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What recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on steps to reduce Government budget deficits.
At the last G20 summit, advanced countries committed to implementing clear, credible, ambitious and growth-friendly medium-term fiscal consolidation plans, differentiated according to national circumstances. I will further discuss fiscal consolidation plans in the G7, G20 and IMF meetings later this month.
That is, of course, absolutely what the IMF said in its recent article IV assessment—and we remember the article IV assessments at the end of the previous Labour Government. It asks explicitly whether the UK Government should change their policy, and it says no. That is the advice from the IMF. Last July, the Labour party voted against Britain paying its subscriptions to the IMF. Frankly, I do not think that Labour Members should talk about the IMF in Treasury questions until they agree with paying the subs.
If the Office for Budget Responsibility downgrades its forecast for growth for the fourth time when it reports later in the autumn, and revises up its forecast for Government borrowing, would the Chancellor regard that as a success or failure of this Government’s economic policy?
Of course, the Government want economic growth and prosperity. We want a stable international situation in which we can trade. We have to take account of the fact that major trading partners, such as Germany, France and the United States, have seen either no growth or very limited growth as well. That is the challenge we face. As Mr Darling reminded us at the weekend, we can either have a credible economic policy that takes note of what is going on in the world or, as he put it, we cannot even be at the races.