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May I welcome you to your new position, Mr Deputy Speaker, and thank you for calling me so early in the debate?
I pay tribute to Andrew Jones. I am very pleased indeed to follow a fellow Yorkshire MP making his maiden speech. In particular, he talked about some of the best traditions of Yorkshire-first, the community spirit of Yorkshire people and, secondly, the great Yorkshire institution of Betty's tea rooms. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will appreciate the fact that people can get a good cup of tea and a good piece of cake at Betty's tea rooms.
I wish to comment on one of the other contributions to the debate. The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills made quite an attempt at explaining his about-face in respect of what the Liberal Democrats fought the general election on and how he now comes to the Dispatch Box to defend the vicious and savage cuts in the economy. He is obviously a distinguished and well-thought-of economist, so it was rather strange that he did not pick up before that the position was so bad that he would have to change his party's policy. He was seen as brilliantly forecasting some of the problems in the economy during the previous Parliament and he has been given great recognition for some of his forward-thinking views, but he was not able to pick that up in the weeks before the election. I was rather taken aback by how out of touch he claimed to be and by how he had to have the meeting to explain the current economic situation and to change his party's policy.
I was also very surprised indeed to hear a Liberal Democrat try to argue that VAT is not a regressive tax. I have never heard anything like it, and it took my breath away when I recalled that my Liberal Democrat opponent in the general election made it clear on every hustings where I appeared with him that increasing VAT was not something that the Liberal Democrats would support. He constantly attacked the Conservatives for the fact that, whenever they have been in government, they have always put up VAT.
The main reason that I wish to speak in this debate is the growing anger-not only in my constituency of Kingston upon Hull North, but in vast swathes of the north of England-at the coalition's policies so far announced and those in the Budget statement yesterday. Many of the policies that the coalition Government have proposed to the British people have no mandate-obviously, the deal was done after
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