19 May 2020
Finance Bill: Conclusion of the debate

Jesse Norman

I thank all Members who have contributed to this brief but very lively debate. I thank the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden) and the Labour party for their support for this measure and their agreement not merely to the substance of the proposal but to the need for a delay. I think that is absolutely right. They should be congratulated on their bipartisan approach to this important public issue. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the Taylor review, which was picked up by several other Members. The Government whole- heartedly agree: the Taylor review made 53 recommendations, the vast majority of which we accepted, and several have already been put in place.

I covered the question of a delay in my speech. I encourage all Members who would like a further delay to reflect on the points that I made about the intrinsic unfairness of taxing two people differently for the same work, the disparity that it would continue between the private and public sectors, and the significant fiscal cost that would be involved in doing so.

The hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) spoke of a review. She should be perfectly clear that I have at no point discussed a further review. We had a review earlier this year, contrary to what the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey) said. It was a perfectly good-faith discharge of a commitment made during the general election. It involved a wide range of parties discussing how the reforms could be effectively implemented, and several important changes were made as a result of it. Of course, it followed two processes of consultation, draft legislation and a full pre-legislative history.​

We are not talking about a further review. We are talking about two pieces of research. The first, later in the year to come before April 2021, will look at the long-term effects on the public sector. It is entirely appropriate to look at the public sector reform, because that is the major case in which the reform has been put in place, and it has led to a significant improvement in the fiscal position relative to those involved and that is all to the good from the taxpayer standpoint. The second piece of research, which I mentioned earlier, will come at the end, after the reform has been introduced. It will be an early take on the effects on the private sector in the first six to 12 months of its introduction.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) raised the issue of whether we could not go further. The Government have gone much, much further. We have essentially had three Budgets already this year, given the astonishing measures that have been taken by the Treasury and across Government to support businesses, people and families during the coronavirus crisis. This resolution and the Finance Bill are designed to bring into law the Budget that we had in March, and that is what they do.​

Finally, I remind the House that the measure will not merely improve the fairness and equity of the system, but allow us to fund our public services better—the services on which all of us, across parties and across the country, deeply rely.