Boris Johnson’s health and social care tax passes parliament

Concern from all sides about a lack of detail in the plans.

Boris Johnson’s health and social care tax passes parliament

LONDON — A new tax designed to pay for health and social care was backed by the U.K. parliament Tuesday despite complaints that the plans lacked details.

Boris Johnson announced last week that national insurance would rise by 1.25 percentage points to help tackle the NHS backlog in the wake of the pandemic and fund social care reform.

The bill passed Tuesday enables ministers to raise national insurance next year before a new health and social care levy kicks in, in 2023.

Unusually, MPs were asked to approve all stages of the legislation enacting the levy in one day, leading to complaints from MPs on both sides of the House of Commons.

Conservative MP John Baron said: “Many of us share the concern about the haste at which it’s being done,” adding that the move would “risk choking off an economic recovery, before we’ve even got to know the details when it comes to the social care reforms.”

Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, said no Conservative liked raising taxes and “if you put your hands into people’s pockets and take money out of them and they don’t see visible improvements in the service they receive, they get very angry indeed.”

Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury James Murray called the bill “a tax on working people and their jobs.”

However, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay told MPs: “This is a permanent new role for the government and a structural increase in the size of the British state. We therefore need a permanent new way to pay for it.”

The bill passed its final hurdle in the House of Commons by 307 votes to 251, a reduced government majority.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.
Source : Politico EU More   

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Chinese ambassador barred from UK parliament over sanctions row

Decision came in response to Beijing's sanctions against several British MPs.

Chinese ambassador barred from UK parliament over sanctions row

The U.K. Houses of Parliament decided Tuesday to bar China’s ambassador to the country in retaliation over Beijing imposing sanctions on British MPs earlier this year.

Zheng Zeguang — who assumed the role in July — had been due to attend a meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on China, but the invitation was rescinded Tuesday by the House of Commons’ Speaker Lindsay Hoyle.

The Chinese embassy in London slammed the decision, describing it as “despicable and cowardly.”

The move came after Hoyle met last week with a group of MPs targeted by the Chinese sanctions, which Beijing slapped on a total of 10 U.K. organizations and individuals in March in response to British sanctions for Chinese officials linked to human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The Chinese government said the British officials were punished for spreading “lies and disinformation” about the situation in Xinjiang.

The British MPs wrote to Hoyle after their meeting, urging him to consider “the implications of the visit for all parliamentarians who need to be able to speak out as part of their duties in the democratic system we all cherish.”

In a statement Tuesday after consulting with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Hoyle said: “I do not feel it’s appropriate for the ambassador for China to meet on the Commons estate and in our place of work when his country has imposed sanctions against some of our members.”

The ambassador will be banned from both the House of Commons and House of Lords while the sanctions remain.

Relations between China and the U.K. have soured in recent years over Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong, tech giant Huawei, and media reports of human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. At the same time, the U.K. is also trying to persuade China to endorse its ambitious climate plans at the COP26 summit in Glasgow later this year.

Source : Politico EU More   

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