Finance (No. 2) Bill

Dr James Davies (Vale of Clwyd):

It is a pleasure to be called to speak in support of this Finance Bill. As a whole, it is a Bill that prioritises economic stability, and there is much to welcome in it. My constituents will be pleased at the further increase in income tax thresholds.

I want to talk about the soft drinks industry levy, which appears in part 3, clauses 71 to 107. This was announced in the Budget a year ago, and it was reconfirmed in the childhood obesity plan last summer. At this point, I should declare an interest in that I devoured a very large Easter egg in recent days, but leaving that aside, I will get back on track to welcome the levy wholeheartedly as one lever in tackling obesity.

There is no single silver bullet to tackle the obesity crisis in the UK and in the west in general, but the levy is a necessary part of a package of measures to begin to tackle it. I have reached that clear conclusion through membership of the Select Committee on Health. I admit that if I had been asked about a sugar tax a year or so ago, I might have been somewhat uncertain, and it is clear that there is some uncertainty among hon. Members here today. I hope to convince some of those with lingering doubts to ensure that the provisions pass without further amendment.

Obesity affects about a quarter of adults in the UK, and it is estimated that it may affect up to 70% of us by 2050. One startling fact is that obese children are five times more likely to become obese adults, so there is a clear need to tackle childhood obesity.