I beg to move,
That this House
has considered the matter of the economy.
I am pleased that this House has the opportunity to discuss the economic challenges that our country faces. The statement delivered by the Chancellor last week was a statement for the world as it is, not a statement about the world as we had hoped it would be, but in it we took the tough but fair decisions needed to fix the mess that we inherited, by bringing the deficit down, maintaining our international credibility and creating a platform for jobs and growth.
We ensured that the burden was fairly shared, asking those who have the most to contribute the most, bringing the cost of our welfare system under control and further squeezing Whitehall bureaucracy. We also addressed issues to make life easier through these tough times by cutting income tax and fuel duty and putting more money back into the pockets of working families.
That is why the autumn statement has been welcomed widely by the CBI, the British Retail Consortium, the Institute of Directors, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Engineering Employers Federation and many others that have the best interests of the British economy at heart. We inherited a mess, but we are clearing it up and building a stronger economy and a fairer society so that every person in Britain is able to get on in life.
As the Chancellor made clear last week, the road to recovery is longer than we had hoped, but this Government are committed to finishing the job and strengthening the British economy. Despite the mess we inherited and despite the headwinds from the eurozone and the impact of the banking crisis, we are making progress. The deficit has been cut by a quarter and, as the shadow Chancellor himself rightly observed last week, the deficit is falling in each and every year of the forecast. More than 1 million private sector jobs have been created and nearly 1 million young people have started apprenticeships, and exports of goods to major emerging markets have doubled since 2009.