“We must learn to do economic work from all who know how, no matter who they are. We must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously. We must not pretend to know when we do not know.”

I thought it would come in handy for the Chancellor in his new relationship.

I am sure that Tory Back Benchers will be under instruction to shoehorn into their speeches at every opportunity references to the mythical long-term economic plan. What we have been presented with today is not an economic plan but a political fix. It is not a plan when you ridiculously commit yourself to unachievable policies and leave yourself no room for manoeuvre. It is not a plan when you sell off every long-term asset you have for short-term gain. It is not a plan when you leave important industries to go to the wall—as we have seen with steel—and it is not a plan when you cut the support for those in work, leaving working families to rely on food banks. It is not a plan when you force councils up and down the land to close the very services that people depend upon, and it is not a plan when you invest so little in skills and infrastructure that our future is put at risk.

Instead what we have seen today is the launch of a manifesto for the Conservative leadership election. Our long-term economic security is being sacrificed for the benefit of one man’s career. I want to tell both the Home Secretary and the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), my neighbour, who has now left the Chamber, not to worry. The economic reality that is emerging in our economy will mean that this will be seen as the apex of the Chancellor’s career.

The hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip exudes classical references in his speeches. He will recognise in the Chancellor Icarus the boy who flew too close to the sun and burned and crashed. I fear that for the Chancellor it is all downhill from here. Labour Members will do all we can to ensure that he does not take this economy and our country down with him.

In the end this debate is about what sort of society we want to live in. The Government are systematically dismantling all those aspects of our society that make our community worth living in and celebrating. The Chancellor is not just cutting our services today—he is selling off our future.

But there is an alternative. Our alternative is that we will eliminate the deficit but we will do it fairly and effectively. We will do it by ensuring that we end the tax cuts to the rich, that we tackle tax evasion and avoidance, and that we invest to grow. We will grow our economy on the basis of investment in skills and infrastructure. In addition to becoming the financial centre of Europe, under a Labour Government research in science and technology will enable us to become the technology

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centre of Europe. That means high skills, high investment and high wages. That is what Labour Members are committed to, and that is what we will secure when we return to office.

Mr Osborne: So the shadow Chancellor literally stood at the Dispatch Box and read out from Mao’s little red book. And look—it’s his own personal signed copy. The problem is that half the shadow Cabinet have been sent off for re-education. People treat this Labour leadership as a joke, but they are actually a deadly threat to the economic and national security of this country.

The hon. Gentleman comes here to complain that the deficit and the debt are too high, yet he wants to increase the deficit and the debt and to borrow forever. The problem is that he would borrow in the good times, because he says the country can afford it, and borrow in the bad times because the country could not afford not to. He would always be borrowing money. And how would he be able to afford it? He could afford it because, as he says, his policy

“can readily be funded...through printing money”.

He has said that he would end the Bank of England’s control over interest rates, and he calls it the “people’s quantitative easing”. That is called deficit financing, and it has only been tried in Weimar Germany and Zimbabwe. It would lead to the economic ruin of this country. The Labour leadership’s chief adviser on the economy has said that it would cause a sterling crisis, but that the

“sterling crisis would pass very quickly”.

The shadow Chancellor talks about our support for business and defence industries, but he is a threat to the free market of this country. He wants literally to take control of the commanding heights of the economy. His manifesto is all about nationalising industries. He wants to nationalise the whole banking system of this country—as if the last Labour Government did not do a good enough job by nationalising half of it.

The hon. Gentleman gave a speech at the weekend in which he described his policies as “socialism with an iPad”. The problem is that if the socialists built an iPad, it would weigh a ton, it would be impossible to use and no one would design any programmes for it. It would literally be app-less. And then he has the temerity to get up and talk about defence industry jobs and the police. He has spent his entire career attacking the police forces of this country and calling for them to be disarmed. He has sent me a letter saying that I should fund the Security Service, but it turns out that he has been campaigning to disband MI5. He says he is on the side of the British Army, but he has been sharing platforms with the Irish Republican Army. That is the truth.

Let me end by asking this question. Where is the shadow Chancellor going this evening? He is travelling to Waltham Forest to support the new hard-left members of the constituency Labour party there who are trying to deselect the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy). He is addressing a rally called “Keep up the momentum”—[Interruption.] Well, if he was actually in charge of this country, we know where the momentum would be. It would be in one direction: growth down, jobs down, the security of the country destroyed. In the last three months, he and his friends have taken control

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of one of the great institutions of our political democracy, the Labour party, and they have brought it to its knees. That is their business, frankly, but Conservative Members are going to make sure that they never get their hands on any of the other institutions of this country, so that we can keep our country safe.

Mr Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Con): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on sticking unswervingly, despite all the recent difficulties, to his commitment to a balanced budget over the cycle and on answering the fears expressed by some of us by sticking to his aim of a modest budget surplus if the economic cycle remains strong. Will he reinforce the argument that that is an essential precondition for our building a modern, sustainable economy in this country that is able to withstand such shocks as the global economy will send us in the next few years? When the cheers die down—as they will—and as people fall upon the details, assisted by lobbies, will he tell the responsible majority that ought to exist in this House and in the House of Lords that no Chancellor acting in the national interest could possibly produce a Budget that had no reductions in public spending and no increases in revenue? We do not want a repeat of the utterly irresponsible reversal of the £4 billion a year savings that were made in his earlier Budget.

Mr Osborne: I thank my right hon. and learned Friend; he is absolutely right. We do not know what economic storms lie ahead, but we sure as hell know that we have not abolished boom and bust in this country, so we have to prepare for whatever the world throws at us. If a country is not running a budget surplus after nine or 10 years of economic growth, when is it ever going to do so? We are taking sensible steps to build up that surplus and pay down our debts, which have in my view reached dangerously high levels because of the very large deficit we ran over recent years. So those are the steps we are taking. He is also completely right about the lobby groups. In the end, the best way to have great public services is to have sustainable finances. We know to our cost what happens when those public finances are not sustainable: the people who suffer in our country are the most vulnerable and those who are least advantaged. That is why we have taken these steps today to protect them.

Frank Field (Birkenhead) (Lab): When the Chancellor came to the part of his statement about tax credits, I assumed that it was good news, as it was quickly overwhelmed by cheers from those on his own side. For that good news, I thank him. I heard him preface those remarks by saying that he was still in listening mode. Does he accept that when tax credits were devised and shaped, our economy was not moving towards a national living wage? Might I ask him to continue in listening mode, so that by 2020 we can have a tax credit system that reflects the new world of higher wages?

Mr Osborne: I want to thank the right hon. Gentleman, who has made sensible and constructive interventions in this debate over recent weeks. The members of his Select Committee also took their task very seriously. Over this Parliament, tax credits are largely being phased out as we move to the new simpler—and better, in my view—universal credit. People will be protected during the transition to universal credit. As he says, we are at

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the same time reducing the proportion of people’s income that will come from welfare payments because more of it will come from the wages paid by their employers. I do not think we should be supporting and subsidising low pay through the tax credit system in the way we have in the past. In the phasing out of tax credits, the introduction of universal credit and the reforms announced in the summer Budget, including limiting support to families with up to two children, we are creating a fairer welfare system that is fair to the taxpayer.

Mr Andrew Tyrie (Chichester) (Con): A key judgment that the Chancellor has had to make is how much to cut the deficit. With the euro crisis unresolved, the Chinese economy more fragile, the middle east unstable and the US likely to raise rates shortly, does he agree that, given all those risks, it would be not only imprudent but extremely dangerous not to reduce the deficit now, while we have the opportunity to do so? We can never rely on forecasts. Will he confirm that the OBR’s sensitivity analysis towards the back of its report, which I have had a chance to look at only briefly, demonstrates clearly that any future downturn in the public finances would require further retrenchment and that it is therefore absolutely essential we take every opportunity to tighten the finances now, while we have the chance?

Mr Osborne: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. As an economy, we have been growing faster than most of the advanced economies of the world. In that situation, not getting the deficit and the debt falling is really signalling to the world that we are never, ever going to try to bring public finances under control. As it is, we have debt falling in every year of this forecast, and it is lower than the forecast in the Budget. The deficit is also falling and overall borrowing is lower in this forecast than in the one I produced in the summer Budget. We take these steps to pay down our debts. Our national debt, at 80% of national income, is uncomfortably high. It does not necessarily, therefore, give us all the flexibility we would want if we were to be hit by some kind of external shock and is all the more reason for us to use the better times to pay down the debt.

Stewart Hosie (Dundee East) (SNP): I was intrigued by Tory Back Benchers cheering the humiliating U-turn on tax credits. It seems barely three or four weeks ago that they were cheering on, and voting for, the implementation of the tax credit policy. But times move on and things change.

The genesis of today’s statement was the decision announced last year when the Chancellor stated that he wanted to reduce public spending to barely 35% of GDP by the end of this Parliament. That was adjusted up to just over 36% in the summer Budget, but the direction of travel—the shrinking of services provided by the state—was very clear. It was set in stone with the fiscal charter earlier this year, with the intention to run a current account surplus of £40 billion a year by 2019-20. Those numbers have changed slightly today. The Chancellor wants not only to shrink the size of the state to 36.5% of GDP but to run a current account surplus of £42 billion. Can we just be clear? The UK has not routinely seen spending at 36% or 37% of GDP since the 1930s and 1940s. The Chancellor’s ideology has not changed. In essence, he still intends to cut £40 billion a year more than he needs to, to run a current account budget in balance by the end of this Parliament.

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Notwithstanding the humiliating U-turn on tax credits, the Government added £37 billion of cuts in tax rises in the summer Budget to the £121 billion of fiscal or discretionary consolidation in the previous Parliament. Announced in the Blue Book today is £18 billion of cuts and the Chancellor was very clear that the £12 billion of welfare cuts remain on the table. Even after today, the public are facing a decade of austerity. These decisions are political choices. The Government ignore the fiscally responsible alternative course of action, which, with a very modest increase in public expenditure, would ensure that no one is left behind.

The Government are not for working people. Nothing they say can camouflage the failure of the past five years, and the Chancellor’s statement merely confirms that they are making the same mistakes all over again. We saw the impact on GDP growth of rising inequality in the 20 years to 2010. The continuation of the austerity agenda represents a wilful disregard for and failure to learn the lessons of the recent past.

The Chancellor may not care about inequality, and the 1 million people receiving food parcels compared with barely 25,000 five or six years ago, but the Government should care about its impact on economic growth. Let me ask the Chancellor some specific questions. We have been concerned for some time about the failure to increase productivity. The Chancellor knows that the UK sits in the third quartile of advanced economies. How does a 17% cut to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills help to support firms seeking to increase productivity?

We have been concerned about the negative impact of balance of trade, a situation that got worse between the spring and summer Budget forecasts. The impact for every year published today is still negative. How does the absence of a plan to encourage exports and a further cut to the UK Trade & Investment budget help to reverse the dire balance of trade position? We share the Chancellor’s concern to protect growth and tax yield, and to close the tax gap, but how does the closure of 137 HMRC offices possibly do anything other than weaken the ability of the Revenue to collect the tax that is due?

The Chancellor said that the UK would take the fight to its enemies, but he omitted to mention action in Syria. Should the Government get the vote they want in the next few weeks, will he tell us how much he plans to set aside for the reconstruction and stabilisation of Syria after any military intervention is over? We remain as concerned as he does about the failure to invest in capital, which is absolutely imperative to boost economic growth. We welcome the increase in capital spend announced today. I just say to him, however, that cuts last winter, increases in the spring, cuts in the summer and increases in the autumn represent a shambles of a way to plan long-term capital investment.

In Scotland, we saw cuts to revenue and capital over the previous Parliament. We have had confirmation today of further real-terms cuts to Scottish revenue funding over the spending review period. Instead of the Bullingdon sneering about oil, which the Chancellor did earlier, he would have been better recognising that the Scottish economy is now 2.5% larger than it was pre-crisis and productivity is 4% higher than in 2007. It is contributing to the UK recovery. Instead of hobbling and undermining the Scottish Government, he might consider it to be worthy of support.

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The Government received barely a third of the vote of those who voted and the Conservative party achieved its worst result in Scotland since 1865. Let us be clear. I do not expect the Chancellor to change his mind, but the public in Scotland and in the UK did not vote for a decade of austerity.

Mr Osborne: This spending review delivers economic and national security for the people of Scotland. It funds a £1.9 billion increase to their capital budget and the block grant goes up by £1 billion. There is a 14% capital boost from the United Kingdom Government. Instead of complaining, the hon. Gentleman might, on behalf of the Scottish Government, have welcomed that and set out any plans he might have for how to spend it. I suspect we will hear a lot from the Scottish nationalists in this Parliament about process, constitutional issues and all that, but they will not tell us what they are actually going to do to improve the lives of people in Scotland. He talks about productivity. If we look at the Scottish Government’s record, we see that they have cut 140,000 further education college places in Scotland. They have used the money they have taken from the university sector for free prescriptions for millionaires, as if that is a good use of Scottish taxpayers’ money. Health spending in Scotland is rising more slowly than it is in England, where the Conservative Government are in charge of the English national health service.

In the spending review, there is extra capital for Scotland so it can invest in its long-term future. There is a huge commitment to the defence estate in Scotland, with new planes based at RAF Lossiemouth and a massive investment in shipbuilding on the Clyde for many years to come. By the way, I know that the SNP is keen to court the unions in Scotland. The GMB said that the news about the frigates

“should be welcomed and not used for political mischief”.

That is another sensible thing the GMB has said. And there is the huge investment at the base at Faslane, where 8,000 people work. The Scottish National party pretends it would get rid of the nuclear deterrent and somehow give all those 8,000 people jobs in our defence establishment—the SNP is not being straight with the people who work on the Clyde or in Scotland’s defence industries.

We are also working on implementing the Glasgow city deal, and on a city deal for Inverness and for Aberdeen, and we are ready to sit down with John Swinney to negotiate a fiscal framework. We have now the Scotland Bill, which Lord Smith says “delivers the legislation required” to deliver the agreement. For months, SNP Members have been telling us that we were not doing what the Smith commission said, but now Lord Smith says that we are. To make these powers work, we need agreement on a fiscal framework. Let us sit down—we can sit down tomorrow, next week or whenever—to agree a fair fiscal funding framework.

The truth is that SNP Members complain about decisions on public expenditure, but if Scotland had voted to be independent, its public finances would be in complete tatters. The OBR forecast today is that oil revenues are down 94% in the North sea because of the fall in the world oil price. That is a £20 billion hole in the financial programme that the SNP Government

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tried to foist on the people of Scotland. The whole thing can be summed up by the words of Mr Alex Bell, who was the former First Minister’s head of policy. He said this week:

“The SNP’s model of independence is broken beyond repair…the campaign towards the 2014 vote, and the economic information since, has kicked the old model to death. The idea that you could have a Scotland with high public spending, low taxes, a stable economy and reasonable government debt was wishful a year ago—now it is deluded.”

That is the SNP verdict on the SNP plans.

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): May I congratulate the Chancellor, both on his leadership in continuing to secure our economic recovery and on his long-term economic plan, which is certainly working? There is so much to welcome in this autumn financial statement. While he is continuing to develop our infrastructure plans, may I ask him also to look at the Government’s promise on the environment? Will he again examine the plans for HS2 and look at extending the tunnelling under the full length of the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty—a mere 8.8 km? I think he will find that the savings in time and costs to this project are worth it, as are the savings to the misery of my constituents and many others.

Mr Osborne: I thank my right hon. Friend for her support for the statement, and of course she is absolutely right that the sound public finances that are at the heart of what we are seeking to build in our country are vital for the working people of Chesham and Amersham. They also enable us not only to afford big infrastructure projects such as HS2, but to mitigate the environmental impacts. We of course have listened to the representations she has made so forcefully and well on behalf of her constituents to ensure that more of that line is in tunnels through her constituency than would have been the case if she had not fought hard for her constituents. Of course I will always listen to the case she makes, but the plans for HS2 are now well developed and construction is going to start in this Parliament. Indeed, one of the major capital commitments in this spending review is to the budget for HS2, which increases during this Parliament, but I think this is exactly the kind of big infrastructure that this country has not been good at providing in the last few decades and is vital for our future.

Chris Leslie (Nottingham East) (Lab/Co-op): I am more interested in the wisdom contained in the big Blue Book from the OBR, page 6 of which says that

“the cost of the tax credit reversal is more than offset by cuts to a variety of other benefits”

but in later years. Will the Chancellor confirm that he has delayed the effective changes in tax credits, not U-turned on them? Page 24 of that book states that

“the terms of the welfare cap are set to be breached in three successive years”.

Will he at least have the guts to send a Treasury Minister, preferably himself, each time—each year—to explain why he has failed his own test?

Mr Osborne: First, the welfare cap I set at the summer Budget, which of course was reduced from the welfare cap in the March Budget, was made lower by the tax credit changes that were put forward. Now that we are not going ahead with those tax credit changes, clearly

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welfare spending—spending on tax credits— is going to be higher in the first couple of years. That is why the welfare cap is exceeded in those years, but then, as the hon. Gentleman can see in the table on that page, the spending comes below the welfare cap and we achieve the £12 billion of welfare savings on which we fought the general election. He opposed those but in the end did not carry the day with the British public. The long-term savings we have made today to housing benefit are less than £1 billion but they continue into the future, and because of the phasing out in respect of tax credits, by the time we get to 2019-20 those tax credit changes were saving only about £1 billion. That is why that is the case, and I think it is part of a sensible plan to help families in the transition, which is what I was asked to consider. I have been able to use the improvement in the public finances to achieve that.

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con): We have heard a lot about political careers today. I am sure the Chancellor is on a very different trajectory from the shadow Chancellor. I am not entirely sure that the next minute will help my own, but in the spirt of the Leader of the Opposition, let me read out what David from Wimbledon, who emailed me many times about tax credits over the past month, has just emailed me again to say:

“Can’t fault it so thanks for listening!”

Thank you, Chancellor.

Mr Osborne: Obviously, I thank my hon. Friend’s constituent for that comment. If we have improvements in the public finances, we can help families, we can reduce the deficit, as we have done, and we can make the investments in the long-term capital of the country. That is the advantage of having an economic plan that actually produces better results than were forecast, rather than worse results, which is what was happening when Labour Chancellors were giving autumn statements.

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): The shadow Chancellor might wish to push Britain into the red, but we, like many Members, wish to see Britain in the black—I will not be reading anything out of my wee black book, mind you. While the Chancellor has been seeking to balance the finances, he has also listened on housing, tax credits, policing and the Barnett consequentials of HS2 for devolved Administrations. Does he accept that growth is still unbalanced across the United Kingdom and that although Administrations in Northern Ireland have been seeking to promote growth and paying out of a reduced budget for corporation tax, there is still much to be done? What is there specifically in this autumn statement for areas like Northern Ireland, where growth is still lagging behind and where we still need to see improvements in the economy?

Mr Osborne: First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for the support he has given to the measures we announced, including the Barnett consequentials for Northern Ireland. I also commend him and his party for the work they have done to reach the agreement with the other parties in Northern Ireland and with the UK Government on the Stormont House agreement, which of course unlocks further resources for Northern Ireland. In this specific spending review, there is an extra £600 million for capital investment in Northern Ireland. In the detail of the books we have produced there are also extra funds

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for regional air connectivity from Northern Ireland. I believe about 2,000 new flights a year will be able to be funded to and from Northern Ireland—this is a £7 million commitment. Above all, as I mentioned in my statement, if we can get the Northern Ireland Executive budget on a sustainable footing—I know how hard he is working to bring that about—we can achieve that goal of devolving corporation tax and having the 12.5% rate in Northern Ireland, which would make Northern Ireland super-competitive, not just on the island of Ireland but across Europe.

James Cartlidge (South Suffolk) (Con): I congratulate the Chancellor on an excellent statement. In particular, may I assure him that schools in my constituency, which have been underfunded for too long by comparison with those in other areas, will be delighted by his commitment to a fairer funding formula? Does he agree that a one nation education policy needs one national funding formula?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is right; this has long been a perverse and arbitrary formula in our education system, which many MPs, from all parties, have campaigned to have changed. A national funding formula is a big step forward in education, and my right hon. Friend the Education Secretary will set out the details. It cannot be right that children in one part of the country can in some cases receive £3,000 less per child than children in exactly the same circumstances—the same level of disadvantage—in some other part of the country. It is not always about shire counties, as some Labour Members have said. A child in Knowsley, for example, is receiving less money today through the funding formula than a child in exactly the same circumstances in Wandsworth, and that cannot be right.

Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): The investment in transport infrastructure is very welcome, but the Chancellor also said that the Transport Department would have an operational cut of 37%. Will he tell us where the axe will fall?

Mr Osborne: Yes, absolutely. First, the Transport Department had set aside a number of contingency funds, which we do not have to use. We are also phasing out the resource grant for Transport for London, but Transport for London is getting a big capital settlement, which is a large part of the Transport Department’s resource budget, and that is where some of the savings come from.

David Rutley (Macclesfield) (Con): Protecting the science budget and electrifying the TransPennine line are vital tasks to help rebalance the economy. Will my right hon. Friend remind the House how long it has been since he set out the vision for the northern powerhouse, and what has been achieved since then?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend and constituency neighbour has been a big champion of investment in the north, not just in his constituency but in the north-west of England. My speech on the northern powerhouse, which I gave to an audience that included Labour metropolitan leaders, was last summer. Since then, working across party divisions, we have had agreement now in Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Sheffield, Tees Valley and in the north-east to have a big devolution of power

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from Whitehall to those areas and elected mayors. There is a huge commitment of transport capital. We have created Transport for the North, which did not exist a year ago, and funded it, and there is a big commitment to the cultural institutions in the north of England as well, so we are talking about a massive commitment. We have also made a big commitment to science institutions across the north, which is something close to his heart.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): I warmly welcome the Chancellor’s decision to increase the counter-terrorism budget and to protect the policing budget, not just because of what happened in Paris but generally for the future of policing. Given that so much organised crime and terrorism are international, is there sufficient flexibility in what he said this afternoon for us to support organisations such as Europol and Interpol, which obviously help us in the work that we are doing?

Mr Osborne: Of course we support those international institutions that help us to fight crime. I want to thank the right hon. Gentleman for his support for what we have said today about our police and police funding. The Home Secretary will set out more details about how that real-terms protection will be provided. We do not just provide funding to forces but have a transformation fund, which can encourage the efficiencies that we all want to see in our police, not least the police officers themselves, and make sure that they have the capabilities they need to deal with threats such as marauding gun attacks. It is a real-terms protection, and also, as a minimum, it is a protection in cash terms for the National Crime Agency to ensure that it is funded to do its work as well.

Suella Fernandes (Fareham) (Con): My constituents in Fareham will warmly welcome the Chancellor’s statement today, particularly the announcement of a national funding formula for schools. Hampshire is the third lowest funded authority in the country. Is it not right that this can be delivered only because of the difficult decisions that have been taken on the economy, and that it simply would not have been possible had we ducked those decisions?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is right. I am delighted that she has had success in campaigning on behalf of her constituents in Fareham to deliver a fairer funding formula for her local schools and the pupils whom she represents. She is absolutely right that we would not be able to deliver the kind of protection to the schools budget that we have announced today if we did not have a strong economy. The economic security that a strong economy brings is the bedrock of everything else we are achieving.

Caroline Flint (Don Valley) (Lab): Creative though it may be, I never thought that I would see the day when my sex was fined for having a period.

The Chancellor made a lot of the fact that he was phasing out grants to local government. Then he said that there were different ways in which local authorities could raise money for social care or, for that matter, for policing under the police and crime commissioners.

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I believe in fair funding, and I am sure that he realises that, in more prosperous areas, the take from that sort of raising of funds is higher than for communities such as Doncaster and elsewhere, and it may not be able to meet the challenges on our doorsteps. Is he prepared to carry out an impact assessment on this matter to ensure that funding goes to the areas of greatest need?

Mr Osborne: I hope that the right hon. Lady welcomes the decision that we have taken on the money that is raised from the tampon tax—the VAT on sanitary products. The truth is that we have not been able to change the European Union rules. The previous Labour Government tried. Indeed I remember the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), when she was in the Treasury, standing at the Dispatch Box saying that she was trying to get the rules changed. What I have done is provide the best interim solution, which is to set up a fund to support women’s charities. As with LIBOR money, I have been able to help charities that Members from across the House have proposed. Hopefully, we can carry that forward.

On local government, the right hon. Lady makes a very fair point about the regional economic disparities. What I said was that business rates would be retained 100% by local government. There is already a re-allocation of business rates through a tariff system. I propose that, on day one, those tariffs are set in stone. Thereafter any growth in business rate income in that area can go to the local council. An area such as Doncaster—I do not have the details here—might well be already receiving some additional money from the re-allocation of business rates from, say, central London. Thereafter, it would be up to Doncaster council, the local enterprise partnership and the elected mayor in South Yorkshire to ensure that they are doing everything they can to grow the area and get in the investment. I am sure that the right hon. Lady will welcome the investment in small modular reactors, which will be a big boost to that industry in South Yorkshire, which is a world leader in that field.

Dr Andrew Murrison (South West Wiltshire) (Con): I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend on a truly outstanding statement, and particularly on the 3.7% increase in NHS funding above inflation that he announced. However, he knows that healthcare inflation has always run at about 4%, and that spending in the UK lags far behind countries with which we can reasonably be compared, such as France, Germany and the Netherlands, yet outcomes tend to be inferior. What is he doing to ensure that we plan sustainably for the future in healthcare funding so that we can continue to see the substantial increases in funding that will be necessary in the future?

Mr Osborne: I thank my hon. Friend for his support. Hopefully, as both a doctor and a former serviceman, he welcomes the support for the NHS and for our defence forces. On the question of the NHS, what we have done is ask the NHS to come forward with a plan for its own future. That five-year forward view was drawn up by the NHS, independently of us, and put forward by Simon Stevens, who is not affiliated to any political party and who worked for the former Labour Government. That plan, which is supported by the NHS, provides a sustainable future for the NHS. We have fully funded it up front, so that we can achieve the

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transformations in, for example, primary care that the plan sets out. We are requiring of the NHS, as we are of the public sector, real efficiencies, but in the NHS’s case, those efficiencies are put into the frontline healthcare that he is so determined to champion.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. On present trends, if I were to call everybody, as I aspire to do, it would take another hour and a half. That is rather long, from which Members should deduce—whether they are Back Benchers or the esteemed Chancellor—that pithiness is the order of the day. We will be led in that mission by Mr Thomas Brake.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): I welcome the Chancellor’s decision to scrap tax credit cuts. Does he intend apologising to the people who were unnecessarily scared by his original plans, and does he intend disciplining his peers in the House of Lords who, had they supported the Liberal Democrat motion there, would have saved him from this embarrassing U-turn?

Mr Osborne: I said that I would listen and I have—I thought the right hon. Gentleman would welcome the fact that cuts in this Parliament under this spending review will be half what they were in the previous Parliament. Now that we are freed from the shackles of the Liberal Democrats, we can invest even more in our public services.

Michael Ellis (Northampton North) (Con): Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer realise that he is becoming a hero to those who, like me, have campaigned to deal with the perennial plight of potholes on our roads? [Laughter.] That is an area of major concern to millions of people in constituencies all over the country, and by establishing a permanent pothole fund, the Chancellor is helping to deal with a signal problem.

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is right. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh in the Chamber when we talk about the pothole fund, but as constituency MPs, we know that the state of local roads and potholes is an issue of real concern to people. As a result of the extra investment that we are putting into our roads budget, we are able to increase the maintenance budget. We will not just build new roads; we will improve the roads we have.

Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab): The Chancellor should have come to the House today to say that he has finally dealt with the budget deficit, but he overshot that mark by £60 billion. Does he honestly believe that when he leaves the Treasury for the last time, he will preside over anything but a deficit?

Mr Osborne: I have set out the projections to achieve the surplus that have been forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility, and we made a commitment in the Charter for Budget Responsibility that has been set before the House. More broadly, in the five years that I have stood at this Dispatch Box, I do not think that I have heard a single proposal from any Labour MP for a reduction in Government spending. It is not credible to go on saying, “We want to cut the deficit and cut borrowing”—[Interruption.] Labour Members are shaking

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their heads. Here is a test: every Labour MP who rises to speak should propose a cut in public spending before they propose an increase.

Dr Tania Mathias (Twickenham) (Con): I congratulate the Chancellor on his veritable listening skills on tax credits. When will he decide on airport expansion, and will his excellent listening skills be ready for my constituents when he does so?

Mr Osborne: As I said, I was able to listen to concerns that were raised, including by my hon. Friend, and because of the improvement in public finances we can help families move to the lower welfare, higher wage economy that I know people in Twickenham want. On investment in our infrastructure, I have detailed the plans that we have set out for roads and railways. When it comes to airports my hon. Friend must be patient just a little more because, as she knows, the Government are considering the Davies report and will make a decision on that in due course.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): Table 2.1 in the spending review shows a 56% cut in grant to local authorities, which the Chancellor expects them to make up from business rates and higher council tax. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint) said, that is easier to do in wealthy areas than in poorer areas. Will the Chancellor provide regional analysis that shows what his assumptions are and takes account of the differential spend on infrastructure in different parts of the country?

Mr Osborne: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will set out details of the local government settlement in due course, and we have taken the opportunity to put floors and ceilings on some of the effects of those changes, relatively to protect certain authorities. Given the area that the hon. Lady represents, I am sure she appreciates that there is a huge amount in this statement to support regional growth and growth in the north of England, and to ensure investment in the transport infrastructure, science and civic power of the north. That will help us to continue what we are seeing at the moment, which is the north growing faster than the south.

Chris Philp (Croydon South) (Con): I welcome the Chancellor’s proposals to introduce a stamp duty premium for buy-to-let landlords and second-home purchasers—an issue that we discussed prior to this statement. Will he confirm that that will encourage homeownership in our country?

Mr Osborne: I put on record my thanks to my hon. Friend. He came to see me and we discussed what more we could do to level the playing field so that families trying to buy their own home are not disadvantaged when compared with those purchasing buy-to-let properties in places such as Croydon. We discussed what we could do with stamp duty, and he was one of a number of people who discussed clever ideas about how we could help families to buy their own home. I am glad that his thinking has come to fruition in this autumn statement.

Hywel Williams (Arfon) (PC): We look—sometimes in vain—to the Welsh Government for transparency and coherence. Given the increase in health spending in England, will the Chancellor enumerate in real terms

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and on a year-by-year basis the consequential increases in funding for the Welsh Government? If he cannot do so now, will he write to me?

Mr Osborne: The Welsh block grant will rise in cash terms and will be worth £15 billion—over £500 million more than this year. There is also additional capital investment, and £900 million more is available for investment in Wales. Today we have made the historic announcement about a Welsh funding floor, which addresses long-held concerns in Wales that it is under-protected and not fairly treated by the Barnett formula. We have addressed that by building on work that has been done over many years by people such as Professor Holtham, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman agrees with me that this is a good deal for Wales.

Mark Menzies (Fylde) (Con): Once again I thank the Chancellor for all that he is doing to support the economy of the north of England. My constituency is the powerhouse of the northern economy because we manufacture the nuclear fuel that fuels almost every reactor in the UK. Will the Chancellor do everything he can to ensure that fuel for the new nuclear reactors that he spoke about today is made in Fylde?

Mr Osborne: I certainly give my hon. Friend a commitment that we will continue investing in his constituency, which he champions so effectively. We have spoken previously about the enterprise zone at Blackpool airport, and although shale gas development is controversial in his area, it is now supported by a shale wealth fund that will mean money for local communities. He is right to say that north-west England is an area with real expertise in nuclear power, and we have made a big commitment not just on the development of this generation of nuclear power stations, but on the small modular reactors in which there is real expertise not just in south Yorkshire but in the north-west.

George Kerevan (East Lothian) (SNP): The OBR report—at paragraph 1.43, in case the Chancellor has not read it—states that

“there is a roughly 55 per cent chance”

of him meeting his budget targets. Given that 50:50 proposition, will the Chancellor reassure the House that this Budget will not be torn up the way that three previous ones have been in the past 12 months?

Mr Osborne: The OBR assesses the Government against our fiscal targets, and that is the point of having an independent fiscal council. May I make a suggestion to the Scottish Government and the Scottish nationalists? Why not get on and create an independent fiscal council in Scotland? It is something they are refusing to do.

Helen Whately (Faversham and Mid Kent) (Con): As my right hon. Friend knows, this summer Operation Stack brought Kent to a standstill, so I welcome his announcement of a quarter of a billion pounds investment in Kent’s infrastructure to keep Kent moving. Does he agree that investment in infrastructure is vital for Britain’s economic growth, national security and public services?

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Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend came to see me to fight on behalf of her constituents who see their lives disrupted when the channel tunnel is blocked and lorries queue up on the motorways and block local roads. She, together with other hon. Friends with constituencies in Kent, came to me with a proposal to relieve that congestion and the impact of Operation Stack. We are making a quarter of a billion pounds commitment to the county of Kent to help it deal with that traffic problem and provide a permanent solution.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): As my right hon. and hon. Friends have been telling the Chancellor, he is trying to push the issue of underfunding of social care on to local councils. A total of £4.6 billion has been taken out since 2010, and the gap is growing at £700 million a year. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint) said, there is fourfold difference between the ability of different areas of the country to raise funding through the 2% council tax increase. How is he going to close this gap when there is no extra funding from the better care fund until 2017?

Mr Osborne: Overall funding for social care will be protected in real terms. The council tax premium can be levied, and the better care fund will have an additional £1.5 billion to make sure that it can help local government integrate with the national health service. Our objective is to achieve over the next five years the integration of health and social care services across the country. Places such as north-east Lincolnshire, Northumberland and Greater Manchester have made big progress in this area, and I hope that the hon. Lady’s local area also takes steps in that direction.

Mr David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) (Con): I welcome this compassionate Conservative statement with, for example, councils receiving £10 million more up front to tackle homelessness in their local areas. Will the additional £105 million pledged over the course of the Parliament to tackle complex needs of homelessness, mental health and youth unemployment be delivered through the roll-out to the troubled families programme, delivering social justice for single persons with complex needs?

Mr Osborne: I thank my hon. Friend for his support and for the work that he has done to champion the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our communities. The troubled families programme is protected and supported in this spending review. The money for social impact bonds to help with complex social needs in our society is additional to that, as is the extra support for homeless people, which will go direct to councils rather than through the benefits system and have an extra £10 million put into it. There are a number of pieces of good news.

Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington) (Lab): Just days ago, our police service, reeling from the biggest cut in Europe of 17,000, was facing the catastrophe of being cut in half. Now, following pressure from the public, the police and the Labour party, the Chancellor has thought again, including embracing our proposals for sensible savings on procurement. Does he agree that the first duty of any Government is the safety and security of their citizens, and that a U-turn, however begrudging and belated, is to be welcomed?

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Mr Osborne: The first duty of Government is to protect the people. Because we have a strong economy, we can not only invest in our defence overseas but protect the public at home with the real-terms protection for the police, which comes on top of the increase in community support officers in the previous Parliament and the greater proportion of our police on the frontline. The hon. Gentleman says that the Labour party is championing the police’s cause. I do not know where he stands in the civil war taking place in the Labour party at the moment, but those who currently lead it have spent their entire lives undermining the police, campaigning against them, and criticising them. That is what the public are going to judge the Labour party on.

Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) (Con): I warmly welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of a boost in funding for our security services, who do so much unsung work to keep us safe. Does he agree that the creation of a cyber-innovation centre in Cheltenham will mean that those extra taxpayer funds will not just enhance our national security but boost private sector jobs and opportunity?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He represents some remarkable people who keep us safe, working at GCHQ in Cheltenham. I was very pleased to meet him at GCHQ headquarters last week, with local businesses that are growing cyber-business in Cheltenham, creating jobs and making sure that GCHQ is not just a source of jobs in the public sector in Cheltenham but jobs in the private sector. The new cyber-innovation centre and the work we are going to do in Cheltenham will only go from strength to strength.

Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab): In 2007, Martin Lewis of moneysavingexpert.com and I were asked by David Willetts to lead an independent campaign for student finance information, and we agreed on the basis that we thought it would be better that people were able to make an informed choice and not be deterred from studying. Imagine my disappointment, then, at finding on page 93 of the book that student finance repayment conditions are not only being changed regressively but applied retrospectively. Not only do I regard this as a personal betrayal, but how can any applicant trust the information they are given by Government at the point of application? Furthermore, what message does the Chancellor think he is sending to the nursing profession and aspiring nurses that they should pay for the privilege of a profession in which they have to work incredibly hard for not particularly good pay? What an absolute outrage—he should apologise to students and to nurses.

Mr Osborne: One would not have guessed from the hon. Gentleman’s outburst that it was a Labour Government who introduced tuition fees and a Labour Government who introduced top-up fees. I think it is perfectly—[Interruption.] The truth is this: Labour Members got into opposition, they became completely irresponsible, and they have no economic plan and no economic credibility. Part of that was opposing the very student fees that they had themselves introduced when in government. The changes we are making to student fees enable us to expand student places. They not only remove the cap on nurse training places, whereby at the moment over the half the applicants are turned away,

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and as a result hospitals have to rely on agency staff and nurses from overseas, but expand student places across our universities in all disciplines. I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman, as a former head of the National Union of Students, would welcome that.

Nicola Blackwood (Oxford West and Abingdon) (Con): I thank the Chancellor for listening to the Science and Technology Committee and protecting science and innovation spending, which will mean more high-value jobs, higher productivity, and more inward investment. However, does he agree with us that we will realise the full value of this settlement only with better co-ordination between capital and resource allocations so that our researchers and innovators achieve their full potential for the United Kingdom?

Mr Osborne: I thank my hon. Friend for her words of support and for the work that she has done as Chair of the Science and Technology Committee. She made exactly the same point to me in person—that as well as providing capital support for science, we had to provide resource support to make sure that the facilities were well funded and could operate throughout the year. That is why we have increased the science resource budget and made sure that it now goes up in real terms. I know that she will want to look at Paul Nurse’s report, which is about making sure that we better co-ordinate our scientific research activity across the country.

Jess Phillips (Birmingham, Yardley) (Lab): I very much welcome the Chancellor’s announcement about how the tax that I pay on my sanitary products will now be spent on women’s health charities. Will any of that money be spent on domestic and sexual violence charities? Will it be better spent than the money he announced in his Budget, which provided 27p for each woman who lived in a refuge, is only being given out now, and has to be spent by the end of March, pretty much helping no one for about four months?

Mr Osborne: The £15 million from the tampon tax will be available to charities that support women: not just women’s health causes but domestic violence causes, where they do brilliant work. I have announced the allocation to four charities, some of which are already involved in domestic abuse prevention. Having listened to the hon. Lady over the past few months as a new Member of Parliament, I suspect that we will not agree on many things in this Parliament, but if she has some good causes that she would like to be funded by this money, I will take a very serious look at them.

Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) (Con): I welcome the devolved powers on business rates and adult social care funding to local authorities. In my constituency, we desperately need to attract more business to pay for an ageing population. With that in mind, will the Chancellor restate his support for the High Speed 1 link between my constituency and the neighbouring constituency of Hastings and Rye?

Mr Osborne: I am happy to restate my support for the Javelin travelling to Hastings and supporting my hon. Friend’s constituents in Bexhill and Battle. We are also investing in the roads in his area, because it is a particularly congested part of the south-east. There are

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lots of exciting things happening on the south coast at the moment, as businesses come in and the university in Hastings—where some of the people he represents work—grows. I am very happy to look at anything more we can do to boost businesses in my hon. Friend’s constituency.

Alex Salmond (Gordon) (SNP): When the Chancellor sat down after his summer Budget, he had a 50% chance of becoming the next Prime Minister. This morning it was estimated to be 25%. Mike Smithson, a former Liberal Democrat councillor who runs the Political Betting website, has invented a surefooted money making scheme: he buys the Chancellor on the day of his statement and sells his stock as the Chancellor’s plans unravel in the following weeks and months. What guarantees can the Chancellor give the House that he is not back in bed with the Liberal Democrats and involved in the same sort of nefarious scheme to buy himself short and sell out the rest of us long?

Mr Osborne: To be honest, I am not going to take advice from the right hon. Gentleman about political projects that do not come to anything. He tried to make his country independent, but the people of Scotland had the good sense to say no.

Mr Robin Walker (Worcester) (Con): I congratulate the Chancellor on the way in which he balanced efficiency with compassion throughout his statement. He was as right to invest more in the NHS and housebuilding as he was to clamp down on tax avoidance. To keep up investment in our vital public services, we need to increase our income, both nationally and as individuals, so we need to keep investing in skills. Will the Chancellor expand on how his funding for apprenticeships and the apprenticeship levy will help smaller businesses to invest in skills?

Mr Osborne: The apprenticeship levy and the commitment we have made to 3 million apprentices is a huge boost to skills in this country, and it addresses one of the endemic weaknesses in the British economy that has bedevilled us for many decades. Small businesses are a big winner from the scheme: they do not have to pay the levy, but they get the advantage of the funded apprenticeships. We are also increasing the amount we pay for some of the apprenticeship courses. Indeed, there is a general uplift in apprenticeship funding. This will help small businesses, which do so much to support our economy, but which did not always get the support they wanted for training in the past.

Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab): The local government grant is available because some local authorities have a lower tax base than others. Can the Chancellor reassure us that the same necessary degree of rebalancing will be delivered once the grant has been phased out?

Mr Osborne: The reallocation of business rates, which takes place after we allowed local authorities to retain 50% of their business rates in the last Parliament, will be in place from day one. Thereafter, local areas, such as the right hon. Gentleman’s, will have strong incentives to attract businesses to their area. They will be able to cut business rates, if they would like to bring in those

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businesses. Frankly, I think that will also help with speeding up planning decisions and encouraging local economic development. We all know that the trouble is that there is always a cost to local councillors saying yes to developments in our constituencies. It is often controversial and they do not see the benefits. Councillors will now see the benefits, and, more importantly, so will local communities.

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): Over the past three years, Jaguar Land Rover has doubled the size of its workforce in the west midlands—a job made easier by our skill base. In welcoming the jobs news the Chancellor has given us, may I ask him to say a little more about how he is going to help automotive firms recruit locally, not least from the Torc vocational centre in Tamworth, whose automotive hub has received a £2 million grant from Conservative-controlled Staffordshire County Council?

Mr Osborne: I thank my hon. Friend’s Conservative council for the support it gives to the car industry, and I thank him for championing the industry in this House. We have made a commitment not only to maintain the money we are putting into our automotive strategy, but to continue doing so for the next 10 years. Obviously, product lines at JLR and other important car firms take many years to develop and invest in. I am sure that long-term commitment to our brilliant car industry will be very welcome.

Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Lab): Following on from questions asked by colleagues, led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint), will the Chancellor outline exactly what today’s autumn statement means for cities such as Stoke-on-Trent, sitting between Greater Birmingham and Greater Manchester, with little family silver to sell in terms of assets, and with 94% of my residents living in properties in council tax bands A, B and C? What are we meant to do without the local government block grant and with business rate revenue that will not fill the gap?

Mr Osborne: The reallocation of funding within local government continues to support poorer areas of the country such as that represented by the hon. Lady. There is now a huge set of incentives for the local community, local businesses and the local council to grow Stoke-on-Trent and see the benefits. They can work with us to make that happen. I am very happy to discuss what more we can do for Stoke and, of course, what more we can do to ensure that Stoke co-ordinates with Crewe and Cheshire East authority, which my constituency sits in and where there are lots of exciting plans to do more together.

James Berry (Kingston and Surbiton) (Con): The security of our nation starts at home, so may I welcome warmly the excellent news that the police budget will be protected in real terms and that an additional 30% will be spent on counter-terrorism? Does my right hon. Friend agree that protecting or increasing spending in important areas such as the NHS, schools and policing is simply not possible if difficult decisions are not made about public spending elsewhere, and that ideas for such spending cuts are never forthcoming from the Labour party?

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Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am sure that the decisions taken on the NHS, education and policing will be very welcome in his constituency. They will enable us to deliver on the promises he made to local people. It is very easy for people to get up and say, “We want more money spent on this and more money spent on that,” but I do not think I have yet heard an answer to my challenge to the Labour party to come up with a single public expenditure saving.

Mr Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley) (Lab): Trident.

Mr Osborne: There you go—Trident. That is the modern Labour party: it wants to get rid of our nuclear deterrent. Some Labour Members are now shaking their heads. May I make a polite suggestion? Why does not the Labour party sort out its policies and then come to the House of Commons and tell us what they are?

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of increased mental health funding, especially as it follows a cut to the mental health tariff in the last Parliament. Given last week’s research findings, which showed a clear link between the Government’s own work capability assessment policy and an increase in suicides and other adverse mental health effects since 2010, how much of the increased funding will be spent on ameliorating the adverse effects of the Government’s own policies?

Mr Osborne: It is generally accepted across this House that mental health services in the NHS have not always had the support they need over many decades and that we have not always had equality of treatment in the NHS. We have now made that change in the constitution of the NHS. Today I have announced £600 million extra funding for mental health, on top of what was announced at the March Budget. That will help with access to talking therapies and to perinatal mental health services. I would have thought and hoped that the hon. Lady welcomed that.

Lucy Frazer (South East Cambridgeshire) (Con): I commend the Chancellor’s commitment to the fairer funding formula. How precisely will it help students in Cambridgeshire, who historically have received about £2,000 less per pupil than those in some other areas of the country?

Mr Osborne: The current funding for schools is arbitrary and unfair. Children in different areas but with exactly the same circumstances can receive many thousands of pounds in funding at their schools, depending on where in the country they live. Cambridgeshire is one of the areas that has been underfunded historically. The new national funding formula will help address that unfairness. My hon. Friend has been championing that cause, and my right hon. Friend the Education Secretary will set out how the formula is going to work.

Mr Ronnie Campbell: Has the Chancellor got any plans to bring in more privatisation to the health service?

Mr Osborne: Our national health service is publicly run, free at the point of use and now well funded under this Conservative Government.

Victoria Atkins (Louth and Horncastle) (Con): May I thank my right hon. Friend for his commitment to fairer funding for schools so that the children in my

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constituency can get a fairer deal? On the subject of education, will he join me in thanking the shadow Chancellor for sharing his favourite book with us and therefore designing my next campaign leaflet?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is absolutely right to champion the schools in her Lincolnshire constituency and to draw attention to the fact that the funding formula has not been fair to her constituents. That is why we are getting rid of it and introducing a new national funding formula, which will help to make sure there is a fair deal for Lincolnshire schools.

Having had a chance to look at it, I have discovered that this is a pretty well-thumbed copy of the little red book, so I do not think this is the first time that the shadow Chancellor has read from it.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): The Chancellor has been forced into a humiliating climbdown on tax credits. That will at least give a stay of execution to some of the affected families. However, from what we have heard today, hundreds of thousands of social sector tenants now face losing money because of his austerity agenda. Why is he determined to put low-income households on the frontline?

Mr Osborne: We are saying that rents in the social sector should not be higher than rents in the private sector in a particular area. It has to be said that in most parts of the country they are not higher, but there are some parts of the country where they are. This is perfectly fair—fair to those who pay for our welfare system, fair to those who rely on it. It is only for new tenancies.

I would make the broader observation that if the Scottish nationalists want to do something about housing benefit, they should agree the fiscal framework and make use of the powers they are being offered in the Scotland Bill. As always, they want to duck responsibility for decisions that we have devolved to them and the Scottish Government. They should stop arguing about the process—Lord Smith has put an end to that argument—and get on and agree the framework, and then they can defend the decisions that they take on housing benefit in future.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. My wish to accommodate all interested colleagues has to be balanced against the pressure of subsequent business. If I am to accommodate colleagues, what is now needed is a single, short supplementary question, without preamble. If a colleague can deliver that, great; if not, reconsider.

James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con): As the chairman of the all-party group on mental health, may I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of additional money for mental health? Does he agree that that is a first step in delivering our manifesto commitments on mental health, which not only is right in principle, but will put mental health at the centre of our national health service in the future?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend has been a great champion of mental health, and he is right in what he says.

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Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): This morning, the Government released the figures for the highest number of excess winter deaths this century—43,900—yet, in his statement, the Chancellor has cut the ECO budget, which was designed to improve home insulation, by 60%. How does he reconcile those figures?

Mr Osborne: We are ensuring we have an efficient home efficiency scheme, and at the same time we are cutting the energy bills for families. I remember the Labour party in the last Parliament—it did not do Labour Members any good in the end—campaigning to freeze energy bills. They should be welcoming this cut in energy bills.

Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con): Time does not permit me to list all that is welcome in the Chancellor’s statement for residents of Dorset and the south-west, but I must mention Dorset Green, the new Dorset enterprise zone, which is incredibly welcome, and perhaps most importantly of all, the fairer funding formula for our schools in Poole and Dorset, which have until now been among the worst funded in the country.

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is a great champion of his Poole and Dorset constituents. The enterprise zone is going to be a great success in Dorset, and the funding formula will of course help schools in Dorset.

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab): I thank the Chancellor for clarifying that the £15 million raised from the tampon tax will go to domestic violence charities as well as to women’s health charities. Given that women have gone from paying a luxury tax to what is in effect an insurance payment in case they have to flee violence, will he, in the interests of equality, consider a tax on lads mags to fund prostate cancer, or do only women have to pay for the price of their own services?

Mr Osborne: I think the hon. Lady should be fair about the situation that the United Kingdom finds itself facing. When she was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) gave a very clear explanation of why, because of EU rules, the United Kingdom cannot reduce VAT on sanitary products below 5%. It is no good just standing up and asserting that we can do this, when Labour Ministers have stood at the Dispatch Box and explained why it is not possible. We will continue to campaign, as the previous Labour Government did, to get rid of that tax in the EU, but in the meantime, we are doing something they did not do, which is to take the money and put it into a fund. I ask the hon. Lady to come forward with some good causes that help both women who suffer from domestic violence and women’s health charities so that they can be funded from that pot.

James Heappey (Wells) (Con): Amid the all the wonderful news for Somerset on road and rail infrastructure, will the Chancellor reassure us that he remains fully committed to connecting 100% of homes to superfast broadband?

Mr Osborne: There is a £1.7 billion superfast broadband programme, which will help in the west country. Of course, we are also looking at a universal service obligation on telecom providers—as we have on other utilities—to help my hon. Friend’s constituents.

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Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP): The Burrell Collection refurb is vital for pulling visitors to the south side of Glasgow in my constituency, so I welcome the announcement of £5 million of funding. Will the Chancellor go a little further and commit to meeting me and local people who are keen to build up the south side as a tourist place in Glasgow so that we can really raise its profile?

Mr Osborne: I am very happy to meet the hon. Gentleman and, indeed, anyone he wants to bring with him. If there are sensible projects in Glasgow that we can fund, we will of course look at them. My view is that the Barnett formula and the block grant to Scotland does not mean that the UK Government have done all we can do to help Glasgow. That is why we have the city deal and why we are supporting the Burrell Collection today. If he has some other good ideas, we will be able to fund them too.

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): Some £355 million is allocated for flood defence schemes in the Yorkshire and Humber region. Will my right hon. Friend give us an assurance that the strategically important Humber ports will be prioritised within that allocation?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend has been a doughty champion of flood defences on the Humber. As he well knows, the Environment Agency is looking at the big, long-term scheme that has been put forward there. I will make sure it takes a serious look at what it can do to protect industries in his constituency.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): Continuing with the Humber theme, I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of the £1 million for Hull city of culture 2017, which I think takes the total to £5 million. If he is really serious about the northern powerhouse and investing in the arts in the north, may I gently point out to him that that compares very badly with the fact that an arts campus in Battersea is getting £150 million, an unspecified arts project at the Olympics site will get money and there is an additional £150 million for London museums? Will he think again about what the northern powerhouse and the arts actually mean?

Mr Osborne: I do not think the sum the hon. Lady gave for the Battersea project is quite right. I make no apology for saying that we should invest in our great national museums wherever they are—the Museum of Science in Manchester, the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, or the Science Museum and the V and A in London—because they are all part of what makes the United Kingdom a fantastic place to visit and to live in. I will look seriously at proposals she puts forward for investments in the arts in Yorkshire. As she will see in the autumn statement, we have made a big investment in the arts in Manchester with the commitment to Factory Manchester. We have previously committed money for the Turner Collection to come to Hull, and we have already renovated a number of museums in Hull. Does she have new ideas? Her constituency neighbour, the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson), made a request to me and I have funded it, which I am glad she welcomes.

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Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South) (Con): In the welcome context of increased capital investment in transport, may I ask my right hon. Friend to say more about the progress of the Hendy review, particularly the east-west rail project that is vital to unlocking economic and housing growth in Milton Keynes and Aylesbury Vale?

Mr Osborne: Peter Hendy is doing an excellent job in sorting out the finances of Network Rail. We funded the projects in control period 5 and funded additional spill-overs into control period 6. East-west rail is an important project and it will go ahead.

Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) (Lab): The autumn statement confirms the Chancellor’s climate change exemptions, which leave energy-intensives such as steel companies no better off cash-wise. The partial exemptions from renewables obligation certificates and feed-in tariffs, which are now to end in four months anyway, leave the Chancellor’s new permanent exemption as close to worthless as it gets. The Chancellor announced four years ago an exemption to his carbon price floor tax. Where is it?

Mr Osborne: We are providing a permanent exemption to the maximum amount allowed by EU state rules for steel industries in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency and elsewhere, as well as chemicals and other energy-intensive industries. This will be a permanent exemption, rather than a grant from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. That makes it much more sustainable going forward.

Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): I welcome the £50 million investment in our agri-tech centre at Sand Hutton and the protection for our North York moors, both of which are in my constituency. I welcome the apprenticeship levy as well. Will the Chancellor welcome the comments made during my visit to Karro Foods that the apprenticeship levy would allow it to employ more local people and fewer people from abroad?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is right that we have been able to boost skills in his Yorkshire constituency. We have been able to fund the great national parks of Yorkshire. We have also been able to invest in one of our great British industries, which has not always got a mention in Chancellors’ speeches in the past—farming. The big investment that we are making in agri-tech science with those four centres around the country, including one in York, will be very welcome.

Jenny Chapman (Darlington) (Lab): Can the Chancellor explain why the OBR has just forecast that household debt to income levels are set to rise to above pre-crash levels?

Mr Osborne: The OBR is forecasting a rise in household debt which is partly reflected in a rise in house prices and therefore household assets, against which the debt is secured. But of course there is a big difference from the unsecured debt that we found in 2008. The big difference we now have is a Bank of England with a Financial Policy Committee, which is able to step in when it sees debt levels reach worrying levels. The Governor of the Bank of England signalled before the

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Treasury Committee yesterday concern about buy-to-let prices, for example, and he is receiving the powers to do something about it. That is a big change from the situation five years ago.

Richard Drax (South Dorset) (Con): My constituents in South Dorset will want to thank my right hon. Friend for the enterprise zone at Winfrith Green, which is going to create thousands of jobs, for looking again at the education funding, which was very unfair to Dorset, and for the incentives to take on apprenticeships, which is so important for the future economy and particularly for the young people of this country.

Mr Osborne: I thank my hon. Friend. Dorset is a fantastic county. The enterprise zone will be a great success. Schools in Dorset will be boosted by the announcement today on the funding formula. He is absolutely right—we want great jobs in Dorset that are available to local people, so the apprenticeship support will mean that local people have the skills to get those jobs.

Philip Boswell (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (SNP): I see on page 14 of the autumn statement that the Chancellor forecasts public sector net borrowing increasing significantly from 2014 through 2019, then almost miraculously hitting the Chancellor’s £10 billion surplus target by 2019-20. How can he be sure of keeping interest rates low enough for long enough to even have a hope of hitting this most optimistic of targets in this decade of austerity?

Mr Osborne: I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman misread the table, but public sector net borrowing is shown on page 14 as falling in every year, then it reaches a surplus.

John Glen (Salisbury) (Con): I thank the Chancellor for his unswerving commitment to welfare reform, enabling him to invest in schools, defence and the NHS, and in particular for his investment in infrastructure. Can he confirm that he will continue to take a close interest in the future of science jobs at Porton and the planned investment in the A303 at Stonehenge?

Mr Osborne: I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. I am very keen to support the Porton science hub that he has championed and to make sure that as the public health laboratories move over a period of years, we build up a strong science hub there. That will be helped by the improved transport connections, including the huge billion-pound or so investment in the A303 past Stonehenge in his constituency.

Roger Mullin (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) (SNP): Given the Chancellor’s unwillingness—surely not inability—to answer any of the questions posed by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie), may I ask him again how much has been set aside for reconstruction in Syria?

Mr Osborne: The overseas aid budget, which is going up substantially as our economy grows, is being refocused so that as well as helping the world’s poorest— for example, in sub-Saharan Africa and in countries such as Pakistan—we will also have money to help those

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states on the borders of Europe that are fragile or failing. Some 50% of our overseas aid budget will go towards those fragile and failing states in the world. We are therefore able to increase the resources going to Lebanon, Jordan and the camps in Turkey that are helping the refugees of that terrible crisis. I hope the SNP will look carefully at the arguments that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will make tomorrow in this House.

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): I welcome the Chancellor’s recalibration of tax credits. In my dealings with him on the subject, he was always prepared to listen, polite and understanding of the concerns. On flood defence funding, he mentioned the Humber scheme on which he worked with the Environment Agency. That has now gone back to the EA, which has pooh-poohed the very proposals that it worked with us to create. That is extremely important for the Humber. Can my right hon. Friend assure us that he will do everything to work with local MPs to come up with a scheme that properly defends the Humber and all the investment that we have got coming?

Mr Osborne: I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. I thank him for what he said about the fact that we have had a very constructive dialogue. I have always been prepared to listen to the concerns that my hon. Friend raises, which I always think are heartfelt. On the Humber, we worked together to cut the bridge tolls, to get the enterprise zone, to get the Siemens factory there and to get the new roads to places such as Immingham. On the flood defences, I know that this has taken time, but we are trying to work on a sustainable solution that will protect the businesses of the Humber estuary. I know that he feels very strongly about it, as does my hon. Friend the Member for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers), his neighbour. Let us work together and see if we can move forward with the Environment Agency. It has a rigorous way of assessing these projects. Let us try and make sure that the scheme meets those assessments.

Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab): When the Chancellor says that he will permanently exclude energy-intensive industries such as steel from environmental taxes, is he including the carbon floor tax which the Government unilaterally introduced in previous years?

Mr Osborne: The exclusion on the energy bills is for the various tariffs, such as feed-in tariffs. We are announcing at the Budget the results of our long-term consultation on energy taxes—we announced at the Budget earlier this year that it would take place—so we will have an answer for the hon. Gentleman then.

Matt Warman (Boston and Skegness) (Con): Across every Government Department the Chancellor is investing in a nationwide digital revolution, which I warmly welcome. Will he heed the more than 100 Members of Parliament across this House who have asked him to invest in broadband to make all that possible?

Mr Osborne: We have got the £1.7 billion. We are committing to the superfast broadband rollout that will take it to 95% of the population. We are, as my hon. Friend knows, looking at a universal service obligation

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on the telecoms companies to reach more customers, as the other utilities already have. He is right that broadband is vital for the economic future of this country and helps rebalance our economy not just geographically from south to the north, but in the rural areas of our country, where it is now possible to run successful international businesses in a way that was not possible a decade ago.

Neil Gray (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP): The Blue Book adds just a little detail to the Chancellor’s announcement of the expansion in social security conditionality. It is estimated that 1.3 million people will be caught up in this. Can the Chancellor say whether he will be dragging the sick and disabled to jobcentres every week?

Mr Osborne: There is additional support for disabled people who want to get into work. There is help for people who have been unemployed for 18 months through our help to work scheme. The additional conditionality that the hon. Gentleman refers to relates to people who are currently on housing benefit but do not face that conditionality. Housing benefit is becoming part of universal credit, so that is one category of people we can extend the conditionality to.

Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) (Con): May I follow my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately) in offering words of thanks from the people of Kent for the £250-million commitment to find a permanent solution to Operation Stack? Kent MPs should go and see the Chancellor more regularly. Does he agree that Kent, which is on the frontline of cross-border trade and movement of people, deserves special treatment and, at times, spending?

Mr Osborne: Kent is a very special place as the garden of England. My hon. Friend and other hon. Friends from Kent came to see me and made a compelling argument about what happens to local roads when the channel tunnel is blocked and how that affects his constituents and people in Folkestone near the tunnel mouth. We are making a quarter of a billion pound commitment to finding a permanent solution to that problem. I congratulate him and other Kent MPs on a successful campaign.

Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP): I am sure that the Chancellor merely forgot to answer the questions of my hon. Friends the Members for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie) and for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Roger Mullin) on the rebuilding of Syria, so I will give him another chance. If the Government persuade the House to back military action, how much has he set aside for the city deals for Aleppo, Damascus and Homs?

Mr Osborne: As I have said, we have an increasing overseas aid budget and 50% of that budget will go to failing states. I assure the hon. Gentleman that if there was a political solution in Syria that enabled the Department for International Development to go to Aleppo and Damascus, we would be able to spend considerable sums on rebuilding those cities. It is frankly a bit unrealistic of the Scottish nationalists to ask about the city deal for Aleppo when it is in the middle of a civil war that we are all trying to bring to an end.

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Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con): I strongly welcome my right hon. Friend’s announcements on police spending and the progress that is being made on exempting the steel industry from green taxes. Those are issues that I am hugely passionate about, as are my constituents. Will he clarify, however, when the exemption will kick in?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend, who I believe is the son of police officers, made a persuasive argument to me about what we could do to our police when we discussed that matter. He has done his parents and his constituents in Corby proud. The support for energy intensive industries has been provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills out of its departmental budget this year. In the years ahead, it will be provided as an exemption from the green tariffs.

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): In addition to the threat to thousands of Revenue and Customs jobs in my constituency, proposals have been announced by Webhelp and Shop Direct, which has the Very and Littlewoods brands, to transfer 400 call centre jobs to South Africa. What in the statement will encourage such companies to remain or, as the Chancellor puts it, stay here in Britain, especially in the light of the cuts to departmental budgets?

Mr Osborne: The way in which we can support the hon. Gentleman’s constituents and ensure that businesses invest here is by being a competitive place to do business. He is right to draw attention to the fact that companies can choose to locate anywhere in the world. How do we address that? We make Britain the place to invest and we make Liverpool the place to invest, so that we attract those businesses here. Investment is coming into this country. Indeed, Britain has attracted more investment than the rest of Europe. As I set out today in the autumn statement, overall investment in our economy is going up by more than investment in any other G7 economy this year, and it will go up more here next year and the year after than in any other G7 economy. That will produce the jobs that he wants for his constituents.

Dr James Davies (Vale of Clwyd) (Con): I thank the Chancellor for an autumn statement that will be welcomed by my constituents in the Vale of Clwyd. Over the past few months, I have received several representations about the need to meet the growing cost of social care in north Wales. How will the very necessary new social care precept and the increase in the better care fund apply to Wales, bearing in mind the fact that local government functions are devolved?

Mr Osborne: The Barnett formula consequentials will apply. I am happy to write to my hon. Friend on the specific support that we can give to social care in Wales. As I say, his constituents will be beneficiaries of the relative protection for the NHS and things like social care in England through the Barnett formula. Crucially, the new funding floor will also provide protection. I will write to him specifically about the devolved arrangements in social care.

Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP): First, I associate myself with the comments made by our Labour sisters about the tampon tax. I am glad to see that the Chancellor is helping the SNP to implement at least one aspect of our manifesto.

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I have been asking the Chancellor since his statement in July how he intends to make women prove that they had their third child as a result of rape. There are still no answers on that and the two-child policy still applies, despite his U-turn on the tax credit cuts.

I would also like to ask about the limiting of housing benefit and pension credit to four weeks for claimants who go abroad. Will there be protection for people who have to go abroad as a result of a bereavement in their family?

Mr Speaker: All those matters are of the highest importance and I know that the Chancellor will respond diligently, but sometimes Members suffer short-term memory loss, so perhaps I should just remind the House of the merits of pithy questions.

Mr Osborne: The last point that the hon. Lady raised was a perfectly fair one. At the moment, people can leave this country for up to 13 weeks and continue to receive housing benefit and pension credit, without any explanation of why they left. That is a very long time for the people she represents and the people I represent to pay the housing benefit of someone who is not even in the country and is not living in the house for which the housing benefit is being paid. We are reducing that to a month, which is still quite a long period. There will be arrangements and discretionary support to help people who face exceptional circumstances of the kind that she describes, such as a bereavement.

As part of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, we will come forward with the results of the work and consultations that we have undertaken on the issue she raises about rape and violence.

John Stevenson (Carlisle) (Con): I thank the Chancellor and congratulate him on securing an enterprise zone for Carlisle. It is hugely significant for the area and I look forward to his visiting when the site is full. Does he agree that if business is to invest in places such as the Carlisle enterprise zone there must be financial stability and consistency of policy? Does he agree that it is important that business success is central to Government policy?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He is a champion of bringing businesses to Carlisle. I have made a number of visits with him to Carlisle businesses, including a sawmill and construction sites that are providing new homes for people there. He is right that none of those things is possible—people do not build houses and businesses do not expand—if there is no economic security and no confidence in the long-term plan of the Government. We have been able to provide a new enterprise zone for Carlisle, and buried in the detail of the document there is extra support for air routes from Carlisle as well.

Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP): I ask the Chancellor to answer this question without any bluster about oil and fiscal frameworks. In fact, I ask for a one-word answer. In real terms, over the course of this Parliament, will the Scottish revenue grant suffer a Tory cut?

Mr Osborne: The block grant is going up, and there is a big increase in the capital budget. If the SNP had had its way and Scotland had become independent, there

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would have been savage cuts, because the OBR has just confirmed a massive fall in oil revenue income, which would have devastated Scotland. Thankfully, Scotland is part of a strong United Kingdom.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. The hon. Member for Wealden (Nusrat Ghani) has perambulated around the Chamber, which of itself is perfectly legitimate, and we enjoyed hearing from her earlier. May I just ask, was she here throughout the statement?

Nusrat Ghani (Wealden) (Con): Yes.

Mr Speaker: She was; we will hear from her.

Nusrat Ghani: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

A good education not only enables our children to reach their full potential but is empowering, and we now have 1 million children attending good or outstanding schools. May I thank the Chancellor for protecting our schools budget and for the good news about the commitment to a new funding formula, which will mean so much to my rural constituency?

Mr Osborne: The constituency of Wealden is dear to my heart, as my father grew up in Framfield, near the town of Uckfield, and I have been to see the area.

My hon. Friend is right that the support we are giving East Sussex in this statement is really compelling. It means that we can support the schools in her constituency, of which she has been such a strong champion.

Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) (LD): Following England’s series win against New Zealand, I am delighted that the Government are supporting the bid for the 2021 rugby league world cup. Last time there were huge problems on the trains, so will he bring forward plans to electrify the TransPennine line and the Leeds, Harrogate and York line which are so important to his northern powerhouse?

Mr Osborne: I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has noticed the bid that we have made for the rugby league world cup. Let us just hope that England, and indeed all the home teams, are a bit more successful than we were in the rugby union world cup.

The TransPennine train route is being electrified as fast as is possible in engineering terms. It is not a question of money—we have said that we will spend the money required for the electrification. The timetable is simply being dictated by what is possible in the engineering. I am therefore confident that we are making progress as fast as we possibly can.

Callum McCaig (Aberdeen South) (SNP): The Chancellor seems to find the fall in the oil price somewhat amusing, whereas in the real world it means job losses and companies going to the wall. When will he stop laughing and start delivering the support for exploration that the industry requires?

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Mr Osborne: It is now SNP policy that it wants a higher oil price, so presumably all the motorists would have to pay more for their car journeys in SNP Members’ constituencies and all the non-oil businesses would have to pay more as well. The truth is that not even the Scottish nationalist party is in control of the world oil price. It changes, and we have to ensure that that brilliant industry in the North sea is supported through the ups and downs of the world oil price cycle.

We have made huge cuts to North sea oil taxation this year and provided additional support for exploration. We have stepped in, with the industry, to create the Oil and Gas Authority for the UK and make sure it does everything it can so that we get every drop of oil we can out of the North sea, and indeed get the gas out too. I would have thought the hon. Gentleman wanted to work with us to make that possible. Of course, that kind of support would never be possible if Scotland were independent.

Mr Speaker: Last but never least, Mr Jim Shannon.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is always a pleasure to speak in the House. I thank the Chancellor for the good things that he is doing for Northern Ireland, which have been confirmed today. Other Members have spoken about them.

Next Tuesday will be World AIDS Day. The latest figures for the United Kingdom show a rise in HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. In the news today, the talk was that many clinics where diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections takes place would have their funding reduced. Can the Chancellor confirm that the extra moneys set aside for health will ensure that those clinics remain open so that STIs can be diagnosed at an early stage?

Mr Osborne: The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to World AIDS Day, and to the fact that we are funding the national health service and so can support screening for and research into sexually transmitted disease and provide support for people with HIV/AIDS. We have included in our announcements this week the £1 billion Ross fund, named after Ronald Ross, a Nobel laureate of this country. That will go towards disease research, which could well include the disease that the hon. Gentleman mentions.

Mr Speaker: I thank the Chancellor, the shadow Chancellor and all colleagues. Three hours and 10 minutes later, subject to their other commitments, they can have a cup of tea.

Royal Assent

Mr Speaker: I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that the Queen has signified her Royal Assent to the following Act:

Northern Ireland (Welfare Reform) Act 2015.

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Scotland Act 1998 (Amendment)

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

Mr Speaker: I call the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, who has been patiently waiting.

3.44 pm

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): Excellent pronunciation, as ever, Mr Speaker.

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish a mechanism by which the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament and a majority of Members representing Scottish constituencies may jointly determine further powers and responsibilities to be devolved to Scotland; and for connected purposes.

The House has decided that there is a need for English votes for English laws, or EVEL, and now, to keep modernising the House of Commons, in which the Scottish National party is always keen to play a constructive role, and, more importantly, to put Scotland first, it is time to have Scots votes for Scots laws, or SVSL—as an aide memoire, that sounds almost like thistle.

The foundation of my argument and of the call for SVSL comes from a great promiser of devolution who said:

“If Scotland says it does want to stay inside the United Kingdom then all the options of devolution are there and are possible”.

That promiser was, of course, the Prime Minister. Since then the SNP has tabled 80-plus amendments to the Scotland Bill on Report alone and none were accepted—not quite all options, and very far from all possible. The SNP is, as I have said, here to help.

Given that, as I will show, Westminster has failed Scotland, it is time to move to a point beyond that at which we are promised crumbs from the table or we plead for those crumbs—to a point at which we are given the keys to the larder where Scotland’s powers have been deposited since 1707. That would mean that, in line with the Prime Minister’s words, Scotland could choose to take powers fulfilling the solemn promise he broadcast to Scotland just eight days before the referendum: all options of devolution are there and all are possible. That was the premise on which the Scottish people voted for the other option to yes. It was not a no vote. Remember, Madam Deputy Speaker, that at the time of the vote the three amigos, as they were dubbed in Scotland, galloped from this Chamber to Scotland. The referendum became a choice between yes and lots of powers, with even a vow thrown in, and/or as close to federalism as possible.

To help, I propose an amendment to the Scotland Act 1998 whereby devolution to Scotland occurs first, when Her Majesty’s Scottish Government want the powers; secondly, when the Scottish Parliament ratifies the Scottish Government’s wish; and thirdly, when a majority of Scottish constituency MPs at Westminster agree to that. Those Scottish votes for Scottish laws—SVSL—would complement EVEL in this Chamber. A devolution triple lock, but with an energetic drive. I would not include defence, by the way, but given that the Scottish Government are already moving on foreign affairs, it would seem sensible to let that option be there if chosen by Scotland, so that we can improve our trading situation as a nation.

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Some will ask why I want to do this. The latest Scotland Bill has been described to me by an eminent independent legal mind in Scotland as more of a miscellaneous provisions Act—in other words, it is a bùrach. In fact, this is Westminster’s third attempt to tell Scotland, “You’ve had all you’re getting of your powers back; now be happy and stop bothering us.” That has twice clearly been unsatisfactory, and it looks as though it will be unsatisfactory again.

Indeed, the House of Lords would seem to support my point that the Scotland Bill is already failing Scotland. Last Friday, newspaper headlines read “Lords demands halt to Scotland Bill” and “Committee slams detail on fiscal framework”, with a Lords Committee saying that there has been a lack of

“attention to detail or principles”,

the upshot being that the Bill is impossible for it to scrutinise.

In Scotland, the feeling is certainly that Westminster must do better, as it has had three chances and has failed. It has failed three times. The definition of madness is to continue to do the same thing and expect different results. Therefore, to save us from the well-meaning blundering of Westminster we in Scotland feel, to paraphrase Churchill, that Westminster’s virtues are worse than the vices of 2,000 men. We needed amendments to the Scotland Act 1998 to provide us with a solution.

The solution I outlined earlier is based on experience and practice and informed by conversations and observations, one of which took place on 8 April last year when Uachtarán na hÉireann Mícheál D. Ó hUiginn —Irish President Michael D. Higgins— came to address both Houses of this Parliament in an historic first state visit by an Irish Head of State to the UK since the formation back in 1922 of both those equally aged states, if in slightly different guises—that is, the Republic of Ireland and the UK. The experience I witnessed was a real joy.

To set the scene, after the Irish President’s address I had the good fortune over at the Lords to be in what is known as the Robing Room. I was speaking to the President in a healthy mixture of Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic when who interrupted our conversation with the coarser Saxon tongue but the Prime Minister. His words, however, were of honey: he told the President of the magnificent relations he saw between the UK and Ireland—the stuff in all the papers at the time—and how the relationship hardly needed a nudge. It was honey, sweetness, light—hon. Members can add their own mellifluous superlatives. The contrast between the respect for independent, thriving Ireland and the attitude to Scotland, even then—pre-referendum—and especially now, could not be starker: a relationship of relaxed joy towards Ireland as against one of grudging grievance about treating Scotland the same way.

Example tells us it could be otherwise in the British Isles. Between Ireland and Scotland, England and Wales is Ellan Vannin, as it is called in its own Gaelic language, or the Isle of Man, as it is known in the coarser tongue. With a population of 85,000, it has a Parliament that dwarfs Westminster in antiquity and is rivalled only by those of Iceland and the Faroe Islands in the scope of its history—these places being linked by those unlikely but pioneering early lawmakers the Viking Norse, who, it was noted at the time, followed the rule of law more than the rule of a king.

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The independence of the UK, Ireland and the Isle of Man vis-à-vis one another has led to higher GDP in these islands than would exist had they all been one state, regardless of where the capital was and where decisions were made—Dublin, Edinburgh, London or indeed at the Tynwald of Ellan Vannin. Hence I am calling for this sensible step to enable Scotland to move forward as Scottish society sees fit, as the Manx and Irish societies already do, and not be held back by the ball and chain of continued Westminster failure of process and policy from a governing party that was not chosen by 90% of the Scottish electorate.

Let us look at a better example for Scotland, away from the crumbs at the table, and towards the open door with the keys to the larder. Let us look to the model of the Faroe Islands and Denmark: a model for London to aspire to now. It is worth recapping what we currently do—and redo—to the exasperation of the Lords and the Scottish people, as I have said. When devolution came to the UK and Scotland in 1999, after decades of chip-on-the-shoulder Tory resistance, it was devolution, driven by Labour, of Departments it thought would not present a problem—health, education, transport. This was in 1997, when Labour ruled supreme at Holyrood and Westminster—the heady days of Blair and “things can only get better”, the days before Iraq.

The next stage of proposed devolution is fragmented and sees Westminster keeping hold of powers and bits and pieces of departmental responsibility, including some welfare and some tax, meaning we can lower air passenger duty but not benefit from the extra revenues that such a change will bring to Scotland. We can have parts of welfare, but we have to deal with benefit cuts being made on the back of the poorest. In essence, we are still just getting the crumbs from the table—and even then only where we cajole enough. Let us make the relationship mature by fulfilling the words of the Prime Minister:

“If Scotland says it does want to stay inside the United Kingdom then all the options of devolution are there and are possible”.

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Let us turn the telescope, and instead of getting crumbs from the table, let us open the larder door. That is exactly what Copenhagen does for the Faroe Islands, which can take or leave powers as they want. They have chosen to take everything except defence and justice. For example, their Finance Minister, Kristina Háfoss, within her jurisdiction, which covers 50,000 people, has powers equivalent to those that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has in a jurisdiction covering 60 million people. Given that the Faroese unemployment rate is lower than the UK’s, she is arguably more successful.

The Finance Minister’s party colleague in the coalition Government, the Fisheries Minister, Høgni Hoydal, deals not with Denmark on fisheries but with the entire EU, Iceland and Norway, as they decide the fate of north-east Atlantic fisheries. The Faroe Islands are in Denmark, but not in the EU. Size does not matter, as is proved by the fact that, on fisheries matters, 50,000 Faroese often get the better of 500 million EU citizens. It is not a case of asking Denmark or justifying policies to Copenhagen; it is a case of their own people in their own Parliament deciding what powers and polices they want. This is known as normality.

So let us learn. Let us turn the telescope. Let us help the Prime Minster fulfil his words about all options of devolution being there and possible. Let us cast aside the repeated failures of Westminster. Let the settled will of the Scottish people drive Scotland forward. Let us trust the people: Scots votes for Scots laws.

Question put and agreed to.


That Angus Brendan MacNeil, Stewart Malcolm McDonald, Stuart C McDonald, Stewart Hosie, Stuart Blair Donaldson, Carol Monaghan, Dr Paul Monaghan, Calum Kerr, Callum McCaig, Alex Salmond, Angus Robertson and Brendan O’Hara present the Bill.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 11 March, and to be printed (Bill 101).

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Childcare Bill [Lords]

Second Reading

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): As we come on to the Childcare Bill [Lords], I have to remind the House that Mr Speaker has certified clauses 2, 4 and 6 under Standing Order No. 83J in relation to England. I further remind the House that this does not affect proceedings in the Second Reading debate or indeed in Committee or on Report. After Report, Mr Speaker will consider the Bill again for certification and, if required, the Legislative Grand Committee will be asked to consent to certified provisions.

3.56 pm

The Secretary of State for Education (Nicky Morgan): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I am delighted to open this Second Reading debate. At the general election, the Prime Minister promised that a Conservative Government would

“give working parents of three and four-year-olds 30 hours of free childcare a week”.

We put the early years at the heart of our manifesto because we know how important those years are for children’s school readiness and future educational success. We also know that working families struggle to find flexible, affordable and high-quality childcare. For many parents, this challenge is the biggest barrier to work. So I am determined—and this Government are determined—to deliver these measures that will give children the best start in life, support parents to work and allow our economy and our society to prosper as a result.

We brought forward this Bill so that we can give working parents an extra 15 hours of free childcare—in addition to the current 15 hours of free early education for all three and four-year-olds. The 30-hours offer will give hard-working parents a real choice to earn more by going out to work or working more hours, if they want to do so. We have not wasted any time in delivering on this commitment. Just one month after the election, we introduced this legislation to the other place and launched a review of the cost of providing childcare—something that providers had long called for to inform a fair and sustainable funding rate.

Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con): My right hon. Friend rightly says that she wants to make sure that her measures are delivering for all children. How is she going to make sure that this Bill delivers for disabled children and their access to childcare, which can be so important for helping parents who want to get back into work?

Nicky Morgan: I thank my right hon. Friend very much indeed for that question. She raises an important point. We want local authorities—in fact, they are under a duty—to ensure that they provide places for all children, including those with disabilities.

This Childcare Bill and the 15 additional free hours it provides is, of course, part of an overall package of childcare measures being introduced by this Government. My right hon. Friend has already talked today about the fact that we are spending over the course of this Parliament £1 billion more on childcare every year. I shall come on to talk about this in more detail.

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We will conduct an early years funding formula review, as we want to understand how providers cater for children with disabilities and special educational needs. I should also point out for the sake of completeness that our tax-free childcare proposals mean that the maximum amount parents of these children could pay into their childcare accounts is double the amount that could be paid for children without disabilities. Parents can use that money for children with disabilities until they are 18, and for children who are not disabled until they are 12. I hope my right hon. Friend will agree that we are offering a comprehensive package of childcare support for all children and all families.

Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con): I am very grateful for what the Secretary of State has said, but can she reassure nursery providers in my constituency, such as Broadstone Christian nursery and Montessori nursery in Lytchett Minster, that there will be a fairer funding formula? We heard about the formula a few moments ago, but it is particularly important for childcare providers.

Nicky Morgan: I am delighted to hear about the work of the nurseries in my hon. Friend’s constituency. Yes, I can give him that assurance. The national funding formula review will apply not only to schools but to early years, and it will include the high-needs block of funding as well.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): The doubling of hours for childcare is great, but how will we ensure that the quality of the care that our children receive will be doubled up? How will we ensure that there are sufficient places, and that they are of the right quality?

Nicky Morgan: My hon. Friend has raised an important point. We are, of course, doubling the entitlement to free childcare for two-year-olds, which originally applied to 20% who were the most disadvantaged, and now applies to 40%. The sector responded by creating an additional 230,000 places over the last Parliament. It has already risen to the challenge, and will do so again. I shall go on to say something about the way in which families will respond to the entitlement and how they will use the additional hours—I am sure that other Members will speak about that as well—but we know that there is already spare capacity in the system.

Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) (Lab): The right hon. Lady will correct me if my reading of the Blue Book is wrong, but I understand that the maximum amount will be £5,000 per child. If that applies only to term-time, we are talking about 30 hours times 38—1,140 hours—which, as things stand, means a maximum of £4.38 per hour. In my constituency, where childcare costs more than £9 an hour, that will not be enough to pay for it.

Nicky Morgan: I shall go on to talk about the hourly rate. I shall be publishing the findings of the funding rate review, but as part of the funding formula review, we want to ensure that as much money as possible goes to the front line.

Julian Sturdy (York Outer) (Con): The Secretary of State is right to refer to the fairer funding formula, which is vital to nurseries. She will probably come to

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this later, but what measures is she introducing to guarantee that local authorities will pass on all the extra funding to nursery providers, and will not top-slice it?

Nicky Morgan: I will come on to that, but my hon. Friend is absolutely right. As I have said, we want as much money as possible to go to the frontline, and that will be one of the issues that we will raise as part of the funding formula review.

Emily Thornberry: Will the Secretary of State give way?

Nicky Morgan: I am going to make some progress. I think the hon. Lady will want to hear what I say about rates. She may want to ask a further question after that.

The hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) is on record as saying that she is pleased to see that the Government are offering more support for early years, and wants to see our policies turned into reality. Today, she has the chance to demonstrate her support by joining us in the Lobby to support the Bill. It appears that she will be doing that, and I welcome the support of the Labour party.

Questions were raised in the other place about why the Bill was introduced so early. My response to that is “Why would we wait?” It is clear from the interest expressed by Members today, and from the reaction of our constituents, how successful and important the existing 15-hours offer is in supporting better outcomes for children. As the OECD’s latest “Education at a Glance” study reminds us, the United Kingdom is one of 13 OECD countries in which more than 90% of children aged three are enrolled in pre-primary settings, and pupils who each received one year of pre-primary education in the United Kingdom perform better at the age of 15 than their peers who did not.

We also know that the extension of free childcare is something that working parents want, so instead of waiting, we committed ourselves to implementing the extended offer early in some areas, from September 2016. We know that that is what parents want because we have listened to them. Over the summer, my Department consulted nearly 20,000 members of the public and 750 employers. Those who took part told us that they wanted 30 hours of free childcare and that the increase in hours would support their work choices. I heard that myself on a visit to Rolls-Royce in August with the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr Gyimah), who has responsibility for childcare and education. Employees talked to us about their childcare decisions and what they are looking for from the entitlement to 30 hours of free childcare. It was a pleasure for us to meet them and I thank them for sharing their views. They were very clear that they want more flexibility and choice in how they can access childcare.

I am determined to ensure that high-quality, affordable childcare is available to those parents, so that pressure is taken off their household budgets, and so they are more financially secure and better able to plan for their future. I am confident that we have a childcare sector that will deliver. The childcare market is flourishing: it has grown by 230,000 places since 2009.

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Mrs Flick Drummond (Portsmouth South) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that the 124 childminders who create 597 places in Portsmouth make a big difference to the overall quality of childcare? Will measures be put in place to support them with administration, in particular?

Nicky Morgan: I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. Childcare by childminders is very much part of the response. They are popular and flexible. We want to continue to do what we did in the last Parliament—to offer childcare business support grants, which enable people to set up in business as childminders; often they are women setting up in business for the first time. We welcome their contribution to this market.

Providers have demonstrated what they can do through the two-year-old free entitlement programme, with nearly 60% of eligible children accessing a place at the beginning of this year, four months after the entitlement was extended. Now we will increase our overall investment in the childcare sector and set an increased funding rate that will enable providers to deliver the entitlement and ensure fair value for the taxpayer.

The Chancellor has just made the autumn statement and he could not have demonstrated more clearly the Government’s commitment to funding the early years and childcare. In the last Parliament, we invested around £20 billion to support parents with childcare. The Chancellor’s announcement today, along with the funding announced at the Budget in the summer, mean that this Government will go even further and invest a record amount in childcare.

The Government will provide more support than any other in history, with, as I have mentioned, a package that includes rolling out tax-free childcare from 2017 and more support for families on universal credit. The extended entitlement means that working families will be entitled to receive an unprecedented increase in childcare support, with savings of up to £5,000 per child per year for working families. By 2019-20, we will be investing more than £1 billion a year to fund our manifesto pledge for 30 hours of childcare for working parents of three and four-year-olds.

As well as being the only party to commit to extending free childcare to 30 hours, at the general election we were the only party to commit to raise the average funding rate paid to providers. Today we are confirming we will do so.

Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) (SNP): Will the Secretary of State give way?

Nicky Morgan: I am going to make some progress on this paragraph and then I will come back to the hon. Lady.

The increase in funding includes nearly £300 million for a significant uplift to the rate paid for the two, three and four-year-old entitlements. That will deliver a new national average funding rate paid to providers. Both rates will increase by at least 30p per hour. For three and four-year-olds, the new average rate will be £4.88, including the early years pupil premium and the rate for two-year olds will be £5.39. With that increase we have set the level of funding that providers need to deliver high-quality childcare, while at the same time providing good value to the taxpayer. We will also consult on a package of reforms to improve efficiency in the sector

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and further ensure value for money. I can also confirm that the early years pupil premium will not change and is worth £50 million in 2015-16, helping to ensure that three and four-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds have the best start in life.

The increase in the funding rate is supported by the robust review of the cost of childcare carried out over the last six months. Today that review is being published and will be made available in the Library of the House. I thank those who responded to the call for evidence as part of the review, as well as those who were involved in attending round table discussions across the country.The participation and engagement of organisations including the Pre-school Learning Alliance, the National Day Nurseries Association, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, the Independent Schools Council and other key partners, meant we were able fully to understand the concerns and arguments around the funding of the entitlement.

As the Chancellor has also announced, we are committed to ensuring that funding is allocated in the fairest way. Next year, we will consult on an early years national funding formula, which will give due consideration to funding for disadvantaged children and to special educational needs funding for the early years.

Emily Thornberry: I am sorry; I remain genuinely confused. I hear the Secretary of State talking about a fairer funding formula. In Islington, the rate is £9.40 per hour. Will money be taken from other boroughs to pay for the childcare there? Obviously, an amount less than £4.50 an hour will not be enough to pay for it. These are not my figures.

Nicky Morgan: I suggest that the hon. Lady look at the review, which is being published as I speak. The figure of £9 an hour is not one that we recognise. No such case has been made to us in the course of the review. As I have just set out, the average rate is going to go up to £4.88 for three and four-year-olds, and to £5.39 for two-year-olds. We are confident, based on the evidence we have gathered, that that increase will provide high-quality childcare for children in Islington and elsewhere in the country.

Emily Thornberry rose

Nicky Morgan: Let me just answer the hon. Lady’s other question. She asked about the funding formula review. That is about making sure that as much money as possible goes to the frontline. I hope she has also had a conversation with Islington council. The duty is on me, under this Bill, to procure the places, but the local authority’s role is to provide a sufficient number of places for families needing childcare and it must pass on as much of the money as it possibly can—we have already talked about top-slicing—so that the front-line providers get the money that the taxpayer is providing.

Emily Thornberry: As I understand it, the figure of £9.50 that I quoted was provided by the Daycare Trust. The Secretary of State really ought to be aware that there are boroughs, particularly in inner London, where the price of childcare is much more than £4.50 an hour. We simply will not be able to afford to provide childcare for the amount that is being announced today.

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Nicky Morgan: The Bill is going to enter Committee and I am sure that there will be debates on this, but the evidence-based review we are publishing today does not support the figure the hon. Lady mentions. She might be talking about the additional rate that some providers will charge, but we are talking about the free entitlement and about the hundreds of millions of pounds of hard-earned taxpayers’ money that this Government are going to spend to ensure that working families get the support for childcare that they need.

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham) (Con): The subject of councils siphoning off a bit of the money has been mentioned. That happens in Wiltshire, and I welcome my right hon. Friend’s intention to try to stop it. What measures will be put in place to achieve that, so that people in Wiltshire will get just as much as everyone else?

Nicky Morgan: Part of the reason for having the funding formula review, which is part of the wider review of school funding, is to ensure that we talk to the local authorities, and the other bodies that receive the money, to find the best ways of doing this. In my opinion, that should involve maximum transparency so that people know how much money is being given by the Government, how much the local authority is receiving and how much is being passed on. That would enable the childcare-providing businesses and the families who were potentially going to be paying additional costs to know exactly how much money was not making it through to the frontline. We need to have that review and ensure that we get contributions from across the country.

Julian Sturdy: Is this new money going to be ring-fenced? I am a bit uncertain about that. I had assumed that it would be ring-fenced specifically so that it could go to nursery providers.

Nicky Morgan: The money for childcare providers is paid to local authorities as part of something called the dedicated school grant, and it is obviously paid for the provision of childcare. This goes back to the point I have just made about transparency. We need to know exactly how much of it is being spent and how much is reaching the frontline. In this case we are talking about childcare providers, but this also applies to the other money that local authorities receive for their education budgets.

Let me turn to the funding review clause, which was added to the Bill in the other place. Now that we have carried out a substantial funding review and acted on its findings, we want to get on with implementing free entitlement. However, the first clause in the Bill, which aims to establish an independent funding review before the Bill comes into force, will put early implementation at risk. Despite claiming to be on the side of working parents, Labour peers were willing deliberately to delay these important measures by asking for a further funding review.