[un-allotted half day] — Unemployment

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:24 pm on 14th December 2011.

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Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans 4:24 pm, 14th December 2011

I shall take no interventions, given the need for brevity. I share the concerns of my hon. Friend Oliver Heald that Labour Members seem to have collective amnesia about exactly how much they frittered away during the prosperous times for this nation and that they now claim that only they know how to fix it.

I am amazed that that flexible old chestnut, the bankers’ bonus, has been wheeled out yet again as a way of solving all the ills. This is from a party that did not tackle bankers’ bonuses in the good times, when there were plenty to tackle, and seems to have found them now as a cash cow that can be used many times—this is the sixth or seventh time the Opposition have proposed using that source of finance. They did not tackle bonuses then, yet they did abolish the 10% tax rate, which they seem to have forgotten about. Many women and low-paid workers were on that tax rate. Indeed, when I was knocking on doors during the 2010 election, many people told me that after that rate was removed it was hardly worth them working. There are still people caught in that trap, which the Opposition have collectively forgotten about.

The Labour party has also collectively forgotten that companies have been disadvantaged by the regulations it put in place. For example, Bombardier could not competitively tender because of the regulations that Labour put in print, which resulted in job losses. Unfortunately, it also presided over the lowest number of social house starts for decades. I read with interest that it now proposes building 25,000 affordable homes—again using the bankers’ bonuses—but with no new funding of the sort that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government has rolled out. At least this Government are making new funding available, rather than relying on the ever-flexible bankers’ bonus.