Living Standards

Part of Opposition Day — [Un-allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 30th November 2011.

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Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Conservative, Harrogate and Knaresborough 5:45 pm, 30th November 2011

My hon. Friend makes a wise point, as ever. Protecting mortgage rates and the rates that businesses pay, and the rates at which our Government can borrow, is critical to our longer-term financial success.

It is fair to say that while we are going through this corrective process, the Government are taking action to protect the living standards of people in this country. I would highlight the 1 million people who are being taken out of tax altogether, and the protection of the state pension by the triple lock. I know that the increase of £5.30 in the basic state pension announced yesterday will be particularly welcome in my constituency, which has quite a high average age profile. People often assume that the community in my constituency is uniformly affluent. That is not the case; there are pockets of real poverty, particularly among pensioners living on fixed incomes.

My constituency is in North Yorkshire, one of the most rural counties in the country. People have to travel long distances to reach work or to access services. I therefore welcome the initiatives on fuel duty, especially the cancellation of January’s increase. Opposition Members are wrong not to recognise the impact the fuel duty escalator had on prices, and I hope they will support the actions being taken by this Government, as a result of which fuel duty will be 10p lower than it would otherwise have been. That amounts to an average saving of £144 a year, and I suspect the figure will be higher for those in rural areas.

These are concrete examples of the action this Government are taking to protect living standards. They are taking action on the issues my constituents raise with me. It is therefore wrong to claim that the Government are out of touch or are not taking action. The motion fails to recognise how much is being done and, astonishingly, maintains the pretence that there is no financial problem to tackle.