“I cannot help feeling…that it would have been contemptible to scarper…at the first sniff of a seven-figure…cheque.”

Ought we not to support her on this?

John McDonnell: There is a spell, is there not—[Interruption.] The new sequel film is coming out soon, so we will see what spell there is to retain bankers in this country, if we need them.

I do not take this issue about international agreement lightly. That is why I am calling for a report, as any report would examine that issue. We are going back to the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) made earlier, because this country is best placed to take the lead in trying to secure some of these agreements and such a report could address how we could do that. However, it certainly should not hold us back from taking unilateral action.

The other matter that has been raised in this debate previously is the concern about avoidance, but we can design out any avoidance measures. We can design this tax to make it difficult to avoid, just as we did with stamp duty.

Andrew Gwynne: My hon. Friend rightly talks about taking the lead. Are we not hearing exactly the same arguments as the ones used against my private Member’s Bill to tackle vulture funds in the previous Parliament? Thankfully, the Bill was pushed through by the previous Government using the wash-up procedure and it has been made permanent by this Government. Were not exactly the same arguments employed during the debate on that Bill? Is it not sometimes right that we do take the lead?

John McDonnell: Yes, I had forgotten that example. It is a good example of how unilateral action can raise the standard overall across Europe and globally.

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Another issue raised in our debate on the Tobin tax a number of years ago concerned whether it would be practical. Things have moved on since then and the system for undertaking financial transactions is highly automated and centralised. New systems have been put in place, and I refer Members to the study by the Institute of Development Studies that identified how the system now operates:

“The Continuous Linked Settlement Bank, launched in 2002, now settles more than half of all foreign exchange transactions, with the remainder processed through national real-time gross settlements systems.”

Now we have the systems in place, through advances in new technology, to monitor the process and thereby ensure that tax is collected easily and that avoidance can be prevented.

Bill Esterson: My hon. Friend just mentioned avoidance and the problems that it causes. Does he agree that if avoidance was the reason for not doing what he proposes, the Government would give up on collecting any taxes? Avoidance of tax is a far greater problem than any to do with claiming benefits, yet the Government focus their energy on benefits and not on tax.

John McDonnell: The main argument on the Tobin tax involved the inability mechanically to identify the transactions and therefore levy the tax. I think that that has been overcome with the new systems.

The avoidance issues will concern migration to tax havens and elsewhere and the report on this tax would have to address them, but we must also attack them more generally. That is why I was so disappointed that my amendment on that subject was not called for debate. That is another issue, however, that I shall raise at another time.

Financial transaction taxes have been introduced elsewhere in the world. In fact, they have been identified in about 40 countries—including ours, with stamp duty. Another question that was raised concerned whether, if we introduced this tax, it would be passed on to the customers. That is a concern, but the report we receive from the Government can consider how to design the tax so that it is targeted at the casino banking that has resulted in this crisis and so that we can protect ordinary people and businesses.

The key point about this tax is that, as the IMF study said, it is “highly progressive”. It falls on the richest institutions and individuals in a very similar manner to capital gains tax. As for the competition element and whether the cost will be passed on to customers, thereby hitting individuals harder, the finance sector is competitive and institutions that try to pass on the cost of the tax to customers will find themselves attacked through a shortage of business.

Another argument that has been made more recently is that this tax could help to assist in addressing high-frequency trading, where transactions happen every few seconds. There has been a huge increase in the number of transactions to do with derivatives. The volume of such financial transactions is now 70 times the size of the world economy and commentators have argued that that is dangerously large and destabilising. Lord Turner, the chair of the Financial Services Authority, said that many such speculative transactions are socially useless. Many of them are based on extremely small profit

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margins, so even a low rate financial transaction tax of 0.05% would reduce the size of the market by reducing the profitability of these risky transactions. In that way, it would contribute to stabilising the economy overall.

I do not want to delay the House. Many Members have considered the issue in some depth as a result of the lobbying, but for all the reasons I have given I agree with the 1,000 economists who wrote to the G20 summit. This is an idea whose time has come. Issues still need to be addressed, which were set out by Neil McCulloch in the IDS study, but the principal issue is political will. I hope that we can display political will across the parties and across the House to move on this matter.

I finish by quoting from the letter from the 1,000 economists to the G20:

“The financial crisis has shown us the dangers of unregulated finance, and the link between the financial sector and society has been broken. It is time to fix this link and for the financial sector to give something back to society.”

The letter says that a Robin Hood tax is not only “technically feasible”, but “morally right.” That is why I invite the House to support my amendment.

4.45 pm

Stephen Williams: I want to make some brief remarks on the amendments. The hon. Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie), who leads for the Labour party, mentioned that youth unemployment has grown to roughly a fifth of 16 to 24-year-olds. Of course we all deeply regret the wasted talent that that represents, whether of young people who have qualified at school or college or have left university with a degree and cannot find jobs or those who have not acquired any training or education—the so-called NEETs, those not in education, employment or training. Over the years, I have worked with many charities, such as Fairbridge and the Prince’s Trust, which try to help such people in my constituency. I must gently tell the hon. Gentleman that many of his points were made in the previous Parliament when I used to sit where his hon. Friend the Member for Leyton and Wanstead (John Cryer) is sitting now and I spoke for the Liberal Democrats on skills and higher education. The number of NEETs and the rate of youth unemployment increased year on year throughout the previous Parliament; the number just about touched 1 million before the general election.

I am sure the hon. Member for Nottingham East was not trying to give the impression that youth unemployment had reached 1 million purely because of the actions of the Government. It has been a problem in some cohorts of young people for a long time and has seemed intractable for Administrations of many parties, but the Government are trying to do some good things to tackle it, such as investment in apprenticeships and in the Work programme that will come in shortly.

Bill Esterson: I am glad the hon. Gentleman has given way, because I cannot believe he has the nerve to say what he has just said. One of the first actions of the incoming Government was to scrap the successful future jobs fund, which was bringing down youth unemployment. If he reads Professor Wolf’s report, he will see that her worry is about what is happening to 16 to 18-year-olds. We are in danger of repeating the mistakes of the ’80s when youth unemployment peaked four years after the middle of the recession.

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Stephen Williams: I have spoken on platforms with Alison Wolf, and indeed launched a book with her during the previous Parliament. I think she would be surprised to hear the Labour Opposition citing her in support. Yes, the Government are phasing out some of the previous Government’s programmes, but they are being replaced by the Work programme, which brings together many people who can work with the long-term unemployed or unemployed young people. They have a holistic approach and are bringing social enterprises into the programme, which may be more successful than the many initiatives that took place under the previous Government. I repeat: youth unemployment just about reached 1 million just before the previous Government left office. It is not a new problem created by the present Government.

Chris Williamson (Derby North) (Lab): But does the hon. Gentleman at least acknowledge that as a result of the measures brought in by the previous Government, through the future jobs fund, youth unemployment was falling? Surely, that is something we should celebrate, so was it not a mistake for Government Members to support the move that got rid of the future jobs fund, which was having such a positive impact on youth unemployment?

Stephen Williams: As I understand it, the future jobs fund was a temporary measure and it has now stopped. It is being replaced first by the Work programme, which will come in shortly, and by the Government’s investment to create hundreds of thousands of new youth apprenticeships. I hope that the hon. Gentleman has visited in his constituency, as I have in mine, the many employers—including, in my constituency, the city council—who are taking on apprentices for the first time to give those young people a chance. Indeed, the Government have increased the minimum wage some of those people receive; they have also increased the apprentice wage, which the previous Government did not do.

Chris Williamson: Of course we all celebrate the fact that some young people are getting apprenticeships. We obviously support anything that helps young people get into employment, because it is a waste of talent for people to languish on the dole, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Sefton Central (Bill Esterson) pointed out, the Government’s Wolf review said that those apprenticeships are not going to the youngest school leavers; they are going to an older cohort, so clearly the Government need to take additional measures to ensure that we do not have a whole generation of 16 and 17-year-olds who are simply thrown on the scrap heap.

Stephen Williams: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his rather long intervention. As well as the Work programme and investment in apprenticeships, the Government have a growth strategy to develop the new jobs of the future—into which, incidentally, the future jobs fund was not necessarily placing people. For instance, there are many initiatives in the green economy, with the green deal that has come along as well, that will help the young unemployed. I mentioned the situation to emphasise that the problem is not new. The previous Government struggled hard with it as well, as I pointed out in the previous Parliament. I have been consistent in what I have said across both Administrations.

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The purpose of amendment 13 is to reintroduce, or at least to examine the case for reintroducing, the bonus tax that the Labour Chancellor introduced in 2009. As I recall, the purpose of that bonus tax was not to raise revenue, but to change behaviour. It was an attempt to persuade the banks that they should not be introducing bonuses at that time, when many of them were dependent on state funds to continue in existence. I also recall that the anticipated proceeds of that bonus tax were about £500 million. In fact, as we have heard on many occasions, it raised in gross terms more than six times that amount, so it did not change behaviour at all. It seems that the Labour party in opposition has switched the underlying purpose of a bonus tax.

I share the moral outrage that many people feel about the level of bonuses being paid by some institutions. I am a free market liberal, so I believe it is up to a company to decide its own remuneration package and justify it to its shareholders, but in the current climate, when many families around the country are facing difficulty, some of the decisions taken by remuneration committees in the City cross the threshold at which it is right that some of us in this place express moral outrage at what they have been doing.

The culture of people paying huge amounts of money to themselves is not a new phenomenon in this Parliament. I remember Lord Mandelson, before he became the Trade Secretary in the previous Parliament, saying that new Labour was “intensely relaxed” about people becoming filthy rich. The hon. Member for Nottingham East looks faintly embarrassed at my reminding him of that phrase, but when the Labour party was in government it encouraged that culture. We should not let Opposition Members forget that.

Frank Dobson: I cannot help myself, in these very unusual circumstances, leaping to the defence of Lord Mandelson. If the hon. Gentleman had continued quoting from the sentence, Lord Mandelson went on to say “provided they pay their fair share of tax.”

Stephen Williams: I was not aware of the continuation of that quote. However—[Hon. Members: “Withdraw!”] Rather than withdraw, I shall expand on my point and make it more strongly. The previous Government engendered the culture of get rich quick by slashing the rates of capital gains tax and making a virtue of cutting income tax and holding down higher rate taxation. Ironically, it is under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition that capital gains tax has gone up and the 50p top tax rate has been levied in this Parliament.

Bill Esterson: The hon. Gentleman called himself a free market liberal. Another Member of the House who described himself as a free market liberal is the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), who describes the current arrangements in this country and the way in which capitalism operates as wealth extraction, rather than wealth creation. Does the hon. Gentleman agree with that assessment when it comes to bankers’ bonuses, and will he support the amendment on the reasonable grounds that my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie) set out?

Stephen Williams: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, but I have already stated clearly for the record that I share the moral and ethical outrage at the level of bonuses being paid by certain firms in the City

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and elsewhere. The question is whether reintroducing the bonus tax designed by the Labour Government would make any difference, because the evidence suggests that it made absolutely no difference to the bonus culture. It was a handy device for raising rather more than the expected revenue, but it certainly did not change behaviour.

As a free market liberal, I think that companies should be free to decide their remuneration policies, but they must justify them to their shareholders. One way that behaviour might change would be if shareholders took a more active interest in the bonuses that the remuneration committees award within their companies, whether they are banks or not. As was mentioned in yesterday’s debate, the people on those committees are often executive directors of other companies and so have a vested interest in the magic circle of super bonuses being justified in other companies. If the shareholders of the banks that we own, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, were able to express a view, that would introduce a new dynamic into capitalism.

I hope that the Government will seriously consider giving each citizen a share in RBS and Lloyds Banking Group when the time comes for both banks to be divested from the state—this is another plug for the pamphlet I published in March, “Getting your share of the banks: giving the banks back to the people”. I had an interesting meeting with officials from UK Financial Investments last Wednesday in the Treasury in order to discuss that.

Amendment 31, tabled by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), proposes a Robin Hood tax. I fully support such a tax, as I have mentioned in many debates in the House. I have spoken with many non-governmental organisations in my constituency and at lobbying events, such as the one that took place last week and has already been mentioned. A Robin Hood tax has three elements. The first is a levy on banks’ balance sheets, and the Government introduced that in the form of a bank levy. We might disagree about the level of the levy, but the important fact is that the coalition Government have legislated for it to exist and said that it will be permanent, in the sense that it will last for the lifetime of this Parliament. The rate has been changed once, as I mentioned in an intervention, and I hope that it might be increased again.

The second element of a Robin Hood tax is a financial activities tax—FAT, as opposed to VAT, which the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards) might have phonetic difficulty with when speaking in Welsh, in distinguishing between an F and a V. I hope that the Minister can update us on what discussions are taking place on that between Finance Ministers across the European Union and what progress has been made on the introduction of such a tax, which is a tax on certain profits of the banks.

The third element of a Robin Hood tax is a financial transactions tax, which is the subject of the amendment. As the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington said, that has traditionally been called a Tobin tax. It would be the most problematic component of a Robin Hood tax to introduce. It might impede liquidity, which is not necessarily a good thing, and the other barriers he mentioned would be difficult to surmount without international agreement between the major trading nations.

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Another problem with a Robin Hood tax is the question of how much it would raise, as I have heard a wide variety of figures for that which are in the billions. The hon. Gentleman referred to the great coalition of NGOs that support such a tax, and many of us support them, but I wish that they would agree a figure for what the different components of the tax could reasonably be expected to raise.

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): Does amendment 31 not afford the Government the possibility of coming up with such a figure? They could do the very scoping work that the hon. Gentleman says is needed, and surely that is the Government’s job, not the job of all those NGOs.

5 pm

Stephen Williams: The hon. Gentleman makes a reasonable point, and I am sure that the Minister will tell us what work has been done in the Treasury and his estimate of what the proposal from the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington might raise.

My point is that it is not helpful to present MPs or our constituents with such a range of sums—from the low billions to in excess of £100 billion—that the Robin Hood tax could raise, because they raise false expectations of what it might actually achieve.

John McDonnell: I was encouraged by the hon. Gentleman’s earlier statements, but I was waiting for the “but” and it has come. Amendment 31 simply asks for a report to be prepared exploring all the issues that he has quite rightly and properly set out, so I see no reason why he cannot support it in order, as I said earlier, to move the debate on.

Stephen Williams: I have not said, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not think, that I do not support what he is trying to achieve. We will have to hear from the Minister what work the Treasury is doing, or may have already done, to produce the facts and figures that we all want.

My final point on the amount that a Robin Hood tax could raise is about what it should be spent on. I have heard about a range of problems at home and abroad that could be solved by such a tax, but I entirely agree with the way in which the hon. Gentleman has refined those objectives down to dealing with poverty at home and abroad. I think we can agree at least on that.

Mr Robinson: It is interesting—if not more than that—to follow the hon. Member for Bristol West (Stephen Williams), who calls himself a free-trade liberal, or words to that effect. He is a “good doer”, in other words, and he means that he is in favour of every good sentiment expressed in this House but believes that neither he nor any Government can do anything at all about this issue, other than consult the shareholders. If the shareholders—the electorate—were consulted at the moment, his party might not be as pleased with the idea as it seems to be.

Nothing can be done, it is said, and the hon. Gentleman, while agreeing with every sentiment, will not even vote for amendment 31, spoken to by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), who I think is going to press it to a vote if he can catch

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your eye, Mr Deputy Speaker. It calls for exactly what the hon. Member for Bristol West wants, and he would not have to listen to his new masters in the Treasury, because we would be able to have an independent inquiry.

I had the luck to study with Tobin at Yale university when he first advanced these ideas, and they generated a lot more attention and interest in those days, but if the hon. Gentleman is serious about his wishes, and about the good will that he bears towards every serious intent to put things right, including bankers’ bonuses—which we are discussing in relation to amendment 13, of which I am speaking in support—he should vote with us, and also for amendment 31, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington.

The strange thing about this debate is that before the election, and even during it, the current Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the current Chancellor spoke with great vehemence and passion about how offensive the whole banking culture was and how, once they were in office, they were going to get tough with the bankers.

As in other matters, however, the Chancellor talks a good talk but does not walk a good walk: one puff of wind from the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor gives in on regulation. One meeting with the bankers and he says, “Okay, we’ll do Merlin, but meanwhile we’ll agree with you on the level of bonuses: I won’t tax your bonuses; we’ll go for a corporate bonus tax instead.”

Of course, we wholly endorse the effect of that tax and fully support the bank levy, but it has an impact on banks’ balance sheets, because as we are asking them to build themselves up, we are taxing them, quite rightly. We can achieve both, however, given the unusual and inexplicable profitability in the banking sector. The joy of what we would do, through amendment 13, is that we would tax the bankers—and so we should—but not impact on the business per se.

My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie), who introduced amendment 13, said that under this Government about £40 million had been paid in net remuneration—or it may be even gross, I am not sure—to the top five employees of Barclays bank. Some £40 million has been paid in bonuses alone. If anything is offensive, that is, and yet the Government refuse to do anything about it. What they should do is staring them in the face. We are not, in the amendment, asking them to agree with every single purpose to which we would dedicate the use of the funds. They may disagree with us on regional development or on the growth fund for new jobs; they can disagree on any number of items. However, surely no one in this House who is serious about tackling the bonus culture that has become so poisonous in the banking industry, and is spreading increasingly to the rest of the commercial and private sector, can disagree with the need to tackle those bonuses.

We heard the hon. Member for Bristol West speak for the Liberals, but it is interesting to note that there is not another Government Back Bencher anywhere in the House. When my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham East spoke to the amendment, not a single Government Member, Liberal or Conservative, rose to oppose it. Not only have the Chancellor and his Financial Secretary

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caved in to the banks, but the whole coalition has fled the Chamber in fear and trembling of saying something that will offend the bankers. There is not one Member there—where have they all gone? What has happened? Are they, like the Chancellor and his Financial Secretary, afraid of offending the banks? I do not know; all I can see is that the serried ranks have fled and the Financial Secretary is left on his own to defend the indefensible—of which he is no doubt perfectly capable.

Frank Dobson: They’re collecting their bonuses.

Mr Robinson: They are hoping to collect them, I imagine, when they lose the next election.

What I do not understand about this whole debate is how the banks can make so much money. The retail sector is usually profitable. It is like a utility: there is a regular amount of income, those involved have a fairly nice oligopoly between them, and it works quite well. I do not think anybody is complaining about that, apart from the fact that every time the investment sector does badly, the poor retail customer gets it in the neck—the small companies and others—when the banks immediately try to recoup their losses by increasing fees and charges. While all is going well, we have one rule for the investment banks and one rule for the rest of the world. The investment banks continue to coin it in and take every penny they can in bonuses, and the rest are left with the remaining share of profitability, which is diminished by the excess amounts that the investment side is taking.

The first thing that I would recommend the Government to do is look at the spread of profitability throughout the economy. If we are serious about rebalancing the economy, the first thing that has to be rebalanced is the power differential between the banking sector and manufacturing—and, equally, the share of profitability as between the banking sector and the rest of the economy. It cannot be possible for those in the banking sector—RBS, Barclays and others—to go from a position of massive losses one year to huge profits on their investment trade in the next. In six months RBS made £5 billion profit. We are pleased to receive our share of that, but how can it be making such disproportionate profits compared with the rest of the economy? That does not quite stand up. Either they are real profits, in which case there is clearly a dysfunction in the economy as regards competitiveness that needs to be investigated and addressed, or the bank is creating fictitious profits, taking the bonuses while it can, and leaving the taxpayer to bail it out later. I do not know the answer to that question, but I put it to the Financial Secretary that it needs to be looked into. The profits are unreasonably high. He should forget about whether they are offensive or poisonous and address this as a purely economic phenomenon. How can the banking sector make those profits without sucking profitability out of the rest of the economy, particularly the manufacturing sector?

That brings me to the Government’s policy on rebalancing the economy. We all agree with that, but why do they not address the problem by taxing bonuses through the levy—and, for that matter, through the bonus tax that we propose? Unless we do something about that, the banking sector’s preponderance in being the master and not the servant of industry will continue, and for as long as it does, any talk about rebalancing

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the economy and the rebirth of manufacturing is make-believe. Nowhere can we see that better than in Derby, with yet another death of one of the few remaining conventional manufacturing industries in the UK. We are all in favour of advanced manufacturing and high-tech industries, but the German success has been based on superb engineering in the traditional conventional industries, which we—particularly those on the Treasury Bench, under both the Conservative and Labour parties—have tended to look down on.

If the Government are serious about rebalancing the economy in favour of manufacturing—we must all be serious about that—they will have to do better than saying that the market and the banks are the master. I am pleased that the Transport Secretary announced an investigation this morning—on the “Today” programme, as usual. The next instalment of the growth plan must consider how the Government can use their purchasing power to the benefit of this country, as is done superbly well in Germany and France.

We should look back. I have not made a study in advance of this speech and it would take us too long to go through everything. The death of the telecoms industry was down to a Government purchasing decision that ditched GPT. Ericsson came in with a great fanfare, then closed the whole of its works in Coventry and pulled its horns back to Sweden. We also pulled our support from the motor car industry. Years ago, people thought it was great because we would move into high-tech manufacturing. What happened? One industry after another closed in the wake of the car industry, including the machine tools industry and the capital goods industry in general. Throughout the history of post-war British manufacturing there has been a progressive loss of self-confidence and self-belief in British manufacturing throughout the country. That has to be addressed, and I put it to the Financial Secretary that it needs to be done now.

Alison McGovern: Does my hon. Friend agree that one moment in history when the British Government did not act in that way, which I raise because it was important to my constituents, was when the Labour Government stood behind General Motors at Ellesmere Port to maintain that industry in my area at a time of deep economic troubles in this country?

Mr Robinson: That is right, and I supported that entirely. I support any large manufacturing company with a base in the UK that we are seeking not to protect, but to develop and expand. I have stressed the progressive loss of self-confidence in British manufacturing across the nation. That example involves a large American company. Although it had got into a much worse mess than the old British motor industry ever got into, because it was American it had a naive faith that it would be able to pull itself, and us, out of that situation.

There has been a loss of confidence in our industries. I will not delay the House by giving example after example, but the view of the Treasury, the old Board of Trade and the old Department for Industry—unbelievably misnamed—has always prevailed: that the Government can do nothing, and market forces must prevail. That is despite the fact that every country that was a real competitor of ours took exactly the opposite view, and ensured that their industries thrived and prospered.

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They were not protected, but they were supported. We have so many latent advantages that we simply ignored, to the advantage of others and to our own continuing and cumulative disadvantage. That is the point that I am trying to make.

This is by no means a digression from the debate, Mr Deputy Speaker. This is why the tax on the banks should be increased. The banking sector’s preponderance in the economy has to be reduced if we are to survive as a manufacturing and balanced economy in the future. In one way or another, that has to be done. What we have seen from the Government is a pathetic capitulation to the banks. It was difficult enough for us when we were trying to save the banking industry in the crisis, when it was in a bad state. When the banking industry is clearly on the way to recovery, there is absolutely no reason not to proceed with the bonus tax.

The only reason—with which I disagree—is that if we dare tax the banks, they will go abroad because they are being taxed too highly in the UK. This is another area where I would like a study to be done. To what extent is that really a risk? If it were a risk that major bankers would leave the UK in droves and we would have a denuded financial sector over night, it would have some benefits and a lot of disadvantages, but to what extent is it a risk? That could be studied. There are some hard-headed people in the Treasury who would certainly not agree with the banking point of view.

What is so special about the bankers that they can generate these huge profits and bonuses? I do not think that anybody knows. Anybody who thinks about it objectively thinks, “How can that be done?” The manufacturing industries in Germany and France, such as the telecoms sector and the car and lorry manufacturers, are sweating it out in their export markets. They are rebuilding the east of Germany and eastern Europe, and are now helping to industrialise China with massive exports of huge engineering resources. How can it be that they struggle to make 10% on turnover, but bankers can come in and generate huge profits—unrelated, as far as one can see, to any meaningful or socially useful activity, as Lord Turner said in another place?

5.15 pm

We need to consider how much real danger there is of bankers leaving the UK. Is it a real threat? I do not believe it is, to be quite honest, or at least it is nothing like what the Government fear. We also need to consider how to redress the apparently inherent profitability of the banking sector compared with the rest of the economy. We must get those two pieces of work under way.

The Government should find enough nerve to stand up for what they and the whole country said when the ordinary taxpayer had to go to the rescue of investment banks that had brought the economy of the country, and the world, to the verge of collapse. They need to see that there is no inherent danger in saying to the banks, “You’re going too far, with too much support from the taxpayer. You’ve got to be reined in.” They must have the courage, determination and good sense to do that. It is not a question of market forces prevailing, as the Liberal party would have us believe. Instead, the Government must take a sensible view.

Labour has admitted that we were not tough enough on regulation. Of course we were not. However, the current Government have been far too lax in their

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attitude to banking, and particularly to bank bonuses. We were weak, but this Government have been dreadfully weak, just as they were on regulation. If we were weak on regulation, the Conservatives were hopeless: they did not want any regulation. In their pamphlet on it they said not “Let’s have more,” but “Let’s have less.” That was their only contribution to that debate.

Instead of always saying what we did wrong, why do the Government not learn from it and do now what we should have done then, with the benefit of having seen our failure? They have fudged this coalition together one way or another, so why can they not see where we went wrong? Why can they not see that we were weak with the banks, and they should be strong? Why can they not be as strong as they said they would be during and before the election campaign? The Financial Secretary has gone to great lengths to tell us what we said during the election. We do not want to repeat what the Conservatives said, but they were right then and they are wrong now. Can he not see that? The Government should do something about this now, and that is why I and my hon. Friends will vote for amendment 13. I hope that we will also vote for amendment 31, if my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) presses it.

I am pleased that I caught your eye, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I hope that there is still time for many other Members to speak on this important issue. We only wish that the Government would find some guts.

Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab): I very much welcome the telling case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) for a bank financial transaction tax, but I wish to focus my remarks on how the proceeds from the bank payroll tax suggested in amendment 13 should be used to create new jobs and tackle unemployment.

We have argued that £600 million of the proceeds should be used to establish a fund to create 90,000 good jobs for young people. That would not be identical to the future jobs fund, but it would certainly have striking similarities to it, so it is important to consider the lessons from the future jobs fund.

As my hon. Friends have pointed out, the scrapping of the future jobs fund was announced in the emergency Budget just after the general election. In opposition, the then shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the current Home Secretary, whose assurances ought to carry some weight, promised that it would not be scrapped. She wrote to the chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations on 28 April, just a few days before the general election, to say that the future jobs fund would be reviewed to ensure that it delivered long-term, sustainable work. She stated:

“I welcome this opportunity to clarify the Conservative position on the Future Jobs Fund, which I feel has been misrepresented by certain groups in the media.”

Unfortunately, far from misrepresenting the position, those certain groups in the media were right. The fund was scrapped, without even the pretence of a review, which was a terrible mistake.

The future jobs fund was a £1 billion fund, set up to get 100,000 18 to 24-year-olds into work. It was set up quickly—certainly—to minimise the scarring of long-term worklessness on young people in the wake of the global crisis. We saw serious scarring during the recession of

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the 1980s, and we are still paying the price for that in today’s labour market, almost 30 years later. Rightly, the previous Government wanted to ensure that there was no repeat.

It is worth reflecting on anecdotal evidence on the future jobs fund. A strikingly large number of people, with a lot of experience in such matters, have made the point that in their view the future jobs fund was the most successful welfare-to-work programme in which they had ever been involved. I noticed the remarks made about the programme to the Select Committee on Work and Pensions by Jackie Mould of Birmingham city council. She said:

“The benefits that they have identified are about the fact that they’ve had a job. I can’t say that enough; it’s come out in every interview that we’ve done, with every single person. Some of them didn’t even know they were on a programme; they just thought they’d got a job. The other benefits have been the confidence and self-esteem that people get from having a job, from feeling valued—that they’ve got something to offer and that they can do it.”

We can all understand how big a breakthrough it is for a young person who has been out of work for some time to get a job. The price of keeping that young person out of work for a long period is huge. It is in that context that the costs of the fund proposed in amendment 13 need to be assessed.

The future jobs fund provided proper jobs when they would otherwise not have been available. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field), who is currently the Government’s adviser on child poverty, said that the future jobs fund was

“one of the most precious things the last government was involved in, a lifeline”.

Ministers in the present Government have criticised the future jobs fund essentially on two grounds. In considering amendment 13, their criticisms need to be addressed. The first ground is value for money, and the second is that the jobs created were largely in the public sector.

First, on value for money, the maximum price per job offered to bidders to the future jobs fund was £6,500. That is a higher cost per job than most welfare-to-work schemes, but—this crucial difference is often overlooked—unlike other schemes, participants in the future jobs fund came off benefits and were paid a wage. We therefore no longer incurred the cost of benefits to support them. That is not always reflected in cost comparisons, but once it is taken into account, the difference between the Work programme approach and the future jobs fund is much less than is frequently stated.

The Department for Work and Pensions produced statistics showing that of the people starting the future jobs fund between October and November 2009, just over 50% were not claiming benefits one year later—well after their placement on the future jobs fund had finished. The Prime Minister used that figure to criticise the future jobs fund, saying that 50% is not a large proportion, but that comparison is not a valid one, because the young people whom the future jobs fund helped were precisely those who were furthest from the labour market, and therefore most in need of support to get back into work.

In evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee, Tracy Fishwick of the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion described participants in the future jobs in this way:

“the vast majority of people who are coming forward for Future Jobs Fund are the young people who have less than an NVQ level 2, and sometimes no formal qualification at all.”

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In that context, having more than half of such people still in work a year after their placement with the future jobs fund ended is no mean feat. I think that the assessment we are expecting of the fund will show that it provided good value for money by avoiding unemployment.

The second criticism is that none of the jobs created were in the private sector. In fact, that was not the case. It is true that only a small proportion of the jobs were in the private sector. There was an issue about the state aid rules making it harder for private firms to benefit, but with a little more time to plan next time and with the benefit of the report proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Outwood (Ed Balls) in amendment 13, we could increase that proportion. I noticed that Neil Carberry from the CBI told the Work and Pensions Committee:

“I suspect that the speed of the timetable greatly restricted the number of private sector companies that could get involved”.

I think that he was probably right. This was an emergency response to avoid what otherwise would have been a rapid escalation in youth unemployment.

Having said that, there were examples of private firms benefiting from the fund. In Oxfordshire, 33% of the jobs under the county council’s future jobs fund programme were in the private sector, and the council pointed out in its evidence to the Select Committee that it had been disadvantaged by the loss of the future jobs fund—that is the county council for the Prime Minister’s constituency. Other councils reported a smaller but nevertheless still significant proportion of jobs in the private sector. The Select Committee is right that this issue needs to be tackled in the report. Amendment 13 proposes that care should be taken next time to ensure that private firms can benefit from the new programme when it is introduced.

It is not the case, as Ministers have sometimes carelessly asserted, that all the jobs were in the public sector—many were in the voluntary sector—so when the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions appeared on the “Today” programme on 12 May to claim that the

“Future Jobs Scheme created only jobs in the public sector and once the money ended those poor young people crashed out of work straight away”,

it was clearly untrue. Indeed, Dr Peter Kyle, the acting chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, which represents more than 2,000 third sector organisations, wrote to the Secretary of State that day to reply:

“I feel obliged to point out that within the voluntary sector it has been widely perceived as a success in delivering vital vocational skills to potentially vulnerable people whilst unlocking potential within non-governmental organisations.”

Later that same day, the Secretary of State claimed:

“The Future Jobs Fund was six times more expensive than anything else that they were doing and actually created jobs only in the public sector”.

That was simply untrue, as Martin Sime, the chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, pointed out. There are lessons to be learned from the future jobs fund about how to ensure maximum private sector participation from this approach to creating jobs for young people at a time when those jobs are desperately needed, which they most certainly are at the moment. The value of voluntary sector participation—the

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contribution and enthusiastic support of those whom Ministers want to be their partners in the big society—must not be overlooked.

The Opposition’s amendment would put back in place the support that the future jobs fund provided with lessons learned through the proposed report to improve the programme further. It is important that Ministers, when evaluating the proposal in amendment 13, reflect on what people have widely said about the future jobs fund and on the enthusiastic response from local authorities, businesses and participants. A young woman from Rochdale told the Select Committee how her time with the future jobs fund opened up many avenues for her, boosting her confidence in the workplace, providing her with training and supporting her with her interviews. She said that being in employment with the future jobs fund helped to get her full-time employment subsequently.

As the hon. Member for Bristol West (Stephen Williams) acknowledged, youth unemployment remains unacceptably high. The Government cannot simply point to the Work programme. We wish it every success of course, but the future jobs fund created jobs where none would otherwise have existed. Given the long-term damage of extended youth unemployment, for both young jobseekers and the economy more widely, it was undoubtedly an investment worth making. Indeed, it is an investment that we should make again. I hope that the House will agree to amendment 13, as moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie).

5.30 pm

Alison McGovern: I want to say a few words in addition to those made so far about amendment 13. The amendment is crucial, and it matters because at its heart it concerns inequality. I want to say something that I take to be uncontroversial across the House: inequality is a problem for us all, no matter what our place in society—it is even a problem for the bankers receiving the bonuses that we have heard about so far. We know that more equal societies do better. I take that statement to be uncontroversial, because we have had many recent discussions both inside and outside this House about why equality matters and why it is important to deal with wide income gaps between the top and bottom in our society.

On that basis, amendment 13 is highly relevant to one of the biggest problems that we have been trying to grapple with. As I said in an earlier intervention, this is not merely about inequality across society, from the very top earners to those receiving the minimum wage; it is about an imbalance in the financial services sector. Many people in my constituency, across Merseyside and in the rest of the UK work in the financial services sector, and not all of them are well paid. Inequality matters not just within those companies, but for those working for companies that service banks—I am thinking about those in occupations such as cleaning or looking after the children of those working in the financial services sector. They face steep income inequality; therefore, it matters that we address this issue. Income inequality has a huge impact on our society—I take that fact to be uncontroversial—and therefore the amendment is important.

The hon. Member for Bristol West (Stephen Williams) described himself as a free-market liberal; I would not go that far, but I would describe myself as somebody who has tried to think about how the economy works.

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Stephen Williams: I am quite proud to call myself a free-market liberal, but just to make it clear and to differentiate myself from the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), who was mentioned earlier, I am also a social liberal. I wonder what label the hon. Lady would apply to herself. Is she a socialist, a democratic socialist or perhaps a social democrat?

Alison McGovern: That is probably the easiest intervention that I will ever get. In so far as I believe in the needs of society above the needs of capital, I am a socialist. However, as a socialist, I think that it is important to consider how the economy actually works, because unless we understand the functioning of the economy and what makes our society work well, we will not be able to live up to the needs of society or the demands of our fellow people. As my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North West (Mr Robinson) mentioned earlier, something has gone wrong when we see such large bonuses and when a small group of people in the City of London can arrange extremely high salaries for themselves.

However, this is not just a market imbalance; it is a power imbalance too. Something is going on that enables a small group of people to argue for a much higher salary than anyone else in society. As someone who cares about how the economy works, I call that market failure. Something is going on, and the situation needs to be questioned, thought through and rebalanced. That needs Government intervention. There could be an insider-outsider problem, in which some people are outside the small group who are able to arrange bonuses for themselves in this way and use their position as insiders to argue powerfully for the maintenance of their position, while others remain unable to enter the market. That is what makes me think that Government action is important in this regard.

My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie) said that there was also a failure of transparency. Markets work well only in conditions of perfect information, but we do not have perfect information, and we have seen the lengths to which some people have gone in order to prevent transparency over pay and bonuses. The case for Government action on bonuses has been well made today by other hon. Members. I would argue that that, too, is politically uncontroversial. In fact, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills told the BBC earlier this year that the coalition Government were “fully signed up” to “robust action” on curbing bonuses. Well, that is great. Our amendment should therefore be pretty uncontroversial, and I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will support the principle of what we are trying to do.

My worry is that the Government have just not done enough. They have straightforwardly not lived up to the public’s expectations on bankers’ bonuses. I am also worried that the corporation tax cut that they have introduced will effectively hand money back to the profitable banks, and that not enough action is being taken to rebalance our economy. I could talk for many hours about manufacturing and the fact that the financial service sector should serve the productive economy, rather than the other way round, but my hon. Friends have already done that subject justice, so I will not detain the House further on that.

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David Mowat (Warrington South) (Con): The hon. Lady is making a case for the higher taxation of banking bonuses and salaries. Does she think that high salaries in other professions such as the oil industry, financial services, insurance—

David Rutley: And football.

David Mowat: Indeed. Does she think that higher salaries in all those professions should be taxed more? If that is the case, the most logical option would be to have higher income tax.

Alison McGovern: As I said earlier, I think we all agree that inequality is a problem. We have tabled an amendment that deals with a specific problem. Do not we all agree that inequality in this country is a problem that needs to be tackled? I thought that that was politically pretty uncontroversial these days.

David Mowat: Will the hon. Lady give way again?

Alison McGovern: Many people wish to speak, so perhaps it would be better if I did not take any more interventions. I am assuming that the hon. Gentleman was not about to tell me that inequality is not a problem.

I want to outline what we could do with the extra income that could be generated if our amendment were accepted. I also want to build on the remarks made by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham (Stephen Timms). His analysis of the future jobs fund was thorough and it accords with my research on that subject. I pay tribute to him as one of the House’s experts on youth unemployment. His constituency is in the London borough of Newham, which has done extensive research into that issue and probably knows more than many places in this country about what can best be done to tackle it.

I want to make a further point. In January, I asked the Minister for Employment whether he could provide business planning projections of how much the Department for Work and Pensions expected to have to pay for 16 to 24-year-olds on jobseeker’s allowance for each year of this Parliament’s life. I was told that by the end of this Parliament the Department expected to pay jobseeker’s allowance to 279,000 16 to 24-year-olds. It thought that just under 280,000 young people would be on the dole. To check what had happened as a result of the Government’s economic policies coming into force, I asked that self same question in June, when the Minister for Employment was forced to tell me that his Department projected having to pay 303,000 such young people on the dole. The DWP has had to up by 24,000 its own forecast of the number of young people on the dole by the end of this Parliament. Nobody can say that this problem does not need to be dealt with. The Government know from their own DWP projections that this problem has to be dealt with—and it has got worse, not better, over the last six months.

I applaud the Government’s approach to apprenticeships and many other things, but the fact is that we had a programme and a set of policies that were working well for young people. The future jobs fund will be much debated and there is more research to come on the subject, yet the DWP’s own research provides evidence of how that particular scheme worked. The best way to get a job is to have a job; we demonstrated that basic fact through the future jobs fund.

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Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): I agree with every word that my hon. Friend says. Does she agree that one crucial value of the future jobs fund intervention was that it broke the trend into long-term youth unemployment—a trend about which we should be particularly concerned? The lesson of the 1980s recession was that if young people did not get a start in the labour market at the very beginning of their working lives, they never really got themselves established. That is what the future jobs fund successfully intervened to disrupt.

Alison McGovern: I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. Having grown up on Merseyside in the 1980s, I know it was only when I studied economics later in my life that I found out that there was a word for the thing I always knew happened—that people got punished throughout their lives for being unemployed when they were young. The economic word for that is hysteresis. The labour market has memory: if someone fails to get a job early in life, it stays with them, scarring not only the person’s career prospects, but the economic prospects of the locality. We know all about that and the previous Government worked to stop it happening when the economic crisis hit. I would like to see this Government take that problem seriously, introduce measures that will bring real work to young people and deal with some of the problems we face, which are getting worse.


Bill Esterson: Let me draw Members’ attention to the proposals of the Opposition Front-Bench team. Amendment 13 states:

“The Chancellor…shall review the possibility of incorporating a bank payroll tax within the bank levy and publish a report”—

not an unreasonable request, but a very sensible and measured one. Yet we have heard from Conservative Members and from the Minister in an intervention that they are reluctant to take that action. I guess that the Minister will take the same attitude towards the amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), which similarly calls for a review. Neither of these measures calls for the City of London to be disbanded or for bankers to be put in the stocks and pilloried by the public—much as many members of the public might wish to do just that! However, given that many members of the public may have recently wished to do the same to Members of Parliament, perhaps we should not pursue that line too far.

5.45 pm

The amendments simply request a review, which is surely reasonable. I should be interested to hear from the Minister what is so wrong with a review or, indeed, with the idea of a bankers’ bonus tax. When the Minister wound up our debate on 3 May, he declined to deal with the many good points made by Members about the value of such a tax. I think that that demonstrated a desire to avoid discussing the success of the approach taken by the Labour Government last year, which raised £3.5 billion for the Exchequer—far more than the Government’s banking levy. I hope that the Minister will not ignore what has been said when he winds up today’s debate.

The Government’s failure to repeat last year’s bankers’ bonus tax, combined with cuts in corporation tax which helped the financial services industry, amounted to a

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cut in tax rates for the banks. Meanwhile, those on the lowest incomes—families and other particularly vulnerable members of society—are being made to pay for the mistakes of the banking sector. The excessive behaviour of bankers, of which excessive bonuses were a symptom, caused a crisis that nearly brought down the entire financial system not just of this country but of the world.

Amendment 13 states that the money raised by the tax

“would be invested to create new jobs and tackle unemployment.”

Members—including me, in interventions—have mentioned the importance of the future jobs fund and how well it was performing in bringing down youth unemployment until the Chancellor scrapped it in last year’s emergency Budget. The fact that youth unemployment was approaching 1 million has sad echoes of what happened in the 1980s, particularly in the part of the world that my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) and I represent.

People on Merseyside have long memories when it comes to the damage inflicted by youth unemployment, which peaked in 1985, four years after the middle of the 1980s recession. This year, activities are being organised to mark the 30th anniversary of the Toxteth riots, the appalling scenes in Liverpool during the summer of 1981, and the despair and misery that provoked that action. There are lessons to be learned from what happened in the 1980s. We know from that time what goes wrong if we do not tackle unemployment, particularly among young people.

Some members of my generation, and slightly older people, have never found long-term work. As young people they were never able to enter the jobs market owing to the difficulties facing those in their cohort: the lack of jobs that resulted from the policies of the Government of the day, and the way in which unemployment was allowed to rise to over 3 million. There are people, now in their late forties, who have never experienced secure employment. They have never established proper careers, and they and their families have never recovered from the experience of 30 years ago. That is why it is so important for us to find a mechanism that will help people to find secure employment now.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wirral South rightly said that having a job was the best way of finding a job. I know of a number of people who were able to enter full-time employment as a result of the future jobs fund, because, thanks to the previous Government’s successful approach, they were able to demonstrate to other employers how successful they could be in employment.

In an intervention on the Liberal Democrat spokesman, the hon. Member for Bristol West (Stephen Williams), I mentioned Professor Wolf’s comments on apprenticeships. In her evidence to the Select Committee on Education, she made clear her worries about 16, 17 and 18-year-olds currently being most at risk of not participating in education, training and apprenticeships and about the long-term prospects of their finding work as a consequence of that. That is why it is important to have a strong and well-structured approach to employment for 16 to 18-year-olds. The evidence suggests that apprenticeships are largely being taken by 19 to 24-year-olds, and that there is a lag in respect of younger people taking them up. We must address that; we need to focus our efforts on younger people leaving school.

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We need to grow the economy and to ensure that there is a proper growth strategy. The Chancellor talked about the Budget being a Budget for growth, yet the latest figures show that the economy has flatlined for six months and there has not been sustained growth. Borrowing has increased by £46 billion, and the Government have resisted using fair measures, such as the bankers’ bonus tax, to help to encourage job creation and to help the construction industry in house building and other activities that stimulate growth.

Alison Seabeck (Plymouth, Moor View) (Lab): One of the benefits of this tax is that a considerable sum would be put into building 25,000 new homes for affordable social renting. Does my hon. Friend agree that through investing in housing we invest in apprenticeships and jobs and we get a higher tax take because people are working?

Bill Esterson: My hon. Friend is right: a virtuous circle is created by investment, and especially investment in construction. It is one of the most efficient ways of putting money into the economy, and there is clear evidence that in periods of recession and downturn the role of the public sector should be to put money into the economy until such time as the private sector is strong enough to take up the slack and create jobs and continue to grow the economy. I fear that stage of the economic cycle has not yet been reached, which is why we need measures such as a bankers’ bonus tax to enable money to come into the economy.

Those 25,000 affordable homes would only be a start, but it would be a very important start. We have a housing crisis in this country, and it will be made worse by the benefits cap the Government are introducing, as revealed by the evidence from the private secretary of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government that the cap could result in 40,000 families losing their homes. We certainly need activities such as those mentioned by my hon. Friend to make up for Government problems being caused by activities elsewhere.

I hope the Government will read carefully the two Labour amendments, and acknowledge that, as they merely call for a review and are very reasoned, they are worthy of support. I therefore hope that we will hear later that they accept both amendments.

Frank Dobson: I should begin by saying that I support the Robin Hood tax, and it therefore follows that I am opposed to the Sheriff of Nottingham, who in this context is the British banking industry. The sheriff was known for robbing the people and feathering his own nest, which is a characteristic of our banking industry. When the bankers start squealing and the City journalists start repeating their squeals and appearing on radio and television saying how terrible it would be to impose further taxation on the bankers, it is worth remembering the scale of the banking industry, and the scale of the damage the banking crisis did to this country.

It is estimated—I think this estimate is generally accepted—that the effect of the banking crisis on Britain has been to reduce our output of goods and services by more than £300 billion. In other words, had that recession caused by the bankers not taken place the country would be £300 billion better off than we are now, and, with a normal tax take, the Treasury would have been

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about £120 billion better off than now. In other words, a large slice of the famous deficit would have been wiped out, and a large slice of that deficit has been caused by the incompetence, stupidity and greed of the bankers.

When the bankers say they cannot afford to pay any more, it is worth looking at the sums Britain’s leading banks lost in the crisis while still managing to survive—and most of them survived only by being either taken over or backed up by the taxpayer. HSBC lost $27 billion in the crisis; Morgan Stanley lost $15.7 billion in the crisis; Royal Bank of Scotland lost $14 billion in the crisis; Barclays lost $7.6 billion in the crisis; HBOS lost $6.8 billion in the crisis; and Lloyds TSB lost $4.7 billion in the crisis. Yet all of them have paid bonuses to management who presided over those losses. In the case of Barclays, as I understand it even the shareholders have been doing rather badly and have been treated unfairly, because the Barclays leadership has been paying bonuses while the bank’s share value has been halved in the last 10 years. These are therefore undeserved bonuses not only from the point of view of the rest of us, but even from the point of view of the banks’ shareholders. There is a lot of scope for getting some money out of these banks because they are rolling in money, and we should spend it in ways such as those mentioned in amendment 13, tabled by my party’s Front-Bench team, and amendment 31, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell).

To put matters in perspective, this year—a frugal, austere year in the City, we understand—City bonuses amounted to more than £6 billion, yet we are told that the Government may not be able to accept the Dilnot report recommendations because they would cost the taxpayer £2 billion. That means that the Dilnot recommendations, which would help all the people who look with fear to the future and to getting older, could be implemented at an annual cost of one third of the bonuses being paid in the City of London. If that does not demonstrate how ridiculous the remuneration in the City of London is, I cannot imagine what does.

As I said in an intervention on my Front-Bench colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie), these people in the City have now started to refer to their pay as “compensation”. They apparently need to be compensated to turn up at work, and apparently their normal compensation is not sufficiently high, so they have to get a bonus on top of that to compensate them for going to work and turning up at their office—and then, as we know from the crisis, losing money. It is about time these bankers started compensating the rest of us and doing what my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry North West (Mr Robinson) discussed: making more of the undeserved wealth splashing around in the banking industry available to those who are providing useful goods and services to people in this country and the rest of the world, and getting us to a fairer and better situation.

6 pm

If people want to know why it might be a good idea to put more money into industry and a bit less into banking, they should look at the example of the most prosperous country in the European Union—Germany. Its manufacturing sector comprises roughly twice as big a proportion of its economy as ours does and as nearly

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every country in Europe’s sector does. That is because, over the years, the Germans have invested a lot more in the manufacturing of goods and the provision of high-tech services; they have not just let their banking industry run away with all the money.

I am strongly in favour of a Robin Hood tax. It is time that the Government really took on the Sheriff of Nottingham and made sure that Robin Hood, Maid Marian and the rest of us win.

Chris Williamson: May I begin by entirely agreeing with what my hon. Friend the Member for Sefton Central (Bill Esterson) said about the amendment being wholly reasonable? It ought to command the support of Members on both sides of this Chamber. I hope that at least some Government Members will find it within themselves to support an amendment that will make a significant contribution to addressing the real challenges facing this country. My right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) just referred to the eye-wateringly high bonuses that the City of London has enjoyed in what he described as an “austere” year. It is incredible to think that the City of London bankers’ bonuses amounted to £6 billion.

Alison Seabeck: May I, first, draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests in relation to an indirect interest of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr Raynsford), as I should have done that earlier? My hon. Friend the Member for Derby North (Chris Williamson) mentions some enormous sums. Does he share my concern, and that of enough people around the country, about the huge contrast between those figures and the people who are desperate to find a home? The homelessness figures are rising, as we have learned from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Chris Williamson: My hon. Friend makes an apposite point and she has done some excellent work to highlight the plight of people in our country who are struggling as a result of homelessness and having inadequate access to decent housing. It is a stain on our national character that in the 21st century, in one of the richest nations on earth, there can be the huge disparity to which she referred.

My first point relates to apprenticeships, the waste of talent in our country and the level of youth unemployment, which is still unacceptably high. I wish to discuss some personal experience and my concern that Bombardier, the last train-building company in our country, has today announced 1,429 redundancies at its Derby plant. It also made the point that its ability to provide apprenticeships for young people in the city of Derby has been considerably diminished. My real fear is that before the end of this year, unless the Government are persuaded to review things and to revise their decision in favour of the British train-building industry, the last remaining company that manufactures trains in our country will pull out of Great Britain altogether. The company will certainly be a shadow of its former self and its ability to provide apprenticeships will be almost completely eliminated.

It is, therefore, absolutely essential that hon. Members support the amendment proposing a tax on bankers’ bonuses, because it would enable the Government to earmark a proportion of that money to create job

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opportunities. My Front-Bench colleagues suggest that if £600 million of that £2 billion bonus money were used, almost 100,000 opportunities for getting young people into work could be created. Surely that ought to unite all of us. One would hope that even the bankers might consider that to be a reasonable use of the eye-wateringly high bonuses that they have enjoyed in this austere year.

The Government are under a moral obligation to support the amendment. I look directly at the Minister when I make that point, because he is under a moral obligation. I say that because one of the first decisions taken by those on the Government Benches was to scrap the future jobs fund. I can see him mouthing things because he knows what I am about to say. That fund did provide opportunities for our young people and it was making genuine inroads into youth unemployment in our country. The Government’s ability to tackle that is stuttering as a consequence of removing the future jobs fund.

This tax would make a mere pinprick on the standard of living of the bankers affected by it. The Government keep saying that we are all in it together, but if they genuinely believed that, surely those with the greatest resources should be giving a bigger contribution to those with almost no resources. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) said, if young people are unable to get a job at the start of their career, this follows them throughout their life. The Government have it within their gift to support the amendment, which would go some way to addressing that real concern, and I hope that they will take on board their moral obligation to support it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sefton Central also mentioned that the Wolf review pointed out that some of the youngest of the unemployed in our country—the 16 to 18-year-olds—are struggling to find alternative employment. Although I applaud the Government’s attempts to deal with youth unemployment and their efforts on apprenticeships, their actions are clearly missing out a significant cohort and they should do more to address that situation. One of the other ways in which they could make a significant contribution would be by earmarking a proportion of this bonus tax for the building of 25,000 affordable homes. That would be a modest contribution, but we know that there is a huge demand for affordable housing in our country. Far too many people are living in inadequate accommodation, and there was an excellent exposé on Channel 4 last night about the growth in the number of Rachman-style landlords, who are afflicting parts of our country again.

In my view, we certainly need to do more to tackle that problem and one of the best ways to do that would be to build more decent affordable homes for people to live in. That would have not only the social benefit of providing good-quality homes for people who desperately need them but the added benefit of creating job opportunities and, dare I say, more apprenticeships for younger people, stimulating the economy. If young people are living in better, decent accommodation, their educational and health outcomes are beneficially affected. Whichever way one looks at such investment in affordable housing, through a modest tax on bankers’ bonuses, one can see that it would bring huge benefits to society. I hope that Members will find it within themselves to consider that and to support the amendment.

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There is a great need to stimulate and support manufacturing industry and businesses across the piece. They are struggling: we know that the economy is flatlining, that the Government’s attempts at growing the economy are failing and that there is a need for a plan B.

Mr Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North) (Con): I have listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman’s points about apprenticeships and youth unemployment. In my constituency, youth unemployment has fallen by 14%. For a similar reason, the aerospace industry and associated apprenticeships in his constituency are doing rather well under this Government. That is especially the case as regards foreign orders, such as those from China for Rolls-Royce engines and, in a case that affects my constituency, the expansion of British Aerospace abroad. That is the best way to create futures for young people. We should give them proper jobs through long-term investment in intellectual property and research and development tax credit, which the Government have expanded in the recent Budget. Does the hon. Gentleman not think that that is the best way to do it and should he not therefore support the Budget tonight?

Chris Williamson: I certainly do not support the Budget. Although I acknowledge that Rolls-Royce does some excellent work—we are fortunate, in that it is the largest employer in my constituency and provides huge opportunities for young people—the hon. Gentleman would do well to remember the support given by the previous Government to the aerospace industry. He would also do well to remember that one of this Government’s first decisions was to scrap the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters. I can see that he is screwing up his face and rolling his eyes—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. I know that the hon. Gentleman was tempted down this line of argument by the intervention, but we are discussing the bank levy.

Chris Williamson: Thank you for your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker. The point I am trying to make is that the resources realised as a consequence of supporting the amendment and introducing such a tax within the bank levy—or at least exploring the possibility and reporting back on how it might be used—could be used to support opportunities to create new employment for people in Sheffield through Sheffield Forgemasters and to generate more apprenticeships and opportunities for young people. I hope that the hon. Member for Wyre and Preston North (Mr Wallace) will reflect on those comments and join us in supporting the proposal made by my hon. Friends on the Front Bench about considering a tax on bankers’ bonuses.

I was going to talk about the fact that we know that the Government’s economic policies are failing and that the economy is flatlining. Opportunities are not being realised because of the Government’s blinkered approach, if I may put it that way. I ask Ministers to consider this proposal as an additional opportunity to support business and young people and to create opportunities in our country. Realising such aims has been made very difficult for Ministers because of the policies they have pursued.

5 July 2011 : Column 1416

We hear all the time from Government Members, particularly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that we are living in austere times, that we all must tighten our belts and that we are all in it together. As I have said, the amendment provides an ideal opportunity for the Minister and for Government Members to demonstrate that they mean what they say when they make comments about all being in it together.

6.15 pm

I urge, beg and plead with Government Members to consider the modest proposal that is being made this evening and to join us in the Division Lobby so that we can give the Government an additional funding stream, which could do so much good in our country to tackle youth unemployment, to provide decent homes and to provide additional support for businesses through the regional growth fund. The regional growth fund was massively oversubscribed, and in my county of Derbyshire, not one single bid was successful—not one. Clearly, more resources are desperately needed and I would therefore have thought that this was a free hit for the Government. It would certainly be popular with the general public and the Government might even gain some additional popularity if they support this reasonable proposal. I urge all Members to join us tonight to take the proposition forward and to take some positive steps to address some of the concerns that we all share about youth unemployment, inadequate housing and difficulties with the flatlining economy.


Mr Hoban: The Finance Bill introduces the bank levy, a permanent tax on banks’ balance sheets that will raise more than £2.5 billion each year. Amendment 13 seeks to reintroduce the one-off bank payroll tax introduced in the previous Parliament, but that would be unnecessary and counterproductive. Amendment 31 seeks to introduce a financial transaction tax, but such a tax would need to be applied globally to prevent the relocation of financial services.

The Government have already set out far-reaching plans for banking reform on regulation, lending, remuneration and tax. That includes the introduction of the bank levy. Both amendments would also place an obligation on the Government to produce a report on how any additional revenues from each tax could be spent and we have already heard many ideas during the debate.

Before I talk about the amendments in detail, we should remind ourselves of the significant contribution to the economy and public finances made by banks operating in the UK. Many hundreds of thousands of jobs across the whole United Kingdom—not just here in London—depend on Britain being a competitive place for financial services. It has been said:

“While the success of the financial sectors in New York and Tokyo has been built largely on supplying large domestic economies, with a smaller domestic economy the success of London has increasingly depended on its global role…The Government recognises that it must ensure that the UK’s tax regime remains competitive”.

The hon. Member for Nottingham East (Chris Leslie) described such an approach as the last refuge of the scoundrel, but the “scoundrel” who made that statement was not me, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, or the Prime Minister; it was the right hon. Member for Morley and Outwood (Ed Balls), when he was the Treasury Minister responsible for financial services. It is clear

5 July 2011 : Column 1417

that in a short space of time, the Labour party has decided it is no longer important to be globally competitive. That is yet another nail in the coffin of the economic credibility of that party, which voted this morning to scrap the deal obtained by the previous Prime Minister at the G20 summit to increase resources for the IMF.

The financial crisis demonstrated that fundamental reform was needed and that is what the Government are delivering. The Government firmly believe that banks should make a fair contribution to the public finances. In particular, banks should make an additional contribution in respect of the potential risks they pose to the UK financial system and wider economy. Last year, we announced a permanent levy on bank balance sheets, which was implemented from the beginning of this year.

Mr Umunna rose—

Mr Hoban: Let me make my point and then perhaps the hon. Gentleman can explain the position of his party when it was in government.

In opposition, we made it clear that the UK should introduce, unilaterally if necessary, such a levy, but just weeks before the general election, the previous Government told us that a bank levy would have to be

“coordinated internationally to avoid jeopardising the UK’s competitiveness.”

Where we and our coalition partners have sought to lead international debate, Labour would hang back and let others make up their mind for them.

Mr Umunna: The Minister is extremely fond of harking back to what the previous Government did, but he is in government now and has failed so far to give a single convincing reason to support his position of not adding a bank bonus tax to the levy. Reuters is predicting profits this year of about £51 billion in the sector and there is still an implicit taxpayer subsidy of the sector, so in that context why is it so unreasonable to support the amendment? It simply asks for a review, which is a very reasonable suggestion.

Mr Hoban: The hon. Gentleman should be patient. I am just warming to my topic. I have much more to say about the bank levy and about amendment 31 on the Robin Hood tax. There is an issue about the need to reform the banking sector and the coalition Government decided to look at the structure of banking, which the previous Government failed to do. We want to tackle issues around the resolvability of banks and to look at how we can make the banking system much more stable. The measures we are taking forward will tackle some of the issues.

Chris Leslie rose

Mr Hoban: I think I am being tempted away from the bank levy, but I happily give way to the hon. Gentleman, who might just come back to the topic.

Chris Leslie: It is very gracious of the Minister to give way.

On the so-called progress the Minister is making on banking reform, can he tell us what progress he has made on the transparency of banker bonuses? That is a critical point. How many other Finance Ministers, worldwide or in Europe, has he spoken to and when will the transparency element of the legislation be triggered?

5 July 2011 : Column 1418

Mr Hoban: We have one of the most transparent disclosure regimes for banking salaries anywhere in the world. The measures we introduced as part of Project Merlin were more transparent and provide more information than in any comparable regime across the world. The Government have made real progress on tackling that issue.

We decided that we would lead the international debate and act unilaterally if necessary on the bank levy. Since we made our announcement, France and Germany have joined us in announcing such levies, and others have followed, including Hungary, Austria and Portugal. The hon. Gentleman made reference to the fact that the Dutch had announced a similar thing. Apparently, they believe that our design for a levy should be followed.

The hon. Gentleman talked about international comparisons. Even allowing for the larger size of the UK banking sector, the UK levy is larger than that of France or Germany. Different levies cannot be compared by looking just at headline rates; for example, the UK levy is focused on balance sheet liabilities, while the French levy is on risk-weighted assets. Furthermore, unlike the UK levy, the French levy does not apply to branches of foreign banks. Consequently, the French levy is expected to raise between €500 million to €1 billion a year, much less than the £2.5 billion we shall raise in the UK, a difference that cannot simply be explained away by the different sizes of our banking sectors. Moreover, unlike the UK, the French levy is deductable from their corporation tax liability. The hon. Gentleman said that the Government will not review the banking levy. If he looks carefully at the documentation, he will see that we are committed to reviewing it in 2013.

The levy is not the only tough action we have taken to ensure that banks pay their fair share of tax. The right hon. Member for East Ham (Stephen Timms) was a member of the Treasury team when the previous Government introduced the code of practice on taxation for banks, but they utterly failed to get all the banks to sign up to it; only four of the big 15 banks had signed up to it by the time they left office.

While the previous Government talked a good story about tackling tax evasion and avoidance, we acted. By the end of November, all the top banks had adopted the code and by the time of the March Budget this year, 200 banks had adopted it. We have taken tough action to tackle tax planning issues and to ensure that banks pay a fair share in taxes to recognise the contribution they should make, given the risk they pose to the UK economy.

With amendment 13, tabled by the shadow Chancellor, the Opposition seek to reintroduce the bank payroll tax, which was introduced in the previous Parliament as a one-off interim measure ahead of changes in remuneration practices from corporate governance and regulatory reforms, and the previous Chancellor conceded that it could not be repeated. The net yield for the tax, accounting for the impact it would have had on income tax and national insurance contribution receipts, was £2.3 billion, which is less than we will raise from the bank levy this year, and less than we will raise from it next year, the year after and the year after that.

Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that the unintended consequence of the payroll tax was to push up salaries versus bonuses in the City, which is something that no Member wants to see?

5 July 2011 : Column 1419

Mr Hoban: My hon. Friend points out some of the behavioural impacts of the tax. A Labour Member pointed out earlier the reduction in the proportion of remuneration from bonuses and the increased amount from salaries. That is the kind of behavioural change that happens. Those responses are important. Banks and bankers respond to such changes, but the world has moved on. Unlike when the payroll tax applied, the top rate of income tax is now 50p in the pound. The previous Government told us that they would apply the bonus tax only until changes in remuneration practices were in place, and this Government have taken firm action in that regard.

The Financial Services Authority revised remuneration code of practice sets out detailed rules for pay for firms in the financial services sector. The code ensures that bonuses paid to significant risk-takers are deferred over a number of years and are linked to the performance of the employee and the firm. In addition, significant portions of any bonus will be paid in shares or securities. Those revised rules came into force on 1 January 2011. Let us not forget that under the previous Government, bankers could walk away with the cash in their pocket as soon as the bonus was declared. The rules on bonuses have been toughened up: bonuses are deferred and are paid in shares. The previous Government let the bonus culture rip and taxpayers paid the consequences.

Mr Umunna: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way a second time. Does he acknowledge that the toughening up of the FSA code resulted from moves in Europe that were opposed tooth and nail by Tory MEPs?

Mr Hoban: At times, I wonder what Opposition Members read; we were clear from the outset that we wanted to toughen up the rules on remuneration. [ Interruption. ] We were very clear about what we wanted to do. The Opposition should hang their heads in shame about the bonus culture they allowed to perpetuate when they were in government. I remind them that Labour gave Fred Goodwin a knighthood for his services to banking.

We do not need a bank payroll tax. We have demonstrated that the bank levy we have introduced will ensure that banks pay a fair share in relation to the risk they pose to the wider economy. The right actions have been taken.

Amendment 31 was tabled by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell). He is right to highlight the importance of funding international development, on which there is cross-party consensus. The Government agree that we should move to ensure that 0.7% of gross national income should be for aid. The hon. Gentleman is also right to highlight the importance of achieving the millennium development goals. He mentioned talking about education in a school in his constituency. On Friday, I met a group of pupils from Portchester community school who were very much behind the “Send my sister to school” campaign. These are important issues, but we need some discussion about whether the financial transaction tax model offers a stable and efficient mechanism to raise revenue. Such taxes remain the subject of ongoing debate at international level, and the UK continues to take an active role in the discussions.

5 July 2011 : Column 1420

6.30 pm

The hon. Gentleman called for a review. There is no shortage of reviews on the issue. The IMF has had a review and the EU has had reviews, but they all come back to the fundamental problem with the proposal: a tax would need to be applied globally to prevent the relocation of financial services. If implemented only at UK or EU level, the tax would simply prompt the relocation of financial services, and so fail to deliver the desired outcome in terms of revenue. In doing so, it would have significant adverse impacts on employment and the wider economy.

The Government are willing to engage in further international discussions of such taxes. The French Government have announced that discussion of a financial transaction tax will be one of its priorities for its presidency of the G20 this year. Discussions have been taking place at a European level, and the European Commission is due to publish an impact assessment on further financial sector taxation, including transaction taxes, in the next few months. The House will be aware that, ahead of this, the Commission last week published its latest communication on the EU budget. This proposes that the EU budget could in future be part-funded through new taxes, including a financial transaction tax. I hope the House is also aware that this Government’s position is clear: we oppose any new EU taxes to fund the EU budget.

Frank Dobson: The Minister recently told me that the Government had made no assessment whatever of the money that might be raised by a transactions tax, as proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell)—a Robin Hood tax. If the Government have made no assessment of the money likely to be raised, how can they have meaningful discussions with international bodies about what the impact of the tax would be?

Mr Hoban: Significant studies have been done by both the EU and the IMF on such a tax, how it would work and the pitfalls in the proposals. We will see an impact assessment on that emerging shortly. We have not ruled out a financial activities tax. We are engaged in discussion with our international partners and we have pressed for the Commission to consider such a tax. It is working on that. We are making progress. Another review is not needed; there is sufficient work going on to explore the issue in significant detail. The amendment would impose more burdens on the Treasury and it would be better to allow that work to take its course.

John McDonnell rose—

Mr Hoban: I would like to give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I want to try to wind up the debate because there are other important matters to be discussed this evening.

On Government amendments 32 to 50, since our proceedings in Committee, it has been brought to our attention that in one area the Bill as drafted may not fully achieve the intended policy ambition. These are the rules relating to netting and in particular the rules concerning multi-lateral netting agreements in groups. These are essentially agreements that allow different members of the same banking group to enter into a net settlement agreement with the same counterparties.

5 July 2011 : Column 1421

We have sought as a public policy objective to ensure that banks should be able to net off certain liabilities against assets, and that the levy is charged only on the remaining balance of liabilities. The amendments clarify the purpose of the Bill and ensure that the netting rules apply so that some banks are not adversely affected. We want to make sure that we keep the provisions under review. That is why we have put into the amendments a power to allow the Treasury to amend the rules applying to netting arrangements.

The hon. Member for Nottingham East asked whether there would be an impact on yield as a consequence of the amendments. There is no impact on yield, as the amendments reflect the policy objective that we have pursued.

In conclusion, we think it is right that banks should make a contribution reflecting the risks they pose to the UK financial system and the wider economy. That is why we introduced the bank levy. We expect the levy to raise more each and every year than the bank payroll tax did under the previous Government. All the Opposition have to offer in the debate is a tax that did not work the first time round. We have put in place a clear strategy to reform the banking sector. I believe that the actions we are taking are right, and I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to oppose the Opposition amendments.

Chris Leslie: I repeat my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) on at least getting the debate on the financial transaction tax on the table. We on the Front Bench also want to keep it on the table. It is appalling that the Government have ruled it out. My hon. Friend and I have already spoken about how we should revisit the issue in future legislative opportunities. The Front-Bench team has a qualm about the fact that the amendment does not mention sufficiently the need for international agreement on the subject, but broadly we agree that the matter needs to be taken forward. Unfortunately, we will not be supporting his amendment on this occasion, but it is an important topic which we must keep under review and keep a close eye on as it develops.

My hon. Friends the Members for Coventry North West (Mr Robinson), for Sefton Central (Bill Esterson) and for Derby North (Chris Williamson) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) highlighted the fact that there is no good reason for the Government’s inaction on bonuses. My right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham (Stephen Timms) and my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) spoke about the massive blow to the self-esteem that young people in particular feel, and the sense of their role in society and of their value that they lose, if they do not have the opportunity of jobs and employment.

The Minister says that our amendment 13, which would repeat a bank bonus levy, is unnecessary and counterproductive. The Government seem content with the lack of transparency on bonuses. They are happy with high and growing remuneration for executive bankers. They think the banks are paying a fair share, and they scoff at the £2 billion that could be raised by a tax on bank bonuses. We feel that the public disagree with the Government. The amendment would be a fair approach and it would help to create employment. That is why I urge the House to support amendment 13.

5 July 2011 : Column 1422

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 215, Noes 288.

Division No. 314]

[6.36 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Ashworth, Jon

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Bell, Sir Stuart

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, rh Mr Gordon

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Buck, Ms Karen

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Chapman, Mrs Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Farrelly, Paul

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gapes, Mike

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Healey, rh John

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Joyce, Eric

Kendall, Liz

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McCrea, Dr William

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McKechin, Ann

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Michael, rh Alun

Miliband, rh David

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Pearce, Teresa

Perkins, Toby

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Simpson, David

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Wicks, rh Malcolm

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Angela Smith and

Gregg McClymont

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brake, Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brine, Mr Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cable, rh Vince

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Davey, Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Field, Mr Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Mr Edward

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gove, rh Michael

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harvey, Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, Mr John

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Mr Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huhne, rh Chris

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Mr Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

May, rh Mrs Theresa

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Mensch, Louise

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mills, Nigel

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, Mr Stephen

Offord, Mr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Mr James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Redwood, rh Mr John

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Mr Richard

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stunell, Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Simon

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

James Duddridge and

Mr Robert Goodwill

Question accordingly negatived.

5 July 2011 : Column 1423

5 July 2011 : Column 1424

5 July 2011 : Column 1425

Amendment proposed: 31, page 42, line 30, at end insert—

‘(2) The Chancellor of the Exchequer shall review the possibility of incorporating a bank financial transaction tax within the bank levy, levied on trading in financial products including stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, futures and options and publish a report within six months of the passing of this Act, on how the additional revenue raised would be invested to tackle unemployment and reduce poverty in the United Kingdom and to assist in tackling deprivation in the developing world.’.—(John McDonnell.)

The House divided:

Ayes 25, Noes 279.

Division No. 315]

[6.50 pm

AYES

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Corbyn, Jeremy

Dobson, rh Frank

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

George, Andrew

Hoey, Kate

Hosie, Stewart

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Lucas, Caroline

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

McCrea, Dr William

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Williams, Hywel

Winnick, Mr David

Wood, Mike

Tellers for the Ayes:

Kelvin Hopkins and

John Cryer

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baldry, Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, Gregory

Barwell, Gavin

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bradley, Karen

Brake, Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brine, Mr Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cable, rh Vince

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Davey, Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Philip

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Gauke, Mr David

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gove, rh Michael

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Mr Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huhne, rh Chris

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Mr Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

May, rh Mrs Theresa

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Mensch, Louise

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mills, Nigel

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, Mr Stephen

Offord, Mr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Mr James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Redwood, rh Mr John

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Bob

Rutley, David

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Mr Richard

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stunell, Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Simon

Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr Robert Goodwill and

James Duddridge

Question accordingly negatived.

5 July 2011 : Column 1426

5 July 2011 : Column 1427

5 July 2011 : Column 1428

Clause 78

Supplies of commodities to be used in producing electricity

Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab): I beg to move amendment 12, page 45, line 5, at end insert—

‘(2) The Schedule shall not come into force except as specified in subsection (3) below.

(3) The Chancellor of the Exchequer shall bring the Schedule into force by order within six months of the passing of this Act.

(4) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (3) shall be accompanied by a report which details—

(a) any effective subsidy provided to, or additional profits accruing to, operators of existing and new nuclear power stations as a result of the provisions in the Schedule;

(b) the immediate impact of the provisions in the Schedule on consumers and on fuel poverty;

(c) the immediate impact of the provisions in the Schedule on energy-using manufacturing industries and on employment in those industries;

(d) the expected effect of the provisions in the Schedule on investment in new renewable power generation and on investment in new nuclear power generation;

(e) the measures that the Chancellor intends to adopt in a future Finance Bill in order to recoup any effective subsidy to or additional profits accruing to the nuclear industry as a result of the Schedule; and

(f) how the monies raised by those measures will be used to mitigate the immediate impact of the Schedule on consumers and on manufacturing industries and to encourage green investment.’.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 21, page 45, line 5, at end insert—

‘The Schedule shall come into force on a date specified by the Treasury by an order made by Statutory Instrument, which may not be made until an agreed packaged of mitigation measures for energy-intensive industries has been laid before the House of Commons and approved by a resolution of the House of Commons. The dates specified in paragraphs 8(3) and 9(5) of the Schedule shall be replaced by the date specified in the order under this section if it is later.’.

Kerry McCarthy: Let me start by confirming that Labour Members support the principle of a carbon floor price. We believe that carbon price support could be an excellent opportunity for the UK in providing a high and stable price for carbon. It could encourage investment in low-carbon power and green technologies, create a new generation of green high-skilled jobs which the UK sorely needs, enable the UK to make radical reductions in its carbon emissions, and contribute to

5 July 2011 : Column 1429

meeting our carbon budgets. Unfortunately, however, we cannot support the way in which the Government have implemented this measure. It will hit those who can least afford it, damage the prospects of developing a UK green industry, and fail to reduce carbon emissions. We have to question whether we can call the carbon price support rate a green tax at all.

First, I shall deal with the impact on consumers. We know that people are struggling to pay their fuel bills. The OECD estimates that, on May’s figures, energy prices are nearly 10% higher than they were a year ago. Scottish Power recently announced electricity bill rises of 10% and gas bill rises of 10%, and other companies are expected to follow suit. The Government are not helping. Rising energy bills and fuel bills are coming on top of higher taxes, cuts to tax credits and cuts to public services. This year the Government have cut the winter fuel payment by £50 for people over 60 and £100 for people over 80, with no mention of that in the Budget statement or the pre-Budget report. That comes after their promise in last year’s Budget to protect key benefits, including winter fuel payments, for older people. They may claim that they inherited this from the previous Government, but we could and would have looked again at that decision in the light of rising energy prices, and so could they; that is the point of having an annual Budget statement.

These are the circumstances in which the Government have proposed a carbon floor price designed in such a way that it will cost working families by raising their energy bills. We understand that in the long term, if the policy is designed in a way that encourages a switch to low-carbon energy production, there should be no significant effect on consumer bills—that is why we support the principle of the carbon floor price—but right now, in the short term, there will be price rises for consumers at a time when they are already finding their fuel bills unmanageable. The Government have not included any counterbalancing measures to help working families to deal with those price rises. If the measure goes ahead in the form that the Government propose, between 30,000 and 60,000 more households will fall into fuel poverty in 2013, rising to between 50,000 and 90,000 more households by 2020. Those are the Government’s own estimates. Earlier this year, Consumer Focus said:

“In its current form there is a real risk that this policy may simply displace detriment.”

In other words, even if it did have a positive impact on green investment, that would be at the cost of more people falling into fuel poverty.

There have recently been somewhat hysterical reports about green taxes, alleging that they are the biggest factor in causing consumer bills to rise. That is not true. Ofgem figures from March show that environmental and social costs make up just 8% of the typical dual fuel consumer bill, and that has risen by just one percentage point since 2008. Climate change deniers cite figures suggesting that hidden green taxes add some £200 to energy bills, but those figures do not stack up. That does not mean, however, that now is the time to add to those costs. The Government have got it wrong. Ordinary working families were clearly the last thing on their mind when they designed this policy. That is why the amendment calls for them to look again at the effect that it will have on people in fuel poverty.

5 July 2011 : Column 1430

I turn to manufacturing, which several of my colleagues will wish to discuss too. Rising energy prices will affect not only consumers but firms that employ thousands of people across the country. In particular, they will hit energy-intensive industries such as steel, aluminium and chemicals. There is a danger, particularly in the absence of a credible Government plan for growth, that growth and jobs will be exported to other countries. According to a report by Thomson Reuters Carbon Point earlier this year, the carbon floor price will impose additional costs on businesses amounting to £9.3 billion. We understand that that effect might be mitigated in the long term if there is a switch to greener sources of energy, although that is not certain given the problems that I will come to in a moment. In the medium term, however, UK industry will be at a disadvantage, and jobs and growth will be put at risk. That is why the director general of the CBI and industry bodies such as the Chemical Industries Association have called for an exemption from these extra costs for high energy-using industries.

Concerns have been expressed by firms such as Tata Steel, which employs 1,000 people in Teesside. Its chief executive officer said:

“The introduction of the carbon floor price represents a potentially severe blow to the sustainability of UK steelmaking.”

Rio Tinto Alcan, an aluminium producer in the north-east, may close, shedding 600 jobs, and 1,800 jobs are at risk at INEOS ChlorVinyls in Runcorn. Some of the industries threatened by this measure are not only major employers but among the UK’s biggest export sectors. For example, the chemical industry, which accounts for 12% of total UK manufacturing, exports the bulk of its production, with a trade balance in 2008 of nearly £6 billion.

There is also the danger that we will harm our own prospects of building a UK green industry. This sector represents huge opportunities for the UK. For example, the wind energy sector provides over 10,000 jobs, and it expanded by 91% in just two years from 2007 to 2009. The solar energy industry in the UK provides over 10,000 jobs. There is a danger that we may not be able to sustain these sectors in the UK, despite any efforts from the Government, if the necessary materials are not available here. This would be yet another own goal for the “greenest Government ever” after their ill-thought-out change of policy earlier this year on feed-in tariffs, which has put thousands of green jobs at risk. The solar sector is a vital, nascent green industry in the UK. Until the Government’s announcement, the 10,000 jobs that it currently supports was expected to rise to 17,000 this year. The Government’s promised green investment bank was supposed to boost investment in new green industries, but it has been watered down: it will be a fund, and not a real bank, until 2015. That makes a mockery of the Government’s green credentials. Our amendment calls on the Government to look again at the carbon floor price and its effect on high energy-using industries. This is the wrong time to put jobs and green investment at risk without a plan to protect them.

I now move on to the impact on green investment. We accept that a well-designed carbon floor price can deliver reduced emissions and higher green investment, which is why we support the idea in principle. However, we doubt whether the Government’s proposal will deliver those goals. The UK is part of the EU emissions trading scheme, so any carbon permits that are not sold

5 July 2011 : Column 1431

in the UK will simply be sold elsewhere in Europe. The Department of Energy and Climate Change commissioned Redpoint Energy, a consultancy, to examine the options for a carbon floor price. It said in a footnote to its report:

“Under the EU ETS, it would be expected that lower emissions from the GB electricity sector in a given year would be offset by higher emissions elsewhere within the trading scheme.”

A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research agreed that

“this policy would have no direct effect on emissions reaching the atmosphere.”

It went on to say that

“it is important to be clear that the UK would be meeting climate change targets in a way that has zero direct effect on emissions.”

The Treasury’s own consultation document admitted that for power stations covered by the ETS, the carbon price floor will not directly impact on the Government’s ability to meet their carbon budgets.

Consumers and companies facing higher energy bills because of this policy would be right to question whether this is a worthwhile use of their money. Will the Government’s policy encourage more investment in renewable power? The Energy and Climate Change Committee expressed doubt:

“when it comes to low-carbon investment, the effect of the Carbon Price Support will depend on the confidence of investors in the long-term reliability of the Carbon Price Support.”

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Justine Greening): Perhaps I can just tell the hon. Lady that the Institution of Civil Engineers said that the policy will create a “more conducive environment” for investment. Does that allay her fears? If she has concerns about the structure of the policy, it would be helpful for Members to hear the Opposition’s alternatives.

Kerry McCarthy: As I will go on to explain, there are concerns about future stability, as we have seen with the North sea oil tax, which we discussed yesterday. Investors need stability to plan for the long term, particularly in solar and wind power, which need long-term investment. People need to know what to expect and what impact proposals will have.

As for what the Opposition are saying, I refer the Minister to our amendment, which calls for a review of three main points, which I am discussing in my speech. Those are the impact on fuel poverty, the impact on energy-intensive industries and the fact that this is, in effect, a subsidy for nuclear power, which I will discuss later. It is important for us to look at the consequences of this policy because, as with so many things, the Government have introduced it in haste and without thinking through the consequences. It is not until we look at the impact on these sectors that we will see what the ideal solution might be. It is premature of the hon. Lady to ask us to come up with an alternative before we have done that analysis and reached a consensus with the industry on what the impact will be. As I have said, we agree in principle with the carbon price support, but because of the way it is being implemented, it will not achieve any of the objectives that she presumably wants it to achieve.

5 July 2011 : Column 1432

Justine Greening: As we will no doubt debate later, we carried out an extensive impact assessment on this policy. Indeed, the hon. Lady has quoted a couple of figures from it. I reiterate what I said earlier. If she agrees in principle with the policy, which I very much welcome, it would be helpful to hear how she thinks the delivery of it ought to differ from what the Government are doing.

Kerry McCarthy: As I said, we are calling for a full-scale review. I am not convinced that the Government’s impact assessment examined in sufficient detail the impact on fuel bills, for example. As the Economic Secretary is intervening on me, it is obviously not the time for me to pose questions to her. When she speaks later, perhaps she can enlighten us as to what it was judged that the impact would be on consumers in meeting their fuel bills, on fuel poverty and on energy-intensive industries. What impact does she think that will have on jobs and growth in the areas where energy-intensive industries are based? Perhaps she could also respond to the questions that I will soon pose about whether it is wise to, in effect, create a subsidy for the nuclear industry when there are other competing priorities, on which some people would argue the money would be better spent.

7.15 pm

As I was saying, there is concern about the lack of a stable regime for investors in the green sector. That is analogous to the lack of stability for investors in North sea oil. There was an off-the-cuff announcement in the Budget of a supplementary charge, which took the industry by surprise. As I mentioned in a point of order earlier today, the Government announced a £50 million tax relief for investors in North sea oil fields this morning—the day after the issue was discussed in the House. That shows complete contempt for the parliamentary process. A written ministerial statement is not very helpful today, when the debate on that subject happened yesterday.

The green technology industry has expressed scepticism similar to that of the oil and gas industry, especially given the Government’s recent track record, including the change of policy on feed-in tariffs, which could cost up to 7,000 jobs in the solar industry. The carbon price support rate must be set by the Government at the next Budget. The Government will face the most pressure to renege on their promise at the very times when the biggest effort will be needed to maintain the carbon price. Given the Government’s record on sticking to their policy announcements, they need to do a lot more to create certainty for green investment in this country.

David Mowat: I have listened carefully to the hon. Lady’s remarks on behalf of the Labour party. Can she make it clear for the House whether the Labour party supports a carbon floor? I thought that that was settled policy. If it does support a carbon floor, what is the particular aspect of the announcement that is causing such concern?

Kerry McCarthy: I am not sure where to start in responding to the hon. Gentleman. My opening line was that we support the idea of a carbon floor price in principle. Everything that I have said since has outlined why we have reservations about the way in which it is being implemented. I simply refer him to the speech that I am making.

5 July 2011 : Column 1433

I appreciate that there are difficulties in getting this policy implemented at an EU level. It would be easier if we could look at the EU emissions trading scheme in the round. Experts have said that measures on carbon pricing should first be considered at EU level, and that a UK-only solution is a second best option. Lord Turner, the Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, has said that, and it was echoed in the Institute for Public Policy Research report. The Government appear to have done nothing to explore the EU option. The coalition agreement says that the Government will

“make efforts to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of ETS permits.”

However, it does not mention any intention to talk to our EU partners about a carbon price floor. Perhaps that is unsurprising, given the Government’s record on dealing with the EU. For example, the Government’s MEPs tabled no proposals to reduce the EU budget, whereas Labour MEPs tabled amendments that could have cut more than €1 billion of waste from EU spending.

Justine Greening: Is the hon. Lady aware that one of the main reasons why the UK’s contribution to the EU budget is going up is that the former Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, gave away part of the rebate?

Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab): Enough now.

Kerry McCarthy: The Whip is telling me that we do not have time to reply to that point. It is a bit rich of the Economic Secretary to say that, when she made great play of going to Europe and saying that we would not accept any rise in the EU budget—there was a lot of grandstanding and playing to the crowd on that issue—and then her party’s MEPs tabled no proposals at all to tackle the issue. That is far more relevant to what we are discussing than something that happened many years ago.

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): I am encouraged by what I think I am hearing about the European Union. My policy would be simply to leave it. Is it now the policy of the Labour party to cut the EU budget? If so, why did it not seek to negotiate a reduction in the EU budget when it was in power?

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. Perhaps we can stick to this debate. If the hon. Gentleman wants to know the answer to his question he can discuss it privately with the hon. Lady outside the Chamber. We should return to the important issue of climate change.

Kerry McCarthy: I have touched on the fact that there needs to be greater Government engagement in Europe to try to deal with the matter at a pan-European level.