Budget Resolutions — Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:34 pm on 22nd March 2006.

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Conservative Party 1:34 pm, 22nd March 2006

Well, we wondered today whether we would get a Budget or a leadership bid, and I have to say that we did not get much of either. One can tell how big the crisis in the health service is—the health service did not even get a mention. If we cut through all the rhetoric, what we have is a Chancellor who has taxed too much, borrowed too much and is the roadblock to reform. He is a politician completely stuck in the past.

Of course, there are some things in the Budget that we welcome—not least because we proposed them. I particularly welcome what the Chancellor had to say about independent statistics and youth volunteering. We will look carefully at the detail, but I like what is happening: I come up with the ideas and he puts them in his Budget. [Interruption.] Bye-bye.

The Chancellor made a lot of the changes to the climate change levy, but he still has not addressed the real problem: it is a tax on energy, not a charge on carbon, which is why carbon emissions keep going up.

The Chancellor has just announced a new environment institute, but this is the same Chancellor who is closing the very laboratories that do the research into climate change. This was not a genuinely green Budget, and that is not surprising, because this Chancellor has not made a single major speech on the environment in 11 years. In a carbon-conscious world, we have got a fossil-fuel Chancellor.

I congratulate the Chancellor on what he had to say about the Olympics. I do not want to overdo it, however, as he has just spent an hour congratulating himself.

The Chancellor told us that his borrowing forecasts were correct. Yes, he correctly forecast that the public finances are in a mess. He is borrowing £37 billion this year. He told us that his economic growth forecasts were correct. Yes, he correctly forecast that Britain would grow more slowly than the United States, Canada, the G7, Spain, Ireland, the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and Australia. [Interruption.] I know that the Chancellor and the Prime Minister get to talk to each other only once a year, on Budget day, but they ought to listen to this bit.

We will study the rest of the Budget carefully because, after 10 Budgets, we know that this Chancellor's Budget speeches bear very little relation to the Budget itself. He told us about the savings culture, but why did he not tell us that according to page 238 of the Red Book—or, in the Prime Minister's case, the unread book—the savings ratio is only 5.75 per cent.? That is half what it was when he took office. Why did he not tell us that business investment, at 9 per cent., is at a record low? And he did not tell us that today he has revised the figure downward compared with three months ago. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker, there are two central facts that tell us the real story of this Budget. [Interruption.] First—