Savings Accounts and Health in Pregnancy Grant Bill

Part of Parliament (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 9:48 pm on 26th October 2010.

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Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 9:48 pm, 26th October 2010

As we have heard, this has been a vigorous debate and I am very grateful to all the Members who have contributed. The discussion has been wide-ranging and I want to start by addressing some of the wider arguments that have been made before moving on to some of the more detailed points about measures in the Bill. I shall try to cover all the speeches, although they were numerous.

My hon. Friend the Financial Secretary set out at the start of the debate the rationale behind the Bill and the role that it will play in our plan-a clear and credible plan-to reduce our budget deficit. Some Members have argued today that our plans move too fast, but our deficit is unprecedented and unsustainable so we must take action to tackle it. That action is supported across the world. Only today, Standard and Poor's, the credit rating agency, stated that the coalition parties

"have shown a high degree of cohesion in putting the U.K.'s public finances onto what we view to be a more sustainable footing".

It is simply untenable for Labour Members to spend yet another debate, yet another afternoon and yet more hours in refusenik mode arguing about what they do not like, while setting out no plans for what they would do instead.

We are spending £43 billion this year-£120 million a day-on the debt that the Government have inherited. The Labour party wants to airbrush that amount out of our financial worries, but that is simply not possible. Failing to act now would risk higher interest rates, higher mortgage rates, higher rates of business failure and higher unemployment. The Labour party knows all about higher unemployment, having again left unemployment higher when it left office than when it came in.