MPs Approve Boris Johnson's Health And Social Care Levy Despite Tory Rebellion

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<strong>Boris Johnson during a visit to Westport Care Home in Stepney Green, east London, ahead of unveiling his long-awaited plan to fix the social care system.</strong> (Photo: Paul EdwardsPA)
Boris Johnson during a visit to Westport Care Home in Stepney Green, east London, ahead of unveiling his long-awaited plan to fix the social care system. (Photo: Paul EdwardsPA)

Boris Johnson’s plan for a £12 billion tax hike to pay for health and social care has cleared its first parliamentary hurdle, despite unrest among Tory MPs.

MPs voted in favour of the Health and Social Care Levy Bill by 307 to 251 – a majority of 56 – at its third reading in the House of Commons.

The legislation will undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords at a later date.

But underlining Conservative unease with a plan that involves breaking manifesto pledges and needs a hefty tax increase to spend heavily, 10 Tory MPs rebelled and voted against the government line, including former ministers Esther McVey and Sir Christopher Chope.

No vote was registered by a further 44 Conservative MPs.

The government announced national insurance would rise by 1.25 percentage points to help tackle the NHS backlog caused by coronavirus and fund social care reform under plans unveiled last week.

The levy will also hit the earnings of working people above retirement age from April 2023.

The policy breaks Johnson’s 2019 election manifesto commitment not to raise taxes.

During a debate ahead of the vote, Conservative MP John Baron 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.”

He went on: “This will cost jobs, it will result in lower pay and it will result in higher prices.”

Conservative MP Richard Drax urged the government to lower taxes instead of going “Labour-lite”.

He said: “Aping Labour by spending billions of pounds we can’t afford won’t fool the electorate for long. NHS has become a religion. No-one dares take its name.

“But a radical review of health provision is critical if we are not to pour money into a black hole. We heard this expression repeatedly today, it is a bottomless pit. Without reform, this money, well intended by the Government, will disappear.”

Conservative backbencher Craig Mackinlay, another of the rebels, said: “The government has to be applauded for finally thinking about these things, but I think haste is not due at this time. My sadness is we are just reaching for the tax lever. That’s not what Conservatives do. We are going to end up with a tax take at the highest level of GDP for 70 years.”

Conservative former minister John Redwood urged: “Don’t kill the recovery and you’ll get the money.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.


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