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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:22 pm on 24th March 2011.

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Photo of Chris Williamson Chris Williamson Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) 3:22 pm, 24th March 2011

I will not give way any further, I am afraid.

The Chancellor should have done more to support manufacturing. The growth fund is inadequate—nowhere near as much as the regional development agencies were spending—business confidence is falling and the enterprise zones will not generate growth either. It is simply a case of rearranging the deckchairs. Let us not forget that it was the Tories who decimated manufacturing industries when they came to power in 1979. They also put all their eggs in the financial services basket, and that is why this country was overexposed when the financial bubble burst.

There are also problems with the Government’s ambitions on welfare reform. A Financial Times survey of businesses showed that three quarters of them said that they could not absorb lost public sector jobs, and that 57% were not interested in doing so. What hope do long-term unemployed people have of being able to get employment, given the welfare reforms and the so-called private sector-led recovery, which is not happening? They will simply not be able to get employment, given the cuts that the Government are bringing about.

Further to that, an investigation by my local paper, the Derby Telegraph, has shown that unemployed workers are being discriminated against by the insurance industry, which is saying that landlords who let their properties to unemployed workers will not be able to obtain insurance. A lot more people will be facing that situation as a result of the cuts, with more and more people losing their jobs.

We are in an economic downward spiral, and we need a virtuous circle. We need public sector investment to create jobs and demand in the economy, which in turn would create more demand and then more jobs. Yesterday, the Chancellor claimed that his decisions had brought economic stability, but the reality is that they have created a toxic cocktail of falling growth, increasing poverty and rising unemployment.

The inconvenient truth for the Chancellor is that his decisions have left this country facing the spectre of stagflation. To add insult to injury, he is borrowing an extra £44.5 billion a year, and for what? It is to pay for unemployment and lower growth. It is clear that he has lost the plot, and that we need a plan B. He said that

“society should not just be judged by the strength of its economy alone, but also by the compassion of its people”.—[Hansard, 23 March 2011; Vol. 525, c. 961.]

He certainly fails on the first point, and he is making the second very difficult. I am afraid that unless we get a plan B, this country is doomed to further decline.