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Part of Opposition Day — [17th( )Allotted Day] — Horsemeat – in the House of Commons at 4:16 pm on 12th February 2013.

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Photo of Rachel Reeves Rachel Reeves Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 4:16 pm, 12th February 2013

In the plan set out by the last Labour Government for 2012-13, the amount was £48.4 billion. In the plan set out by this Government, it is £41.7 billion. We had a plan to halve the deficit during the course of this Parliament. This Government wanted to go further and eliminate the structural deficit in that time. The reality is that they are borrowing more than the amounts set out in the plans left by the last Labour Government. They are not borrowing it to invest in infrastructure, either. They are spending £12.8 billion less on infrastructure than the last Labour Government, but they are spending £13 billion more on social security. Why is that? It is because there are more people out of work and more people claiming tax credits as a result of this Government’s failure to get the economy growing again. They are spending £13 billion more than they had planned to on social security. Is that really what they came into power to do? No, but the reality is that their decision to cut as far and as fast as they did has choked off the economic recovery. The result has been an economy that has flatlined for two years.

This Government are lethargic in the face of a flatlining economy, and inept in the face of long-term challenges. They came in and abandoned Labour projects, such as the plans for 715 schools, in a tranche of ideologically motivated cuts. Then, having at least partly recognised their mistake, they announced a new school building programme in 2012. Progress is painfully slow, however, with work planned to start only sometime in the spring. More delay. It is simply not good enough. This is a Government without a plan for the present and without a vision for the future—[Interruption.] If any Liberal Democrats would like to intervene, I look forward to hearing from them. [Interruption.] If someone just wants to mutter from a sedentary position and does not have the guts to intervene, that is their problem, not mine. Do we have an intervention from the Liberal Democrats?