Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:41 pm on 24th March 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Edward Balls Edward Balls Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 1:41 pm, 24th March 2011

I do not want to give the hon. Gentleman an economics lesson, but he needs to be able to differentiate his deficits from his debts. The fact is that we went into the downturn with a low deficit. We were borrowing to invest. Our national debt was lower than that of America, Germany, France and Italy, and lower than the national debt that we inherited from the Conservatives. We will not take any lectures from them on fiscal profligacy. Who was it who raised taxes 22 times in the 1990s?

Under Labour’s plan, the economy was set to grow strongly, unemployment was falling, and we were on track to halve the deficit in four years. Everything has now changed. But what changed? The change was the arrival of a new Conservative Chancellor who was determined not to halve the deficit in a Parliament, but to eliminate it entirely with an immediate hike to VAT, the deepest spending cuts our country has experienced in 70 years and the largest spending cuts of any major country in the world. America has a big deficit, but it is cutting it at a steadier pace and keeping its jobs programme in place. Its economy is now growing strongly and unemployment is falling.