Debate on the Address — [1st Day]

Part of Outlawries Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:41 pm on 18th November 2009.

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Photo of John McFall John McFall Chair, Treasury Committee, Chair, Treasury Committee 4:41 pm, 18th November 2009

It is a privilege to speak in the Queen's Speech debate, and I welcome the Government's proposed Bills, especially on financial services and financial stability.

Like others, I wish to associate myself with the remarks made from the Front Benches about our troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere. I also commend my right hon. Friend Frank Dobson, who has an office just along the corridor from mine. As they say in my community, he never leaves you with a broken heart-he always has a quip or funny remark-and today he cheered up the whole House. My hon. Friend Emily Thornberry gave a clear analysis of where she comes from, her focus on social justice and why she is here. I commend her on her speech.

The issues that arise from the Queen's Speech are political issues, and the big issue is the role of Government. The divisions between the Government and the official Opposition are now clearer than ever. From my vantage point over the past few years, I have seen that state action on the economy is working, and we are still all relying on it. There is widespread agreement among economists and international institutions that the fiscal measures have helped to save us from the abyss. Without them, we could have faced not just a recession but a depression. Lord Skidelsky, the eminent economic historian and biographer of Keynes, wrote in September that during the great depression

"the world economy contracted for 12 quarters in a row. Now it looks as if the contraction will be limited to four quarters. The difference is...this time"-

Governments have-

"pumped money into the economy."

The Leader of the Opposition said in his speech at the Conservative party conference that the economic and financial crisis was caused by the fact that "government got too big". But there is an international consensus that the crisis was caused by the fact that regulation of the financial industry, among others, was not adequate. No regulator in the world dealt with it adequately. When some of our biggest banks have come close to extinction, almost bringing our economy down with them, because they were poorly run, it makes no sense to say that government needs to be smaller. Indeed, the crisis has come about because government was too small in that area. We saw Adam Smith's "invisible hand", but we did not see Adam Smith's "visible hand".

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