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The hon. Gentleman ought to know that I will always support any kind of tax cut if it is affordable and I welcome his conversion to that idea. I recall him talking about what happened when Labour got in, but he forgot one or two important facts. He forgot to tell us that when Labour got in in 1997, the national debt was some £350 billion. By 2007, before the economic crash, the national debt had risen to £650 billion. Yes, the Labour Government had been paying off the national debt for two years but when the election started to loom, all of a sudden off went the spending taps and they were spending at a rate of £30 billion or so on average more than they were earning. That meant that by 2007 they already had a problem, yet they let the spending rip and we ended up with a national debt of £1 trillion and a deficit of £160 billion. Their response was to say up until October that we should borrow even more money—now, they suggest we borrow even less.
What the hon. Ladies and Gentlemen on the Opposition Benches do not understand is that it is very easy to create a little employment in the short-term by borrowing money that one does not actually have, but the problem is that that will always lead to greater unemployment in the longer term because at some point—they do not realise this—that money must be paid back. In the meantime, the interest on it, which is about £30 billion a year at the moment, has to be paid. The only way that money can be paid back is by raising taxes, which destroys jobs, or cutting public spending. That is a basic economic fact that Labour Governments throughout history have failed to comprehend.
Of course, there are more things that this Government can do. We have taken the brave decision as a coalition to get rid of the deficit as quickly as we can. It might take until 2017—[ Interruption. ] Yes, I accept it is not going to be an easy task, given what we have inherited. It will take a number of years, but we will stay the course and do it, and we will do more, besides.
We must consider immigration. It cannot possibly be right that 250,000 people are coming into this country at a time of recession if we have to find them all jobs, too. My wife is one of them and my sister-in-law, who is from Asia, is another. I am not in any way against those who come here; I welcome the fact that people have come here and are making a contribution, but we must consider whether that is sustainable in the long term.
We must also consider the attitude of some British people—that has to be said. Neither of my sister-in-laws had problems coming over here from Asia and eastern Europe and getting jobs, but there is unfortunately a small minority of younger British people who would prefer to stay on the dole than go out and get a job. It is a harsh fact but it needs saying and it is something that this Government will actively tackle.
We need to look at the attitudes and training of those who come out of our schools, ensuring that they can add up and have basic English and social skills, as it is often people’s attitude that gets them a job. We must consider what our universities are teaching people, because it is no good if everybody comes out with a degree in media studies. There will always be some jobs for some people in the media, but not for all those who want them.
I have spoken to a number of people working in companies that are contributing a lot to this country—gas and oil companies and so on—and they say that they have had to go abroad to find people because there are not enough with the necessary practical skills in this country. By that I mean people who do not mind getting their hands a bit dirty. I spent four or five years getting my hands a bit dirty, as did many people on the Opposition Benches. I have no problem with that whatsoever. Unfortunately, some young people in this country at the moment do.