Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:40 pm on 6th July 2010.

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Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 6:40 pm, 6th July 2010

I should like to finish my point.

At the moment, there are worries, reflected in the comments made by the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, that the clouds may be gathering again in the international community, and we need to watch that. I suggest to those on the Treasury Bench that we need to do more work on ensuring that our banks are capable of lending in sufficient quantities so that all the private sector projects we need and all the private capital we need for the public projects as well can go forward as rapidly as possible.

We can encourage that to happen in many ways. An important part of the policy is that when we get some control over public spending and the public deficit, to instil confidence in the markets, we use those markets for a well financed private sector-led recovery, so that we can surprise on the upside in comparison with the fairly cautious figures given by the OBR. I am certainly not challenging the OBR figures, which are the best available at the moment. I would like to think that we could improve on them over the five years. If we do more about how the banks work and are regulated, so that we can accept that they have enough cash and capital for this stage of the cycle, and if we allow them to get on with the job of lending more money to businesses and worthwhile public projects, we can make progress.

We can also make a lot more progress in the public sector in respect of the public spending plans published in the Budget. Those public sector spending plans show public spending going up every year in cash terms over the five years to which the Finance Bill relates and is trying to finance. The increases are not very big, so if there were lots of wage increases and a lot of price inflation for the things bought by the public sector, and if there were the explosion in benefit claims that Labour is wrongly forecasting, there would of course be a big squeeze on much valued public services. We Government Members do not wish to see that any more than Labour Members do, and I wish that they would not keep pretending that somehow we want to cut the services, because we do not.

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