Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:42 pm on 14th April 2003.

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Photo of Patricia Hewitt Patricia Hewitt Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry 5:42 pm, 14th April 2003

I have already referred to the various measures in the Budget that will support the manufacturing strategy—for example, the improvements in the research and development tax credit and support for science and innovation. Let me underline the fact that that industrial strategy—the first UK industrial strategy for 30 years—is already beginning to deliver results. As we look at the work of the Manufacturing Advisory Service around the country, we see significant productivity improvements in the manufacturing companies that take advantage of that service. I am sure that my hon. Friend and other hon. Members will work to draw the benefits offered by the MAS to the attention of manufacturers in their constituencies.

What do we need to do internationally to secure opportunity and prosperity? At the end of the second world war, Europe had been torn apart, having suffered the nightmare of concentration camps, millions of displaced refugees and the destruction of its industrial strength. In that crisis, Europe's leaders understood that peace and prosperity must go together. Six countries set out to bind their economies together with the great aim of ending war between their peoples. Those six countries, by choosing to integrate their economies, to remove barriers to trade and to work together on issues of common interest laid the foundations of half a century of peace and prosperity.

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said earlier this afternoon, we must now rebuild international relationships that have been fragile in recent weeks. The United Nations must unite again to support the Iraqi people as they rebuild their country after the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Through the World Trade Organisation, we have the opportunity to bind together the developed and the developing countries in a new framework of rules for trade that is fair as well as free. All of us in Europe and throughout the developed world must now redouble our efforts to deliver on the promises that we made when we launched the Doha development round 18 months ago. If we halved the protectionist barriers to world trade, we would boost the incomes of developing countries by £150 billion a year—three times the total of all aid budgets. We would cut the number of people living in poverty by more than 300 million by 2015. We would provide the boost to confidence and investment that the world desperately needs at this time of economic uncertainty and political division.

The Budget builds on the success that we achieved in our first term and faces up to the challenges ahead. It is a Budget for social justice and economic prosperity at home and abroad. I commend it to the House.