Labour’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling on the government to introduce an emergency Budget to help families struggling with household costs has been rejected by 312 votes to 229.
Addressing the Commons during the debate, Rachel Reeves said that the UK has both a “cost-of-living crisis” and a “growth crisis” and argued that “none of this is inevitable” but a “consequence of Conservative decisions and the direction that they have taken our economy in over the last 12 years”.
The Shadow Chancellor added: “This government is increasingly a rudderless ship, heading into the rocks, while it is willing to watch people financially drown in the process. Where is the urgency, where is the action? Because the time to change course is now.”
She argued that the country needs an emergency Budget to “deal with the inadequacy of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement” and that it must include a windfall tax to “help get bills down and help families and pensioners weather this storm”.
Labour’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies was rejected by MPs on Tuesday evening, with 310 MPs voting against and 248 in favour.
Reeves noted that North Sea oil and gas producers are making £32m a day in “unexpected profits” at the same time that parents are “going without food so that their children don’t miss meals as they try to pay their bills”.
“People can no longer afford to pay for the government’s mistakes. The government should put the national interest first and follow Labour’s advice. It is time to do the right thing. It is time to put the needs of people first. It is time to introduce a windfall tax to get bills down.”
She added: “The government are going to end up doing this. The question is only when they will get on and deliver for their constituents. At the moment, you’ve got oil and gas companies making record profits, and people paying record bills.
“This is a question of whose side you are on. The government are very clear. They’re on the side of the oil and gas companies. On this side, we are very clear. We are on the side of ordinary families and pensioners.”
The Labour frontbencher said: “The cost-of-living crisis is being made worse by a wage crisis, as years of Conservative governments have failed to stand up for working people.”
She added: “The Conservatives have failed to work with British industries, employers and trade unions to create the economic growth that would benefit everyone. And for 12 years, this approach has sown chaos and uncertainty, making it impossible for businesses to invest with confidence.”
Responding for the government, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke said the Conservatives are “helping to create the conditions for economic growth by investing in skills, by helping businesses themselves to grow and by building the infrastructure that provides the backbone of every economy around the world”.
The Tory frontbencher added: “The crucial thing, and the reason today’s debate is so important, is that we focus on the growth. And this Queen’s Speech does just that.”
Tory MP Bernard Jenkin called for the government to bring forward a £13.5bn package of support, which he said should include restoring the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift, axing VAT on domestic fuel bills, doubling the warm homes discount and trebling the winter fuel payment.
The liaison committee chair told MPs: “A summer package to rescue the most vulnerable households is needed to avoid real financial distress and personal anguish and to support economic demand of the most vulnerable households, or we are creating possibly a worse recession than is already expected.”