22 Apr 2009 13:18:14

Conservative peers take apart the Government's economic policies

Lord Lawson Conservative peers shone during questions on the economy yesterday. They sparred with Lord Myners, who was made Financial Services Secretary in October 2008. To his credit, he has a varied CV - having been a teacher, journalist, business leader, banker and academic.

The Earl of Caithness put an elegant boot into the Government:

"My Lords, given the complete mess that the Treasury made of last year’s forecasts—it expected a budget deficit of 2 per cent of GDP when it is more likely to be 10 per cent, and expected economic growth of at least 2.5 per cent when in fact it is likely to be minus 3.5 per cent—would the Minister agree with the OECD that half of our problems were structural and related to government policy and nothing to do with the worldwide recession? What are the Government going to do about that?

Lord Myners: My Lords, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give a detailed analysis of the situation in the world and domestic economies when he makes his Budget presentation tomorrow. We are in the midst of a truly extraordinary global recession. For the first time in 60 years, the IMF has forecast a net reduction in added value for global economic activity. This problem is not confined to one country; it is a global problem. That is why the Prime Minister, in his chairmanship of the G20, led a global solution."

Former Chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby (above right) did the same:

"My Lords, will the Minister explain to simple-minded folk like me how it is that when the British economy was expanding, at a time when the whole world economy was expanding, that was entirely to do with the success of the British Government; but now that the British economy is contracting rather faster than most of the world in a contracting world economy, it is nothing to do with us but is entirely to do with the world?

Lord Myners: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, knows that I am new to the world of politics, so it is perhaps harder for me to find an easy answer to that question than it would be for many others who have come to this House from the other place. But let us look at the facts. Over the 10 years to 1996, GDP per capita in the UK was the lowest in the G7. Over the following 10 years, it was the second highest in the G7. Since 1997, which was an important year, as no doubt the noble Lord remembers, UK real GDP per capita has increased by more than any other G7 economy. That was a tribute to the masterful management of the economy by my right honourable friend who was the Chancellor in those days, who is now our Prime Minister."

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3 Apr 2009 08:28:56

George Osborne says G20 summitry will appear very remote to mums in fear of their jobs and families fearing losing their homes

Highlights of George Osborne's response to the Chancellor's statement on the G20 outcome:

Welcomes increased resources for IMF: "The substantial increase in the resources available to the IMF was widely trailed and is very welcome. It will help economies in trouble at a time when credit is scarce, and $500 billion is pledged from member states. Of course, it is a credit facility, so is there an estimate of how much of it is expected to be drawn on over the coming year, as that will determine how much individual countries’ taxpayers—including British taxpayers—might have to provide?"

Welcomes increased commitment to trade finance: "The commitment on trade finance is welcome, too, but how much of the $250 billion in credit lines and guarantees that the communiqué talks about has actually been announced already by national Governments and how much is a new commitment? Clearly, it looks as though the $50 billion for the World Bank is, but what about the remaining $200 billion? When will all that finance be available? As we have all seen in Britain, announcements are all well and good but what saves businesses and jobs is schemes that are actually up and running and operational. When will that happen?"

The G20 should have done more on free trade: "Trade finance will help to reverse the dramatic fall in global trade that is doing so much damage. Of course, rapid completion of the Doha trade round would have done even more and provided a huge stimulus to the world economy. It is a shame that—in my view—the issue was ducked in the communiqué, rather than directly addressed. Indeed, the communiqué talks of reaffirming the commitment made in Washington not to raise new barriers to investment or to trade in goods. However, since Washington, 17 of the 20 countries that sat round the table there and signed the communiqué have increased trade barriers and protectionist measures."

Welcomes new financial regulation: "On financial services, the regulation of the shadow banking system and systemic hedge funds—I suspect the word “systemic” will be important—action on tax havens and principles on bankers’ bonuses are all welcome, although of course it smacks a bit of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted."

Brown-Darling didn't get what they wanted on fiscal stimuli: "The great thing missing from the communiqué is the one thing that the Prime Minister lobbied hardest for—that is, a new commitment to a significant second fiscal stimulus, so that the Chancellor would have cover to announce one in the Budget later this month. That commitment is very obviously not there. Indeed, the $1 trillion being trumpeted today is $1 trillion of loans, credit lines and guarantees. We welcome that, because we, too, have talked about loans and credit guarantees. What it does not contain is a single extra dollar or pound of additional fiscal stimulus. In the communiqué it is explicitly left to individual countries to decide for themselves what their own public finances can support."

George Osborne concludes with a return to domestic politics:

"It is right that the richer countries of the world come together to help those most in need, and we support the commitments entered into today, but the question that the British people will ask tonight is what it all means for them, once the world leaders have left. There is still the small business that cannot get credit. There is still the mother working in the high street shop who fears for her job. There is still the family who fear for their home. The G20 will seem very remote for them. No $1 trillion boost for the IMF and trade finance will help us to deal with a £1 trillion national debt, which we are leaving to our children, thanks to this Government. The truth is that Britain will be clearing up the economic mess created by this Government long after the G20 show leaves town."


27 Mar 2009 12:41:45

Government still too slow to act on Equitable Life

Sir Patrick Cormack MP Treasury questions came around yesterday.

The Equitable Life scandal was rightly prioritised by Conservative members, who leapt on Economic Secretary to the Treasury Ian Pearson, who had this to say:

"I am very disappointed that the Public Administration Committee should choose to obscure the real help that it accepts the Government’s payments scheme will deliver under extreme headlines, seemingly driven by an uncritical acceptance of the findings of the ombudsman’s report and by its unjustifiable and irresponsible characterisation of the manner of the Government’s response. [ Interruption. ] As a Government, we do not depart lightly from any of the ombudsman’s findings, but— [ Interruption. ]

Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman is in order.

Ian Pearson: The Government do not depart lightly from any of the ombudsman’s findings, but in such an important and complex case we have a clear duty to the taxpayer to ensure that our response is informed by a proper and comprehensive consideration of her report. That is what we have done and, as I have indicated previously, we want to move forward with an ex gratia payment scheme just as quickly as possible. We are talking to Sir John Chadwick about the advice that he is providing."

South Staffordshire's Sir Patrick Cormack (above right) was appalled:

"Is the Minister aware that he has just made one of the most shameful statements to have been made from that Dispatch Box in many years? He has rubbished a Committee presided over by one of his own greatly respected colleagues, and discounted the unprecedented second letter from the ombudsman that we all received this week. He has had no support from the Benches behind him, as not a single Labour Member has risen to echo his words. He should be deeply ashamed of himself, because he is bringing the Government and the whole system into disrepute.

Ian Pearson: I have a lot of respect for the hon. Gentleman, who has a very long track record of upholding standards in this House, but we have departed from the ombudsman’s findings only where we have clear and cogent reasons for doing so. We have applied scrupulously the terms of the Parliamentary Commissioners Act 1967, as interpreted by the Court of Appeal in the Bradley judgment. For no other reasons have we departed from those findings. I have to say that I remain very disappointed indeed that the PAC does not appear to have understood some of the arguments that we have made to it."

(The Public Administration Committee is chaired by Dr Tony Wright.)

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19 Mar 2009 17:08:21

Michael Howard told you so on the economy

Michael Howard MP Erstwhile Conservative Leader Michael Howard made a noteworthy contribution to the debate on the economy yesterday.

"It seems to me that we cannot arrive at the right prescription for the future of our economy unless we gain a clear view of why we are where we are. We cannot expect to be led out of our current crisis by a Prime Minister who puts his head in the sand. Before prescription, however, there must be diagnosis, and it is in that spirit that I offer my remarks this afternoon.

Of course it is true—we can all agree on this—that we are in the throes of an international recession, or something worse. Of course it is true that almost every other country is affected in one way or another, to a greater or lesser extent, but we are almost uniquely vulnerable. We are almost uniquely ill equipped to deal with the calamity that has befallen the world, and we need to consider the reasons for that. They are not too difficult to identify.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron), the Leader of the Opposition, was quite right, last Friday, to accept responsibility for the things that we got wrong. We certainly failed to anticipate that the crisis we now face was anything like as serious as it has proved to be, but there are two main reasons for our present plight. Both of them were directly the responsibility of the Prime Minister, and, in respect of both of them, we certainly warned of the consequences. I have looked at the record, and I am in a position to answer the question posed from a sedentary position by the Exchequer Secretary earlier, when she asked, “Where were you?” I shall do my best to answer that question during the course of my observations.

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10 Mar 2009 11:33:15

David Mundell's bill to establish equal UK-wide status for Scottish banknotes

David_mundell_mpI have been remiss in not reporting on Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell's Scottish Banknotes (Acceptability in United Kingdom) Bill, which had its second reading on Friday.

Mr Mundell told the House of Commons:

"My constituents were instrumental in the Bill’s inception. After my position in the ballot for private Members’ Bills was announced, I sought their views on what piece of legislation I might introduce. The acceptance or, I should say, non-acceptance of Scottish banknotes was certainly to the fore. It was an issue with which I was personally familiar and a problem, at least anecdotally, that most Scots have experienced. There is also a phenomenon to which my constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale bears witnesses. My constituency has as its backbone the M74 corridor linking central Scotland with the north of England. Increasingly, people who are heading back to England, having spent time in Scotland and found themselves in possession of Scottish banknotes, are going to local banks and businesses and asking to have their Scottish notes changed to Bank of England notes, for fear that they will run into difficulty with the use of the Scottish notes back in England. My constituents deal politely with such requests when they can be accommodated, but they are irked by the implicit suggestion that there is something wrong with the Scots notes.


The Bill is not designed to force unwilling retailers to take Scottish banknotes or to impose draconian sanctions on anyone who does not. I am very aware of the regulation that business faces already, and I want less regulation, not more. Unnecessary additional burdens are to be avoided. The Bill simply seeks to put Scottish notes on an equal footing with any other banknote that is accepted.


All Members will have seen Scottish banknotes, and some will even have used them daily, but few will have considered all the issues that are being aired today. If they have not had cause to ponder them before, they might believe that the deeper significance of Scottish banknotes does not resonate with the public. However, I would tell them that the existence of Scottish banknotes is one of those things that we see before us every day but take for granted. Only when Governments have conspired to do away with them, either through carelessness or small-mindedness, has the attention of the public and the media flashed on to what they stand for. Only then do we realise the historical, cultural and promotional value that the notes have in addition to their monetary value.

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13 Feb 2009 12:22:28

George Osborne asks for coherent view from Government on length of recession

George_osborne_mpThe Commons also hosted Treasury questions yesterday.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne scented blood:

"Are we really expected to believe that when the Prime Minister appointed Sir James Crosby to the board of the Financial Services Authority, and when the current Chancellor promoted him to the job of deputy chairman in 2007, neither of them had any idea that they were appointing someone whose business model at HBOS was being investigated by the regulator whose board they were appointing him to?

Mr. Darling: As the Prime Minister has just told the Liaison Committee, Sir James’s appointment in 2003 was made on the recommendation of a selection panel that followed an open competition, and that panel, which was chaired by the senior official then responsible for banking regulation, Sir James Sassoon, recommended the appointment of James Crosby. At that time, there was no reason to question that appointment. With the benefit of hindsight, many people now make claims about what they say they knew at that time, but the then Chancellor followed the proper procedures and followed the advice, and he had no reason not to make the appointment.

The FSA has said that in 2002, and subsequently, it drew attention to a number of concerns, as it did with several other organisations. In terms of the law, the way in which the FSA supervises any bank, let alone this one, is a matter for it. Neither the subsequent investigation into the allegations made against James Crosby, nor the concerns that it had, were reported to the Treasury. I would not expect them to have been, given the information that I have from the chief executive of the FSA at the moment.

Mr. Osborne: Either the Chancellor knew what was going on and did nothing, or he was entirely ignorant, and neither is much of a defence. Is not the net closing in on the Prime Minister and the Chancellor? Their accomplices are resigning, their alibi that no one knew what was going on has been blown apart, and their fingerprints are all over the mistakes that were made during the age of irresponsibility.

Is there a coherent view in the Cabinet about how long this recession will last? We know what the Treasury’s forecasts are, and we know what the Chancellor says about the economy recovering halfway through this year, but today the Health Secretary has said that we need to be ready for two years of recession. Is the Health Secretary expressing the collective view of the Government on this issue?

Mr. Darling: In relation to the FSA, the hon. Gentleman’s claims are frankly ridiculous. Appointments were made in the normal way, which is a great deal more open than for some of the appointments that were made in the past. At the time, there was no reason not to accept the recommendations in relation to Sir James Crosby.

On the broader economic picture, as I have said to the House on a number of occasions, there has been an extremely sharp downturn not just in this country but in countries right across the world, and we can see the effects of that. I am clear, though, that if we had followed the hon. Gentleman’s advice and done absolutely nothing to prevent the full effects of the recession from being felt, the impact and the long-term damage to this country would have been substantial. I believe that the action that we have taken is not only justified but will ensure that this recession will be shorter and less painful than would otherwise be the case. I am sorry that the Conservative party continues to take the view that there is absolutely nothing that they are prepared to do to help people and businesses in this country."

Continue reading "George Osborne asks for coherent view from Government on length of recession" »

12 Feb 2009 14:59:21

John Redwood takes Government apart over Banking Bill

John_redwood_mpThe House of Commons debated the Banking Bill yesterday. A number of Conservative MPs spoke out against the Government's plans. The most telling contribution came from John Redwood.

"This is the biggest, most important and most dramatic money resolution I have ever seen in the House of Commons. It has taken 1,000 years to amass a debt that the Government put at around £550 billion. Under this money resolution and the associated actions that the Government might take, they might double the debt by making that amount of money available as loans and share capital to banks or put the same amount again at risk through their loan guarantee scheme. As my hon. Friends have indicated, if we consolidate on the general balance sheet, as we should, all the assets and liabilities of the banks that the Government are buying, we do not just double the debt but quadruple or even quintuple it when one takes into account the full size of RBS, Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley—no others, we trust, but this is very open-ended and implies that there could be others.

The money resolution takes the form of two different assertions. First, we are invited to give the Secretary of State power to put out money provided by Parliament under these headings, and secondly, in urgent cases, to authorise payments to be made out of the Consolidated Fund. The Bill that backs up the money resolution contains even more wide-ranging powers relating to the central bank, enabling quite a lot of money to be generated by the bank through quantitative easing and the manoeuvres of its own balance sheets, so the process is literally open-ended. We have absolutely no idea how much is involved.


I know that others wish to speak. It is a pity that we do not have a three-hour debate on the biggest sum of money ever voted on in the history of Parliament, but I do not want to detract from colleagues’ time. I have made my main points: the Government should show more care, they should provide us with some numbers and they should understand that the total sum involved is too big."

I am not agitating for the removal of George Osborne, but I do think that the Conservatives would be foolhardy not to draw on Mr Redwood's talents if they win the next election. He is, famously, extremely intelligent and has reminded us throughout this crisis that he has an outstanding mastery of detail.

Yet what I think really sets him apart is his clarity of thought. He doesn't just have all the facts and figures at his fingertips - he can utilise those that are relevant, dismiss those that are not, and package them in remarkably clear language. We shouldn't be nervous or chippy about very bright people being in power. If they are sound and decent, then they should of course be advanced.

Ken Clarke's successful return to the front bench suggests that the public are happier than they might once have been about old hands being brought back into the fold. Mr Redwood's challenge to John Major (which after all he had the courage to make in public) is ancient history. Mr Redwood has long battled with a perceived image problem, but these are surmountable too; just ask William Hague.

I don't even have a job in mind for John Redwood, but I would be delighted to see him back in Whitehall.

Tom Greeves

11 Feb 2009 10:31:37

Select committees need more power

Select committees are not usually all the rage, but there is widespread media coverage of the Treasury Select Committee's grilling yesterday of RBS and HBOS bankers.

All four men (the former HBOS chief executive and chairman, Andy Hornby and Lord Stevenson, and the former RBS chief executive and chairman, Sir Fred Goodwin and Sir Tom McKillop) apologised for the events that have led to the crisis in their banks. Andy Hornby said that it was an error to pay huge bonuses for short-term successes. Sir Tom admitted that the purchase of Dutch bank ABN Amro for £10 billion was a mistake. The witnesses were also keen to impress upon the committee - and the wider public - that they have personally lost a great deal of money.

The question, however, is what is to be done about it all, and how a future crisis might be averted.

In the Times today there is a leading article calling for an overhaul of the select committee system. It says that committees are "better at theatre than scrutiny" and "thinly staffed and poorly resourced". The piece calls for committee chairmen to be paid at least as well as junior ministers, so that committees are an alternative career path and not just for mavericks, has-beens and the hopeless. (In fact select committees are a good place for junior MPs to start - David Cameron thrived on the Home Affairs one).

Peter Luff, who chairs the Business and Enterprise select committee, suggested a way forward in an article for ConservativeHome published in January. He wants fewer committees with greater powers, and the creation of one new one - a social justice committee chaired by Iain Duncan Smith.

Under Mr Luff's proposals, which are well worth reading in full, most select committees would be reduced in size to nine members. He argues that most "cross-cutting" committees get in the way of those that scrutinse specific government departments, and that they should have "the power to refer more issues about expenditure, appointments and policy to the floor of the House not just for debate but also for votes."

Select committees were an early and excellent innovation of the first Thatcher government. It is indeed time that they had greater bite.

Tom Greeves

20 Jan 2009 09:54:00

George Osborne says first Government bank bail-out failed

George_osborneIn the company of his new front bench colleague Ken Clarke, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne responded to the Government's statement on financial markets yesterday.

Alistair Darling announced a new £50 billion Bank of England fund to purchase corporate assets from banks, that Northern Rock may no longer rapidly reduce its mortgage book and that the Government will convert its stake in RBS into ordinary shares, taking up perhaps 70 per cent of RBS.

Mr Oborne responded:

"I begin by thanking the Chancellor for his statement, but he should have been straighter with the British people about the announcements that he is making today. This is not some long-planned, carefully thought-through second phase of Government policy; it is instead the clearest possible admission that the first bail-out of the banks has failed, and now the Government have no option but to attempt a second bail-out—a bail-out whose size we still do not know, whose details remain a mystery and whose ultimate cost to the people of Britain will be known only when this Government have long gone.

Of course we cannot allow the banking system to fail—but for two months now, the Opposition have warned the Government that bank recapitalisation was not working, that the cost of the preference shares was too high, that the liquidity operations had to be extended, that the promised lending to businesses was not taking place, and that Government guarantees to get lending flowing to the real economy were needed."

The new team has started well, and it is perfectly clear that Mr Osborne is as happy about having Mr Clarke on board as the Conservatives are claiming.

27 Nov 2008 13:49:35

The Government refuses to say how much it is spending on individual banks

Lord Jopling, a Conservative peer and former minister, has asked the Government how much it is spending on bailing out banks:

"Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much public money has been made available to (a) the Royal Bank of Scotland, and (b) HBOS, in the past six months. [HL6522]

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): RBS Group plc, Lloyds TSB plc and HBOS Group plc have announced the terms on which they are participating in the Government's recapitalisation scheme. Details are set out in the placing and open offer agreements that were placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament on 18 November.

These banks are also eligible to use the Government's credit guarantee scheme (CGS). By the end of December, in total, participating banks will have accessed some £100 billion of funding under the CGS. Figures for individual banks are confidential."

Should these figures really be confidential? If banks are to be nationalised - in whole or part - does not the public have a right to know how much money we are stumping up for each of them? Shouldn't we be able to assess whether a bank is getting too much?

Would someone care to explain why commercial confidentiality should apply here?

27 Nov 2008 12:39:57

Highlights from the Pre-Budget Report debate

George_osborneFollowing Shadow Chancellor George Osborne's success in securing it, the House of Commons held an Emergency Debate on the Pre-Budget Report yesterday.

Mr Osborne was on bullish form:

"The public would have found it extraordinary if the House of Commons had not properly considered the huge tax measures put forward by the Chancellor on Monday, or indeed the tax measures concealed by the Chancellor on Monday. Those measures are being debated by families across the country who fear their impact, and it is astonishing that the Government did not want them debated in the House of Commons.

The only explanation is that the Prime Minister is running away from the argument, because he knows that he is losing the argument. This Budget started to unravel from the moment it was delivered. The doubling of the national debt shocked the entire country. [ Interruption .] Labour MPs may not be shocked, but the country is shocked to realise that the Government have taken it to the edge of bankruptcy. Within minutes of the report being published, it became clear that the national insurance rises would, contrary to the Chancellor’s claims, hit people on modest incomes. The small print of the Budget book shows that the Chancellor had been less than candid about the stealthy duty rises on alcohol and petrol. Then we discovered the £100 billion black hole in the tax revenues with no explanation of how it will be filled.


Yesterday lunchtime, the Institute for Fiscal Studies pointed out that the new top rate would raise, in its words, “virtually nothing”. The Governor of the Bank of England told the Treasury Select Committee yesterday that the Government should be focusing on fixing the banking system. Meanwhile, retailers are up in arms about the huge costs and logistical nightmare imposed by the temporary VAT cut. Last night, the Chancellor U-turned on the proposed hike in whisky duty, which he had announced only 24 hours earlier. Finally, it has been revealed in an official Treasury document signed off by a Treasury Minister that there is a secret tax bombshell to increase VAT to 18.5 per cent."

Continue reading "Highlights from the Pre-Budget Report debate" »

26 Nov 2008 10:52:24

Mark Hoban calls on the Government to act on Equitable Life

Mark_hoban_mpWestminster Hall held a debate on Equitable Life yesterday. The mutual life insurer defaulted on its obligations to policyholders back in 2000, and the effects are still being felt today.

Mark Hoban, Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, spoke forcefully:

"In the four months that have passed since the Minister received the ombudsman’s report, we have had not one word from the Government in response. In the meantime, the Government have proved their ability to move quickly. For instance, others have mentioned the speed with which the Government acted to protect savers in Icelandic banks. However, when it comes to discussing the ombudsman’s report and tackling the problems of Equitable Life, they have been sitting on their hands.


It is time for the Government to respond to the report, to make the apology recommended by the ombudsman and to make payments to policyholders that reflect their losses. They may try to wriggle out of doing so, and they may use Lord Penrose’s words and say that Equitable Life was the author of its own misfortunes; but for a decade regulators failed to follow up the warning signs, and their failure to act resulted in opportunities being missed to force management to act properly and avoid the losses suffered by policyholders."

Ian Pearson, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, promised that the Government "will shortly respond fully to the ombudsman’s report". But why the delay?

25 Nov 2008 15:40:17

Richard Benyon criticises Parliamentary scrutiny of the Pre-Budget Report

4.20pm update: The Speaker has just ruled in favour of George Osborne's call for an emergency debate on the Government's Pre-Budget Report.  A three hour debate will take place tomorrow.  Another victory for the Conservatives.


RichardbenyonNewbury MP and Opposition Whip Richard Benyon has blogged today on his experience of watching the Pre-Budget Report from the green benches of the House of Commons.

Do read the whole piece, but here is a powerful quotation:

"This was a Budget Statement in all but name. It consigned us all to levels of debt it will take years to pay off. Furthermore it did so on the basis that all will be well half way through next year. Such optimism needs forensic questioning. If this had been a budget there would have been days of debate and a vote. Because it was disguised as a Pre Budget Report it got a few minutes of questions and, er, that’s it. At times like this I really do question Parliament’s ability to do its job. We are supposed to hold the Government to account. That is our constitutional duty. How can we when announcements that consign this country to historic levels of debt cannot be even debated?"

It is good to see a Conservative MP calling for a strong Parliament.

6 Oct 2008 17:22:18

George Osborne response to Alistair Darling statement

This is the full text of the response by Shadow Chancellor George Osborne to the Chancellor's emergency statement to the Commons this afternoon as issued by CCHQ.

“Mr Speaker, as we see again from today’s markets these are clearly times of great instability for our economy and great anxiety for the people we all represent here.

Families are deeply worried about their savings, their homes, their jobs and it is up to us to try to work together to get the country through this current crisis.

I don’t think the British public would thank us if they saw happening here in this House of Commons what everyone saw happening in the American Congress.

That is why we offer to look constructively at any proposals brought forward by the British government.

For let’s be blunt about it.

If the banking system fails, it’s not just the banks that go bust.

Continue reading "George Osborne response to Alistair Darling statement" »

15 May 2008 08:35:20

Philip Hammond MP: Increases in Vehicle Excise Duty are a "ticking time bomb" under Labour MPs

Hammondphilipbigben In the Commons yesterday Philip Hammond, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury proposed this motion:

"That this House notes with concern the increases in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) imposed in the Budget; notes that between 2006 and 2010 revenues from graduated VED will have more than doubled; observes that the majority of motorists who currently pay graduated VED will now pay more; deplores the Government’s decision to abolish the exemption from higher graduated VED rates for cars that emit more than 186g of carbon dioxide per kilometre and were registered between March 2001 and March 2006, and the fact that this was not stated clearly at the time of the Budget; considers that these changes will hit those on low incomes hardest and be a further burden on hard-working families already struggling to cope with soaring living costs; further notes that, although graduated VED revenues will total £4.4 billion by 2010-11, carbon emissions from motoring are expected to reduce by less than one per cent. as a result of the new VED regime; believes that any increases in environmental taxes should be offset by tax reductions elsewhere; and calls upon the Government to abandon its planned increases in VED."

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