Asked about soft drink firms threatening legal action over sugar tax, the Chancellor says that if they want to have an argument about the sugar tax “then bring it on.”
Mr Osborne says the government will fight any legal challenge to sugar tax and warns companies against wasting money.
He says: “We are very clear it is legal and we would robustly defend if it were challenged. Don’t waste money on a legal challenge.”
He adds that he feels a sugar tax will bring about an improvement in children’s health.
“Many companies are doing the right thing and reducing the sugar content in their drinks and that is to be applauded”, he says.
“We are going to introduce a sugar tax. It’s not a threat or a promise, it’s the way it’s going to be.
Osborne defends his fiscal charter
Mr Osborne said he was “sorry” that Iain Duncan Smith had quit but stressed the importance of controlling the welfare budget.
He acknowledged that “clearly, if you are going to make reforms to disability benefits, we need to go about it in a better way than we did”.
“It did not command support, as was perfectly obvious, and that’s where I think the lessons need to be learned,” he said.
Osborne suggested that if Britain votes to stay in the EU, the cuts that will be imposed for EU migrants could help fill the gap in the budget made by the PIP Budget U-turn.
He defended his “fiscal charter” and said “I think it is best to get ahead of the curve.”
Andrew Tyrie, the chair, called the Budget “curious” and tells Mr Osborne to “spare the government a great deal of political grief,” in his next Budget, by taking a longer-term approach.
“You are locking yourself into quite arbitrary short-term changes,” said Mr Tyrie, who told Mr Osborne that a “relatively minor” change to the twice-a-year cycle of budgets and autumn statements could “spare the Government a great deal of political grief” of the kind seen over the last week.
But Mr Osborne said he would have been “rightly criticised” if he had simply set aside the £27 billion windfall identified by the OBR to swell the surplus he is planning for 2019/20.
Osborne ‘highly likely’ to give Bank of England more powers to contain buy-to-let housing market
The Bank of England looks set to be given greater powers to intervene in the buy-to-let mortgage market within months, George Osborne has indicated.
The Chancellor said it was “highly likely” the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee would be given powers over the market by the end of the year.
A consultation was launched by ministers last year after the FPC, whose role is to identify and head off possible risks to the financial system, recommended it should be granted the power to direct regulators to require lenders to place restrictions on buy-to-let loans.
Mr Osborne said: “The Bank of England and the Financial Policy Committee have identified potential systemic risks in the large increase in the buy-to-let market.”
Treasury report on EU published in April
The Chancellor says the Treasury analysis of the costs and benefits of EU membership will not be looked at by the OBR.
He revealed that the Treasury analysis of the costs and benefits of EU membership will be published in the first half of April.
Osborne gave an undertaking to the Treasury Committee that he would ensure it was available at least four days before his next appearance before them, to give them time to prepare their questions.
The Chancellor is scheduled to give evidence to the committee’s inquiry into the EU on April 19.
He suggested that this date could be put back if the Treasury analysis was not ready in time, but Mr Tyrie responded: “We would change that date with great reluctance.”
Osborne says it is still being written and it will “be a very good document when it comes”.
[Source:- The Telegraph]