Supporters of shooting will be interested to read the below exchange which took place in an Opposition Day debate on Future Government Spending. The debate took place in the House of Commons on Wednesday 4th March and a factor was Labour’s plan to raise £17m through increasing gun licence fees, with Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie MP saying: “It is a small amount of money but it is still worth doing.”
Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke MP: As I said, the money has to come from somewhere, and middle-income earners are probably pretty high up the list. To be fair, it is not just the 50p rate, although that is the only policy mentioned in the motion. In television interviews, the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury has proclaimed one other policy to reduce the deficit. This is the key to deficit reduction and the policy that will restore public finances to health: a future Labour Government will put up fees for gun licences. How much will that raise? A whopping £17 million—except, to be fair, the shadow Home Secretary has already pledged to spend that money elsewhere.
Chris Leslie (Labour Co-operative Member for Nottingham East) rose—
David Anderson MP (Lab, Blaydon): Give him both barrels!
Mr Gauke: I will give way to the man who believes that the answer to our public finances is to raise fees for gun licences.
Chris Leslie: My hon. Friend urged me to give the Minister both barrels, but I will try to resist. It is all very good banter trying to claim that that is the only way we would deal with the deficit, but of course that is absolute nonsense—when asked for examples, we give examples. The Minister raises an important point about gun licences. It is a small amount of money but it is still worth doing. Is he saying that we should not raise gun licence fees? Is he ruling that out because he thinks it is the wrong idea?
Mr Gauke: It was an attempt to show how ridiculous the Labour party’s economic policy is when the only example it puts forward, apart from the 50p rate, which is likely to cost money, is increasing gun licences. I did not really expect the shadow Chief Secretary to take it seriously that that was the big policy. Does he disagree that the shadow Home Secretary has already claimed that that money will be spent on policing? It is going to be spent on policing, is it not? There was a time in debating these matters when the big argument from Labour Members, their big macro-economic analysis, was that we were going too far, too fast. Now it has come down to this. What have they got a few days away from a general election? They have a policy on gun licences—that is it. What has the great Labour party come to? Gun licences!
….Mr Gauke: Let me give way to my hon. Friend.
David Rutley (Macclesfield) (Con): One of the reasons the Opposition are focusing on the gun licence is that they have got it wrong on just about everything else. Will my hon. Friend remind us who said it was not possible to cut spending and create jobs?
Mr Gauke: I think the Leader of the Opposition might be the person in my hon. Friend’s mind. I think he was making predictions of 1 million more unemployed as a consequence of our policy.
Mr Newmark: It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman should talk about our welfare policies as his side wants to increase spending, whereas we are trying to cap it at a reasonable state—£26,000, which is £35,000 pre-tax, which is higher than the average wage of most people.
Labour was financially reckless in government and, it seems, is even more financially reckless in opposition. Already it has £20.7 billion of unfunded spending commitments for 2015-16, which is £1,200 per household. HM Treasury estimates Labour now has £32 billion of borrowing for 2020-21 and £166 billion over the next Parliament—the next five years—or £10,000 extra per household. I hope voters are listening to that. That is £10,000 extra per household; they should remember that before they go into the ballot box. We have learned today that Labour’s new great tax policy is to increase the cost of gun licence. So Labour’s policy going forward is, as always, tax more and borrow more.