I wanted to contribute to the debate initially by talking about growth policy, but we have heard Conservative Members suggest that the economic situation we are in is due entirely to the Labour party's activities, so it might be worth taking a trip down memory lane to see what it was like in 1997 when the Labour Government came into power. We had 3 million people unemployed; interest rates and inflation were at record highs; there were so many problems to be dealt with. What did we do? We invested. We invested in building more hospitals and more schools and in refurbishing our hospitals and schools. We invested in refurbishing 1.5 million substandard accommodations and homes that had been left neglected by the Tories for years and years. As a result of that investment, we created many jobs and flourishing sectors.
At the same time, we worked with the City and helped the financial sector. It is interesting to note that Conservative Members believe that we had something against bankers and those involved in the financial sector; of course we recognise that the financial sector is very important. It was the Labour Government who, when faced with various problems, invested billions to steady our financial sector so that it could grow. That prevented the loss of about 500,000 jobs. We have no need to hear Conservative Members telling us that we have done nothing to help people in the banking sector, that we are somehow their enemies or that we do not care about them.
As a result of that investment, economic growth has recently been restored. I heard the Prime Minister say from the Dispatch Box a few weeks ago that Labour Members would be unhappy to hear about economic growth in our country. Why would we be unhappy about that, particularly given that our policies underpinned that growth? If we had stuck to the Conservative or Lib Dem policy of doing nothing, we would have been in a worse situation. The truth is that we are delighted about economic growth and we take credit for regenerating the economy and saving the country from the banking crisis.
The Con-Dem Government want a massive reduction in spending. The cuts are ideologically driven and are not being made in the best interests of the country. We know not only that 500,000 people will lose their jobs in the public sector, but that 1.5 million people are likely to lose their jobs in the private sector. I urge the Government to reconsider what they are doing; they should not be driven ideologically to do so.