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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:07 pm on 23rd March 2011.

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Photo of Robert Syms Robert Syms Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee, Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee 3:07 pm, 23rd March 2011

It was nothing to do with light-touch regulation; in fact, we needed more competent regulation. The Financial Services Authority was not up to the job, and the Bank of England would have done a better one.

The key thing is that we now have a great imbalance in our economy. Over the long term, Britain has always tended to have public spending of about 40% of GDP, taxation of about 40% of GDP, and a national debt of about 40% of GDP. We have always managed to grow and export, and to be a fairly successful economy. We now have to yank public spending and the deficit back to those sorts of levels. As was pointed out earlier in the debate, even after five or six years, we will only be back down to where we were towards the end of the Labour Government when we had to go into deficit to deal with the difficult economic situation.

I think that the Government’s response is sensible. It is planned over five or six years, and is gradual. For all the talk of expenditure cuts, the expenditure cuts will be gradual over that period. The plan, as the Chancellor set out today, is for the economy to grow. That should generate more tax revenue. The difficulty, of course, is that we will have to raise taxation, as can be seen in the plans, to help balance the budget. I hope that that is more of a short term, rather than a medium to long term thing, because we need to build incentives back into the British economy.