Tory MP warns of ‘long term question marks’ over ‘sustainability’ of triple lock

There are “long term question marks around” the sustainability of the triple lock, a Conservative former Cabinet minister has warned.

Former work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb urged the Treasury to have a “more honest discussion” on the Government’s manifesto promise.

Speaking during the second day of Commons debate on the autumn statement, he said: “Triple lock is a very expensive long-term policy, it’s played a hugely important role in lifting many pensioners out of poverty… but I just want the Treasury frontbench to bear that in mind, that we do need a more honest discussion about that.”

Autumn statement 2022
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (PA)

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the Government will fulfil its pledge to protect the triple lock, meaning that the state pension will increase in line with inflation.

On NHS spending, Mr Crabb cautioned there were “increasingly large numbers of people” for whom the “very vision and model of the NHS just isn’t working”.

He said: “NHS dentistry is ceasing to operate for a great many families. People are emptying their savings accounts so they can go private to pay for hip and knee replacements that they can’t get on the NHS.

“Now this is under Welsh Labour Government in Wales, but I think some of the same pressures and trends are at work elsewhere in the country as well.

“Yet we continue to find more and more funding for the NHS every year, but it’s a health service that isn’t meeting the needs I believe particularly of working age people.”

Conservative Party Conference 2022
Former minister Kit Malthouse (PA)

Conservative former Cabinet minister Kit Malthouse called on the Government to reconsider its tax plans in the spring, warning that the UK could not “tax our way to prosperity”.

Mr Malthouse told MPs: “We are not going to tax our way to prosperity, we are not going to tax our way out of this debt to GDP problem.

“We need to inject growth into the economy and the only way we will do that is by letting those wealth creators free, by loosening the ties that bind them, by looking at the regulation and indeed the taxation on capital in particular so that people are willing to take risk.

“And one of the most dismaying choices I have to say in the budget has been the increase in capital taxes that are proposed, not least because that is changing the risk-reward ratio, meaning that it is less likely that people are going to go out there and start a business.”

He warned that tax rises may lead to a longer period of inflation as workers ask their bosses for more cash “sparking a wage and price spiral”.

While Conservative former minister Jonathan Gullis said he is “seriously concerned about the fact that the Government has enabled council tax to go up by 5%”.

Downing Street turmoil
Mark Fletcher MP (PA)

Mark Fletcher, the MP for Bolsover, told the Commons: “I think there is a fair cop that we’ve made some mistakes on economic policy.”

Conservative former Cabinet minister Dr Liam Fox said British exports to Europe were “robust” adding “we do not need a new relationship with the European Union”.

He said: “British exports to Europe are actually managing to be more robust than European exports to the UK. So just to be very clear we do not need a new relationship with the European Union, Swiss or otherwise.

“We do not require freedom of movement, no integration into the European Single Market and no integration of EU law into the UK.”

He added: “Those who talk about a recession made in Downing Street might want to ask themselves how much they are absolving Vladimir Putin for the global inflation that we see today and whether in fact they are actually negating their own duty in terms of being patriotic at this time.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe meets PM
Shadow Treasury minister Tulip Siddiq (PA)

Shadow Treasury minister Tulip Siddiq said: “The Tories have lost all claims to be the party of economic responsibility.

“The Conservatives have broken their own fiscal rules a total of 11 times since they came into government in 2010.

“They’ve spent 12 years weakening the economy and they crushed the markets in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, leaving working people like my constituents, paying the price.”

Treasury minister James Cartlidge told MPs sound money has to come before low taxes.

He said: “In the short term, we are taking difficult decisions to make sure that fiscal policy keeps inflation in check, but doing it in a compassionate way that still provides support to the most vulnerable.”

He added: “We are tackling inflation to help all our constituents with the cost of living, while at the same time providing the stability which business needs to be able to invest and grow.

“We want low taxes and sound money, but sound money has to come first.”

All but one of the ways and means motions on the fiscal changes proposed in the autumn statement passed the Commons unopposed.

The Commons voted 318 to 223, majority 95, on a motion to make provision for the basic rate and personal allowance levels to remain at their current amounts for the tax year 2026-27 and 2027-28.