Amendment of the Law

Part of Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation – in the House of Commons at 8:52 pm on 10th March 1992.

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Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth 8:52 pm, 10th March 1992

My hon. Friend is right. The Government have done virtually nothing to tackle the real problems of Britain. If they were prepared to tackle them, we would have had a different Budget today. Indeed, had we had more sensible Budgets during the years of Tory rule, the national economy would be much healthier. Whatever the Chancellor may say or do, and irrespective of any sensible little concessions that he may introduce, Britain's economy is unhealthy and may even be dismissed, and the Government's policies are fundamentally flawed and irrelevant.

I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) is no longer here but he has another important engagement. In his speech he referred to several matters that he would have liked the Chancellor to have approached more severely. I am not particularly severe on those matters. For example, I recognise that old men who have smoked from the age of 12 or 13 and may not be particularly rich may find it difficult to pay the extra charge on tobacco and cigarettes. It is not up to a well-heeled Tory Chancellor to try to make it impossible for people who have smoked since boyhood to give up whether they want to or not, simply because they cannot pay. That is a brutal approach, and it is not a question which the Chancellor should determine. Moreover, an important establishment in my constituency provides 130 jobs and I should not like those to disappear because my constituency has lost too many jobs already since the Government have been in office.

Some Conservative Members have said that the price of drink should be increased. I am not a drinker—I am not teetotal but I do not drink at work. I have been in the House for 22 years and the only drink that I have consumed here has been when I have had guests for meals, so I am not an ardent advocate for the cause of drink. If the Government wanted to do something sensible about drink, they would not price it out of the market but would have challenged and changed the unsatisfactory character of the British drinks industry. They will not do that, however, because they depend too much on the brewers' donations to fight elections on their behalf.

My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow and the hon. Member for Keighley mentioned the Government's wonderful decision to promote green motor cars and have us all buying new cars that burn unleaded petrol. The problem is that vast numbers of my constituents cannot afford to buy a new car and are stuck with their four-star-consuming cars. The assumption that millions of our constituents can join every fashion that the Government espouse is nonsense. My constituents cannot afford to change their cars or buy private medicine. They have to put up with run-down public services and an economy that has been badly brought down by a Government who have failed to perceive the real necessities of Britain's present economic condition, who have failed to secure investment to guarantee the future of young people, and who now believe that, by scattering a few bits of confetti here and there, Britain will feel that it is having a happy marriage.

We are about to see a change. That has become necessary because the Government have failed the country. They have led and created an appalling and serious decline—the worst that this nation has experienced in recorded history. We talk heatedly about the problem of the enormous increase in crime. But the biggest crime of all has been the Government's incompetent failures and inadequate leadership in the past 13 years. The fact that the days of their domination are rapidly drawing to a close is much to be welcomed.