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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:51 pm on 24th March 2011.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Conservative, Wimbledon 3:51 pm, 24th March 2011

Before I start, let me refer the House to the register. I give advice on transport matters to the Confederation of Passenger Transport, and economic advice to the Professional Contractors Group.

I am delighted to follow Mr Bailey, the Chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, who welcomed a number of the measures in the Budget. Some will clearly be helpful, so it was perhaps disappointing that the shadow Chancellor did not acknowledge them. He will probably be relieved to learn that I have little in common with him, apart from the fact that we were both economics undergraduates—I suspect that he was rather more distinguished than I was. I remember one of the first tutorials given by Maurice Peston, now Lord Peston, a former Labour adviser who taught us about economic debate. I just wonder whether the shadow Chancellor needs to reflect on how his proposition that the cuts are being made too fast and too deep is equally a subject of economic debate, and whether, as could be argued, he is being just as ideological and dogmatic as he claims the Government are.

For there are some economic facts—some economic truths—even if the shadow Chancellor did not want to accept them this afternoon. Whatever he says, this Government were left with the biggest peacetime deficit—a deficit that was 11% of GDP, twice that of Germany and Italy, while France had 8.6%. Borrowing is costing

£120 million, and let us be clear: the total stock of debt tripled over the lifetime of the Labour Government. Those are facts.