§ 5. Mr. Sheerman
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what tax an employed married man, with two children, earning £5,000 per annum will pay after the implementation of his Budget proposals; and how this compares with the position in April 1979.
§ Mr. Sheerman
Is the Minister aware that the heavy burden of indirect taxation is causing the average working man to question severely whether it is worth being employed, even if he can find a job? Is the Minister aware that the average worker in my constituency believes that the Government's policy is one of equality of misery—misery because he cannot get a job and when he does have a job he is so highly taxed that he cannot spend his money pleasurably?
§ Mr. Brittan
The hon. Gentleman is making assumptions which have no foundation. I accept that increasing taxation will put burdens on people. My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor explained exactly why that was necessary in the context of deciding as a nation to spend money to relieve the pressures of the recession on people such as the young unemployed—for example, by providing the youth opportunities programme. That and the need to finance such schemes is not as ill-understood as the hon. Gentleman pretends.
§ Mr. Bill Walker
Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that many people earning under £5,000 live in the Highlands of Scotland and have no option about public transport? Is he aware that, unlike urban dwellers, they are required to use private cars because they are the only means of moving about in the Highlands?
§ Mr. Brittan
That is so, as it is in parts of rural Yorkshire. For people who have to rely on motor cars, of course, I accept that the increase in petrol tax is an extra burden. The question is not whether it is an extra burden but whether, in the context of what is necessary for the economy as a whole, it is a reasonable burden to ask people to bear. I suggest that it is.