[un-allotted half day] — Unemployment

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 3:04 pm on 14th December 2011.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions 3:04 pm, 14th December 2011

No, I am going to make some progress now.

The first priority has to be to help get business moving and growing again. That involves having a stable financial environment in which businesses are confident that this country is not going to find itself in the economic predicament that some other nations are facing. We therefore remain determined to address the deficit challenge, bring our public finances under control and send a message to the world that Britain understands the challenges that we face and is trying to do something about them. That is why we saw such a good response in the bond markets this morning to this country’s attempts to sell its bonds, and why other countries are facing difficulties. I believe that if we had not taken those measures, businesses would not be investing in this country or considering employing people here. I believe that unemployment would be higher than it is today.

We also have to take measures that, within the confines of the financial constraints upon us, do everything possible to encourage and support business. That is why my right hon. Friend the Chancellor set out in his autumn statement two weeks ago a variety of measures designed to do just that. They include investment in infrastructure; an expansion of the regional growth fund; increased capital allowances in enterprise zones; and measures to underpin bank lending to small businesses, so that they can access the finance that they need to grow. Those are essential parts of ensuring that in exceptionally difficult times, businesses at least have the best foundations that we can possibly give them to enable them to grow.