Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:49 pm on 30th April 2002.

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Photo of Andrew Smith Andrew Smith The Chief Secretary to the Treasury 3:49 pm, 30th April 2002

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I am pleased to do so at a time of economic stability, with improving prospects for economic growth, with the right foundations on which to carry forward our work on enterprise and fairness and with investment and reform in our public services, securing the national health service for the future.

The Chancellor was able to report in his Budget statement that Britain has enjoyed

"the lowest inflation and the lowest interest rates for 40 years; for the first time for half a century, unemployment in Britain is lower than in America, lower than in Japan and lower than in the rest of Europe; and in the year just ended, Britain had the highest growth of any of our major competitors."—[Hansard, 17 April 2002; Vol. 130, c. 577.]

That record of economic stability has not happened by chance, but is a result of the tough choices that we have made and the new monetary and fiscal frameworks that we have put in place, which are serving the economy well in the global uncertainties that we have seen.

The challenge—indeed, the opportunity—for British industry and investors is to build on that hard-won stability, accelerate productivity improvements and increase output, jobs and prosperity. Although the economy has been stable, it can and must grow stronger. The Bill reflects the Government's clear role in ensuring the conditions necessary for successful businesses through important measures to modernise taxes, promote enterprise and cut red tape.