My hon. Friend is right. One reason the British supply chain is now so worried about the Government's intentions is that it has seen these knee-jerk reactions, such as yesterday's decision, of which the Chief Secretary was so proud he did not dare come to the House to say a word about it.
I want to make a point that follows on from what my hon. Friends have said. Rather than balancing spending over the economic cycle, we now have, in the Budget, a plan to eliminate in just five years the structural deficit. However, the Finance Bill ignores the question of what happens if growth is weaker than expected. It is worth for a moment the House exploring the economic consequences of this Chancellor's proposals. If growth fails, the structural deficit as a percentage of our economy goes up, yet the timetable for its elimination remains unchanged, so the Chancellor's only course of action is to cut deeper and deeper. If growth falters or the economy shrinks, the Chancellor cannot stimulate the economy, but can only respond with cuts. It is not a plan to manage the economic cycle; it is a plan for an economic death spiral. Like some kind of self-flagellating penitent who believes borrowing is so morally wrong, he responds to any new urges with another bout of whipping. He might feel it gets him to heaven a little faster, but I am afraid it is no way to run an economy.
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