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There is another difference, of course. Official unemployment in Spain is more than 20%. The Spanish construction industry is in dire straits. A lot of Spain's smaller banks, which are heavily tied to that industry, are finding things difficult. There is a world of difference between the Spanish economy and our own, just as there is a world of difference between the Greek economy and our own.
Just about every day in the run-up to the election, the hon. Gentleman's party was anxious-desperate even-to compare our economy with the Greek economy. To his credit, the Secretary of State for Transport-he is not here today, but I made this point to him when we were debating on the television last night-said that Britain was nothing like Greece. The idea that we are in the same position as Greece or Spain is complete nonsense. Our economy is much larger and much stronger, and our ability to service our debt is much greater. The average maturity of our debt-as the hon. Gentleman knows, I assume-is 14 years, whereas in Greece the average maturity is three years and in continental Europe it is about five years.
Of course we have to get our borrowing down and ensure that we can get debt down as well. No one would disagree with that. The question for us is how do we do that in a way that maintains growth, so that we can ensure not only that we get growth in our economy and that we do not damage our future prospects, but that we do so in a way that is socially and politically fair? That is the difference, but to compare us with those smaller countries is, frankly, ludicrous, as many in the hon. Gentleman's party realise.
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