Clause 1 — initial duties

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 3:15 pm on 20th January 2010.

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Photo of Ian Pearson Ian Pearson Economic Secretary, HM Treasury 3:15 pm, 20th January 2010

The Opposition can decide what they want to do and whether they want to force a vote. Amendment 2 is very clear, and its implications would be that the deficit would be cut more slowly than the Government propose. That runs counter to the Opposition's policy. That is why they seem to me to be confused and muddled in their thinking and in what they are trying to achieve with their amendments.

Given the profound impact of the global financial crisis on the deficits and the national debt in all major economies, it is right to focus on reducing the deficit and stabilising debt. That is what the Government are trying to do, and it is what we are proposing to do through clause 1. The amendments are confusing and muddled, and although I do not disagree with the overall principle of wanting to get structural borrowing down-that is, of course, a right and sensible thing to do-I do not think the amendment is helpful, and I hope the hon. Member for South-West Hertfordshire will withdraw it. If he does not, I strongly advise my hon. Friends to resist it.

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