It was the previous Conservative Government, and that has never been acknowledged, so the hon. Gentleman should not rewrite history.
Another interesting aspect of the present economic situation is that local government has taken the brunt—33.3%—of the cuts. People talk about growth, without realising that it is only through local government that growth will happen. It is worth noting that in the west midlands, for example, unemployment is probably the highest in the country with about 8.5% unemployed, while for young people up and down the country it is as high as 21%. Given those levels of youth unemployment over which this Chancellor is presiding, I think it is offensive when he talks about aspiration and the aspiration nation. The UK has the third worst level of youth unemployment in the developed world; of the OECD countries, only Spain and Greece have higher levels. Since the recession started, the UK has experienced the fastest rise in youth unemployment of the G8 countries.
Speaking about aspiration, the Chancellor is dividing people into “aspirants” who aspire to prosperity and others. It is as though he does not know or does not care that there is a national lack of job opportunities available to young people. It is simply disgraceful for the Chancellor to talk about aspiration when one in five young people leaving school might not find work. The Government need an extensive programme to create jobs for young people and should support them in finding those jobs and training them.
Let me deal with manufacturing. I have often spoken about the west midlands and its success in manufacturing, and I strongly believe that the manufacturing sector can drive local economies and boost growth. I was therefore alarmed at the Budget’s lack of discussion of manufacturing industry. The Chancellor’s only mention of it was his claim that for the first time in 40 years we are manufacturing for export more cars than we import. Well, that started under the Labour Government and certainly not under the present Government. The Government try to take the credit for the success of Jaguar Land Rover, but Labour Members know that the previous Labour Government supported that industry.