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I should like to draw Members’ attention to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests in case I stray into the subject of property or something similar.
The situation at the end of the previous Government’s time in office was unprecedented in international terms. The way that they handled things in their last 18 months was not too bad. They went down to 0.5% interest rates, allowed the automatic stabilisers to come in, and allowed the pound to devalue, as we could because we still control our own monetary policy. Everything possible was done to adjust to the dire situation in the banking system.
To be less complimentary, the regulatory regime that allowed the banks to do some of the things that they did was set by the former Prime Minister when he was Chancellor by taking powers away from the Bank of
England. That was a retrograde step, and I am glad that the current Government are reviewing it. Before we hit trouble, the deficit was 3%, whereas the German economy had a surplus of 3%. The difference that we can see today is that the Germans have a deficit of 5% or 6%, while we have one of nearer to 10%. That means that the adjustments we will have to make over the next four or five years will be much more difficult, and it will take longer to get there.