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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

I am not going to take any more interventions.

I return to the issue of fairness. When we first came into office, the major attack from the Opposition was that we were going to hit the poorest hardest. When it became clear that we were producing policies to protect the state pension, increase child tax credits, give preferential treatment to low-paid workers in the public sector and lift low-paid workers out of tax, attention shifted to the so-called “squeezed middle”, which has been variously defined to encompass 90% of the population.

The truth of the situation is that as a result of the financial crash and the recession that followed, Britain is a significantly poorer country than we were several years ago, so living standards have been squeezed. As the Governor of the Bank of England said,

“the real consequences of this crisis are only now beginning to be felt.”

What we have done in the Budget is take concrete action on fuel duty and on lifting the thresholds at which low earners pay tax. I shall dwell on that point a little—