The Government's macro-economic framework in the past 10 years has delivered unprecedented stability and rising prosperity, which means that households benefit from rising employment, strong income growth and low and stable interest rates.
I know that householders will be grateful for low interest rates under this Government. Even the present, slightly increased interest rates are lower than those that prevailed for all but seven months of the years up to 1997. Has my hon. Friend noticed that our Government's record is significantly better than that in the 18 preceding years, in which interest rates were in double digits for 11 and a half years?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is tough to make household finances meet at the best of times, particularly if one has to make mortgage payments on top of other expenses. Clearly, it is very much tougher if interest rates are not at 5.25 per cent., as they are now, but at 10.5 per cent., which they averaged for the entire period in which the Conservative Government were in office.