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I am delighted to have this opportunity to debate the Budget. It is just a shame that the Secretary of State did not start with a moment of contrition and regret, noting that this country is more deeply in recession than its competitors, and that his Government have only themselves to blame for that. It would have been nice if he had opened with a slight reflex to all those who have suffered as a consequence.
The important thing-absolutely-is growth, so the extent to which we successfully deliver growth throughout the country will define our ability to compete with other countries, which emerged from the recession stronger and earlier than we did. In turn, that success or otherwise will define the job opportunities for our children and the public services for our families. With almost half of all jobless people aged 18 to 25, my goodness we have a responsibility to provide that growth for the new generation.
The Budget should have been the blueprint for securing growth and getting our country moving again; it should have been the chance to demonstrate that our country was open for business again, but it was neither: it ducked national debt and sidestepped stimulating growth. It was a missed opportunity, and one for which the country will not thank Ministers.
Let us start with the business community.
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