Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:58 pm on 29th March 2011.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood Conservative, Bournemouth East 6:58 pm, 29th March 2011

I did not receive my invitation. Perhaps I shall find it in my office when I go back there.

The bottom line is that we inherited an economic nightmare—the worst of the messes in the G20. The gap between the richest and the poorest had grown since Labour came to office, and the size of government had bloomed. In the past decade, the civil service had grown by an additional 800,000 people. I have no idea what those people actually did, but they were in addition to those who were running the country a decade earlier. That is the bloated government that we need to try to get rid of. There was also a culture of encouraging people not to work. It was never easier than under Labour to do nothing and get paid for it. Those are the kinds of issues that we need to tackle.

The number of regulations introduced under Labour was astonishing. We are now faced with about 21,000 regulations, of which about 10,000 were created by the last Government. As I said earlier, Labour was planning huge cuts, had it won the election; it just did not say where they were going to be made. Had it won, it would have received a lot of the grief that we are receiving today, because it would have had to implement very much the same measures that we are implementing.

Looking back at the legacy that we left Labour, we can see that there was an unbroken period of growth from 1992 to 2008. We had growth up to the economic downturn in 2007. The deficit in 1997-98 was £15 billion. By 2007—before the economic downturn—it had already increased to £33 billion. We were not living within our means.