18/04/2017 House of Commons

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Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons including a business statement, a statement on Syria and North Korea and a Ten Minute Rule Bill.

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they are saying about having an enterprise zone? As it happens, I


was planning my domestic travel arrangements for the next five weeks


and I will take the request in mind when I do that. The law president of


the Council and the Leader of the House will -- House of Commons. With


permission I would like to make a short statement about the business


for tomorrow. On Wednesday the 19th of April, the House will be asked to


approve a motion that allows the Prime Minister to seek an early


Parliamentary general election under the fixed term Parliaments act 2011.


This will be followed by consideration of the Lords


amendments to the technical and further education Bill followed by a


debate on the motion related to the section five of the European


Communities Act Amendment act 1993. The business Thursday the 20th of


April remains backbench Committee business as I have previously


announced. I will make a further commitment for future business in


the usual way on Thursday. Dressed by thanking the Leader of the House


for her statement and for coming to the House to inform us of this


change of business and the motion calling for the general election. I


understand why it was so difficult to get leader out of the dash to get


the date out of the leader for the date. The U-turn by the Prime


Minister has been a long time in planning. I am also concerned that


the Prime Minister chose to make a statement outside of Number Ten


rather than to come to the House. This is a massive U-turn. At least


seven times recently, on March the 20th, the Prime Minister has ruled


out an early general election. The Prime Minister said I will not be


calling a snap election and I am clear that we need a period of time,


that stability to be able to do with the edges that the country is facing


and have that election in 2020. Clearly, this Government cannot be


trusted. Given that the general election is on the 8th of June and


there are 25 working days until Parliament can be the salt can the


Leader of the House let us know the exact date for the dissolution of


Parliament? The statement of such importance could have been made to


the House of Commons given the nature of this massive U-turn. Her


Majesty 's opposition will make sure we promote stability and that there


is an alternative and favour vision for this country. The honourable


lady asked about the date for the dissolution. That is laid down in


statute at hand to take place 25 days before the proposed date of


Poland, the date of dissolution would be one minute past midnight on


Wednesday the 3rd of May. I have to say, I do not recollect any previous


Labour Prime Minister announcing a general election on the floor of the


House of Commons. My right honourable friend this morning went


about things in the time honoured fashion. What she is putting to the


country is the case for this Government to go forward on the


basis of a clear mandate to provide clarity and the stability that the


entire United Kingdom needs. As we approach the historic task of


implementing the referendum decision taken by the British people and


forging the new, deep and special partnership with our friends and


allies in the European Union that we all want to see. They pray Mr was


made an announcement that was not linked to the media in advance. Can


he confirm it is not the gift of the Prime Minister to decide if there is


a general election, it is this House. If Her Majesty 's opposition


does not want it, can't face it or are worried about annihilation, they


will not vote for it tomorrow. I agree with my honourable friend. We


were believing on these benches that this was not the time for these type


of... The focus of this Government should be on. Brexit This is one of


the most extraordinary U-turns and political history. The fixed term


Parliaments act is the biggest waste of this House's time possible. The


calling of a general election there returns to a Prime Minister and the


interest of Party comes before the interest of country. In this


election we will make sure that Scotland is fully protected from


this Tory Government, taking us off the cliff edge of a hard Brexit. The


Tories might play the petty Party political games, coming up against a


woeful Labour Party but we on these benches will make sure that Scotland


is fully protected from the worst of it. One of the friends, Mr Speaker,


that the Prime Minister and the Party she leads will be taking to


the people will be the case for the union of the four nations of our


United Kingdom and our belief that those four nations are better off


working together in that unique, injured in partnership of the United


Kingdom. I would say to the honourable gentleman that the Prime


Minister took our decision, a decision which she herself said this


morning, she took with some reluctance because it is in the


interests of the people of this country. It is in the interests of


the entire nation that we have clarity and stability, and constancy


of purpose as we move forward. Does the Lord President agree with me


that this is one of the rare occasions where it is absolutely


right that the statement was first made to the British people, not to


this House, because it is they who are being asked to use the sovereign


power to determine the composition of the new House? My honourable


friend makes a cogent point. It will be for this House in the first place


to decide whether to approve the motion that we debate tomorrow. And


then if the Government's motion is carried, we will put our case to the


people. The Prime Minister was not for calling a snap general election


but now she is, perhaps sensing a political opportunity. The choice to


go for an election now is horrors and horrors alone as was the choice


of a hard Brexit. -- was for herself alone. Though the House be able to


discuss the Party of Government's failure of NHS, tackling violent


crime and dealing with people with disability and the benefits? I am


astonished that the right honourable gentleman on the part of the Liberal


Democrats was able to talk about opportunism with a straight face. It


was a decision that the Prime Minister alone has to take to put


forward the motion tomorrow. It would be a decision for every member


of the House of Commons tomorrow when we meet to decide whether that


is approved. Could my right honourable friend at the leader


confirm, he confirmed his statement when Parliament will be the salts,


when will Parliaments be...? The usual discussions are underway


between the usual channels about the handling of business. On the


assumption that the motion is carried by the House tomorrow, those


discussions will intensify and I hope I can provide the clarity as


soon as possible. The Leader of the House has given us an image of the


Prime Minister being dragged kicking and screaming into calling a general


election when she did not want one. Can we find time in what is left of


this Parliament to have a debate about why she decided to trigger


Article 50 and then throw the entire planet into doubt by then calling a


general election which will waste at least three minds of the precious


small amount of time we have to get the best deal for Britain? Far from


throwing things into doubt, what the Prime Minister's decision has done


is to provide, assuming that the people return the Government, and it


will be a choice for the people, that they will be the clarity of


having a mandate behind the Prime Minister and her Government to


deliver a successful negotiation over the course, and he implemented


over the course of a five-year term. Some members of this House, are


labouring under the impression that the next general election will be a


rerun of the referendum. Can the Leader of the House confirm that


Article 50 will be triggered regardless of who wins at the next


election, that there is no turning back?


The wording of Article 50 is clear, and it is clear that any change from


the two-year time table can only happen if it is agreed unanimously


by all member states, including the departing member state. As my right


honourable friend has made it clear, we must respect, whatever side we


took in the referendum campaign, we must respect the sovereign decision


that the British people took. Thank you Mr Speaker. Can I thank


the leader of the House for his statement today. And assure him that


the Democratic Unionist Party with support the motion tomorrow. We say


bring it on. Bring on the election and let people support the union and


the Unionist cause in Northern Ireland. Could I ask him also


tomorrow if he will clarify the last date for those people who wish to


register to vote, so there's clarity and certainty about the registration


process, especially in Northern Ireland? Mr Speaker, clearly I don't


want to pre-empt the decision that this House will take tomorrow. But I


will try, assuming the motion is carried, I will try to provide that


clarity as rapidly as possible. Mr Speaker, as the leader of the House


says he doesn't want to pre-empt the decision tomorrow by this House. So


wasn't the Prime Minister attempting to do that in naming June 8th? What


the Prime Minister was doing this morning was making her ambition


clear about the time frame for the general election. I have to say to


the honourable lady that the date would have been the first question


put to the Prime Minister in the House and outside had she not named


a specific date. Mr Speaker, in January 2000, you may remember a


debate which went on all night, seeing as you took an active part in


it, the next day's business therefore didn't exist. Given the


finance bill can sit until any hour tonight, what will the Government do


in the event of theme not existing? You know, Mr Speaker, from that last


intervention, I suspect that the honourable lady and his colleagues


are a bunch of (inaudible) as far as the election is concerned.


Mr Speaker, the leader of the House will agree with me, I'm sure, that


the prime responsibility of this House is holding the Government to


account. Doesn't he think that many not just in this chamber, but


outside in the country, will receive the Prime Minister's rush to an


early general election as being a strategy to evade responsibility for


the chaos we've had in this country since the last Government arranged a


referendum which they actually lost? The Prime Minister's decision is


about inviting the British people in the national interest to return her


to provide the leadership, the sense of direction and the clarity which


this country needs and which the right honourable gentleman's party


is so clearly unable to provide themselves. Will the leader confirm


that should the legislation pass tomorrow, what we're doing is not


voting for a new Prime Minister for just two years over Brexit, but for


a new Prime Minister for the duration of a Parliament of five


years? Many of us are expecting therefore that either the current


Prime Minister or the leader of the Labour Party will walk through the


door of Number Ten post June 8th, could he encourage my right


honourable friend, the Prime Minister, to go head to head in as


many TV debates with the leader of the Opposition as possible before


June #th? -- 8th? Mr Speaker, I suspect that the electorate would be


fascinated to see the outcome of such a debate. Could the leader of


the House confirm to the House that in the event of the two thirds


majority not being agreed tomorrow, that the only way the Government can


call a general election was to table a vote of no confidence in itself.


When does he plan to do so? We are intending to go into the debate


tomorrow with a clear objective of persuading that two thirds majority


to support the Government's motion. Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister was


inconsistent about Brexit, now her iron determination not to call a


general election tells me that she has a determination to have one. Can


I assure the leader with Labour in a writhing mass, we in Plaid Cymru


relish the opportunity to provide Welsh alternative to this


opportunist right-wing Tory Government and will be voting yes


tomorrowment -- tomorrow. Well, I suppose I


should express my appreciation for the honourable gentleman's final


phrase if not for the rest of his remarks. For weeks now, I've had


constituents e mailing me and telephoning my office demanding


because they're terrified of the changes to their personal


independence payments regulations which we were to be finally allowed


a debate and a vote on tomorrow. I notice that the leader of the House


has suspended that. Will he guarantee that this House, this


Parliament will have a chance to vote on and debate those before


dissolution. The usual channels will discuss the allocation of business


between the debate concluding tomorrow and the date of


dissolution. The Liberal Democrats welcome the opportunity to take on


this divisive, destructive Tory Government and its hard Brexit. Let


me ask the leader of the House how much this general election will cost


and why if the Prime Minister wanted to do it, is she not doing is on May


4th, because the decision not to do so going to cost a lot of taxpayers'


money. The answer to the honourable gentleman's question is that the


time table for any general election is laid down by the fixed term


parliaments act and the political parties that and referendums act and


to have a general election on the same day as the local elections


would not be possible given what the law requires. Mr Speaker, inflation


is rising, real living standards are potentially going to decline, and we


know that there will be very difficult negotiations with our


European Union partners. Isn't the real reason the Prime Minister has


called this so that she can avoid having a general election in 2020,


which would be very dangerous for her party and she thinks she can win


now in order to avoid dealing with the consequences of a hard Brexit?


Well, the country I look at is one in which unemployment is falling,


employment is at record levels, the deficit is down, and there are


record levels of spending on key public services, made possible


because of the strong economy that my right honourable friend the Prime


Minister and Chancellor have fostered. So I would look forward to


a general election in making that case to the people for that


programme of political commitment and the leadership of my right


honourable friend to continue. Mr Speaker, the Government's ridiculous


rape clause came into force on April 6 with no Parliamentary scrutiny.


The usual channels had promised a DL committee would be held to have


Parliamentary scrutiny of this despicable policy. Will this now


happen that given is to be dissolved very soon? Any change to the law, of


course, has to go before Parliament, but I will put the honourable lady's


point to my colleagues amongst the business managers, but I can't give


her a immediate promise that she would get the time that she seeks.


Can the leader of the House confirm was going to happen to the


Manchester Gorton by-election given that potentially on May 4, there


will be no Parliament for any candidates to be located to. Mr


Speaker, there is no statutory provision that provides for the


cancellation of a by-election when a general election is in progress. It


is up to the judgment of the acting returning officer, whom one might


expect to regard the by-election writ as having been superseded. This


was the course of action taken by the acting returning officer in the


one precedent that I found, which is dating back to November 1923.


LAUGHTER Can the leader tell us whether the


Prime Minister took soundings from the Secretary of State for Northern


Ireland as to the impact of this announcement on the ongoing


interparty talks? And does the Secretary of State for Northern


Ireland still intend to bring legislation through this House and


the House of Lord's in respect of rates and topping up the mandate for


the current Assembly to appoint an executive? I mean, my right


honourable friend the Northern Ireland Secretary is of course


considering what difference, if any, should be made to his announced


plans by the Prime Minister's announcement this morning. While I


would thigh to provide -- try to provide absolute clarity as soon as


possible, my expectation is that there would continue to be a need


for such legislation. Could the leader of the House


acknowledge that nonetheless, we will elect a metropolitan mayor who


will take up office including taking up responsibility for transport.


Account Government confirm that the buses bill will complete its


Parliamentary passage Mr Dissolution? -- before dissolution?


The passage of any bill through Parliament will depend upon the


talks between Government and the official Opposition that always take


place ahead a general election. In calling a snap election, is it


seriously the view of the British Government that a UK election will


really change the EU 27 negotiating position? If so, Mr Speaker, is it


not guilting of living in a land of fantasy? I think that what will be


important is that newly located leaders in France and in Germany


will meet a newly re-elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, all


of them with the confidence that they have money dates from their


voters as they approach those negotiations in a constructive


spirit. Thank you Mr Speaker, to date the Chancellor's refused to


share any analysis of the impacts of Brexit with the Parliament. In fact,


he seems to have refused to share it with the Secretary of State for


exiting the EU given his symbolic performance in front of committee.


This general election is all about clarity. So in the interests of


clarity, will the analysis showing the impact of a hard Brexit versus


Scotland staying in the single market, which is what my


constituents voted for? Well, I could make the arguments that the


honourable gentleman has heard before about the vital importance to


Scotland of the United Kingdom sing the market. But what I would --


single market. What I would say in particular, is that the Prime


Minister's objectives of delivering a new, deep and special partnership


with our friends and allies in the EU 27 will serve the economic and


security interests of Scotland well as they will serve the whole of the


United Kingdom well. Following on from my honourable


friend, is the leader of the House in a position to confirm or deny if


the 2017 Tory manifesto will say yes to a single market or will it be


out? I will put the honourable lady on the priority mailing list for a


copy of the Conservative Party manifesto. Mr Speaker, the Scottish


Parliament recently voted by a margin of 69 to 59 in order that we


could have a referendum. Yet the Prime Minister arrogantly told us


now is not the time. If now is the time for this Parliament to decide


shouldn't this Parliament empower the Scottish Parliament to allow the


Scottish people to have a say on their future? Mr Speaker, the


honourable gentleman and his Parliamentary colleagues have been


demanding week after week that the Prime Minister seek a new electoral


mandate from the people of the United Kingdom in order to deliver


our exit from the European Union. She is doing just that. I think the


honourable gentleman might welcome that if he's to be consistent rather


than complain. Following the question from my


honourable friend from Kilmarnock, he's right to say that the general


election will be about clarity. So does the leader of the House like


me, look forward to the clarity that the TV debates will give us and does


he agree with me that any attempt by any political leader, especially one


from the Government benches, to shirk from those invitations would


be wholly unacceptable? The ahead of a's debate, it is


premature to speculate for a start on about how the broadcasters will


determine for election coverage. I will take on the comments as a


representation. I was not going to speak but like everybody else sat in


this chamber, and maybe the last time I get a chance. If you will let


me finish. I came here to speak honestly and plainly and to speak


like the people who are outside of this building. What I can not


understand from what the Leader of the House has said today it is how


any of this makes things clearer, makes us feel more secure. All I


ask, how does this look to people outside? As somebody who came from


outside, it looks like political opportunism. I think and I hope that


people outside this building will look at what the Prime Minister said


on the steps of Number Ten this morning and will believe that she is


seeking an electoral mandate and an electoral mandate for herself as a


leader of a Government that will then be in a position to carry


through extremely challenging and ambitious European negotiations over


the next two years and then implement the new partnership that


we are seeking with the EU 27 after what's with the confidence to


arriving from the fact, I hope, that the Government will enjoy a secure,


including parliamentary majority for those measures from -- for an entire


five-year term. The Secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth


affairs, Boris Johnson. With your permission, I should like to begin


by paying tribute to the Britons that were killed in tragic


circumstances in Stockholm and Jerusalem. Chris Pettit and was


amongst four people who died in Sweden where the truck was driven


into pedestrians. Hannah was stabbed to death in Jerusalem on Good Friday


in a senseless attack. Our thoughts and players are with their families.


I wish to update the House on significant foreign policy events in


the last fortnight, in Syria and North Korea. These disparate


challenges in comp is one common theme. In each case, hereditary


dictators presiding over cruel tyrannies have challenged essential


rules that underpin our world peace. The United States had responded with


strength and resolve and in accordance with its traditional role


as the guarantor of the rules -based system. In both cases the US has


acted with the full support of the British Government. Turning first to


Syria. At 39 minutes past six on April the fold, there was a chemical


weapons attack on the town in a rebel held the province. The House


will recall the horrifying aftermath. Adults and children were


convulsed in agony, as the bodies were poisoned by nerve gas. Rescue


workers tried to decontaminate the casualties and we saw children with


oxygen masks clamped to the faces. Even by the standards of the Civil


War that has claimed more than 400,000 lives, this was amongst the


most shocking incidents. I want to repeat for the benefit of the House


exactly what we know about that attack. There has been a concerted


attempt to obscure the facts. We know beyond doubt that two aircraft


took off from a near field where we know the chemical weapons are


overhead when the attack took place. overhead when the attack took place.


know that Sarin was used that had the chemical signature of Sarin used


by the President Assad regime. The people had been exposed to Sarin gas


and it is only one conclusion, that the President Assad regime almost


certainly gassed its own people in breach of international law. Showing


the emptiness of that agreement reached in 2013 guaranteed by Russia


that was meant to read Syria of chemical weapons once and for all.


The UN has a joint investigated mechanism with the mandate to


determine any Party responsible for the chemical attacks in Syria. The


House should be in mind that UN investigators have already found the


President Assad regime guilty of using poison gas on three separate


occasions in 2014 and 2015. Some members have suggested we arrange


President Assad before the International Criminal Court. The


only way of bringing Syria before the ICC would be through a referral


from the UN Security Council. We tried that option in 2014, only to


be thwarted by the Beatles of Russia and China. Sadly, the attack on Khan


Sheikhoun, the Russian response has been to support President Assad once


again. Russia cast its eighth veto in support of President Assad,


blocking a resolution that would have demanded cooperation with the


international investigation. On the day after the atrocity. The US was


considering a response. The United States did take action, firing 59


cruise missiles at the military airbase at which the gas attack was


meant to have been launched. We were given advance notice of the


operation but at no stage did the US administration asked for UK military


help, only for political support. Advanced warning was given to


Russian military personnel who were located with the Syrian Air Force at


the same airbase to minimise the risk of casualties. The Government


believes that the US action was a necessary, appropriate and justified


response to an awful crime. As many as 20 Syrian aircraft are believed


to have been destroyed. The sheer force of President Assad has been


bombing civilians day after day for the last six years. -- the Air


Force. The destruction of some of the strike aircraft will in itself


save some lives. What is more important is president Trump's


emphatic message that the era when President Assad's barbarism was


meant with passivity and inaction has finally come to an end.


America's determined response creates an opportunity to break the


deadlock and pave the way for the political settlement of Syria's


tragedy. That will only happen if Russia is prepared to bring


President Assad to the negotiating table and begin a transition to a


new Government that represents the sole chance of peace in Syria. After


the chemical attack and the American strike it was the priority for the


US Defence Secretary to convey that message to Russia with the backing


of as many countries as possible. The combined weight of the G-7 and


the like-minded countries from the region unanimously supported the US


military action as a carefully calibrated response to a war crime.


The mandated Tillison to go to Russia and to... I want to stress


that we in the UK have no intention of dislodging Russian interests in


the Syria, on the contrary, we recognise Russia's long connection


with that country and the national interest at stake. Russia's position


in the Syria does not depend on President Assad. The unmistakable


lesson of six years of bloodshed is that President Assad can not deliver


what his people and the wider world so desperately need, mainly a


peaceful and united Syria. I hope I have the support of everybody in


this House. I call on the Russians to end the blind support for


President Assad. Stop the gas attacks and the barrel bombs. Allow


the delivery of aid to those who need it. Deliver a real ceasefire


and begin the political process that will include a transition away from


President Assad. That was the message this Secretary to listen


delivered on the 12th of April. -- Secretary Tillison. We will do as


much as we can in the UK to hold accountable any were responsible for


that gas attack. We will work with our American counterparts to create


the conditions for Russia to work with us. And to escape its


entanglement with the toxic President Assad regime. Which


poisons Russia's international reputation just as surely as it


poisons its own people. Mr Speaker, turning out to North Korea. The


events of last weekend provided further proof of the threat that


country poses to international peace and security. On Saturday, North


Korea paraded an arsenal of cruise missiles in front of crowds. 24


hours later, the region tested another missile although this time


the launch failed. Last year alone North Korea tested two nuclear bombs


and 24 missiles. I will remind members of all those tests, they


break a series of UN resolutions dating back to 2006 when resolution


1695 was passed by the Security Council. The North Korean regime


threatened further tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.


The regime is developing intercontinental missiles which will


be capable of delivering a nuclear strike on the mainland United


States. These weapons have not been fully tested but no one can be


complacent about the potential threat they pose. Yesterday I spoke


to my Chinese counterpart. I urged him to use Beijing's unique


influence to restrain North Korea and to allow peaceful resolution of


this crisis. By suspending the coal imports from North Korea, China has


given a welcome signal to exert pressure on the regime. Later this


month I will attend a special meeting of the Security Council on


North Korea. All hopes of progress rests on International cooperation,


especially between China and the US. And the verifiable disarmament of


North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. The crisis in


Syria and North Korea represent a challenge to the law -based


international order in which this country believes. Britain's role is


to stand alongside the United States and our allies as we confront those


threats and in that effort we will not tire. I commend the statement to


the House. May I thank the Secretary of state for his statement. May I


join with him in sending my condolences to the families of those


killed. The statement is overshadowed by another statement


today. The issues at hand here are more important for the future of our


world rather than the Prime Minister's cynical short-term


manoeuvres. She talked about the need for stability and is happy to


plunge the country into six weeks of uncertainty exactly at the time


we're Britain needs to provide stable global leadership on issues


like Syria and North Korea. We should not be surprised. The Party


opposite is abdicating any effective leadership role for Britain. Turning


first to Syria. We were all appalled by the dreadful attacks on civilians


witnessed during the Easter recess. There was a horrifying chemical


attack on Khan Sheikhoun, killing ordinary villagers and injuring


hundreds more. Two days ago, and I was surprised the Foreign Secretary


did not see fit to mention this, we saw a suicide bombing with dozens of


children amongst those killed. They were lowered to the deaths by the


promise of free crisps. A tragic remainder that in this conflict that


President Assad does not hold the monopoly when it comes to atrocities


against innocent civilians, including children. We need a


peaceful settlement in Syria, no more than ever. Lastly, the Foreign


Secretary said his priority was to build coordinated international


support for the ceasefire and to intensify political process and I


agree with him. Quite, rather than looking for coordinated action to


properly investigate and punish the use of chemical weapons, is the


Foreign Secretary instead to threaten more unilateral air strikes


by the US against the President Assad regime, while rather than


engaging in that peace process titty instead cancel his proposed talks in


Moscow and in the process, -- in the peace process why did he instead


cancel his proposed talks in Moscow. And rather than in shooting the G-7


spoke with one strong voice in Syria last week, did he present them that


they have to beat the bath to sanctions without doing any


preparatory work? The only straw he can cling onto, we


presume is this: That the United States State Department is still


telling him what to say and do and which countries he is allowed to


visit. And to that end, can I ask a final question on Syria, based on


his close relationship with the Trump administration, can he clarify


exactly what their strategy now is? Mr Speaker, turning quickly to north


ceeament the Foreign Secretary rightly condemns the ongoing nuclear


programmes. I hope he will agree like Syria, this is a crisis which


can only be resolved through coordinated international action,


through the deescalation of tensions and ultimately through negotiations.


So can he assure us that Britain will argue against any unilateral


military action taken by the United States and instead urgently back


China's call for the resumption of the Six Party Talks? When it comes


to North Korea, the world needs statesmanship not brinkmanship. We


cannot afford blient loyalty to the Trump administration if they are


leading us down the path to war. Peace in Syria and North Korea, our


relationship with the Trump administration, these are vital


issues for the future of the Britain and the world and as much as the


Prime Minister would like the coming election simply to be about Brexit,


we must ensure that these and other international concerns are not


forgotten. To that end, my final question for the Foreign Secretary


is this: Will he commit to join me in a televised debate between all


the parties on foreign policy, no ifs, no buts, I'm ready to say yes


now. So will he commit today to do like-wise? Announce the first


election debate and put the party's promise of stable leadership on the


line. Mr Speaker, obviously I'm


disappointed that the Shadow Foreign Secretary should choose to intrude


into this very, very important consideration, I think relatively


separate issues of domestic political policy. We are trying to


explain the position of the UK and indeed the West towards the Assad


regime. Just to answer her serious point, by the way we're having a


televised debate now, in case you haven't noticed. And we should


continue in that way. We are engaged in trying to use the opportunity


provided by American action to drive forward the political process. It is


not easy and I think that in all honesty, the honourable lady should


reflect on her approach. Because what we are trying to do does


require a very great degree of cross-party support. We want the


Russians to face up to the real option before them, which is if they


continue to back Assad, they will be backing a regime that has been


proved - and I hope the members heard what I said about the use of


chemical weapons, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to have used


chemical weapons banned under international law. I would like them


to accept there is a deal and that could be that they have an


improvement in their reloigss with the Americans -- relations. They


work together with the rest of us to tackle the scourge of Daesh. In


return, I think what needs to happen is that the Russians need to


understand that they must make a serious commitment to a political


process. At the moment, they are not. They need to have a proper


commitment to a ceasefire and at the moment, they are not making that


commitment. They need to stop their client using chemical weapons. They


said they would do that in 2013 and rather than simply parroting, I may


say, the lines of the Kremlin, she should support the collective action


of the West and indeed not just the G 7, but as I said, the like-minded


countries. She has said that the West was divided, for instance in


its attitude towards sanctions. Let' be absolutely clear, all we are


trying to do is follow the evident shall trail where it leads and if


the OPCW finds that there are members of the Syrian armed forces


who have been responsible for that attack, then I hope she will agree


that they should face sanctions. I hope she will agree that they should


face sanctions. If she opposes that, I have to say, I find it absolutely


extraordinary. The United States has moved to impose sanctions on a


further 300 people. There is a very large measure of support from all


Western countries for doing exactly that. Further more, it seems to me,


unclear really from her account whether she is actually supportive


of the American action at all. And I wonder whether she could enlighten


the House, is she actually in favour of what the Americans did because


for the first time in five years, what the Trump White House has shown


is that the West is not prepared to sit by and watch while people are


gassed, using weapons that should have been banned -


THE SPEAKER: Order. Order. We appreciate the Foreign Secretary's


enimtab style. I fear -- enimitable style, I think the honourable lady,


in waiting to intervene wants a debate. Let us wait for the


televised debate. The Foreign Secretary. Mr Speaker, I'm grateful.


I was very, I was far from clear in listening to the right honourable


lady's response whether she actually supports what the United States has


done. I would like some ill loose dags on that. That has shown that


the West is willing to stand up to the use of these vile peppons and it


has given us a -- weapons, and it has given us a political


opportunity. I think her best bet would be to support this Government,


the efforts of the Western countries to drive that forward and get the


Russians to deliver a genuine political solution.


THE SPEAKER: Order. Order. I say to the honourable lady, all sorts of


things might be judged by some people to be intolerable. But I'm


afraid what is above all intolerable is to depart from the normal


process. The honourable lady is a person of very considerable


intellect and ingenuity, doubtless through her colleagues and possibly


subsequent to the statement, she can find ways of giving expression to


her concern, but at this point, if she could assume a Zen-like calm,


the House itself would be the beneficiary of that. It is obviously


right Mr Speaker, that a diplomatic joint approach in Syria is clearly


more important than unilateral action. Will he therefore commit to


continue to work very closely with our American allies and other


partners and friends to bring an end to this barbaric slaughter in Syria?


Mr Speaker, I'm grateful to my right honourable friend. That is exactly


what we are engaged in doing. I do not pretend to the House that this


will be easy. We have been here before. We have seen the


Kerry-Lavrov rigmarole that went on for months and months. But this is


an opportunity for Russia to recognise that they are supporting a


regime that deserved the odium of the entire world. It is costing


Russia friends and support around the world. They have a chance for a


different approach and that is what we are collectively urging them to


do. Thank you very much Mr Speaker. I thank the Foreign Secretary for


advance sight of his statement and I associate myself with the


condolences for those families in Sweden and Jerusalem. There should


of course, be an international investigation sponsored by the


Security Council and if that is blocked, it should be ordered by the


general Assembly of the United Nations. The MEP niches exist for


this to happen and UK Government must lead the way. The findings


should then be taken to the international Criminal Court and


those responsible should be arraigned and subjected to the force


of international law. The US air strikes on the airfield are a


demonstration of the unpredictability of the Trump


administration, which many fear will only cause further escalation of the


conflict. In their rush to congratulate that administration on


its recent strike, do the UK Government consider the


repercussions? Until now coalition aircraft have operated with relative


freedom against Daesh in Eastern Syria. Now Russia has suspended


US-Russia air operation as cord and the Assad regime will likely


activate its extensive air defences. The skies above Syria therefore will


be much more dangerous for UK pilots, while civilians on the


ground will suffer even more. We on these benches have questioned the


policy on air strikes from the very beginning. Now we must have answers


Mr Speaker. What changes will be made to adopt to the changing


situation? And how will this affect the aerial campaign against Daesh?


UK bombs will not bring peace in Syria. We call on the UK Government


to rethink its tactics and have a revised military strategy in


Parliament. While dialogue aimed at ending the conflict is welcome,


above all we want hostilities to cease and civilians to receive the


basic food, shelter and medical care which they so badly need. Finally,


Mr Speaker, on the subject of North Korea, we urge all parties to lower


tensions and use diplomatic means to work through disagreements. Yet this


is more evidence of the need to implement multilateral disarmament


and put an end to the existence of weapons of mass destruction in


general and nuclear weapons in particular. Thank you very much Mr


Speaker. I would point out that the honourable lady will know that the


UK is already the second biggest donor in humanitarian aid to the


region. We have a record there that we can be proud of. Just going back


though to what she had to say about the American strike itself. I do


find it, I must say, I looking at familiar faces here from the


statements on Syria - month after month, I come here to update the


House on what, how that tragedy has been unfolding. I see people who


take a passionate interest in this subject and have called repeatedly


for us to do more. Finally the United States has taken what we


believe to be action, which I think is entirely appropriate, entirely


appropriate, and somehow it fails to find favour with the honourable


lady. I think it is a good thing but we should not, as I say, overstate


the importance of what has happened from a military point of view. We've


got to recognise that this is a political opportunity and it's an


opportunity for the Russians to recognise the manner of regime that


they are propping up. And that is what, the message that we need to


get over loud and clear and unanimously. As for North Korea. She


makes a good point about the need to get rid of nuclear weapons. I think


it would be foolish, I hope she would agree, it would be foolish for


the United States, for instance, to even begin thinking of getting rid


of its nuclear weapons before we Shh... Have denuclearised North


Korea. I thank the Foreign Secretary for the detailed evidence he has


presented to the House about the responsibility for the nerve agent


attack in Syria. Can I commend him for giving us the detail and in that


sense, also invite him to depersonalise his assessment of the


Syrian regime, simply around the personality of its president. We


already have in place a mechanism by which that president will be held to


account in future by the Syrian people if he wishes to seek that,


under the international support group and conclusion in November


2015. That process is agreed by 20 nations. We should be relying on


that, not using our rhetoric that might make it a more difficult place


in order to get into that process. Finally, if I can just ask him about


North Korea. Could I invite him to put pressure on the United States to


try and dial down the public rhetoric. There is an element in


which the North Korea is something like an attention seeking child,


that happens to belong to somebody else. In this case China. Whilst the


United States has proper responsibilities to the other


nations in the area about their security, ratcheting up the rhetoric


with North Korea is probably the wrong way of publicly dealing with


them. In I agree entirely. Our quarrel is


not just with President Assad but with others in his regime. I think


it will be possible, a map can be sketched out that can show you how


to keep the institutions of Syrian Government and get rid of the most


moderate elements of that regime. We need to get that idea across very


clearly in the course of the next few weeks and months. On North


Korea, I am sure his words are very wise on the day to avoid ratcheting


up the rhetoric and he speaks from experience. In this arena, I believe


that the key lies mainly with China. It is very much in the Chinese


interest and the Russians, by the way, who share a border with North


Korea. It is in the Chinese and Russian interest to rein in Kim Jong


ill and to persuade him to abandon what I think is the path of self


destruction. In the light of the American Vice President's visit to


the region, one hopes to consult South Korea and Japan on the most


effective way to contain North Korea's nuclear ambitions, and


reflecting on the Foreign Secretary's recent experience at the


G-7 summit, does he think there is potential for further economic


sanctions directed at North Korea and does he think China would fully


support such a step? If I may say so, the crucial thing is for the


Chinese and others to implement those current sanctions that we have


and to allow them to have full economic impact. There has been some


doubt in recent months about the full application of those sanctions.


People in North Korea are living in absolute misery and servitude. The


trouble is that it can continue to live in that state for a long time


to come unless the Government sees sense and we must work with the


changes to persuade them. Given the fact that China in a most welcome


manner, surprisingly did support sanctions at the UN in 2013, the


chances they will come to the Security Council meeting and the


positive frame of mind, the Secretary is right that Russia


shares a small border with North Korea and it is a permanent member


of the UN Security Council Andras Parti to the six Party talks, will


my right honourable friend commit to having good discussions with his


opposite number in China but also to talk to his Russian counterpart?


This is another chance for Russia to rehabilitate its international


reputation which is tarnished. He is absolutely right and he has great


expertise in this matter. It is perfectly true that the economic


relationship is overwhelmingly between China and North Korea.


Russia certainly has a role and Russia should not be permitted to


hide endlessly behind China's skirts. And that is a point that Rex


Tillson made in Moscow on April the 10th. In 1988 etiquette talk --


cross-party group from this House to see some survivors. There was a lot


of discussion about who was responsible. People like Doctor


Alistair Hay went out and brought back soil samples and evidence. I


wonder if they use of experts in the UK are being used again to find


again were the perpetrators of this terrible suffering on the Syrian


people. Has the Foreign Secretary talked to people like that? Because


of the experience in dealing with chemical weapons, they could help


again. I remember the right honourable lady's efforts in


respect. She played a big part in the hardening my own heart against


Saddam Hussein many years ago. She campaigned on that matter with great


effect and quite rightly. What we are doing today is supporting the


OPCW's mission. They are setting up the expert fact-finding mission to


try to assemble... I have sketched out all that we know about what


happened on the morning of April the 4th, the best evidence we have so


far. I believe it is very persuasive indeed. But the fact-finding mission


will now do is to go and draw on a variety of sources, samples from the


victims, environmental samples, fragments, footage, interviews with


survivors and people who were first on the scene, medics and


eyewitnesses. They will be able to draw on intelligence, flight


tracking, meteorological information, that'll be shared by us


and other countries concerned. Their experiences that such fight --


fact-finding instances unable to find conclusions under difficult


circumstances. It is that information that we need to create


the evidential trail to the individuals who were irresponsible.


There is good evidence already but we will use what we have where


possible, not only to impose sanctions but also prosecutions for


war crimes. Russia's position in Syria does not depend on President


Assad but his regime in Syria is dependent on Russia, Russia must


accept its responsibility for that attack. At its reputation is to be


rehabilitated, the most important step would be to help ease the


President Assad regime out of Syria. I absolutely agree with my right


honourable friend. The crucial thing is for the Russians to understand...


They have been three in the past to admit they have no deep spiritual


affinity for basher al-Assad. They do not love him. They are ready to


him for the time being. There can be no future for Syria with President


Assad in power. We have to find a way forward. What we have to do now


is to reach out to the Russians to get them to understand that point


and to get them to commit to a serious political process and we


should not abandon that goal. I regret any of the votes I


participated in end preventing military usage in Syria. Is it not


the case that there is to be no military retaliation over the


chemical attack, it would encourage President Assad to do the same


again? I believe he is absolutely right and that is why we have to


acknowledge that the United States has changed the terms of trade in


Syria and it is now up to us to make the most of that opportunity to get


political change. Can I thank my friend for his statement and the


tone in which he made it. One of the purposes of the American action the


other day was, as it would've been in 2013, to demonstrate to President


Assad that he could not military subjugate all his people. It would


give to negotiations with he would have to concede something. The


difficult question is this, have the Secretary of state for the United


States as my honourable friend on that evening in some way, what would


his answer have been? Does his Government consider themselves bound


by what happened in 2013 and the statement of David Cameron


afterwards? Does he intend to return the House to discuss that matter


further what made to the United Kingdom be able to do to demonstrate


its force and resolve against such actions as we saw from President


Assad the other week? We were not asked. We were not asked for


specific support. It is my belief but no decision has been taken, it


is my belief that were such a request be made in future, whether


it a reasonable request in pursuit of similar objectives, I think it


would be very difficult for the United Kingdom to say no. Hannah was


a student at Birmingham University and our thoughts and prayers are


with her family and friends. As the foreigner office changed any travel


advice after she was stabbed to death in Jerusalem? I repeat my


condolences to her family. All I can say is that although we are offering


consular assistance to her family as the moment we are not changing our


general advice about travel to Israel. Given the foil propaganda


role of President Assad in propping up a war criminal, could the Foreign


Secretary update the House on what discussions he has had with the Home


Secretary so we can send a very clear message that it is


incompatible with British citizen ship? We do not discuss individual


citizenship cases. I understand the feelings that she is expressing.


The Foreign Secretary's original statement was comprehensive and


measured but it had won significant omission, there was no mention


whatsoever of Turkey. There are 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey


and as he knows, the Turkish Government had called for the no-fly


zone. Others including myself had called for the no-fly zone. What


discussions are the ongoing at this moment about how to protect


civilians in Syria, not just from chemical weapons but also from


barrel bombs? He is right to draw attention to the cardinal role of


Turkey in this crisis. Turkey has borne the brunt of the huge tide of


refugees. I agree with what he says about no-fly zones. It is something


strongly supported by Rex Iverson and the US. They cannot deliver them


without a ceasefire. This is why I returned this challenge we are


making to the Russians. It is up to them not just to stop the barrel


bombs but to deliver a real ceasefire. The Foreign Secretary


dealt at length with the chemical attack but I was surprised he did


not take the opportunity to condemn also the appalling attack on Shia


civilians, 126 killed, 68 children that were fleeing. This illustrates


the problem of being a Shia or Christian in Syria, how much can you


rely on President Assad to protect you? We tried to engage regime


change, removing Colonel Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. We should protect


minorities in the Middle East. I appreciate the point that he makes


and he's perfectly right that our thoughts should equally be with the


126 victims of that appalling attack, many of them also children.


There are many victims in this conflict. Of the 400,000 that have


died, in the last 5-6 years, I think we are now in the seventh year of


this war, the overwhelming majority have been victims of the President


Assad regime. And its supporters. It is for that reason that I must say


that I understand his hesitations. They are shared by many people who


think instinctively that it would be better to stay with the devil that


we know. He is a very odious devil indeed. I am afraid that when I look


ahead, I cannot see how President Assad can remain in power in Syria


in the long-term. We have to go back a long way in history to find


somebody who has murdered quite so many of his population and retained


office. I thank the Foreign Secretary for his statement. It is


not for any of us to choose who runs Syria, that is for the Syrian


people. Can I say to the Foreign Secretary we should judge at recent


events in Syria and they will be successful if and only effort they


form part of the comprehensive strategy to protect civilian life.


In that regard, can I asked him what conversations he has had with the


Secretary of state for getting the aid to those people in Syria who


needed. We failed in Aleppo. I know people are being targeted as we


discussed previously. Though the Foreign Secretary say what strategy


do we have now to save civilian life, to get aid in and to get


people who need to come out of Syria to seek medical attention out of


Syria, and to help save every life that we can?


I pay tribute to the consistent campaigning the honourable lady has


done over the years. She's right to draw attention to the appalling


humanitarian situation. There are still 1. 5 million people being


besieged by Assad's regime and they're using starvation as an


instrument of warfare. What we are trying to do is, going back to the


earlier points, there must be a ceasefire and the Russians must make


it possible for the humanitarian aid convoys to have access to those


regimes. That is what we are trying to promote, Just Can't Get Enough in


gentlemen Niamh ya, but at the talks as well. As I say, it is


up to the -- They have their interests in Syria protected in the


long-term. They can have a political role in the future of Syria, but


what they've got to ensure is that there is a ceasefire, an end to the


barrel bombs and a proper political process. Can the Foreign Secretary


tell us what the outcome of this proper political process would be


given that even common Tators who absurdly used to claim that there


were 70,000 moderate fighters against Assad in Syria now accept


that the overwhelming majority of the armed opposition are run by


Islamists. Whilst accepting that Assad is a monster in the tradition


of Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, to replace him with a virulent Islamist


regime? I must say I strongly agree with the wisdom of that remark. The


essential thing will be to have a political process that preserves the


institutions of the Syrian state whilst decapitating the monster.


Thank you Mr Speaker. The international community failed in


Syria for too long. We echo the comments made by the Foreign


Secretary that some action was, indeed, needed and may be needed


into future. Can I ask him, though, his statement was very firm, quite


rightly, on Russia, but it didn't give a sense of how the Peace Talks


will go forward, which clearly is also essential as well as Russia


changing their position. As has been said by several honourable members,


in the end the new constitution and arrangements for Syria will be a


matter for the Syrian people. There are certainly people on either side


of the debate in Syria who could come together to form a new federal


government for that country and take it forward to a much brighter


future. Russia's propped up the Assad regime


for far too long. When I met the Russian ambassador a year ago, I


urged him and asked him to request his government to find a new home


for Assad outside of Syria to enable the political process to move


forward and create peace in that country. He declined. Does my right


honourable friend agree it's time for Russia to change its mind on


that matter in -- matter? The Russian president actually suggested


that Bashar al-Assad should find refuge in some Gulf country, which I


won't upset by naming. Mr Speaker, the Foreign Secretary


said in his statement I stress that we have no intention of dislodging


Russia from Syria, well, we would be fools to think that we could, and


then went on to say, but Russia's position in Syria does not depend on


Assad. Now for the last seven years, Putin has supported Assad through


thick and thin. He's not suddenly going to develop a conscience as


we've seen with his actions over the years in Chechnya and elsewhere.


Therefore, we're left in a position with the UN Security Council where


Russia has a seat will constantly block any military attempts and


therefore we're left with a scenario where Trump could take unilateral


action as they've done on the airfield. I support that action. But


how far are we supposed to support Trump without the support of the


Security Council? Clearly, he could do that to Assad and he could do


that to President Kim in North Korea. I disagree we strongly. I do


think, of course, it's difficult, of course the Russians have been


backing Assad for many years, but this is an opportunity now for them


to have a new bargain, a bargain in which they have a ceasefire, a real


political solution and in exchange they get a genuine relationship with


the United States, they join the rest of the world in the war against


Daesh and they have acknowledgement - yes I do - they have


acknowledgement that they have a way out of the quagmire of Syria and the


West will step in, once it's possible, to pay for the


reconstruction of that country. Mr Speaker, Iran has committed


hundreds of troops and billions of dollars in Syria, also in living


memory many Iranians have suffered chemical attacks. They have been


victims of it. Can my right honourable friend reassure the House


that his department is taking advantage of the full diplomatic


relations with Iran to put pressure on the Assad regime? Yes, we


certainly are and I think one of the important points to make to the


Russians is that in the end, it is the Iranians who are benefitting


from any progress that the Assad regime makes. It is the Iranians who


are the whip holders in that relationship and in the end, the


Russians need to detach themselves from the Iranians as well as from


Assad. Thank you Mr Speaker. I hear that


the Secretary of State is saying, however a new report from Human


Rights Watch suggest that US forces last month failed to properly


confirm targets before launching a missile strike in Aleppo, killing


dozens of civilians and as we've heard, including lots of children.


They even destroyed a building they had even is stab lished was a


mosque. As the UK Government cheer leads more US strikes in Syria what


steps will the Secretary of State take to avoid more civilian deaths


in Syria? I must say that obviously we deplore any civilian deaths in


Syria. I do deplore any falls equiff lent of American actions and the


dropping of barbaric weapons by the regime, banned in 1925. Can I


welcome my right honourable friend's call for a peaceful and united


Syria, who would disagree with that? And especially the need for


humanitarian protection of civilians but would my right honourable friend


agree that putting down shutters is never a productive way forward and


in this light, can he confirm that he remains in regular contact with


his Russian counterparts? Of course. Thank you Mr Speaker. I appreciate


the statement from the Foreign Secretary, and we extend our


sympathy and thoughts to the Bebing ton and Bladen families. Some of the


devils that the Government has to deal with are home grown and this


Government has been able to deal with them in the past. It seems


attractive to remove one leader from power in terms of a regime change,


does he accept that the real linchpin in Syria is Russia? And


what are the true, what is the true state of his relationship with


Russian officials between Her Majesty's Government and the Putin's


regime? The honourable gentleman is absolutely right. In the end it was


the Russian intervention that saved Assad's regime. It is now the


Russians have it in their hands to chaining the out-- change the


outcome in sear yar for the benefit -- Syria for the benefit of the


Syrian people but for the benefit of Russia as well. I thank my right


honourable friend for his statement. To echo the question from my


honourable friend from Gainsborough, others are concerned about the


phrase regime change and any policy that moves in that direction. Can he


confirm if the US moves towards a more explicit regime change policy


in regard to Assad that we would only support them after a vote in


this House endorsing such a policy? The policy of the Government is


spelt out clearly in resolution 2254, which calls for a political


process leading to a transition away from Assad regime. I think the


honourable gentleman will agree that is the right way forward. Thank you


Mr Speaker. The Foreign Secretary confirmed that the regime has been


responsible for three previous chemical attacks on their civilians.


Given that, can he confirm whether or not there is international


support for targeted sanctions against military commanders, despite


the way that the negotiations went earlier? I should thank - I'm


grateful for that. Because there was never a proposition to have general


sanctions against Russia, for instance. That was a piece, a media


ectoplax if you like. -- plasm, if you like, what we have is strong


support for the idea of taking the evidence that the fact finding


mission is going to be accumulating, using that to isolate the


individuals who may have been responsible and by the way, there


may be Russian military advisors who are already complicit in this and


not only imposing sanctions on them, which I hope she will agree will be


the right thing, I know she will agree will be the right thing to do,


but also arraign them for war crimes. What role does the Foreign


Secretary see the UK play in terms of the actions by the North Korean


regime? The most important and useful thing we can do is to


intercede with our Chinese friends to stress to them the huge influence


they have in this matter, get them to use their economic weight to try


to get Pyongyang to see sense. THE SPEAKER: Order. Point of order,


Emily thornberry. Whilst refusing to answer the challenge of a televised


debate by the Secretary of State to use the statement to make the most


extraordinary claims. He's unaware of Labour's position in relation to


this. We have made it abundantly clear that the way to proceed was


for UN inspectors to establish who was responsible and challenge the


international community, including the Russians, to take multilateral


action against the perpetrator who is presumably Mr Assad.


THE SPEAKER: What I would say to the honourable lady off the top of my


head, unawareness whether real or proclaimed is not disorderly.


Proceedings have been orderly. Some people may feel better informed


others may not. But the honourable lady, who has very considerable


experience both of this place and of pleading her case in the courts, has


made her own point, with her own eloquence in her own way and it's on


the record. Point of order. On Sunday, April 2, and again on Sunday


9 April, the former Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Prescott claimed that


my father, when a member of Parliament for North Antrim, had


contrary to the Wilson doctrine, his phone tapped by the Security


Services. This infringes on the rights and liberties of all 650


members of this House and more importantly, on the rights and


liberties of our constituents. What steps can be taken to verify Lord


Prescott's claims and to hold to account those who failed to inform


the Speaker at that time about this breaking of the Wilson doctrine? And


what course is now open to Parliament to uncover the truth in


this affair? THE SPEAKER: I'm very grateful to


the honourable gentleman both for his point of order and


characteristic courtesy of giving me advance notice of his intention to


raise it. I would advise the honourable gentleman that if he


believes that the privileges of this House have been infringed, the


proper course of action is for him to write to me, setting out the


facts of the matter. There is a very specific reason for my request to


him in this particular circumstance to write. That is that he is


essentially raising a matter of privilege. Traditionally, in such


circumstances, the chair always advises a member to write to the


Speaker. If the honourable gentleman does so, I would then make a


decision on whether this should be per sued as a matter of privilege.


We'll leave it there for now. I'm grateful to the honourable


gentleman. If there are no further points of order... We come now to


the ten minute rule motion. On here, Mr Speaker.


I beg to move that leave be given for me to bring in a bill to make


provision for the governance and operation of parish councils in


England, and for connected purposes. I bring this bill forward today to


make a fundamental point, that as we devolve power down to local


communities, we should ensure that those councils to which we are


giving more power should be run in a good way. Throughout all of public


life, we should ensure that elected representatives adhere to the Nolan


principles. They are selflessness, integrity, objectivity,


accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. It is these


principles that need to be at the heart of all governance, and indeed,


of our parish councils. Madame deputies the, I have to begin by


declaring my own involvement in local councils. Before coming to


this place, I was a district and twice parish councillor. I have


helped to produce a neighbourhood plan and sat on various parish


council committees, and seen how parishes should work, both as a


counsellor and now via feedback is a member of Parliament. I am very


passionate indeed about the principle that decisions should be


made as locally as possible, and as properly as possible. Indeed, as


Campbell parish council is showing, they are now to agree the first


stages of a neighbourhood plan. Good parishes can make a real difference.


Committed people coming together in the best interests of their area. I


am also fully in support of those calling for Eastleigh to have a town


council, to give it a separate voice in the face of hostile development


Eastleigh Borough council's missing local plan. I completely support the


government's great devolution programme, which does exactly that.


It empowers communities. I want to speak today about the most local


form of government, parish councils. Across England, there is a patchwork


of 9000 parish councils, each offering the closest form of


representation in our democracy. Serving on these parishes or 80,000


councillors, some elected, some unopposed, and some co-opted.


However, a strong part of ensuring that localism and devolution agenda


really works locally for people is ensuring that the councils and


councillors are ready to receive these new powers. We need to ensure


that parish councils are truly representative, representatives


should come forward to offer a mix of talent, experience and a varied


background, but sadly, in many areas, it is brutally undermined by


party politicisation of parishes, and this bill would seek to reverse


this. Multi-thing, where a counsellor sits on a number of


different councils is not in itself a bad thing. # multi-hatting.


Vertical multi-hatting, where a council is a parish and district


councillor, helps foster good co-operation between these councils.


However, I would like to draw attention to the growing negative


edition of this, what I would like to call horizontal multi-hatting.


This is where an individual sits on multiple parish councils. For


example, there is a borough councillor in my constituency who


sits on both Basildon parish council and west end parish council. The


seat this individual is taking up could have been filled by someone


who genuinely wants to contribute to their run community, rather than


purely to be the political placeholder. Somebody who is not


just seeking to qualify by simply being within three miles of one or


two boundaries. In these instances, it really is a case of keeping seats


told rather than keeping them warm, or rather, is it just a case of


spying on the other camp? It is very much my view that there should be a


restriction on this kind of horizontal multi-hatting, so people


can get involved with their community and representation, and


that political parties simply cannot block others from the community


taking part. Secondly, this bill is to highlight the concerning weakness


around safeguarding around parish councils. Often, a parish council


will have a single member of staff in the form of a part-time clerk,


and often, parish councillors will be involved in the local community.


Many occupations they will be working within, and being in the


lifeblood of the parish council. Two problems can arise from this.


Firstly, a proper, effective safeguarding policy is difficult to


maintain with limited staff time, and often a rather informal approach


to governance. Secondly, and very seriously indeed, instances brought


to my attention in both my constituency and elsewhere, parish


councillors have used their position to bypass safeguarding. Parish


councillors are using their position within their own communities and


their status as a councillor in order to get appropriate access --


inappropriate access to community places, such as community schools


and local buildings. Clearly, it is very important that when we discuss


these matters, we must balance the real need for good safeguarding with


the right to run and stand in a local election. However, I believe


this balance can be rightly struck by requiring all council candidates


to be DBS checked as a first step towards being nominated for


election. We also need to ensure that the best practice for


safeguarding is instilled right down to our parish councils, and right


across the country. That will include effective tracking and


logging of potential interactions between councillors, well performing


their duties, such as surgeries, particularly where vulnerable


members of society will be approaching people for assistance by


virtue of their counsellor status. This, of course, will mean more


training and focus for parish councillors, and moving finally onto


the final part of my bill, as we push our downwards to local


communities, we also must provide those communities with access to


outstanding training as their local representatives. In my discussion


with the area branch of the National Association Of Local Councils, they


have given the wonderful examples of wonderful and comprehensive parish


training packages which can and must be implemented. I was particularly


pleased to see Hampshire, under the brilliant councillor Colin Mercer,


ensuring this kind of work is done for our new councillors. They have


also provided me with a copy of their handbook, which they say is


the most requested publication that they write. This handbook points out


the way for a national standards of training for our parish councillors,


and is clearly where we are giving more power and more responsibility,


more discretion to parish councils, we need to fully understand their


role in localism and the devolution agenda. I'm sure colleagues will


sympathise with the feeling of having been elected and suddenly


told to just get on with it. That is clearly not good enough. In planning


for finance, for project management, for procurement, for key contracts


and for challenging the complex issues which keep a vibrant


community alive, those people making those decisions must have the best


possible position to decide those outcomes, and I think we need to


look in a more effective system -- at a more effective system of


oversight for our parish councils, and also to give them confidence in


that good decision making. I want to make it absolutely clear from my


experience as a parish councillor and as an MP, the vast majority of


our parishes are doing a fantastic job of representing their


communities and working hard within it. However, in a tiny minority of


cases where things go wrong, we need to make sure that someone is there


to properly scrutinise and learn lessons, whether through expanding


the remit of the ombudsman, of bringing in a clear and stronger


code of conduct review, or indeed, through standard sports once again.


We need to be able to tackle this issue. -- standards boards.


Fundamentally, my own experience in my own political outlook means that


I firmly believe in giving more power to local communities. Where we


debate in this grand chamber and even grander building, it is worth


remembering that people across the country this evening and across the


week will be putting on their coats and walking up to their local


village hall, and sitting regularly in their community spaces wanting to


make their communities better, and their local areas a little bit


better. I believe these measures will assist those councillors, and


will make our parishes work better so they can continue to serve their


residents fully and even more confidently.


The question is that the honourable member have leave to bring in her


bill will stop as many are of that opinion say aye. Of the country, no.


The ayes have it. You will prepare and bring in the bill. Scott Mann,


will Wrag, and Marie Trevelyan, John Howe, Amanda Solway, Antoinette


Sandbach, Lucy Allen and myself. Parish council governance,


principles of public life bill. Second reading, what day? Made 12.


Made 12. The clerk will now proceed to read the orders of the day.


Finance (No 2) Bill, second reading. The amendment has been selected,


movement to read the second motion. Thank you very much. I beg to move


that the bill will now be read a second time. This government has


long demonstrated that it can deliver a stronger, more secure


economy. We see the economy demonstrating robust growth. The


employment rate is at a record high, and the deficit has been brought


down by almost two thirds since the pre-financial crisis peak, but we


are in a much stronger position now than we were in 2010. But there is


no room for complacency. Indeed, as we begin the formal process of


Exeter and the European Union, we have an even greater incentive to


provide a strong and stable platform for the future. But the debt and


deficit are still too high, so we remain focused on getting the public


finances in order, not continuing to endlessly borrow and jeopardise


future generations, as some would have us do. I will just get a little


bit further in and happily give way. Before setting out the contents of


this bill in more detail, I should of course refer to the fact that the


Prime Minister has today announced her intention to lay before this


house a motion calling for an early general election. Earlier today,...


Members should be paying more attention. Earlier today, the Leader


of the House updated Right Honourable members on how that


motion, if passed, will affect the business of the house, and we hope


to hold constructive discussions with the opposition on how this will


proceed. Returning to the matter in front of us, I will lay out, if I


can, the themes of the bill, and then come to the honourable


gentleman's intervention. Returning to the matters in front of us, we're


clear that our taxes and the system underpinning them need to be fair,


competitive, critically, paid. This finance bill will take the next


steps in helping to deliver a fairer and more sustainable tax system,


that can support our critical public services and get the country back to


living within its means. This bill implements changes which respond to


the challenges our tax system and indeed our society faces. This bill


delivers an intergenerational fairness by tackling of health


outcomes across and within age groups. It delivers changes that


better reflect the ways individuals choose to work, enabling them to


earn money and create wealth whatever their chosen business


structure, but at the same time ensuring these choices are not


distorted. And this bill delivers vital revenues to put our public


finances on a sustainable footing and secure the future of public


services that we all value, and helping to further bring down the


deficit. I will give way. I am grateful to the minister. Will she


confirmed that the OBR report which accompanied the last budget, compare


to the one for last year's budget, downgrades above forecasts for each


year in the forecasting period? I don't know if he was in the house


earlier today, but in fact, the most recent statement we got on a growth


forecast from the IMF so it actually upgraded today, and we see that all


the economic indicators are pointing to robust growth, despite the


knowledge challenges of the period ahead. Would he like to commend?


I thank the minister. In the interests of the period up to pro


legation, as we try to work out what remains in the bill, could she just


tell me, tell the house, what... Where the ?2 billion to replace the


non-razing of the national insurance contributions going to come from if


she is so wedded to balancing the books? Well, the Chancellor was


clear at the time that in the statements we have made about the


budget and subsequent decisions, that we were looking to balance the


budget is across the period. Clearly, going into a general


election campaign, we will have more to say about that in the manifesto,


and we will lay that out then. This is not the place for that. But there


are measures... There are measures in this bill that are in immediately


and openly about revenue raising, and we will come to some of those,


and the Chancellor was very direct about that when he announced the


budget, and indeed, at the time of the Autumn Statement as well. Let me


say a bit about what the government had done to support fairness between


generations. It is an essential priority that everyone should have


access to the NHS when they need it and everyone should enjoy security


and dignity in old age, and that is why in the spring budget, we


announced an additional 2 billion, has just referred to, for adult


social care. This means councils in England will have access in total to


?9.25 billion of dedicated funding for social care more over the next


two years as a result of changes introduced by this government since


2015. On top of that, the last two fiscal events, we have done much to


be build a better future for our younger children by helping people


save more of the money they earn, investing in education and skills, a


key theme of the Autumn Statement and of the budget, and by building


more affordable homes. We will build on this work, in particular by


helping to tackle childhood obesity and deliver a healthier future for


our children. The youngest people in our society


that are working our earning less than previous 29-year-olds have over


here and. They are also less likely to own their own property, more


likely to rent. What is she doing to ensure the stops and is reversed no?


I have just talked about some of the things we're doing. Some of these


one-time trends. Ultimately, if you want to be law will fear, high wage


economy, you need to invest in young people from a young age. I think the


package of skills unveiled recently a string to make the step changes to


get into IP jobs for young people. With regards to housing, we


acknowledge there are challenges the. We are looking to address


those. With regard to childhood obesity, something close to my heart


is a former public health official. Soft drinks are still one of the


biggest sources of sugar in children's diet. It not only cost


the productivity of the economy but the public purse. That is a great


cost to the individuals, as well. The overall cost to the NHS totalled


over ?6 billion a year. This will look to introduce a lady for soft


drink manufacturers to pay for that. We have seen announcement from the


likes of Tesco, the makers of Lucozade and I have had the number


of discussions with companies in recent months and understand the


effort and investment they are making to change the product and


portfolio mix. Even though revenues were lower than expected, we


welcomed in that since the predicted revenues are evil because the policy


is working a way, but we will maintain the ?4 billion funding that


we pledged to do. It is further evidence of the government been


committed to tackling childhood obesity as part of a programme of


work across government departments to deliver a access for future


generations. They constituent has highlighted


obesity has the second largest cause of cancer next to smoking. Can I ask


to confirm that the measures will be part of the package of measures to


tackle childhood obesity, those helping patents protecting them from


junk food advertising and also to tackle a beast sugar content in


school meals? She came to me to talk on a major close to my heart from a


previous portfolio. Clearly, we are committed rate across government to


tackling this. If I take one aspect of this. She mentioned other


products are not in the scope of the lady. Public Health England are


working very closely with manufacturers setting ambitious


targets and that programme of work is well under way. If you look at


the progress of this country meet on salt reduction, a world leading


programme, all that was done through this close working and being


ambitious and fishing industry. I think that is alongside the levy,


which is turbo-charged that work, is a very substantial element in the


plan and the Department of Health is doing other things to particular


working things with schools and the money that will come from the levy


means more can be done in that regard. Limit to another theme. This


is something we have talked about as a strategic challenge not just for


this country but for many developed countries and that is the different


ways people are working nowadays. This bill takes important steps


within the tax system to reflect the changing ways in which people choose


to work. Individuals who work for a company pay significantly less


national insurance than those who are self-employed. This can happen


when people are doing very similar work. We believe tax receipts will


be reduced by ?3.5 billion by 2021-22. We are committed to helping


businesses large and small across the UK to succeed. We want the tax


system to be feared to individuals working in different ways in the


system must be sustainable. This will take initial steps to help out.


First, the off payroll working rule for public engagements. This


addresses the company the individuals working for. This will


clear the current rules, which cost ?700 million a year. This change


will reduce the tax differential between individuals working for a


company and those working as self-employed. It will raise much


needed revenue to pay for other services, such as social care. I


want to assure honourable members that they will help still be helping


investors by the allowances that have been introduced by the


government means they will be able to invest up to ?50,000 without


paying any dividend on that. It increases the amount individuals


conceive. This has been increased by the largest ever owned, up to 20,000


this year. General investors will still no pay any dividend tax. This


will help address the rising cost of public finances. It is in that


context that the dividing change should be considered. Moving on, it


will further moderate the tax system by legislating and making takes


digital. The administration of tax must change. With many people paying


wages online, this is a natural extension of this reality. Many


government departments have been brought into the digital age,


including the taxation system and we need to continue their journey.


Businesses will feel the benefit of getting the tax correct first time


and cutting down on excessive administrative burdens in the long


term. Simultaneously, making takes digital will help close the tax gap.


All the studies conducted so far have indicated that this will


present an additional cost for small businesses, who have to do this four


times a year. In many parts of the country, small businesses do not


even have good access to the Digital economy to make those returns. With


regard to the latter, I looked at this in some detail recently. In


terms of what would be required of people to, in terms of uploading


digital data, the Meese the vast majority, he had a 90%, have access


to high-speed broadband. With regard to changes for small businesses. We


do not recognise some of the figures put out into the public domain by


representative bodies. The Treasury has done their own analysis. But we


do acknowledge this would be a big change for small businesses.


Particularly those below the value of the tax threshold. This will mean


that given the pilot has now started, this will mean that the


system will be parted for two years before the small businesses into.


But we cannot sustain the level of error and the size of the tax gap


which occurs in SMEs in the long term. We need to tackle it. Serious


developed countries across the world are digitising the taxation system.


There are benefits to that. There will be challenges to during the


transition, of course. I fully accept that we need to tackle the


tax gap. Is she willing to look at the smallest businesses to opt in?


Perhaps for five years, they could see how the system worked? We have


already announced that those below the VAT threshold will have up until


2019. Only then will become mandatory. We will debate this in


more issue. Suffice to say, some of the alternative proposals that have


advanced simply do not tackle this issue around the level of error and


the tax gap. We need to address that because it is part of the general


challenge we face about the sustainability of the tax base. We


think this will benefit overseas million small businesses over that


the United Kingdom, the majority of whom are conducting the banking


online. This is very much going with the flow of free society is going.


We have a package of support that will be via for the smallest


businesses and we will have a chance to explore that maybe later,


depending on how much time we get to debate the bill over the coming


days. The HMRC will oversee this and make sure that the reforms are


implemented smoothly. I have talked about how this can help the health


and the tax system, but also, we want to talk about how we can keep


he feel are unsustainable tax base to raise much-needed revenue in the


process. This government remains committed to its fiscal Mandy of


reducing the deficit. That is why we took the difficult decision to


increase the standard rate of tax from 10% to 12%. The


Chancellor was very direct in the wiki presented that, in that we


which it needed to raise additional revenue. I have is I have outlined,


the taxation system needs to be fair, they should be competitive.


That is particularly important as we enter the next phase of negotiations


with regard to as exiting the European Union. We need to retain a


competitive edge and remain an attractive place for people to start


up businesses and to attract inward investment. We have seen some


excellent decisions in that regard in recent months. But taxation has


to be paid. It should go without saying that it remains the case that


although we have the lowest tax gaps in the developed world, we are one


of the most transparent about how we measure and report on it, we want to


tackle tax avoidance at all levels to ensure that everyone, no matter


who they are, to make sure people pay be a great amount of taxation at


the right time. This Finance Bill will take further action to make


sure we get the tax revenues which are due by continuing with the work


to tackle tax avoidance and evasion. We already have a strong track


record in that regard. Since 2010, HMRC has secured around ?140 billion


in additional tax revenue after tackling noncompliance, evasion and


avoidance. We are at the forefront of many of the international


discussions about tackling this. Some of the most thorny issues we


face with regard to avoidance and evasion, particularly really include


complex multinational businesses, can only be tackled in an


international forum. We have worked closely with other international


bodies and will continue to do so and read those discussions as we


tackle them. This will no build on this by introducing overacting


policies which are forecast to raise over ?5.5 billion by 2021-22. First,


the government will update the rules as to how companies claim for tax


differentials and losses. Companies will no longer be able to use the


taxable profits to be offset. They will not be able to offset it with


past losses when they make substantial profits. Taken together,


these measures will raise nearly ?7 billion from large companies over


the next five years. The bill will continue the


government's crackdown on artificial disguise remuneration schemes, by


introducing new rules and a new charge an outstanding loans from the


5th of April, 2019. These changes will ensure that scheme users pay


their fair share of tax and will bring in ?2.5 billion by 2020-21.


Thirdly, in order to deter those who gain financially from enabling tax


avoidance, the government will institute a new penalty for those


who enable the use of schemes that are later defeated by HMRC. This is


an area in which we have worked closely, and I think an area in


which policy development has benefited from a real focus on


quality tax policy making. We have worked closely with representative


bodies to ensure that all people working within the spirit of their


professional guidelines have nothing to fear from these new rules, but I


do think it is really important that we actually do tackle the enable is.


-- enablers. Members of Parliament feel they were given advice that was


later revealed to have been very poor advice, but we have not had a


system where those people who enabled the tax avoidance, we have


actually been able to pursue them in the way we wanted, and that can't be


right. So the provisions in this bill will mean that enablers of


abusive arrangements can be held accountable for the activities,


whilst ensuring, as I say, that the vast majority of professionals who


provide advice and genuine commercial arrangements will not be


impacted. Finally, in this area, Finance Bill 2017 will bring an end


to a long-standing imbalance in the tax system by abolishing permanent


non-Dom status. This will raise ?400 million each year by the end of this


Parliament. As a package, these measures will ensure our tax system


remains fundamentally fair and that people and businesses pay the taxes


they owe. The reasons we have said that, it is not just because it is


important to sustain the tax base, it is important for the revenue we


need for vital public services, but it is also important and we all feel


a sense that everyone is contributing as they should be, and


that we are asking everyone to work within the rules. I think the quid


pro quo for having a competitive unfair tax system is that taxes


should be paid. -- competitive and fair. In conclusion, the finance


bill before us today will help deliver a fairer, more sustainable


tax system, one fit for the digital age and responsive to the different


ways in which people choose to work. It will continue our work to tackle


tax avoidance and evasion, help improve the nation's finances and


pay for critical public services, and by taking a significant step to


address the issue of childhood obesity, delivering a better future


for our younger generation. This is a billet leathers on the


government's plan for Britain, a stronger economy and a fairer


society, and I commend this bill to the house.


The question is that the bill now be read a second time.


Thank you. There was plausibility through every sentence in the


minister's speech. Plausibility run riot, but plausibility I don't


accent. -- accept. But who would have thought we were there would


would be here in a chamber packed out with scintillating debate on the


day of a general election being called? I think not. If you weeks


ago, -- a few weeks have passed since the Chancellor's shambolic


budget U-turn. Today, the Prime Minister has announced a U-turn in


relation to the general election. We all thought the lady was not for


turning. She led us to believe this on at least several occasions, and


of course, we were wrong. Apparently, the Prime Minister did


not want one, and clearly in the last few days, she has had some


Damascene conversion to democracy, apparently. What we had is the


Brexit referendum last year, which gave authority to push on with


Brexit, and we now find that the Prime Minister says she wants even


more authority. I thought we were getting the Brexit vote push on last


time after time, and clearly that was not enough. I done that the


Prime Minister is feeling slightly insecure, possibly. I really don't


know, but we are where we are. As the finance bill as a product of the


budget, it is only right that we start this debate by offering a


reminder of its contents. The budget continued, notwithstanding what the


minister said, the government's prerogative of tax cuts for


multinational corporations, and the super-rich. By the end of 2021, they


would have received ?70 billion worth of tax breaks, paid for by


those on middle and low incomes, and of course, the self-employed. That


is a fact. There they are in the OBR's figures, the government's


figures. That is the fact. The budget, however, failed to


adequately address the social care crisis, which has now seen 900 adult


social workers in England leave the profession every day, and goodness


knows how many GPs getting their pension statements ready for moving


on as well. It also did little to support small and medium-sized


business owners, who are the lifeblood of this economy, and who


are increasingly feeling the pressure as the economy slows, and


inflation rises. More importantly, this budget demonstrated that this


government is willing to break its manifesto commitments at the drop of


a hat. Despite the Chancellor's bravado. The Chancellor's ineptitude


is clear from the sea. The government has presided over the


greatest depression since the 1920s, with earnings downgraded once again.


The Home Secretary said in his budget speech that his government


does not believe in spending and promising what they cannot deliver.


I agree this is an important barometer to judge the government's


record, so let's look at what the government has promised over the


last seven years and what it has actually delivered. Went into power,


the Conservatives committed to balancing the by 2015, a


Conservative broken promise. That macro balancing the books. They said


it would be pushed back to 2019-20, another Conservative broken promise.


Instead by 2020, they plan to be borrowing an eye watering 21.4


billion, and since 2010, ten out of the 14 government budgets and Autumn


Statement have seen an increase in forecast borrowing. This


government's record on borrowing has seen missed target after missed


target with constant upward revisions. The government pledged


that debt as a percentage of GDP would start to fall in 2015.


Instead, it continued to grow. Another Conservative broken promise.


On growth, the government's record has been one of epic failure. The


OBR has now revised down the economic growth of 2016-18, and


every remaining year of the parliament, notwithstanding the


comments made before about the OECD. While British people wait to see any


benefit, it seems the reality is that the only growth they can expect


to see is the size of the government's finance bills. This is


a whopper, coming in at 762 pages, longer than any previous finance


bill, one of the largest pieces of legislation ever presented to this


house. 762 pages, hardly riveting reading, I have to say, as well.


Every single syllable of it, several times! In those hundreds of pages,


you will search long and hard for anything that helps ordinary


taxpayers. Instead, it is replete with ever more complex giveaways to


corporations and the super-rich. But even those hundreds of pages are not


enough for this government's giveaways to the rich. This mammoth


bill will be supplemented by unprecedented numbers of statutory


instruments on the back of the Treasury's already unheard-of use of


them. 90 last session and 88 already in this session. Referring to Henry


VIII's edict, it makes him look like a committed parliamentarian. Leaving


aside the size of the legislation, it is matched only by the growth in


Conservative broken promises. Is this government doing anything to


deliver growth that benefits the average household? The Chancellor


has consistently pledged action to tackle the UK productivity gap, but


under this government, the UK's productivity gap at the G7 has grown


by a fifth to the largest gap since 1991. The Conservatives wherein


government at that point as well. This government has done little to


tackle the scandal of chronic low pay and insecure despite falling


unemployment, workers are currently suffering the worst decade of pay in


70 years, years. Rising inflation is now outstripping wage growth, and


real tempeh is now falling from around 40% of the UK workforce. The


government's promise of a ?9 living wage has been consistently revised


down, first to ?8.80, and now again to ?8 75p. Rising inflation sees the


cost of living forever one going up, so it is clear that when it comes to


introducing a wage that working people can live on, only a Labour


government will deliver. This finance bill does little to address


the crisis in living standards which many of our constituents are


currently feeling. Nor does it offer support for small and medium-sized


businesses that are facing rising costs and a lack of investment due


to the government's hard Brexit strategy. If you can call it a


strategy. I will give way. He is making some very interesting


points. For good me, but they seem to be contrary to the fact is I see


them. -- forgive me. I see businesses coming to Britain, icy


investment moving to Britain, I see opportunity starting in Britain, and


while it seems to run country to his argument, I wonder if he would like


to address why international businesses see Britain as a land of


opportunity" when he clearly does not?


I suggest the honourable member should take his rose tinted


spectacles off, if that is what he sees. We are all aware that the only


conservative idea for the future post Brexit economy is to turn our


once pride where the economy into a bargain basement tax haven. That is


what the opposite side once. -- want. While we have had seven years


of slogans from this government, while we are still only more on a


cigarette packet's worth of evidence for the government's negotiated in


Europe. They are nonexistent, and have been running Vista on for two


or three years since the referendum. Other than the preparation to sell


us down the river to tax avoiders and dodgy dealers across the globe,


we will hear the government make great claims are tackling tax


avoidance in this bill. We have already heard it from the minister,


but it is a charter for tax avoidance. No amount of smoke screen


and bluff can hide it. The Chancellor wants us to believe that


measures to bring some non-dons into tax will really tackle the problem,


but again and again, throughout the bill, we see measures preserving


non-Dom special status and privilege in this group were domiciled


taxpayers. Even their headline measure is undermined because they


have chosen to preserve the non-Dom status of offshore trusts. How on


earth is this going to get any more taxes paid when non-dons were


forewarned that they could just hide their money in a trust and still


keep it beyond the revenue's grasp? When is closing a loophole not


closing a loophole? When it is hidden in a magic spreadsheet. So


this bill also fails to introduce any meaningful measures that will


tackle tax avoidance and evasion, which even this government admits


cost at least ?36 billion a year. In short, this finance bill continues


to push our country towards a low tax and low pay economy, where a


small minority of the rich can get wealthier at the expense of


everybody else. Yes? I thank him for giving way. I would love this to be


a low tax economy, but is he aware that tax as a percentage of GDP will


be at the highest level since Harold Wilson was Prime Minister?


Well, I am grateful for the honourable member bringing that to


my attention, but let me put it like this. If we had a Labour government,


it would be even higher. The finance bill does nothing to fund the NHS,


which is facing its worst crisis, and as the former Secretary of State


for Health, Lord Lansley, said, the government planned for five years of


austerity, but having ten years was neither planned for nor expected,


and that came from a man who wasted ?3 billion on a top down


reorganisation of the NHS. By underfunding and overstretching the


NHS, the Tories have pushed health services to the brink will stop that


must be on everybody's postbag. Keep the NHS, they feel it only


right to ask for Labour are doing with regard to the NHS. We only need


to look at one place to see how they are doing. Wales. Not doing very


well. People are less satisfied than they are in England and even


Scotland, with the Scottish National Party have been delivering even


worse results. Can I draw the owner will be to waiting lists in England,


3.8 million people. I think the honourable member should be more


concerned with the 3.8 million people in England. A Conservative MP


on the eve of a general election can boast about the NHS. If there's one


thing for we know, people will know who the contrast with regard to the


NHS. My honourable friend is completely right. I look forward to


any of the members of wanting to send me the manifesto with regard to


the NHS, I would be happy to look them through. I make it even more


votes of Ebbw them through the doors of my constituency. The Finance Bill


does nothing to help fund the NHS. By underfunding and overstretching


the NHS, the Conservatives have cut health services to the brink. Bids


have been cut by 10% since they came into government. Recruitment


recruitment is at an all-time low. More are moving out of practice,


community pharmacy funding has been savagely cut back by as much as 20%.


As a result, as many as 3000 pharmacies face closure in rural


communities. It is not the best record on the NHS. Simple as that.


Of course, I accept what the member has said about the NHS faces, but


since he described in an earlier part of the speech borrowing has


been eye watering my hi, how would he propose to fund the gap which is


required to increase standards in the NHS? I do fear airily to the ?70


billion that this government have given away to corporations. That


would be a start. I welcome the support for that. We have seen ?4.6


billion cut from social care budgets. The Chancellor has only


pledged to retain 2 billion of that for the next two years. This is half


of what the Kings has said that the social care sector requires. It is a


broken promise from the Conservatives. Another one. It is


pitching the NHS and social care into further crisis. The government


is behaving like an ostrich. It is coming back to bite them. Timing too


small and medium businesses. They are contributing more to the British


economy develop any other time. He will contribute ?270 billion to the


United Kingdom economy by 2020, but this bill does little to meet the


growing concerns that many business owners have. It is rates in favour


of giveaways to big corporations. The question is, so can be right


that a leading supermarket will its business rate bill fall by 105


billion -- million pounds, while independent shopkeepers struggle


with Aycliffe age hake in the bills. It needs to be more favourite


towards SMEs. Rising business costs are creating a perfect storm for


SMEs. Basic costs have soared by over 3% last year. They are expected


to grow by ?6.8 billion by this year alone. Overall the Conservatives


continue to look the other way and are in complete denial about this. I


am very grateful. Does he welcome the additional funding of ?25


million a year to support some businesses that no longer receive


small business rate relief. I welcome that figure. But they should


not have been put in a position in the first place. That is the fact of


the matter. It is too little too late. The small businesses need all


the support they can get. These are jobs, and the people who order the


businesses have worked harder to make them go in the face going out


of business because of government policy. Given that the larger stores


have weathered the recession much better than many of the small


businesses he is referring to, witty give any consideration to a policy


introduced in northern Ireland, we are larger stores have a 15% premium


on the rates in order to help finance small businesses in the town


centres? If this was coming for the government say, I would say I would


listen to the representations. We would listen to anything which would


help small businesses. The decision in the Finance Bill with regard to


alcohol duty, moving on to that, we'll only further undermine the


local businesses under threat. 29 pubs are closing of the week. We


welcome plans to introduce digitisation of taxation, this will


put a huge administrative burden onto small businesses who are just


trying to pay the taxation that they are a warning. So much for small


business. There is no reason they should have to submit quarterly


Digital returns. The do not have the tamer capacity to transfer over to


digital capacity of the amount of stress for business rates. That is


why we support the Treasury Select Committee view and of owners that it


is better to exempt the smallest tax payers from quarterly reporting and


fees in digital taxation to make sure it is great for everyone,


rather than the Conservative Party making sure it is correct for all.


It also places new burdens on HMRC. It is already teetering on the edge


of the constant slashing of its resources in the past few years.


Hundreds of staff already dismissed. Costing far more than the cuts have


seized on the closure of dozens of tax offices across the country still


to come. In my constituency alone, thousands of jobs at risk. Ogilvy


with the ever-increasing responsibilities with just a


skeleton staff remaining. Ogilvy reduction in navy is expected from


tax digitisation, boat? Andrea there are no tax people feel to get the


returns, so we close the tax gap needed to run the service? It is a


false economy. I will defend HMRC. It is no Regis attack. Those


exaggerations he has said. He should look at the publicly available


figures with regard to the performance. What he said was far


from the truth. The performance has been excellent in recent years, not


least the ?140 billion raised in 2010 with regard to evasion. I think


the attempt at plausibility has gone amiss. The reality is we are


contacting people constantly by HMRC, not those on the front line


who do a fantastic job. Thousands of them in my constituency. The idea


that I would attack people in my constituency completely nonsensical.


They are struggling against the odds stacked against them by this


government. That is the reality. The odds are stacked against the staff


by this government. The Finance Bill is a failure before it has even


started. It is a busted flush. The minister referred earlier to helping


householders. Or the government should do is that if they are


setting aside resources to help householders, it should also be


tackling the threat to the stability of the housing market by


organisations such as Bellway, through the lease provisions they


have is time people to the houses, it is an absolute outrage. The


housing market is in danger if these sort of scams are allowed to


continue. If we're going to deal with issues around the housing


market, the government are quite regularly pitying resources to


front, should be pulling these organisations in and telling them to


stop ripping off people who bought houses from. This makes small and


medium income tax payers, small businesses and the self-employed pit


to decide in favour of the super-rich. It takes no serious


issue to tackle tax avoidance. It includes another number of ghetto


rose, it is just another smoke screen. -- get around. Does the


honourable gentleman accept that this bill falls on from the


government increasing the number of people in employment significantly.


In my constituency, only 370 people are unemployed. Around 1 million


people are on seal hours contracts. People are in insecure work. Of


course I will come employment. But it has to be secure, well paid and


sensible employment where people can sustain their families. Under this


government, I am afraid for millions of people that is not the case. The


reality is that you are unable to sustain an ordinary life with the


income they are getting. His pledge to increase taxation for the goes


directly contrary to his idea of raising employment. Raising the


threshold on companies would see unemployment rise, not fall. I do


not know which speech he was listening to, but I did not refer to


raising taxation. I did not. I was asked the question from one of the


honourable members behind me as to how I would pay for it. I indicated


for example, for a start, corporations. ?70 billion over five


to six year period. Giving relief to corporations. That is the sort of


starting point we have got. As far as I am concerned, this bill takes


is no longer -- no clearer to knowing whether the Conservatives


will meet the target of closing the deficit. It has led them to borrow


more than any other government in history and far more than any Labour


government complains. That is the fact of the matter. I will give way.


Thank you. Can he tell us how much the Labour Party would board all in


his plan? A lot less than you. In short, this bill is another


conservative broken promise. I urge the house to refuse the bill its


second reading. It is a pleasure to speak in this


nice, brief and moderate bill. I suspect the bill that passes the


house in the next few weeks will be a bit thinner than this. I'm not


sure I welcome the change to having it printed in one block rather than


too. But I think I would like to focus my speech on the contents of


the bill rather than trying to start the general election campaign we


don't technically have till tomorrow. I'm sure I heard the


gentleman say that Labour wanted tax to be a higher percentage of GDP


than the government currently has it. I suspect if that is the Labour


manifesto pledge, that will be appearing on lots of leavers from


candidates on the side of the house rather than his own, because the way


of achieving that is to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT. I


suspect others will be very popular with the electorate. -- I suspect


none of those will be very popular. Onto the other measures of this


bill. The first measure I would like to briefly mention is, a moderate


measure, but it is the one that allows employers to provide pensions


advice and associated advice like impact on their taxation bills of


their ploys, and allows that advice to be done tax free now up to ?500.


I think we see real problems in understanding how the pension system


works and how much they will have in their retirement and how much they


need to save and how they should save it, any effort we can make to


encourage people to take more advice, and good quality advice the


earlier the better, has to be welcome. I welcome that increasing


that actually from ?150 to ?500. Onto clause 31, the interest


restrictions for corporates, where going forward, they will only be


allowed to claim tax relief for interest up to 30%. Before I came


here, I spent many years advising large corporates on their


corporation tax bills, and wrestled with the very many efforts we have


taken to get the interest deduction we allow down to a sensible level. I


think there are well over half a dozen different anti-avoidance


measures in terms of on allowable purpose or the worldwide debt cap.


We have had all manner of attempts to get the right answer. But what we


always had as a policy from successive governments, both


Conservative, Labour and coalition, was, we saw it as a competitive


advantage to the UK to try and attract inward investment, attract


companies here by having a very generous interest deduction. So I


think it is absolutely right that we recognise, in the era where large


multinational corporations have been gaming the global tax system to a


ridiculous degree, that we can't allow our system to be exploited by


the excessive interest deductions, especially where they aren't even


real commercial interest costs to the worldwide group. It makes sense


for us to go along with a global consensus that interest should be


30%. As a house, we all approve that. Just to give some scrutiny to


what the downside impact on how we attract international investment is,


how many businesses here employing large numbers of high skilled people


are here for that interest deduction that we allow, effectively, and


profits earned around the world, and what impact it will have on where


they choose to locate in future. I hope that impact is zero, because as


I say, this is a great place to do business and employ people. People


don't come here to chase very generous tax deductions, but this


will be an interesting policy change, to see how the impact of


that works going forward. I think those rules are probably quite


complicated. I think there are sensible exemptions for


infrastructure investment, and we need to encourage private companies


to invest in UK infrastructure. We don't give tax relief for large


amounts of industrial buildings, which can be quite a large cast and


infrastructure. We ought to be reforming those rules as well to


make sure we have a competitive regime that, if you are a


multinational company wanting to invest in infrastructure, the UK is


the place you want to do it, and not somewhere else for tax purposes. I


welcome the domicile rules that the minister outlined. I think people


out there who try and understand tax cannot understand why rich people


can avoid tax because of where their father was born, and that is the


strange historic system we have had since the colonial days. I think it


should be absolutely clear that, certainly if you were born here, you


pay all UK taxes here, and if you have lived here a long time, you


should be paying the same taxes. The idea you can move and live here for


40 years, or even be born here and avoid certain taxes, has been a


ridiculous way of exploiting our tax regime. We are working on making


some steps to change them. Clause 71 on the soft drinks levy. I have had


some concerns in debates about this. I think I would absolutely welcome


taxes on unhealthy activities. I think they have a of taxes on and


tobacco on offer very sensible reasons. -- alcohol and tobacco. I


can see where we have an obesity crisis, we should be looking at


taxes on unhealthy foods and drinks. I think we could have done a sugar


tax, and I think what we should have, though, is consumers in the


supermarket he'll get the they want to buy should be able to see


something which says, this product is so one healthy for you, there is


a tax on this so you will pay more for it. That is how we would get the


behavioural change of someone walking down the aisles of a major


supermarket. They could look and see full sugar cola, can his 10p more


expensive than Diet Coke, because it is unhealthy, therefore, I will buy


the Diet Coke. That ought to apply to ridiculously sized portions of


cake or very bad for you sweets, or those of the things we eat that are


unhealthy. Perhaps we ought to try to structure a sales tax on


unhealthy products are actually get the behavioural change that we want.


There are lots of reasons the government have chosen to go down


this route and target one particular product, but I think there is a real


danger that the market for colour is so complicated that the consumer may


not actually know this charge even exists. -- cola. I happen to be the


supermarket the weekend looking at the various prices of colas, so I am


quoting Tesco, and I should declare my wife works there, but there is no


reason it is my nearest supermarket. I could buy a litre of Tesco's own


cola for 50p, Pepsi for ?1.25, or Coke for ?1.66, and two for slightly


more. How a consumer would know from those variations in prices, never


mind all the promotions that come on, which is the bad one and which


they should be avoiding, is not entirely clear. If you look at


prices for smaller quantities, 600 millilitre bottle of Pepsi is 99p,


about the same as a two litre one. Will he give away?


I will. On the issue of soft drink, does he not understand the argument


he is making very cogently, but does he not welcome the targeted nature


of this fund, in other words, that the levy will go towards the


Department for Education and help all of our children in all of our


constituencies lead healthier lifestyles? That he work on that


aspect, if he has concerns about other aspects?


I absolutely welcome more funding to help children be healthy, more


funding for sports, and I especially welcome that the largest employer in


my constituency, Thorntons, has a big funding that they give to a


school for sports. Absolutely, more funding for healthy activities for


children has to be a good thing. I am a little nervous about


associating taxes with individual spending. There is a real risk that


if you do that, you end up with a very public hated tax system. --


complicated tax system. I probable it wanted to link the spending


directly to attacks. It is kind of him to give way. Just to clarify,


one of the reasons the levy is a levy on producers is because we want


to drive, as I say, the reformulation, and drawing on my


previous role as public health minister, every study ever done


across the world has shown that reformulating product as source is


probably the number one most effective way of helping people


tackle obesity, and that certainly if you talk to the supermarkets and


some producers, as I have been doing for many months now, that is also


the message they are getting back from consumers, from their own


research, tackling the problem at source in terms of their formulas is


what consumers want to see. I absolutely agree with that. If you


can change what people consume without them knowing, without having


to change their own behaviour, we will get calorie reduction is that


we want. But if that is the argument, I am a little intrigued as


to why we go for soft drinks industry, which has produced a diet


brand which notionally has no calories and has innovated things


like the new Coca Cola Light, which has reduced calories and showed up


using sugar. So I think there is a real risk from that, industries that


have spent lots of money developing popular product and marketing them


think, well, actually, I can do all of that investment with all of that


money and still get clobbered by a levy, whereas other industries that


don't do that don't get that. Maybe I just shouldn't invest and run the


risk. I think we can debate this at great length. I think we are trying


to do here is absolutely right. The childhood obesity crisis is such


that we have to take some measures. I accept this is a measure that


target is something which contributes to that. As I say, I


would like to see us have a clear feeling that consumers can see in


the shop, a warning, this is unhealthy and will cost you more. I


think that would be a better way of getting the behavioural change and


the changing diets that we need. I think it would be more effective in


the long run. Just on that, I really appreciate


the point he is making, and have a lot of sympathy around the wider


point he is making about reducing consumption of sugary food. I think


it is really interesting, the point around making it obvious to people


what they are, and if that could be done more widely, not just in


relation to soft drinks, but things like pasta sauces, for example, with


a huge amount of sugar in them, and I think there is a lack of awareness


there, and that is one of the biggest things we can do to change


behaviour, increasing awareness, rather than necessarily increasing


the cost on all these things. I agree with that, and we should be


targeting the ones people think would be healthy but in reality are


not. I buy a smoothie thinking that has got lots of fruit in, it must be


good for me, but it is actually quite high calorie as well. It is


not a bad thing to consume that fruit. I need it as part of a


balanced diet. You could say certain milk drinks are incredibly bad for


you. I'm not entirely clear the levy applies to those. They may be worse


for you than many soft drink. There is a whole range of products that,


as I say, if we manage to structure a tax on something high sugar, high


calorie, and work to the outcome we are after.


Does the honourable member accept that this gives way to a debate, and


therefore public awareness of sugar in drinks that some people were not


aware of the now do know about? I think having a broader debate raises


the understanding that a diet cola is much healthier than a full show


the cola for most people. I think it is a healthy thing. -- full sugar.


I'm not sure whether debates in this place or taxes on producers will


affect people's consumer decisions in the supermarket, which I think is


probably based on price, promotion and their personal preferences or


historic buying habits. But I think it is something the government was


right to tackle. To move on to cause 108, tightening up the rules for VAT


collection from fulfilment businesses, which has absolutely


become one of those areas where, as globalisation has changed how people


structure their business and how they have people buy things online,


I think we have seen a big weakness there and how people can avoid


paying VAT that is due in the UK. We have a very generous turnover


threshold. Most countries around Europe to let you have your first


80,000 turnover VAT free. I think it is actually ?83,000. It is quite


right we have that exemption, but we need to find ways of stopping people


selling things on internet marketplaces and exploiting that.


There is a big revenue leak there. It also makes it very hard for UK


businesses who are resident here, who are trying to comply, to


actually compete with those internet-based sellers who aren't


charging VAT on products they ought to be charging it on. So I think all


the measures we can possibly take to make sure anyone trading here who


turns over more than 80,000 has to charge VAT on the things they sell,


has to be something we do, and I look forward to seeing how those


measures work and what the government can do on those. On


clause 120, making tax digital, which we had an exchange on earlier,


I do accept that we have to make tax more digital than it already is, and


get people filing returns online. I can see where the government would


want the information much earlier than they get it. Trying to take out


the errors, individuals and businesses don't want to make


errors, they want to get their taxes right. I'm not sure how much we help


them adding 782 pages of this bill, so they have to try and work out how


to comply with that. But I think it is the right thing to try and do. I


just worry that if we rush the smallest businesses into this, we


will end up with the wrong outcome. So I accept that where businesses


are turning over more than 80000 and already filing their VAT quarterly,


probably, they are already doing monthly PSYRE activities, presumably


on a computer and reporting those. -- PAYE activities. They are


gathering or the information they need and making these returns should


not be unduly onerous. I think the advantages there do outweigh the


downsides. Where I worry about a perverse outcome... Will he give


way? I think he's slightly glossing over


the problems for businesses. I was coming to the point. Businesses who


are submitting VAT returns. And other ones who are submitting PAYE,


small businesses normally do this once a year and deploy an accountant


to do that. There's a risk that you go from an annual return compiled by


a qualified person swapped for a quarterly system done by the


individual itself, you could end up with much less accurate information


when you use to her. We have to be careful we do not have to go from a


relatively reliable annual situation to an unreliable for teams are your


system. It could make the error is worse than was ever intended. Rather


than paying an accountant for teams here, you would want to pay them


once a year. I am thinking about how we face the Centre for the smallest


businesses. Perhaps making it compulsory date a few years away,


allowing people to maybe opt out at first if they feel they can comply.


They can fainting to make sure they get it right, rather than the shock


of finding they have got it wrong and be landed with the taxation


Bill. These extra few years, it will Bill. These extra few years, it will


then not be such a big shock as it could be. If this was meant to do


away with error with regard to working out thanks, there are


certain adjustments that can only be done at the end of year, the likes


of stock. These will impact on companies. It can significantly


already to the businesses and their costs. Those annual adjustments, you


have to think about how you would do these a few moved to a quarterly


system. I think maybe small businesses have that simplify, so I


do not think those issues will apply to that extent. The government


intend to expand those measures to make it easier for small businesses.


On the first Finance Bill I spoke on, one of my amendments was that we


moved the corporation taxes are much closer to the annual accounts


system. It would be much clearer for business. Maybe the more things we


have, eventually I will get to that dream I had several years ago,


releasing I sounded rather optimistic on that. I think we


should welcome that we relaxed the timetable for businesses. That is


welcome. It will be welcomed by the small businesses in my constituency


who had concerns on this. While we are on corporation tax and before it


was talking about amendments, a was talking about amendments, a


tabled the first amendments and another was to have companies fail


one corporation tax submission for the entire group, rather than


separate ones. We have restrictions on this bill about how much of the


losses you can use going forward from previous years. We are allowing


these to be allowed -- used across the group. That is a welcome change.


As we leave the European Union and we used to include all the European


Union companies need tax return, perhaps now is the time for us to


look at what many countries do, allowing companies to fail one tax


return to shore the whole profit for the whole group. Actually, I think


that would help us tackle tax avoidance schemes which have made a


plea on companies having different treatment. That would make things


easier to comply and help catch tax avoidance. I hope we can look at


issues like that. On the point about corporation tax, would he agree that


the cut in corporation tax from 19% to 17% in 2020 is only going to be


good for the economy? We have seen the previous cut saw an increase in


revenue from corporation tax. This is these favourable place for


business as we enter a war next phase of leaving the European Union?


We need to send a signal that we are a great place to boot business. We


want international investment to come here. Having a headline


corporation tax that is as low as it is is absolutely the right thing to


do. I welcome that. I welcome the move down to 17%.


I thank him for his indulgence. Can he explain why Germany, which has a


much higher headline rate of corporation tax, does so much better


industrially? I would need to have attended many of his lectures to get


more of an understanding on that. It is not something I have studied. I


suspect it is not all going to corporation tax. Would he also


appeared in mind that the most comparable comparable country as


Ireland, which is a corporation tax of 12.5%? That has been very


successful in attracting investment. It has got them through all the


financial crisis. That is one thing they were not prepared to change and


they have been very successful with that 12.5% rate. I celebrate the


fact that Britain is the always corporation tax in the G20. Would he


agree with me that actually, Britain and Germany spend similar amounts of


spending on research and development, but when it comes to


private sector investment, if we are going to lead a new revolution, it


is important that we make sure our economy is attractive to invest in


them that is what this Finance Bill does? Yes, if we were to enter a


debate on the Germany economy, we could be here all night. A final


point on corporation tax, we have a clause on Northern Ireland


corporation tax and how we will make the lower rate work. I do hope we


can get an executive form in Northern Ireland so we can have the


slower rate. I do not think we will have to rush that clause two, given


the current situation. Thank you. Would he accept the deep


disappointment with in Northern Ireland, because of Sinn Fein 's


insistent on unrealistic demands, they will not be an executive in the


near future and therefore the ability to Northern Ireland to


reduce corporation tax, which was one of the key pack parts of the


economic strategy will be taken away from the executive? I agree with


them. It is very regrettable that the power of which was long campaign


for cannot be in place. We wanted that rate which was matching the


Republic of Ireland in order to attract the same sort of investment.


It is a need for Northern Ireland to find a way forward. That should not


be lost within the context of as having a general election. Last year


's finance bill, the government accepted bringing in territory


reporting for all large corporate with regard to annual tax


submissions. The timetable is, having seen these reports, that poor


being introduced, as a cup final remarks, Kelly welcome the


encouragement of social investment by scene taxation being focused on


the right things, not just avoidance. I saw that residents


managed to buy a local pub which was going to be knocked down and turned


into housing. Them we they managed to do that was to get 250 people to


buy shearers. It was an example of what a community can do to save


something which was important to the man I wish them every success in


that. Finally, I wanted to talk about passenger duty. I do not want


to go back through the whole debate. I wonder, as we leave the European


Union, some of the restrictions drop only, if we are looking at measures


which would encourage investment in regional airports which would help


tackle congestion in London, help improve the era quality of London.


-- air. Additional routes to regional airports or some way of


which we can be lower AED for a new route, to encourage that you wrote


to thrive? These measures would not have the big revenue hit, but would


target we can spin to help fatal regional growth within the United


Kingdom. We could see some interesting tax competition in


Scotland in the future. We will see what is happening in the north of


England. Overall, I welcome this bill. There are many important


measures in here which will help protect our tax base and help tackle


tax avoidance. I think it is very important and I hope these


provisions survive whatever the discussions are over the next few


days. He has quite rightly mention tax avoidance. Would he accept that


there are measures within the bill tackling that, given the tax gap of


nearly ?40 billion and the government target of ?5 billion


between now and 2020, the issue of tax avoidance is not being taken


seriously. There will be frustration that companies can still walk away


without any tax bill. It is important to see what makes up the


tax gap. Tax avoidance is actually a relatively small part of that. From


memory, the largest part are people who operate in the black market and


do not pay VAT or taxation. A large part is also due to it by small


business. I think it is probably impossible to get the tax gap down


to zero. That would involve some fairly heavy compliance bill. There


will always be some level of tax that you cannot collect. The


measures being taken progressively over the last seven years to tackle


aggressive tax avoidance have been the correct ones. As you work for to


scene when that gets to its five-year anniversary, what we think


we can have the strategy around whether we need to have so many


individual ones or whether we can rely on the general one. We have


raised some questions about making taxation digital, if you want to get


the tax down, making businesses more compliant on a regular basis will be


a key part of that. We have to press on with that and make their work,


for not wanting to risk going too far in that situation. There are


more measures we could take to encourage people not to pay cash on


hand to avoid VAT. As an individual, how do you know the person cutting


your page is actually tax registered? There is perhaps a way


we could have some sort of registration. I want to engage with


people who are fully tax compliant. If you cannot do that may be able to


hire someone else. A very good speech about the changing nature of


the economy. I welcome the review by Matthew Taylor with regard to tax on


companies and individuals within the Digital economy. Striking a balance


between taxation and the growth in the employment market. It is


something which needs to be tackled. It given to the national insurance


debate. I welcome the way the public sector are engaging with


individuals. We need to find a way of doing that. We need to find a way


of doing that for a high paying individual show with the public


sector. We need to make sure they have taxation of the way the


taxation system was meant. The measures we have here, I accept the


reduction was the right thing to do. What we want to make sure is that


the tax system is not encouraging unscrupulous employers to make


employees and self-employed to take the tax advantage for themselves. We


do not want that going down the same route, with the employees then


falling foul of not having the likes of sick pay or holiday pay. I can


accept we have the necessity for a lower tax system, but people have to


be employed in needle so generous taxation system. That is a very


important part to play. I will wrap up by I wish the bill well.


And now, they reasoned amendment. Thank you, I beg to move the


amendment in my name and those of my honourable and Right honourable


friends. We will oppose this finance bill, not so much... Well, somebody


has to provide opposition! Not so much because of what it does, but


more accurately, because what does not do. And so while, for example,


we have the iniquity of Scotland's police and fire and rescue


authorities paying VAT, and we know that is a long-standing problem,


this government could and should have taken the opportunity of this


finance bill to rectify it, but of course, they didn't. There was,


though, in the budget, at least the recognition of the problems faced by


Scotland's oil and gas sector, although no specific measures


announced, only another options paper, which was effectively


announced last year. This finance bill could and should have been the


opportunity to make concrete proposals for UK content for oil


exploration and decommissioning allowances to ensure the sector


continues to thrive and flourish and provide substantial tax yields for


decades into the future, but of course, it doesn't. What it does do


is put at the duty of Scotch whiskey, increase insurance premium


tax again by, I think, 20%, way above the rate of inflation will


stop effectively treating the Scots whiskey industry and the insurance


sector as a cash cow for the Treasury. Having said that, we


welcome some of the measures in the bill, particularly those which


attempt to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion, and I welcome


what the minister said about restricting the use of past losses,


disguise remuneration, additional penalties for tax avoidance


enablers, and the permanent removal of the permanent non-Dom status. But


it is hard to see how this bill will assist in any substantial way to


address the long-term UK challenge of improving productivity or even


helping make society a little less in equal, which is actually vital to


unlocking the growth potential we have. That is particularly the case


when one considers that alongside this finance bill, are a set of


welfare proposals which do not support inclusive growth, but rather


drive a coach and horses through. They include a cut of ?30 per week


for the EFA group for claimants placed in work-related activities.


It also includes a 55% cut for the rate of ES aid for disabled people


under the age of 25. And a freeze on the lower disabled edition for


Universal Credit. There are changes for full-time students, who received


disability living allowance or independence payments, who are now


not treated as having limited capability for work, and are


therefore not entitled to universal credit until they have been


assessed, and therefore, facing long delays without support. But I don't


want to digress too far from the bill. Delivering those cuts when


disabled people and those on low to middle incomes are already facing a


barrage of cuts from this government is a disgrace. And those cuts fly in


the face not only of the Tories' last manifesto commitment to health


more disabled people into the workplace, something which is vital,


but they undermine the essential drive for real inclusive growth,


vital if we are to grow the economy and maximise our potential.


Will he give way? Yes, I will give way. I wondered if


I might point out that under the Scotland act 2016, we are devolving


benefit is worth ?2.8 billion to the Scottish Parliament. That is almost


a fifth of Scottish spending, and it would be really interesting to hear


some views about what you think, what the honourable member thinks


about that, and indeed, to welcome the fact that we have such a strong


economy provided by this government that indeed, the Scottish are able


to have this much money gifted over to them. Gifted? It is their tax


money! I'm sure the Scottish people will be delighted that the


Honourable Lady... I'm sorry, I'm not sure what seed she is from, will


be telling the Scottish people that we don't pay taxes, we are dependent


to the largess of ladies like air in order to fund our welfare system! We


have had a very small amount of welfare devolves, and I'm sure she


wants to make a contribution like that, she can read out the rest of


the briefing note which captures the deputies beat's I later. The Tories


can grown all they like, they have called a snap election, and we have


a finance bill on the same day. The minister did lay out what she wants


to do in this bill, which is reduced the dividend nil rate from 2018-19


from ?5,000 down to ?2000, and I will listen carefully in the next


ten days or so to what the government say about this, and it


may be that they can prove that only very wealthy people benefit from


that allowance, and may be a reasonable change. However, it may


equally be the case that many small and start-up is Nissan is dependent


that money to tide them over, and that that measure will be nothing


more than a tax enterprise, a disincentive to start a business, to


create jobs and to empower local economies. I have to say, I did find


it slightly jarring when the minister explained, while talking


about that, that wealthy people could put lots more money into ices.


That is fantastic for people who are ready wealthy. -- ISAs. They can


save tax-free. But juxtaposing that with a change to the dividend nil


rate down from ?5,000 to ?2000 might add a disincentive to people


genuinely wanting to start a business, while allowing already


wealthy people to save tax-free. That may have been the kind of error


we would see driven by the old fiscal charter, and its requirements


to run a permanent surplus, almost irrespective of economic conditions.


The new fiscal charter is more flexible than the last one, and that


should have made this kind of measure unnecessary, but of course,


the government are still targeting a surplus early in the next


Parliament. Let's see how early it is in the next next Parliament. And


without digressing to far, the numbers and the timescale for even a


modest surplus within four or five years look precarious. The forecasts


for a current-account surplus a timely, not even reaching 1.5% of


GDP. -- tiny. And if there is any capital flight or if sterling


suffers further devaluation, which is quite likely if the Brexit


negotiations go wrong again, highly possible, and the figures could fall


apart very quickly indeed. At its heart, this is a finance bill being


delivered with the pretence that the hard Tory Brexit is not happening.


It sits in splendid isolation from reality. We cannot actually assess


whether it will assist with the challenges which lie ahead. We


cannot even assess properly what the consequences of the limited measures


in it will be, because the OBR told us about Brexit at the budget, and I


am quoting, there is no meaningful basis for predicting the precise end


point of the negotiations, as the basis for our forecast. So in short,


this finance bill, like the 2017 budget, is effectively based on a


central assumption which pretends Brexit doesn't exist. A ridiculous


thing to do, given Article 50 has already been triggered, and I will


now happily give way. I'm grateful to him. He quotes the


OBR, one of the few forecasters that was responsible enough a year ago


not to make wild assumptions about what Brexit would mean. Most of the


other forecasters thought they would know what would happen, and got it,


hence be wrong, so it shows prudence, caution and common sense


not to try and forecast that which is essentially unknowable. I think


the Honourable gentleman has been on record attacking the OBR for


forecast in the past, and if not, I apologise, but I'm sure many of his


colleagues have. I don't think anybody seriously suggested that on


day one, week one, month or even year one of Brexit, even before the


negotiations were complete, it would result in any kind of catastrophe or


reduction in GDP or any such other thing. The real danger is for the


medium and long-term, and because the Honourable gentleman brings it


up, let's remember what some of those forecasts have actually said.


The Treasury themselves said we could lose up to ?66 billion from a


hard Brexit. The GDP could fall by around 10% if the UK reverted to WTO


rules. That echoed the chair of the Treasury committee and other


assessments, including the London School of Economics, who said, in


the long run, reduced trade, lowers productivity, huge problem for the


UK. That increases the cost of Brexit to between 6.5 and 9.5% of


GDP, and they put a range of figures on those costs of between 4.5 and


six point ?5,000 per household. There are other assessments, from


institutes, from FTSE senior executives, from the British


Chambers of Commerce. The Honourable gentleman might not believe those.


Some of them might not come to pass, but given those warnings are very


real and very credible, one would imagine that would have instructed a


far bolder finance bill. That is the point I was trying to make. If the


Honourable gentleman wishes, I will happily...


I thank him for giving way once again. I think the point I was


trying to make is that we have had incredibly wrong forecasts from all


of these illustrious bodies, and he was only wrong on the OBR. I


criticised lots and lots of bodies, but the OBR was the one I singled


out for not being so foolish as to make erroneous forecasts. The


Treasury, the IMF, the Bank of England, all went ahead saying the


day we left, it would be Armageddon. We were going to have a punishment


budget, and this turned out to be nonsense, and I think it is much


wiser of the current Chancellor to avoid this foolish speculation. I


don't want foolish speculation, but nor do I want roasted spectacles of


ostrich head in sand. There are very credible warnings of what Brexit


might deliver, and if the government fails to mitigate what the risks


might be, then the government are failing the people. I think that is


incredibly important. To be fair in terms of what mitigation the


government could do, and have done, the Chancellor did announce last


autumn additional support for capital investment and for research


and development, and he has reiterated since some of his R


statements, and put more flesh on the bone of investment. However, the


figures from last autumn's statement, the last Autumn


Statement, show the public sector net investment actually falls 17-18,


and presumably 18-19, depending what happens after the June election. The


figures announced only a few months ago for public sector gross


investment showed the figures falling again this year, compared to


the forecasts made last winter, and not increasing again until 2020 or


beyond. We would argue money should have been allocated and the finance


bill should have reflected that, to mitigate the damage which we


believe, and many others believe, is likely because of a hard Tory


Brexit. Of course, it is not all about Brexit, Mr Deputy Speaker. Nor


is it about simply reminding the house, and I won't do today, about


the failures and broken promises on debt, deficit and others. It is also


not about repeating the mistakes of the past on investment. We are now


in such uncertain times that to protect jobs, to protect yield, to


protect the current account, trade should be front and centre, but


there was little sad about that today and nothing in the finance


bill which would assist in that regard. When one considers that the


budget red or tells is that the current account is in negative


territory for what was the entire forecast period, and that the impact


of net trade will be zero or a drag on GDP, without the impact of


Brexit, for almost every year of the forecast period made in the budget,


and that is after, I think, in near 15% devaluation in sterling since


the referendum. My honourable friend intervened


dearly about who growth will be generated. It is forecast to be on


the uncertainty of Brexit ends, which we do not thing will be any


time soon. This will be my essential government investment, of which we


welcome, but when house price rises are thought to be probably about two


or three times the inflation rate. There is nothing in the analysis


which would help balance laptop at home. The figures are clear,


notwithstanding one bullet, the last full year figures soar


current-account figures deficit of 88 million in the red and deficit of


over ?120 billion in trading. Nothing which would assist


businesses to trade in a wave which would shrink or era would those


deficits. This is the head and debate today because of other


announcements. We will oppose this. Not for so much for what it


contains, but because of what is missing. The budget which drives


this bill is wilfully blind to the damage Brexit will do and the cult


completely inadequate response to the challenges the economy will


freeze. The original question was that this bill should be read as


they contain. The question is as


on the order paper. It is a pleasure to speak in support


of the Finance Bill. It is a bill which prioritises economic


stability. That is much to welcome within it. My constituents would be


pleased by the increase in income tax threshold. But I want to address


these soft drinks industry levy. This was announced in the budget one


year ago and was reconfirmed in the chilled food obesity plan last


summer. I should declare an interest. I do thought is a rather


large Easter break in recent days. -- day for it. I welcome the Leavy


in one lever of attacking this. That is no one silver bullet to attack


the obesity crisis in the United Kingdom or the West in general. But


I think the levy is necessary as a package of measures to tackle it. As


part of the house select committee, if you had that is the baby a year


ago regarding a sugar tax, I might have been somewhat uncertain. It is


clear there is uncertainty today. I hope to convince someone dotes to


ensure the provision passes without further amendment. Some facts about


obesity. It currently affects around one quarter of adults in the United


Kingdom. It is believed that could affect up to 70% of us by 2050.


Obese children of former more likely to become obese adults. That is a


clear need to tackle childhood obesity. I am glad to hear he is


supporting the sugar tax. Would he agree this does not go far enough


because it does not start until children are over two and some of


the bad habits have started before then. Would he increased the scope


of that policy? It is true that the health committee have called for


additional measures, but I think the strategy of the plan is a step in


the right direction. I will come onto for the points in due course. I


was about to mention that one in five of those starting primary


School, one in five or overweight, but by the end of primary school


that has risen to one in three. The inequality between communities is


also striking. Between 5-11 -year-olds in poorest


neighbourhoods, some 60% are obese and this reduces down to 16% in the


most affluent areas and that also lends itself to regional variation.


We are seeing a bigger growth in obesity rates in poorer backgrounds.


In Torquay, and one side of the hill on my constituency, people live up


to 30 years longer than those on the other side. I hope this will go some


way towards tackling this. If we look at the health effects on


obesity on children, the main impact his tooth decay. It is the main


cause of hospital admissions for 5-9 -year-olds. 179,000 teeth have been


extracted from this age group every year. 25% of the age group have


tooth decay and 90% of that could be preventable and sugar is the key


cause of that problem. Looking at older children. In 15-year-olds, 40%


have tooth decay. Millions are spent on extraction of teeth of


undertakings. -- under 18 's. In adults, bed that is even more


concerning. Not just tooth decay, but the likes of type two diabetes


and a number of other conditions. In fertility, pregnancy problems, other


health problems. Kidney disease, cancer. There are at least 15 types


of cancer implicated with obesity. It is thought to be the biggest


cause of preventable cancer after smoking. Over 18,100 cases of cancer


estimated per year in the United Kingdom thanks to obesity and the


types of cancer involved include some fairly well-known ones, such as


and bowel. There is also an impact on the NHS. An estimated ?5.1


billion per annum in the United Kingdom and on the economy in


general. Lost productivity, unemployment and early retirement


and welfare benefits. It is vital that we recognise the extent of the


problem posed to health and well-being by the obesity crisis.


How should we target this? It is believed that that is the genetic


susceptibility to obesity. That is not that all obesity is down to


genetics. But there is a belief that the genetic problems to leave people


with the drive to eat. Education and exercise has an important place, but


the reality is it has not succeeded as the main target against this


problem. We have the issue of the loss of life stables and an


environment whereby healthy foods need to be more available. Calorie


intake overwhelms the need to check for these calories are made of. Many


are driven to the intellectual and financial resources to deal with the


problems they face, but it is not easy and children, of course, cannot


be expected to exercise personal responsibility because they do not


have the own freedom of choice. Serious measures are important in


tackling this crisis. These include refurbishing targets. This will


reduce sugar, fat, calories in the food that children eat. Advertising


is also important. We have seen restrictions expanded from


television to other media, the likes of social media. But that is


potentially further things which could be done if necessary.


Labelling is very important. Brexit offers an opportunity to because


more flexible in the way that we label products. Discounts with


supermarkets are very important. Planning paws for local authorities


are also crucial. -- promotion. He makes an excellent point about the


freedom for better labelling after we leave the European Union. One


which could benefit particularly as the daily sector. Could we not do


something which would help the shopping public support British


farmers and British products? A very good point with regard to the


flexibility with the likes of being able to put on her mini teaspoons of


sugar listener product, which we cannot do at the moment. But the


soft drinks levy, this is based on the fact that soft drinks are the


biggest source of dietary sugar for children and contain little or any


dietary benefit. Five-year-olds are believed to consume the road weight


in sugar every year. That is food for thought. The experts believe fee


sugar should be only 5% of the daily intake, but they are currently


consuming 56 teams that. It relates to producers of imported soft drinks


containing sugar. It is encouraging reformulation. The implementation


date of April next year gives manufacturers claim to pursue


reformulation and many have been doing an excellent job in achieving


that. The levy also drives manufacturers to produce portion


sizes and to mark the low sugar alternatives. 18p per litre would be


levied when the sugar content exceeds five grand -- five grams per


100 millilitres. According to my mathematics, this would be about 6-


8p per drink. The hope is that this would be passed on to the consumers


in the same proportion. It would not be any cross subsidy. One of the


concerns raised was that those low sugar drinks or seal sugar drinks


might end up picking up some of the extra cost levied on manufacturers


by the sugary alternatives. I think that would be a missed opportunity


to maximise the positive impact of the levy if that were to take place.


I thank him for giving way. Will he join me in encouraging her important


eating at breakfast play such an important part in education. I will


indeed. I will come onto the positive impact of the slightly and


the positive impact it has had on the debate in this country on sugar


and obesity. To come back to this idea of cross subsidy in terms of


drinks, I think we as a government should keep an open mind as to


whether this is something which needs to be regulated.


Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons including (estimated timings): 3.30pm-4.15pm business statement; 4.15pm-5.15pm statement on Syria and North Korea; 5.15pm-5.25pm Ten Minute Rule Bill; 5.25pm-10.00pm second reading of the Finance (No.2) Bill which enacts many of the measures contained in the recent Budget.