Finance Bill — 10 Jul 1997
David Heathcoat-Amory MP, Wells voted in the minority (No).
Order for Second Reading read.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
This is a further day of debate on this year's Finance Bill. We have had a four-day Budget debate. We had a day's debate yesterday effectively on the Finance Bill, in Opposition time, and today is the Second Reading debate. We have a further two full days on the Floor of the House next week and thereafter the Bill will go into Committee.
I spoke at some length on Monday evening and yesterday. I hope to be comparatively brief today, consistent, of course, with my obligations to introduce the Bill in the House. The Finance Bill implements the Budget introduced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor last week, which set out the priorities for the Government and the people of Britain. The Finance Bill is designed to equip Britain for a long-term future and to ensure that everyone can share in higher living standards and greater job opportunities. It implements a Budget which looks to the long term rather than to the short-term interests that have been pursued in the recent past.
In the 10 weeks since we came to power, we have set out a clear strategy for achieving a prosperous and secure future for everyone. The Budget implements several measures that are a key part of that strategy. It is a Budget for economic stability. First and foremost, we wish to put an end to the repeated cycles of boom and bust. As we said earlier this afternoon in Question Time, we have inherited a fundamental weakness in the British economy. The Budget and other measures seek to put the country on a stable footing. We have tightened fiscal policy. We have set tough new rules on public borrowing and debt which build on other changes such as setting up the Monetary Policy Committee under the Bank of England to help enable us to meet our inflation target of 2.5 per cent.
This is also a Budget for investment. Along with stability, investment is a key to our economic success. It needs to be long-term investment. As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has said before, at this stage in the economic cycle, investment levels ought to be far higher. They are lower than in many competitor countries. So the Budget and the Finance Bill include fundamental changes to the tax system, as well as targeted measures aimed at encouraging investment in business.
Our future depends not only on investment in business but investment in the people of our country as well as its infrastructure. My hon. Friend the Paymaster General has made major and far-reaching reforms to the private finance initiative, the fruits of which we are already beginning to see.
In particular, the Finance Bill introduces measures and programmes to get the young unemployed, the long-term unemployed and lone parents back into work. That is a fundamental part of our Budget strategy and part I of the Finance Bill implements it. Both measures are aimed at modernising the welfare state. If we are to have a stable
10 Jul 1997 : Column 1091
and prosperous future that is shared by everyone, we need to do far more to get people from welfare into work and to change the culture of the country.
Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:--
The House divided: Ayes 314, Noes 179.
Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.
What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.
What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.
What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.
|Party||Majority (Aye)||Minority (No)||Both||Turnout|
|Con||0||149 (+2 tell)||0||93.2%|
|Lab||314 (+2 tell)||0||0||75.8%|