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Boris Johnson's £12billion tax raid clears key Commons hurdle

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Boris Johnson's £12billion tax raid to fund the NHS and improve social care has been passed by MPs in the House of Commons despite fierce Tory resistance.

The Health and Social Care Levy was backed by 307 votes to 251, a majority 56, as MPs supported the draft legislation which will enact the National Insurance hike.

Some ten Tory MPs voted against the legislation as it was given its third reading in the chamber today.

The legislation was crashed through the Commons in a single day, before it will go to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.

The new levy was backed despite significant Tory disquiet, with Conservative MPs warning raising taxes is 'not what Conservatives do'.

They also urged Mr Johnson not to turn the Tories into 'Labour-lite' as they argued after the pandemic 'we need to work our way out of this mess, not tax our way out'.

The ten Tories who rebelled against the government at the third reading were John Baron, Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Dehenna Davison, Richard Drax, Ben Everitt, Marcus Fysh, Craig Mackinlay, Esther McVey and John Redwood.

No vote was registered by a further 44 Conservative MPs, although this does not automatically equate to an abstention.

The NI increase was voted through in principle last week with just five Tory MPs rebelling - although dozens opted to abstain. 

Boris Johnson's £12billion tax raid to fund the NHS and improve social care has cleared the House of Commons despite fierce Tory resistance

The Health and Social Care Levy was backed by 307 votes to 251, a majority 56, as MPs supported the draft legislation which will enact the National Insurance hike

Speaking at third reading, Treasury minister Jesse Norman welcomed the 'landmark' Bill and insisted: 'This levy will enable the Government to tackle the backlog in the NHS, it will provide a new permanent way to pay for the Government's reforms to social care and it will allow the Government to fund its vision for the future of health and social care in this country over the longer term.'

But Conservative MP John Baron, speaking earlier in the day, expressed concerns over the 'haste' at which the policy is being implemented and suggested the move risks 'choking off an economic recovery'.

He said his party had previously referred to national insurance as a 'tax on jobs', adding: 'The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) in 2002, when speaking from the backbenches when opposing Labour's increase, called it regressive.

'He was right then, I'm afraid he's wrong now introducing this national insurance contribution tax increase.'

The votes in the Commons came after Sir Keir Starmer laid into Mr Johnson over his 'tax on working families'.

The Labour leader stepped up his attack on the huge National Insurance hike amid anxiety among Conservatives that the policy will be a 'gift' in Red Wall seats.     

The tax burden is set to reach its highest level since the Second World War as the government scrambles to raise revenue to clear backlogs after the coronavirus crisis, and finally fix the crippled social care system.  

In a speech to the TUC, Keir Starmer stepped up his attack on the huge national insurance hike amid anxiety among Conservatives that the policy will be a 'gift' in Red Wall seats

Many Tories fear the cash injection will be simply swallowed up by the NHS without reforms, and even more funding will then be demanded.     

Backbencher Marcus Fysh tabled an amendment he said was intended to encourage insurance schemes that could cover some care costs.

The PM has committed to capping lifetime care costs for every individual at £86,000. 

'This is to enable Ministers to use it in whole or part to incentivise or part fund innovative savings or liability risk sharing schemes that can provide for the future including by way of using the power of compound interest / investment return,' Mr Fysh tweeted.

In a speech to the TUC conference, being held virtually, Sir Keir acknowledged the 'uncomfortable truth' that Mr Johnson has a huge majority in Parliament.

But he did not give any more details of how else Labour would choose to fund the £12billion-a-year package announced last week by the Government.

In an address that drew heavily on his personal experience as the son of a toolmaker, Sir Keir said his father worked from 8am to 5pm, came home for tea and then went back to work from 6pm until 10pm 'to provide for our family'.

'The starting point is a job to raise a family on,' he said. 'That means a real living wage'.

He restated Labour's commitment to increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour.

Sir Keir added: 'A job you can raise a family on must offer a solid foundation on which you can build your life, not worrying about how many hours you'll be given the next week or how you'll pay the bills if you fall ill.

'Labour's new deal will provide that security by ensuring basic rights for all workers from day one in the job: including holiday pay; protection from unfair dismissal; and guaranteed sick pay.

'We have one of the lowest rates of sick pay in Europe. That's not good enough, so as well as guaranteeing sick pay, Labour's new deal will increase it as well.'

There were no details of the rate Sir Keir would like to see sick pay increase to, with Labour saying the party would 'consult widely' on the appropriate level.

Labour would ban zero hours contracts and increase access to parental leave.

It would also outlaw 'fire and hire' - the practice of sacking employees and then taking them back on worse terms.

Labour morale has been boosted by a YouGov poll earlier this month which showed the party with a lead over the Tories for the first time since January, but Sir Keir still faces a tricky conference with unrest on the party's left over his direction.

Sir Keir emphasised the need for Labour to be in power in order to achieve his aims.

'The uncomfortable truth is that until we have a Labour government, our demands for change will be frustrated,' he said.

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