Monday, 28 June 2010

Lib Dem rebels say Treasury will accept Budget amendment. Treasury says: No

St Ives MP Andrew George’s amendment to the Finance Bill is sitting proudly on today’s order paper.

It demands a full impact assessment of the VAT rise, amid growing Lib Dem unease over the impact on the poorest.

Mr George has just put out a press release seeking to calm things down, in which he insists it is no big deal.
“My proposal is not tantamount to an earthquake along the fault line of the Coalition. The Coalition is different to the one party rule we have experienced in the past. It is a Coalition of two distinct parties with distinct policies and values. Those items, like budget measures which clearly cannot be debated between the parties prior to announcement, can, and should, be subject to an open debate prior to implementation. That is all my Parliamentary colleagues and I are doing.”
The release concludes with:
Mr George is expecting that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rt. Hon Danny Alexander MP, will accept his amendment and agree to the undertaking of a further impact assessment of the VAT rise prior to its implementation.
But a Treasury source insists this aint gonna happen. On a practical level, the way the Budget debate is structured means the Finance Bill cannot actually be amended and a vote cannot take place.

More importantly, though, Danny Alexander believes they basically met the demand for fully assessing the impact of the Budget measures, with an “unprecedented” amount of information released, both by the Treasury and the OBR.

This is in contrast, they suggest, to the 2007 Budget when Gordon Brown scrapped the 10p tax rate, and the information about the impact on the low paid had to be “dragged out of them”.

I suspect this will not be enough to quell the anger. Mr George and his three partners in crime are just the tip of a very large Lib Dem iceberg.

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