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Amendment of the Law

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

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

I will make a bit more progress before giving way.

Let me return to the Business Secretary, because he was wise to say that those matters should be judged at the time of the Budget, based on the economic conditions. That is why we have argued that the Budget was an opportunity to change course from the reckless cuts. The problem is that the Business Secretary has not been heard. The blinkered Chancellor is ploughing on regardless, oblivious to what happens around him.

The Business Secretary needs to change tack. “Newsnight” is clearly not the way to get his message out. It does not get him on to the front pages; it does not make people listen to him. Why does he not do what he did last time? Perhaps he needs to call in some more young constituents for another candid conversation, another avuncular chat. It worked last time. The Chancellor certainly knew about his views on media ownership and News International. It is a pity he did not also share his thoughts on the risk to growth and jobs from the Chancellor’s reckless cuts.

The Business Secretary knows that the Chancellor is taking a massive and reckless gamble. He knows that it is the wrong thing to do, just as he knows that scrapping the future jobs fund and education maintenance allowances, hiking up tuition fees, raising VAT and cutting benefits for disabled people is wrong. It is one thing to want to be in power, but sacrificing one’s principles and beliefs for power is quite another. They used to call him Saint Vince, the wise economist. He had a reputation for telling it like it is. Why does he not tell us what he really thinks today? He knows that the economic strategy of the Government of which he is now a part is deeply flawed, misguided and unfair.