5 February 2024
Harriett Baldwin welcomes pro-growth measures in the Finance Bill

Harriett Baldwin welcomes the 110 pro-growth measures in the Bill and thanks the Treasury team for their hard work on this. She also calls on the Government to implement the promised proposal to allow people to put fractional shares into their individual savings accounts (ISAs). 

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con)

I will not detain the House for long, because I have the feeling that not all my colleagues are here to listen to my remarks. However, I want to make a couple of points.

First, having heard the Opposition complain about the measures in this Finance Bill, one would think that they did not like them, but they are not here this evening, they are not voting against Third Reading, and they have not tabled any solid proposals themselves. The only economic policy anyone has heard from the Opposition is the extra £28 billion that they want to impose in taxes on our businesses and our families.

Katherine Fletcher (South Ribble) (Con)

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is almost as though the Opposition do not have a plan?

Harriett Baldwin 

I would agree with my hon. Friend.

I point out that the 110 pro-growth, pro-supply side measures in this Finance Bill have not stoked inflation. Indeed, inflation has fallen from over 11% down to 4%, and according to the Bank of England’s forecast, it is on track to reach 2%, so one has to commend the measures taken in this Bill, and I look forward to voting for that progress shortly.

I add my thanks to the officials from the Treasury and HMRC who have worked so hard on this legislation, only to hear that in a month’s time there will be another Budget and another Finance Bill. One has to recognise the hard work that has gone into this Bill, but I do worry that HMRC is being asked to do more and more. I worry about the fact that various thresholds have been frozen, and in particular, as the Minister knows, that the high-income child benefit charge is affecting more taxpayers up and down the land.

I am worried about one of the 110 measures—one that is within HMRC’s bailiwick. It is the measure allowing people to put fractional shares into their individual savings accounts. That was a very welcome announcement in last year’s autumn statement. I tried to put down an amendment to the Bill about it, but it was found not to be orderly because that change has not been legislated for this time around. In fact, the word is that HMRC will not be able to put that in place until at least the next tax year. Can I ask the Financial Secretary to convey the sense of urgency that I think we all feel about making these pro-growth, pro-investment changes?

There is a wide range of measures in this Finance Bill that I welcome, and I look forward to the Budget on 6 March. I think we can pay tribute to all the hard work that the Financial Secretary, his team, and all the Treasury and HMRC officials have put into this excellent piece of legislation.