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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

We all look back and say that we should have been tougher on the banks. Of course we should have been. The irony is that the Business Secretary is in government, sitting next to a Chancellor who criticised us in 2005 and 2006 for being too heavy-handed in our regulation of the banks. We were told that too much heavy-handed regulation from Europe was stifling the competitiveness of the City of London. The Conservative party called for light-touch regulation: that was the reality at the time.

As for the Business Secretary’s other regular critique, that we allow too much household debt in our economy, it was interesting to note from looking at the OBR Budget Book last night that household debt as a percentage of income is now forecast to rise next year, the following year, the subsequent year, the year after that and the year after that—five years of household debt as a percentage of income rising every year, while the savings ratio stays low and stable. He is part of a Government that are certainly not delivering what he said was the prospectus for the future.