The debate was opened by the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Deighton (Conservative). He began by setting out the twin issues at the heart of this year’s budget statement: ‘First, the challenges facing the UK economy; and, secondly, the Government's response to these challenges.’
On taxes, he spoke of his belief that the government ‘have got the tax mood music right.’ He explained: ‘Lower tax rates for companies and individuals are essential for a successful enterprise economy, one that concentrates on growing the size of the cake so that we can have much easier discussions about how we share it.’
Going on to address the issue of tax avoidance, he said: ‘In return, however, we expect taxes to be paid, and we are right to push through strong tax avoidance and evasion measures domestically and I praise my colleagues in the Government for taking a lead in co-operation to address this subject internationally.’
Opposition Treasury spokesperson, Lord Eatwell (Labour), responded, and assessed the budget as one which ‘revealed that, try as you might, you cannot spin economic failure.’ He went on: ‘This Budget of no growth, stagnant deficit and falling living standards revealed that the Treasury has run out of ideas.’
Speaking specifically about the banking and financial services sector, he was dismissive of attempts at reform: ‘The financial services industry, the mother of the mess that we are in, remains unreformed. The Banking Bill that will come before this House later in the year is all about protecting the banks from themselves. There is nothing in it about the sort of banks that we need for Britain's future.’
Baroness Kramer (Liberal Democrat), former opposition spokesperson for business, innovation and skills, welcomed the budget and outlined how the measures within it ‘were focused on helping ordinary families with the cost of living, on stimulating new jobs, especially in small and medium-sized businesses, and breathing life into the housing market.’
Lord Bilimoria (Crossbench), declared his interest in the brewing industry, and described the difficulties it is facing: ‘Eighteen pubs a week have been closing, with two pubs in London alone closing every week. Jobs have been lost and the average Briton has found that the cost of one of life's simple pleasures has gone up.’ He welcomed the fact that the Government ‘has listened to these concerns’ and cut the price of a pint of beer by a penny.
Lord Deighton concluded the debate, thanking members for their contribution: 'I may have a bias in my listening, but I have to say that the broad sense of the contributions suggests that this is a well crafted budget that has delivered very well what can be delivered, given what I think everyone accepts is limited room for manoeuvre.’