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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his reassurance, but I will be reassured when I see the detail. I will be reassured when I see that this policy will not have the impacts that I have just laid out. We are privileged to be here and to be able to speak up for people. Let us speak up, as I am sure he would want to do, for those who could be disadvantaged by the unforeseen consequences of this response to Daily Mail headlines.
"Ending payments like the health and pregnancy grant and slashing child tax credits at a £40,000 joint income threshold is going to put pressure on families already struggling."
Those are not my words, but those of Bob Reitemeier, the chief executive of the Children's Society. He added:
"We are also concerned about the amount to be clawed back from the welfare bill over the next five years as the chancellor aims to find savings of £40 billion."
Gingerbread, the charity for single parents, has said that families having a second child could be worse off by up to £1,200 a year. Chief executive Fiona Weir said:
"Having a baby puts the family finances under pressure. These cuts will really hit families with young children hard."
The concerns are not mine alone, therefore, and I am genuinely not indulging in party politics. I will say well done to the Government if their proposals are right and they work, but my real fear is that they are acting prematurely and going in too hard, when there are alternatives that are not being considered and which I shall turn to now.
The Chancellor and the Business Secretary regularly cite the examples of Canada and Sweden when it comes to cutting deficits. However, I shall repeat until I am blue in the face that both countries acted against a backdrop of strong economic growth in their export markets. Unless I have missed something, that is not available to countries in Europe, or the eurozone.
Other positive elements in the case of Canada and Sweden were currency devaluation and the active use of monetary policy. However, in the first case we have been there and done that already with sterling and, in the second, hon. Members will know that our base rate is already low.
Without those three little helpers-those three legs of the stool-we do not get the economic support or growth that, under the plans being put forward by the coalition Government, are essential if we are to mitigate the worst excesses of the proposed cuts, beyond the Red Book. What we do get is all the pain of savage cuts, and absolutely none of the gain. That will go on for years.
In fact-I hate to say this, but I am not alone in doing so-we could well go backwards. If, in a year, we are slipping backwards or limping along like some invalid at the bottom of an economic cycle, it will not be because people such as me failed to stand up and make the opposing case. It is important that someone does that, alongside the economists outside the House.
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