I never cease to be surprised by some of the speeches from the Labour Benches. Some could have been made had the Labour party won the last election, because much of what our Government are doing would have to have been done whichever party had got in. Labour Members' wholesale opposition to cuts and every single tax increase that has been forced on us is nothing short of astonishing. A BBC journalist to whom I was speaking over the weekend had interviewed all five contenders for the Labour leadership contest and only one had had the courage to admit that the public sector was simply too large and unaffordable. We are merely doing what has to be done.
The Labour party proposed spending cuts before the election; that is well known. It postponed the spending review until after the election, but it was planning 50% reductions in the capital budget and 20% reductions in revenue. However, it would not say where the cuts were coming from. Does it not concern Labour Members that they are so isolated? The OECD, the G20, the Governor of the Bank of England and even past Ministers from their own Government are acknowledging that this Budget is a good one in the circumstances. If they are not concerned by what those global organisations and City opinion leaders think of our Budget, will they be concerned about what the average man and woman in the street thinks of it?
The people whom I represent in Stourbridge, in the black country, have had to make cutbacks in their personal expenditure, as families and individuals, for a long time. They have had to prioritise the paying off of their own debt as individuals. The small businesses for which they work have had to pull their horns in. In the past two years, companies in my constituency have seen their order books fall by 50%. How can they manage such a reduction without resorting to the sort of cuts in their own expenditure that our Government are now courageously proposing as part of the Finance Bill?
The public know that the situation cannot go on. The shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury was right to say that some of the problems were brought about by the banking crisis that precipitated the global recession. But the public also know that this country was the least prepared on entering that recession. From 2001, the former Prime Minister, as Chancellor, started upping the ante and increasing spending year on year without relief. During the years of growth, he made no provision for rainier days.