I may differ with PM but have never doubted the genuineness of his motives

Contributed by editor on Apr 24, 2008 - 12:01 AM

Howard's Way.... a weekly column from the Rt. Hon. Michael Howard QC. MP. 

24 April 2008


On Monday I had the privilege of welcoming to the House of Commons members of the 52 Infantry Brigade who have just returned from Afghanistan.

The quiet good humour of those brave soldiers, who have taken part in some of the fiercest fighting the British Army has seen since the Korean War, was enormously impressive. As I have said many times before we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude and I was very glad to be able to thank some of them in person for what they have done.

Later on Monday I spoke in the debate on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill. This is the Bill that puts the Budget proposals into effect. Most of the speeches concerned the abolition of the 10p starting rate though the crucial amendments which will decide its future will not be debated on and voted until next week.

I am genuinely mystified as to the reason for this change.

Although I have frequently differed with the Prime Minister on the methods he has used to help the less well-off in our society (like his infamously over-complicated tax credits) I have never doubted the genuineness of his motives.

So it is truly astonishing that in order to lower the basic rate of tax he made the lot of those less well off, harder. The change will undoubtedly damage those like the young man I met in Asda in Folkestone last Friday. He told me with evident pride that, having been unemployed for some time, he had now got a job at the supermarket. Surely we must do all we can to make work more rather than less attractive to people like him.

It is now being claimed that the whole thing was an accident but I cannot believe that the Prime Minister would have been so irresponsible as to put through change without carefully thinking through its consequences.

I very much hope it is not too late to find a way of remedying this injustice.