise, Audrey
Soley, Clive Wood, Mike
Southworth, Ms Helen Worthington, Tony
Spellar, John Wray, James
Squire, Ms Rachel Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Starkey, Dr Phyllis Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George Tellers for the Ayes:
Stewart, David (Inverness E) Mr. Keith Hill and
Stewart, Ian (Eccles) Mr. David Jamieson.
Stinchcombe, Paul
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Colvin, Michael
Allan, Richard Cormack, Sir Patrick
Amess, David Gran, James
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Curry, Rt Hon David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Baker, Norman Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Beggs, Roy Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Beth, Rt Hon A J Duncan, Alan
Bercow, John Duncan Smith, lain
Beresford, Sir Paul Evans, Nigel
Blunt, Crispin Faber, David
Body, Sir Richard Fabricant, Michael
Boswell, Tim Fallon, Michael
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Fearn, Ronnie
Brand, Dr Peter Flight, Howard
Brazier, Julian Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Breed, Colin Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Fox, Dr Liam
Browning, Mrs Angela Fraser, Christopher
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Gale, Roger
Burns, Simon Gamier, Edward
Cash, William George, Andrew (St Ives)
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet) Gibb, Nick
Chope, Christopher Gill, Christopher
Clappison, James Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh) Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Collins, Tim Gorrie, Donald
Gray, James
Green, Damian Rendel, David
Greenway, John Robathan, Andrew
Gummer, Rt Hon John Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Hague, Rt Hon William Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Hammond, Philip Ruffley, David
Hancock, Mike Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Harvey, Nick St Aubyn, Nick
Hawkins, Nick Sanders, Adrian
Heald, Oliver Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Heathcoat—Amory, Rt Hon David Shepherd, Richard
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas Simpson, Keith (Mid—Norfolk)
Horam, John Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Soames, Nicholas
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot) Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Spicer, Sir Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Spring, Richard
Key, Robert Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Steen, Anthony
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Streeter, Gary
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Stunell, Andrew
Lansley, Andrew Swayne, Desmond
Leigh, Edward Syms, Robert
Letwin, Oliver Tapsell, Sir Peter
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Taylor, Sir Teddy
Livsey, Richard Thompson, William
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Tonge, Dr Jenny
Loughton, Tim Townend, John
Luff, Peter Tredinnick, David
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew Trend, Michael
Maclean, Rt Hon David Tyler, Paul
McLoughlin, Patrick Tyrie, Andrew
Madel, Sir David Viggers, Peter
Malin, Hurnfrey Wardle, Charles
Mates, Michael Webb, Steve
Maude, Rt Hon Francis Wells, Bowen
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian Whitney, Sir Raymond
May, Mrs Theresa Whittingdale, John
Moss, Malcolm Willetts, David
Nicholls, Patrick Wilshire, David
Norman, Archie Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Öpik, Lembit Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Ottaway, Richard Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Page, Richard
Paice, James Tellers for the Noes:
Prior, David Mrs. Jacqui Lait and
Redwood, Rt Hon John Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.