The Economy

Part of Council Tax Rebate – in the House of Commons at 9:46 pm on 31st March 2009.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Financial Secretary (HM Treasury) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) 9:46 pm, 31st March 2009

I apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House, as I was detained outside the House at the start of the debate for the reasons that Mr. Hammond acknowledged.

We have had a wide-ranging and interesting debate. It is clear that Members disagree across the Chamber. The Government's approach is to support the economy through the difficulties and to tackle the downturn on an international track and on a domestic track. As we have heard, the international track will culminate in the meeting of G20 leaders later this week. The leaders of the world's biggest economies will meet in the London borough of Newham—which they may not have visited before, but to which they will return for the Olympic games in 2012. At the heart of the recession in this country are worldwide problems that need to be addressed through worldwide co-operation. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have therefore been leading worldwide discussions on how best to co-ordinate action to tackle the global credit crunch. The G20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors made progress in Horsham on 14 March; we want the leaders to go further still on Thursday.

Alongside the international track, we have been taking decisive action on the domestic track, bringing real help now to families and to businesses. Our response has had four steps: step one, last October, was to save the banking system from collapse; step two was to deliver a stimulus to the economy, which we did before Christmas in the pre-Budget report; step three was to take action in January to support bank lending, with further details and agreements set out earlier this month; and step four, in the Budget ahead, will be to prepare to make the most of the upturn when it comes.

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