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Government Economic and Social Policy

Part of Orders of the Day — Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 9:31 pm on 9th June 1993.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Chancellor of the Exchequer 9:31 pm, 9th June 1993

Throughout my speech, I have set out medium and long-term objectives. I have said repeatedly since becoming Chancellor, as I said before that, that the conduct of policy of any kind should not be based solely on the pursuit of short-term popularity. Every Government since I have been in the House have been unpopular during most of the time that they were in office, but the British public have the common sense to know that their Governments must sometimes go through such periods. I am setting out the medium-term objectives that will be purposefully pursued.

We had all this talk about raising income tax at the last election. I share the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith) on income tax. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pointed out, before the election the liberals committed themselves to raising fuel taxes and green taxes. They talked about the anomaly of VAT on fuel. All that heroic being in favour of taxes is about the same as the heroism of the liberal party on every other subject. They vote against it when it comes before them. That is how they look a difficult decision squarely in the eyes.