David spoke against the “caravan tax” in the Finance (no 4) Bill Debate. The tax is expected to have a devastating impact on East Yorkshire’s large caravan industry if introduced and has been opposed by all local MPs.
David’s contribution in full:
Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): I want to associate myself with the comments made by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire (Mr Knight), by my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr Stuart), and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson); I embarrass him again by calling him that. The proposal for VAT on static caravans will have a seriously deleterious effect on all of east Yorkshire, including Hull, dramatically cutting employment in the area at a time when we are trying to encourage growth and to balance the books. This proposal will do neither; in fact, it will reverse both.
This is a Finance Bill; the aim is to raise money. The latest estimates of the employment impact of this measure are that it will result in 4,000 to 7,500 job losses, of which 1,500 to 2,000 will be in the vicinity of our constituencies. The effect of that in financial terms is pretty straightforward to calculate. The Government estimate that they will raise £30 million to £40 million in VAT from this change. They will lose between £32 million and £65 million in lost national insurance, lost inland revenue, and extra welfare costs. It will therefore do the opposite of what the Budget is attempting to do. When I put that point to the Treasury, people said to me: “We don’t calculate things in that way.” That might sound silly, but there is a substantive point behind it—as I am sure that the shadow Chancellor, who is smiling, will
know. Usually when one introduces a tax change that leads to job losses, people will, in due course, find another job. In east Yorkshire, two of the three Hull seats have dramatically high unemployment levels already, and the ratio of jobs available to unemployed people seeking them is one of the highest in the country. As a result, the resulting unemployment will not be short term but is likely to last for more than five years. We should calculate the effects of the proposal in this way because, for the foreseeable future, it will cost more than it will raise.
Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): The right hon. Gentleman is making an excellent speech. Has he seen today’s report that 43 people in my constituency are chasing every vacancy? I set that figure alongside the comments that he is making.
Mr Davis: The hon. Lady makes a powerful point that I am not unfamiliar with. We have all been in similar battles over job losses at BAE in Brough and, in my constituency, job losses to the tune of 1,700 have been announced in the past six months.
This proposal does not stand up, on the Government’s own criteria. Accordingly, I support new clause 6 and will vote for it when it is put to the test.
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