Monday, 21 April 2008

A transport anorak writes...

So much for my good intentions of speaking in the Finance Bill debate today. One of the annoying things about parliamentary processes is that if you're relatively junior (and as a 2005-er I'm about as junior as they get) then you really have to be prepared to sit in the Chamber all day before you get called to speak. I already had in the diary a DFID ministerial team meeting and a meeting with Rosie Winterton to discuss the Local Transport Bill, and then there was Gordon at the PLP, so that basically scuppered my plans. (I thought it was probably more important to hear what the PM had to say about the 10p band at the PLP meeting than what some posturing Tory backbencher had to say in the Chamber). And then I decided to read up on the Local Transport Bill papers instead... which is why I'm blogging now - bus stats overload!


Whitby Bridge said...

It’s not about listening to "some posturing Tory backbencher".

It’s about doing what you’re paid for.

Making your voice heard on behalf of your constituents.

Standing up for them.

In the one place that counts.

I see you managed to vote, even if you weren’t there for the debate. In favour of a tax cut for the middle classes. And a tax rise for the poor.

Even PPSs are speaking out against it now. And the ‘Mirror’.

A 10% swing will see you out of Bristol East. Have you done the demographics yet? The number of those directly affected and worse off by the abolition of the 10% tax band. Plus those who benefit but are morally appalled by the fact that the Labour party, the Labour party, is happy and ready to make the poor poorer and the rich richer.

Jim Cousins stood up for his constituents. He said “I understand that my right hon. Friend is trying to help the House, but does she accept that there are millions of low-paid losers who are not entitled to tax credits, and millions more who are but who do not claim them because their earnings change from week to week and they do not want to become enmeshed in overpayments? They face food, fuel and rent increases this week, or this month. They cannot wait for a package in 2009: they need it in 2008.

You’ve got another chance to the same. Next week.

Kerry said...
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Kerry said...

That's ridiculous, for several reasons:

A) As I said in my post, it was better to go to the PLP meeting where Labour backbenchers had the opportunity to make their voices heard to the PM about compensation for those affected by the 10p tax rate - rather than sitting in the Chamber listening to someone trying to score party political points. The Chamber is not 'the one place that counts' - far more can usually be achieved by having conversations with Ministers. Today I'm going to meet the Chancellor, along with other PPSs, to discuss the 10p rate. That's a better use of my time than sitting in the Chamber when I know I won't be called to speak. And I did get to see some of the debate; I just didn't have the opportunity to be in the Chamber long enough to be called to speak.

B) The vote was on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill - i.e. the Budget 2008. That Budget was as a whole good for people in Bristol East, especially low income families with children, with the extra money for tackling child poverty. It was not a vote on just the 10p issue, which will be specifically voted on next week.

C) The majority of people on low incomes will not lose out as a result of the changes - e.g. pensioners will benefit from the increased personal allowance, families from increases in child tax credits, and the majority of low paid workers from working tax credits and rises in the minimum wage. The Prime Minister and Chancellor have pledged to do something within this financial year to help those who have been affected - and that's directly as a result of backbench Labour MPs lobbying them and writing to them (which I have also done).

D) A few more points worth making. The 10p rate was introduced as a transitional measure, before tax credits were up and running. According to Gordon in the Chamber today, 80% of the people who benefitted from it were on more than £20,000 a year - so it wasn't the best way of helping people on low incomes (whereas tax credits are targeted at those very people).

See my main website for a copy of the letter the Chancellor has just written to the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, confirming his intention to take action on this issue.

Also worth watching, or reading in Hansard, today's PMQs, which was dominated by the topic. Gordon couldn't have made his intentions more clear, if not the exact means by which they will be achieved. Looks as if pensioners aged 60-64 might be compensated through a top up to the Winter Fuel Allowance, and tax credits might be extended to people under 25. Might find out more from the Chancellor later on today.

Chris Gale said...

The problem is not just the cut in income that people on 18,000 or less will suffer but the added blight of privatisation, pay freezes and so on.
The government has done good things but it has not given enough attention to people who are single and/or childless on poor wages who do not qualify for tax credits etc.
Many people today have to do several jobs just to makes ends meet or have to watch every single penny.

Kerry said...

And another correction - Gordon said 70%, not 80%. That's what comes from blogging in a hurry!