Finance (No.2) Bill

– in the House of Commons am 2:33 pm ar 23 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Pleidleisiau yn y ddadl hon

Bill, not amended in the Committee and in the Public Bill Committee, considered.

Third Reading

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 2:35, 23 Mai 2024

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

May I take the opportunity to thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and the other Madam Deputy Speaker for your professionalism, kindness and robustness in this place? You will be sorely missed, and I express my appreciation to all those who have announced that they will be standing down at this election and thank them for their service in this House. I think I speak for everybody when I say that everybody who comes into this place does so with very positive motivations, because they want to make the world a better place for their children and grandchildren. That may sound trite, but it is a motivation we all share. We may disagree on the route to achieve that, but anybody who comes into this place does so with incredible professionalism, and we should all thank them for that service.

Moving on to the politics and policy of today, this Bill helps to deliver the priorities of the Prime Minister and the Government following the autumn statement and the spring Budget. The economy has vastly improved. It is growing again. Real wages are increasing and, as we found out this week, inflation is down to its lowest figure in nearly three years. The Finance Bill builds on that economic improvement by rewarding work, encouraging investment in our economy and boosting home ownership.

As the two recent fiscal events outlined, we have rewarded work by making national insurance tax cuts. Some 27 million employees will get an average tax cut of £900 a year, and 2 million self-employed people will get a tax cut averaging £700. That is the largest ever cut to employee and self-employed national insurance, and this Bill furthers the work done on rewarding work by increasing the high income child benefit charge threshold from £50,000 to £60,000. In addition, the rate of the charge will be halved, so that child benefit is not repaid in full until someone earns £80,000, taking 170,000 families out of paying this tax charge. Some 485,000 families will benefit by an average of £1,260 from these child benefit changes.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

I put on record my thanks to the Minister and the Government for that change. It is a policy that my party and I have pursued over a number of years. The Government took it on board and they are very kindly changing the law. I thank the Minister, but also the Government, because it is one of the things that we can put to our constituents, including my constituents in Strangford, and say, “Here is delivery of what you asked for. Here is what we did.”

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his gracious and pertinent intervention, as ever. I thank him and all those who have campaigned for this change, because we know it will make a difference to the budgets of many households across the country in what we recognise are still challenging times.

The Bill will drive investment in the economy through various measures, including additional support for our world-leading creative industries, and we are making tax reliefs for theatres, orchestras, museums and galleries permanent, at a rate of 45% for touring theatres, museums, galleries and touring productions, 40% for non-touring productions and 45% for orchestras. That will ensure that our creative industries have the support they need after the unprecedented economic shock of the pandemic.

We will further support the UK’s independent film sector through a new UK independent film tax credit, at a rate of 53% for films with lower budgets. That will support the production of UK independent films and the incubation of UK talent. Our creative sector is vital to our national life, and the Government are committed to supporting UK businesses in the sector.

This is also a Bill that will boost transactions in the housing market. It will cut the higher rate of capital gains tax on residential property from 28% to 24%, encouraging landlords and second home owners to sell their properties, which would in fact increase revenues because there would be more transactions. That will make more homes available to purchase for a variety of buyers, including, of course, first-time buyers.

We need to ensure that the property system is fit for purpose. The Government are clear that where policies are not meeting their objectives, we will take clear and decisive action. That is why we are abolishing multiple dwellings relief—a bulk purchase relief in the stamp duty land tax regime—from 1 June 2024. Abolition follows an external evaluation that found no strong evidence that the relief is meeting its original objective of supporting investment in the private rented sector. His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has recorded many instances of abuse and attempted abuse.

We are amending the rules so that individuals buying a new lease over a leasehold residential property through a nominee or bare trustee will be able to claim first-time buyers’ relief on their stamp duty land tax bill. That change will ensure that, for example, victims of domestic abuse are not unfairly penalised if they wish to buy their first homes anonymously. It will ensure that those in difficult circumstances do not face additional barriers to purchasing homes.

The Bill will also make the tax system fairer by closing tax avoidance loopholes and making relevant changes to VAT.

I thank right hon. and hon. Members from across the House for their helpful and insightful contributions to the debates during the Bill’s quicker than expected passage. I thank the many stakeholders who have provided their views on the issues raised and provided evidence to the Public Bill Committee, as well as Treasury and HMRC officials and, of course, the House Clerks and officials who have supported us in getting the Bill to this point so quickly.

The Bill rewards work, encourages investment in our economy and boosts home ownership. It is part of the Government’s clear plan of action. For those reasons, I commend it to the House.

Photo of James Murray James Murray Shadow Financial Secretary (Treasury) 2:42, 23 Mai 2024

Madam Deputy Speaker, may I begin by paying tribute to you for your years of service and thank you for your guidance? If I may, I will tell one brief anecdote, which is actually from a previous Finance Bill. I had not quite realised that it was my duty to move the Opposition’s amendments before the time of voting, as I was distracted by being in conversation with my hon. Friend Peter Kyle at the time. The Chamber was full. I think that you cleared your throat three times at me until I finally moved the amendment. On the way out, Mrs May said to me, “You will never forget that, will you?” It is true—I will not. That was great advice and guidance that will stick with me throughout any future years that I may have in this place, depending on the election. Thank you very much.

We are here to consider the Third Reading of the Finance Bill, which the Opposition hope will be the last in the line of 14 years’ worth of Conservative Finance Bills. The Bill comes after 14 years of Conservative failure on the economy and leaves a legacy of higher taxes, falling living standards and stagnant economic growth. The truth is that whatever the Conservatives say or try to do, whether in the Chamber today or on the campaign trail over the next six weeks, it is too late to repair the damage that they have done to the economy and to people’s standard of living.

I do not think that any of us were expecting to be completing the Bill’s remaining stages in the rushed end of this Parliament. Many of us had assumed that the Prime Minister would call the election later in the year, and I still have not heard why he ultimately decided to call it for July. I have one theory, which is that he realised that prolonging the general election would raise the prospect of there being another Finance Bill in which the Government may have had to legislate to end the non-dom tax status.

Let us face it: the Prime Minister really does not want to get rid of the non-dom tax status. Maybe he thought this was a way to avoid the Conservatives having to keep their promise to end it. I am afraid that he may still be disappointed as, if Labour wins the general election, we will end the non-dom tax status and the new loopholes planned by the Conservatives once and for all. Now that we are to have a general election, perhaps the Conservatives will finally tell us how they will pay for their £46 billion unfunded spending commitment to abolish national insurance altogether. Given their track record, I will not be holding my breath.

The Opposition have tried to amend the Bill during its passage to force the Government to come clean about the impact that their six-year freezing of the income tax personal allowance and the higher rate threshold is having on taxpayers across the country. We have tried to force the Chancellor to set out what impact his and his predecessors’ policies are having on pensioners, and how more of them will pay tax and more of them will have higher tax bills as a result of decisions made by the Conservatives. Alongside the impact on individual taxpayers, we have tried to amend the Bill to encourage the Government to follow our plan to bring back certainty for businesses by capping the rate of corporation tax at 25% for the whole of the next Parliament.

Finally, we sought to give certainty to the oil and gas industry by being clear that our strengthened windfall tax or energy profits levy would end no later than the end of the next Parliament. We were disappointed, though sadly not surprised, that none of our amendments became part of the Bill.

The Opposition will not oppose the Bill’s Third Reading, but let me close by saying two things. First, I pay thanks to the Clerks and the House of Commons staff for all their support throughout the Bill’s passage and to outside organisations, including the Chartered Institute of Taxation in particular, for all their help not just with this Finance Bill, but with all six Finance Bills for which I have been responsible as a shadow Minister. May I also put on record my appreciation for the way in which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury have drawn a line between the tough and sometimes barbed exchanges we have in the Chamber and their courtesy and respectfulness outside the Chamber? That is not always the case in politics, but when it happens, I believe that it makes the House of Commons a better place while not for a second compromising on the sharpness of the political questions that we are here rightly to contest.

Ultimately, we are all here to do what is best for our country, and I do not believe that five more years of the Conservatives would serve that goal. Not only have they become defined by chaos and division, and put party before country at every turn, it is also clear that they have done too much damage to the economy. They have squeezed living standards too much, and they have stretched public services to breaking point. I hope that this is the last in a 14-year line of Conservative Finance Bills, because the country needs change. We finally have the chance to ask the British people what Government they want for the next five years. I hope that they will put their trust in our changed Labour party to change our country for the better.

Photo of Peter Aldous Peter Aldous Ceidwadwyr, Waveney 2:47, 23 Mai 2024

May I start by paying tribute to you, Madam Deputy Speaker? The best type of umpire or referee is one who is formidable but fair and greatly respected, and you tick all three boxes. I am most grateful to you for calling me to speak. I do so as I have some concerns about unintended consequences arising from clause 7, which is on the abolition of multiple dwellings relief for stamp duty land tax. My hon. Friend the Minister set out some of the reasons for abolishing it. I wish to go a little further and perhaps pry a little more response out of him to allay those concerns.

I make these observations as a former chartered surveyor, as the MP for a constituency that might be adversely affected and having received representations from the British Property Federation. I am aware that a number of pension funds, investors, builders and professional advisers have written to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressing their concerns.

The build-to-rent sector rose from a combination of the introduction of stamp duty land tax multiple dwellings relief in 2011 and the implementation of some of the Montague review’s recommendations in 2012. Subsequently, it has been extremely successful. Some £40 million has been invested in the build-to-rent sector, resulting in 100,300 additional homes being completed, with a further 166,000 in the planning and delivery pipeline. The sector still represents a relatively small proportion of the delivery of new homes, but it is growing rapidly. The number of completed build-to-rent homes increased by 17% year-on-year in the fourth quarter last year. Investors and developers initially focused on London, then the larger cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. Now, their interest is rippling right out across the UK.

Build to rent acts as an anchor in large development schemes. It helps get homes of other tenures built, and multiple dwellings relief enables much-needed homes to be built outside London and the south-east in areas where there are lower property values and development otherwise would not be financially viable. My concern is that the abolition of multiple dwellings relief in the form proposed could have a variety of unintended consequences, which I will go through briefly. First, as I know from my own inbox and postbag, which I anticipate is the case for all colleagues, we need to build more homes to rent. The Bill potentially removes one of the ways of doing that. Secondly, it will have an impact on specialist sectors—student accommodation and sheltered housing—where, in response to demand, developers are increasingly looking to provide units to let.

Thirdly, the relief is most needed in areas where the property market is weaker—outside London and the south-east—and often in areas where the need for more housing is most acute. Fourthly, we have a problem in the UK of too few house builders. The small and medium-sized house builder is an increasingly endangered species. Clause 7 could undermine an alternative means of housing delivery.

Finally, I am mindful of the enormous task of urban regeneration and town centre renewal that we face right across the UK—in other words levelling up, which has been the theme of much of this Parliament. This task is enormous and incredibly expensive. It is neither practical nor possible for the state to do that heavy lifting on its own. Private finance must be leveraged in from pensions funds and investors. Multiple dwellings relief is a means of doing that. Some might say it is a small thing, but its abolition could send a negative message that there is no place for the public and private sectors to work together.

We could amend clause 7 to retain the multiple dwellings relief for transactions of six or more dwellings, on the basis that it would underpin the development proposals of large rented housing schemes, and would result in significantly more rental homes being built than if the relief were completely abolished. The threshold of six mirrors the existing rule that purchases of six or more dwellings can be treated as a commercial property transaction for stamp duty land tax purposes, and is at a level at which multiple dwellings relief is hard to abuse.

I would be grateful if my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who has been incredibly patient listening to my various concerns about this Bill during its course, could comment a little more and seek to allay my genuinely held concerns.

Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 2:54, 23 Mai 2024

I very much liked the earlier comment, Madam Deputy Speaker, about your being a good example to women in this place and someone whom people look up to. I agree with that, and I wanted to begin by thanking you.

Let me now say something about the washing up of Finance Bills in general, and about this particular Bill in the context of washing up. It seems to me that I have spent a great deal of my time in Parliament dealing with Finance Bills, and I have also spent far too much time dealing with Finance Bills during the washing-up process. I do not know whether anyone remembers the Finance Act 2017, but because an election was called the Bill had to go through that process, and it was massively gutted beforehand. My problem was that I had tabled amendments to all the clauses that were now being removed, and I was somewhat unhappy about the fact that I had done a significant amount of work that would never see the light of day.

On that occasion I gave a speech that I think lasted more than 50 minutes, in which I spoke about every amendment I had tabled, but I can reassure that House that I will not be doing the same today. I have not tabled amendments to this Bill, and neither has my hon. Friend Drew Hendry. In fact, I have come in at the last moment to take over from my hon. Friend, because, sadly, he had returned to Inverness before the Prime Minister made the announcement of the election, and there was no physical way for him to get back in time today. I appreciate the hard work that he has done during the Bill’s earlier stages. He is sorry that he cannot be here, and unfortunately I am a poor substitute, but I will do my best.

We will be voting against the Bill’s Third Reading. I am sure that no one will be surprised by that, given that we tabled a reasoned amendment on Second Reading and that this is consistent with the approach that we have taken throughout the Bill’s progress.

Let me say a little about the way in which Finance Bills—specifically this Finance Bill, and other recent Finance Bills—go through the House. There has been an ongoing issue with Ministers, including Chancellors, refusing to include “amendment of the law” resolutions. Refusing to include a Budget resolution for amendment of the law is a genuine constitutional change, and it has taken place without much of a fanfare—pretty much on the basis that it was done during that wash-up in 2017, or in the case of a Finance Bill that was introduced with a very tight timescale. After that, the resolution was never brought back, although it is important to Finance Bills and it is important for scrutiny purposes. I hope that, should they become a Government at some time in the future, the official Opposition will commit themselves to bringing it back.

I am also concerned about the fact that Finance Bill Committees continue not to take oral evidence. The Procedure Committee will be sick of hearing me talk about this, because I bring it up at nearly all its meetings, but the lack of oral evidence means that scrutiny is not as good as it could be. I appreciate that the Minister mentioned those who submit written evidence, but I do not think that that is an adequate substitute. I understand the argument of Ministers that Finance Bills are taken by a Committee of the whole House followed by Public Bill Committee sessions, but much of the stuff that is considered in the Public Bill Committee is extremely technical, and it would benefit Members to be able to question external organisations with real experience. The Association of Accounting Technicians, for example, would be able to give us a significant amount of information about how such measures would work. When Committees dealing with Bills with which I have been involved have taken oral evidence, Members have relied heavily on quoting that evidence throughout the progress of those Bills, and I think that this would greatly improve both the Finance Bill and its scrutiny.

Let me now turn to our specific concerns about this Bill. The Chancellor made a number of comments on Radio 4 yesterday morning, before the announcement of the election. One of the excellent journalists on the programme pushed him to say whether or not he felt he was better off now than before. The Chancellor did not answer that question, but the reality is that if we ask people up and down these islands what their biggest concern is at the moment, they overwhelmingly say it is the cost of living crisis. They are massively concerned about the fact that food, electricity and gas prices have gone through the roof, and about the extra money that they are having to shell out.

The Budget was an opportunity for the UK Government to recognise that concern, take it seriously, and do what we did in Scotland: we have put tackling child poverty front and centre of decision-making processes. We have the Scottish child payment, which has taken 100,000 children out of poverty. We are doing everything that we can to mitigate the UK Government’s policies, but the reality is that all we can do is mitigate, given that the block grant is the lowest percentage of UK Government spending that it has been since devolution. With capital budgets for the Scottish Parliament being slashed, we find that increasingly difficult, because we are not in control of all the levers. We are not in control of all our finances. We cannot increase the minimum wage to a proper living wage, rather than a pretendy living wage. We cannot scrap the two-child cap. We mitigate as far as we possibly can, but we do not have all the powers that we require.

People in Scotland are better off as a result of the decisions taken by the Scottish Government. They are getting a free university education, and they can go to the dentist for free; I cannot believe the low percentage of NHS dentists in the rest of the UK. People in Scotland can receive the Scottish child payment, and a higher number of children from deprived areas go to university in Scotland. There is a huge amount of good being done in Scotland, but it is being done by the SNP Government, who have one hand tied behind their back by Westminster.

The Chancellor’s refusal to say whether he felt better off shows the difference between the haves and the have- nots throughout these islands. If we ask people who come to receptions in Parliament—people who have high salaries—how they feel about the cost of living crisis, they might say that they feel it a bit, and that they will have slightly fewer holidays or slightly fewer cars, but they do not have to make decisions, every moment of every day, about every penny that they spend. They are not, like our constituents, lying in bed at night worrying about how they will pay the rent and electricity bills, and how they will manage to buy bread, potatoes or pasta.

The inflation figures announced yesterday do not show that things are better. They show that inflation is less high than it was, but does it really make a difference to those buying pasta that it has gone up by only 47%, rather than 49%, over the past few years, given that there has been a 25% overall increase in the cost of food, and that benefits and social security have not kept pace?

The UK Government had the opportunity to provide help with the cost of living crisis in the Budget, and they did not take it. They talk about the changes that they are making to national insurance and tax, but those changes impact only people who are working and earning above the thresholds, and a good chunk of them, particularly those on the lowest earnings, also get universal credit. There are major issues with universal credit, particularly for single people but also for those with larger families, because of factors such as the two-child cap.

The reality is that this UK Government had an opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives, and they refused to take it. They do not have the same priorities as us. We will always put Scotland first. We will always fight in this place against UK Government decisions that the people of Scotland are unhappy with. Whether under a Tory or Labour UK Government, we will do everything that we can to ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard. We will do everything that we can to disagree with legislation that the people of Scotland disagree with, and everything we can to work cross party when legislation is in the interests of the people of Scotland. I have made it very clear that we disagree with this legislation, and will oppose Third Reading.

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 3:05, 23 Mai 2024

I thank those who contributed to the debate, and, of course, those who have contributed to debates on the Bill throughout its progress. I turn first to comments made by Kirsty Blackman. I respect her views about scrutiny of Bills in this place. However, I hope that she recognises that finance Bills often contain many, many clauses, some of which have been developed over many years, been subject to multiple consultations, and had a huge amount of input. I appreciate that she acknowledged that a lot of written evidence, which is hugely valuable and very much appreciated, is also provided. The fact that she and her colleagues are pressing for a Division on the Bill this evening evidences that there is scrutiny, holding to account, and a diversity of opinion on these matters.

I disagree with many of the hon. Lady’s other comments. On who is better off, 27 million workers are better off because of the national insurance cut, and 2 million self-employed people are better off. If she does not believe that, I suggest that she looks at her payslips; she will see that national insurance is going down. That makes a meaningful difference. She may be sniffy about it, but £900 is a meaningful difference for an average worker—for many of my constituents, and constituents across the country. For those not in work, of course, we also increased benefits by 6.7%, and pensions by 8.5%. We Conservatives always make sure that all people in society are looked after.

The hon. Lady made comments about support with the cost of living. The Opposition consistently seem to have a collective sense of amnesia, and have completely forgotten the last five years and the global challenges that all economies faced, with the pandemic followed by the global cost of living crisis. This Government have had to intervene in a way that nobody anticipated. It meant that taxes had to be higher, but as soon as we get the opportunity—as soon as we have the choice—to bring them down, that is exactly what we will do, because we know how difficult this has been for people and want to put more money in their pockets as soon as we can. We have a plan, and it is working.

I always respect the opinions and views of my hon. Friend Peter Aldous, and I am never alarmed or disturbed by his frequently holding me, and the Government, to account for policy decisions. I can give him some reassurance, though. The multiple dwellings relief is being abolished for very good reason: it is not working as intended. Of course, a considerable amount of money is involved. When we spend taxpayers’ money or allow a relief, we need to make sure that it has the intended impact. The relief was not working as intended, and was subject to considerable abuse, so we are abolishing it.

However, I can give my hon. Friend some assurance, particularly on certain issues that he mentioned. For example, large investors, including those in the build-to-rent sector who purchased six or more properties in a single transaction, can still continue to benefit from the non-residential rates of stamp duty land tax, which can be quite beneficial. We are engaged in discussions with stakeholders, including some of the bodies that he has mentioned, because we do not want there to be unintended consequences. We appreciate their input on this Bill, as always. I thank my hon. Friend for his fantastic interventions, as always. He is an amazing MP for his constituents, and I always appreciate his contributions.

I thank James Murray for his gracious comments. He is correct that what is written in Hansard and what the public see of our sometimes rather robust debates is not always a reflection of our generally positive relationships on a personal level. However, that does not mean we do not have robust disagreements on policy, and I am afraid that I will have to raise quite a few points of disagreement today.

Every single time I have appeared at the Dispatch Box, the hon. Gentleman has complained about the Government not calling a general election, and now that we have called a general election, he is still complaining. That really takes the biscuit. He continued with his familiar refrain; he never misses an opportunity to talk Britain down. I refer him to my earlier comments about our interventions during the pandemic and their immense £400 billion cost to the UK economy. I do not believe the Opposition opposed a single one of our interventions at the time, so it is a bit rich to complain about the obvious impact on taxation. If he had an alternative plan, I would have loved to have heard it then, and I would love to hear it now, but it is non-existent. The hon. Gentleman is hoping to alarm, disturb and depress the British public into voting Labour, which is not a particularly bright strategy. The British public deserve better, and we need to hear confidence and optimism, not pessimism, about the UK economy.

I will not repeat the comments I have made on many occasions about Labour’s ridiculous scaremongering on the national insurance cuts and the impact they could have on pensions. He knows that the cuts will not have a negative impact on pensions, for the obvious reason that I had hoped he would now understand. National insurance does not wholly pay for pensions, welfare or the NHS, so why on earth is Labour going around the country trying to scaremonger old people and people who rely on the NHS into believing otherwise? I do not know. It is not an admirable way to try to win an election.

The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues keep repeating the mantra of “a changed Labour party”. Maybe in some ways that is true. Labour has certainly gone from embracing the hard left of British politics to embracing the hard right. That unbelievable journey speaks volumes about Labour’s values: it has none. Or, as the old saying goes, “These are our values. If you don’t like them, don’t worry: we have others.” On policy, too, there is a constant string of flip-flops, U-turns and uncertainty, which I am sure we will see during the general election. We will be holding Labour to account.

For example, Labour has abolished its £28 billion green spending commitment, but it seems to have retained the policy. Is Labour abolishing tuition fees? Maybe not. Will it abolish the House of Lords? Maybe not. Will it return to free movement and the single market? Maybe not. Will it abolish universal credit? Maybe not. Will it increase income tax on top earners? Maybe not. Rent caps, the ultra low emission zone, bankers’ bonuses and zero-hours contracts—we have had constant flip-flops from the Opposition. Not even they know what their actual policy is. It completely lacks credibility. As I said, they cannot expect the British public to be taken for such a ride.

The British public know where they stand with the Conservatives, because we have a plan. They can see it in the recent autumn statement, the spring Budget and this Bill. No matter what stage of life they are at, they can be confident that the Conservatives are there to support them. With our childcare measures and the child benefit changes in this Bill, it is clear that when they bring children into this world, we are there for them. Through our national insurance cuts and our measures to support businesses, it is clear that we are there for those in work or running a business. If they have finished work and have retired, we have shown through the triple lock and other measures that we are always there for them.

We can have strong public services and a strong welfare system that helps the most vulnerable in society only if we also have a strong economy to generate the taxes to pay for them. A strong recovery is vital for both the public and the private sector. That means that we on this side of the House are unapologetically pro-business.

Despite the challenges of the past few years, we are now on a clear path to recovery: the economy is growing again; inflation is falling; real wages are increasing; and people who look at their pay packet will see that their national insurance taxes have been cut too. That is more money in people’s pockets because of the actions and decisions of this Government—we have a plan, whereas the Opposition do not. We cannot put that at risk, so stick with the Conservatives for a brighter future. I commend this Bill to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Rhif adran 159 Finance (No. 2) Bill: Third Reading

Ie: 214 MPs

Na: 19 MPs

Ie: A-Z fesul cyfenw


Na: A-Z fesul cyfenw


The House divided: Ayes 215, Noes 19.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Standing Orders Committee (Commons), Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission, Chair, Parliamentary Works Estimates Commission

Before I suspend the House pending the arrival of Lords messages, may I take a moment to thank everyone for being so kind to me this afternoon and for their good wishes? It had not occurred to me when I put out a tweet—or whatever it is now called—just before 1 pm that, by 1.30 pm when I came into the Chamber, people would actually have read it. That was a real surprise to me. It would appear that the power of social media is great and I really ought to use it more.

I have been very touched by the kind comments, which show that we all make friends on all sides and in every corner of this House. That is because we all have something in common. We are not the people who sit at home moaning and shouting at the television; we are the people who get up and do something about it. Everyone who sits in this House has come here with the object of making the world a better place. We have different ways of doing it, but we all have that one objective.

As I mentioned earlier, to me, being Chairman of Ways and Means is the best job in the world by far, and I have been very privileged to be allowed to do it. When I was a little girl studying Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”, it was my ambition to play Lady Bracknell and, since I first climbed the steps of this Chair 10 and a half years ago, I have had the great pleasure of playing Lady Bracknell every day—[Hon. Members: “A handbag?”] Order! The House will now suspend pending the arrival of Lords messages. I will cause the Division bells to ring five minutes before the sitting resumes.

Sitting suspended (Order, this day).