Mr Tom Harris (Glasgow Cathcart, Labour)
I am delighted that the hon. Lady has mentioned that. During the 2001 general election, there was some controversy, which she will remember, about the Government's claims for the number of children who had been lifted out of poverty. Opponents also made claims about that number. Last year, the Institute for Fiscal Studies pointed out that even if the lower estimate of 750,000 children lifted out of poverty as a direct result of Government policies is accurate—I am prepared to believe the Government's view that the figure is significantly more, but let us give our detractors the benefit of the doubt—that is a record high for any Government.
People have previously been lifted out of poverty simply because of economic growth, but that has never happened on such a scale as a direct result of anti-poverty policies. [Interruption.] Annabelle Ewing asked me a direct question, so I will give her a direct answer: I am extremely proud not only that this Government have done so much for poorer families, while she and some of her colleagues simply snipe from the sidelines, but that we have established an ambitious target for abolishing child poverty.
To the Opposition, that target is simply a hostage to fortune, as many Government targets seem to be. To me, it is not a hostage to fortune, but a constant reminder that we as elected politicians have a responsibility to deliver for the people we represent. If we still have some way to go 20 years on from the target being set or if we have not quite made it, I will still be proud of the fact that we made a bold statement and set a bold ambition to reduce and remove one of the most terrible blights on our society. The Labour party is the only party ever to have made that commitment.