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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:27 pm on 24th March 2011.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 2:27 pm, 24th March 2011

For six of those 10 years, we were dealing with an artificial boom based on a property bubble, an overweight banking system and, as the shadow Chancellor has acknowledged, gross levels of personal debt. That was why there was rapid growth in the early part of that period. However, if we look at that period as a whole, including the last period of Labour Government, we see a decline in per capita income that was unprecedented even in 20th-century history. That is the record that we are dealing with.

Let me deal with the shadow Chancellor’s pessimism about employment. We are all rightly concerned about unemployment—we have to be—but let us remember that last year growth was 1.3%, which is lower than the projected growth for the coming year. In that time, there were 428,000 new private sector jobs—300,000 were in the second half of last year—which by a long way more than offset the 132,000 job losses in the public sector, many of which, incidentally, were a result of the cuts that the last Government were starting to introduce. Our responsibility—this was the purpose of the Budget—was to ensure that we have sufficient private sector confidence so that companies hire people and invest.