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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:23 pm on 23rd March 2011.

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Photo of Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 5:23 pm, 23rd March 2011

It is a privilege to speak in the same debate as my hon. Friend Dan Jarvis—the new Member for that constituency—who will be a credit both to his constituents and to this House. We should listen carefully to his words and his warnings.

Today’s Budget is equally noticeable for what it does and does not include, because the Chancellor has not heeded the many warnings showing that the Government’s economic policies are not working. Gross domestic product figures for the last quarter of 2010 showed that our economy contracted by 0.6%. Government Members blamed the snow, but it snowed in Germany, yet its economy grew by 0.4%, and it snowed in the United States of America, yet its economy grew by 0.7%. The difference is that we are cutting too fast and too deep and they are not.

Another warning can be found in last week’s unemployment figures, which showed that unemployment is the highest it has been for 17 years and that youth unemployment is the highest on record. The OBR today showed that unemployment is set to rise to 8.2% this year and 8.1% next year—higher than it was even at the height of the recession. House prices continue to fall and yesterday we learned that the consumer prices index has increased to 4.4% and the retail prices index to 5.5%. There are many warnings that the Government’s policies are not working.