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If the hon. Gentleman had been here for the Chief Secretary's speech, he would have heard her say that the increase in demand was all down to world circumstances, and that it had come not from Europe but from India and China and other much more successful, faster-growing economies in Asia. The hon. Gentleman has failed to make his case.
Over the past decade, the Government could have made the decision to allow the private sector to develop the marginal fields in the North sea instead of taxing it to the hilt and putting it off. They could also have made decisions on renewable energy, nuclear energy or other kinds of energy that do not require carbon. Instead of having to have the great debate now on new power, we could have had new power stations already up and running. We have had 10 wasted years under this Government, and we now have higher energy prices as a result.
On agriculture, instead of constantly agreeing with everything that comes from Brussels, the Government could have put some substance behind their rhetoric of reforming the common agricultural policy. Instead of having years and years of big subsidies for set-aside to prevent farmers from growing the grain that the world needs, we could have had a policy that actually promoted the growing of grain in order to make a contribution to the world scarcity of grain, both for direct eating by human beings and for eating via the animals that are increasingly in demand in the Asian countries.
That is where the Government have gone wrong, but they wish to take every credit for the cheap goods coming out of Asia, which they say is down to their economic management. Now, they wish to take no blame for the scarcity of basics that is driving prices up, and with which they have singularly failed to help.
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