Westminster Matters

Westminster Matters

A Week in Westminster

By Albert Owen MP

March 2017

Budgets often unravel when we see the finer details. Phillip Hammond's first Budget just didn't unravel, it imploded, and he was forced to do a massive U-Turn over his plan to alter National Insurance for the self-employed.

The proposal was more than a tax hike, it was a broken manifest pledge. In short, the Chancellor's budget was a fiscal and political failure and a massive humiliation that leaves a massive £2bn black hole in a 'neutral' budget.

He is not the first Chancellor to mess up, his predecessor George Osborne had a disaster with Tax credits hitting the poor, and in 2012 his pasty and caravan tax were not thought through and had to be dropped. Moreover, recent Tory chancellors have failed to meet their promise of clearing the deficit by 2015 and are borrowing more than ever. It’s no wonder the PM is embarrassed, she sacked Osborne and only recently appointed Hammond.

As Parliament passed the Article 50 Bill, the PM had another shock as the Scottish SNP First Minister announced she would trigger a second independence referendum despite the first being a ' once in a lifetime’ event. The SNP are using the EU referendum result as a tool for their goal. Ironically, they want Scotland to leave the U.K. single market but say Britain leaving EU single market is a disaster. Their proposals will spread division in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Indeed I recently visited Edinburgh on committee business and many in the business community in Scotland oppose the additional issues leaving the UK would do to their economy.

In Parliament I chaired The Bus Services Bill Committee and hosted a meeting on pylons with key stakeholders and local elected representatives on the North Wales Grid connection. I will continue to press for options to underground transmission and mitigate the impact on communities and the local landscape.

In the constituency I was out and about meeting community groups and individuals.

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