Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Challenging Nick Clegg at DPMQs - 20/03/12

Today at Deputy Prime Minister's Questions I challenged Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg over the Lib Dems' broken promises to families who will be hit by the massive cuts to tax credits next month.  An extract from the debate is below.  Read the full exchange here.

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): Last November, when talking about the top rate of tax on income over £150,000, the Deputy Prime Minister said:

“I do not believe that the priority…is to give a tax cut to a tiny, tiny number of people who are much, much better off than anyone else.”

If the Chancellor announces any cut in the top rate of tax, Opposition Members will vote against it: will he?

The Deputy Prime Minister: The right hon. and learned Lady will have to wait until the Chancellor announces his Budget tomorrow. The priority for me and for the whole coalition Government is to provide real help to people on middle and low incomes, who have faced higher prices and great difficulties because of the economic implosion that she and her colleagues presided over in government. Whatever changes there are to this bit of the tax system or that bit of the tax system, Government Members believe that the wealthy should pay more, because the broadest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden.

Ms Harman: We will see about that. Next month, low-income families will be hit by a massive cut to their tax credits, which the Lib Dems voted for. It is now clear that they will go along with a cut in the top rate of tax. I suppose that we should not be surprised after what they have done on VAT, the police and tuition fees. By signing up to cutting the top rate of tax, the Deputy Prime Minister is giving thousands of pounds to the very rich, while cutting tax credits for people who are struggling to make ends meet. Surely, even by Lib Dem standards, that is a step too far.

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