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Regrettably, I was not here for the opening remarks of my hon. Friend Sheila Gilmore, but we are clearly of one mind. I share with her the total refusal to accept the Government’s interpretation of the situation in which we find ourselves. The Secretary of State made a passionate plea that the debt should not lay a burden on our children and grandchildren, but that plea would have played rather more resonantly with me were it not for the fact that his Government are punishing our children and grandchildren even as we speak.
My parents and grandparents had absolutely no qualms whatever about laying on my generation the burden of debt incurred by fighting and winning a second world war, and I have to say that I am extremely grateful to them for that. I also point out to the Secretary of State that in the intervening decades, the opportunities that were presented to me and millions like me in this country by, as my hon. Friend said, the introduction of the welfare state, had been not only unheard of but undreamt of by people from the social and economic background from which I came. Therefore I, like her, simply refuse to accept that the choices the Government are making in every single area of our national economic life will promote growth, provide a way forward or benefit this country.
I would be more prepared to believe that the changes to the pension system that the Government have introduced—which, as my right hon. Friend Stephen Timms said, are grossly unfair to women—were driven by the harsh economic climate, which the Government constantly pray in aid, were it not for the fact that that measly six months will save only £1.1 billion. The Government borrow something like 10 times that amount every week. I simply cannot make the figures match—but then neither can they.