Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 25th March 2013.

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Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns Conservative, Vale of Glamorgan 5:45 pm, 25th March 2013

The hon. Gentleman recognises, I hope, that the economy needs to be kick-started. He always refers to the changes to the highest income tax rates and the 5% reduction that will take place next week. However, I remind him that the rate Labour introduced was temporary. If so, when was Labour planning to abandon it? The ultimate question that Labour Members have to answer is, will they reintroduce for the next general election the 50% rate that was in their manifesto? I will happily give way to the hon. Gentleman if he wants to intervene again. Obviously, he does not, because they are not prepared to say whether they will commit to doing that.

I am pleased that the homebuy scheme will be limited to three years because as I said, it is not a policy area that any Government would want to be involved with in perpetuity, because of some of the risks that have been highlighted. It simply is not a public sector initiative that any Government would want to undertake all the time.

If those who want to criticise such initiatives are to have any credibility, they need to offer some form of alternative. It is hard to believe the audacity shown by some Labour Members. Less than three years ago, they were responsible for, or were the loudest cheerleaders for, the policies that led us into this position, giving this country the most debt-ridden, overspent, unbalanced economy in modern history. Manufacturing had declined by more than 20%, public sector job numbers had ballooned and we had the highest debt level of any G20 nation. I notice that the Labour Members who were seeking to intervene and criticise earlier are now staring at their boots.

These initiatives are aimed at promoting growth and freezing or cutting spending. [Interruption.] The Labour critics really need to come up with some alternatives. Until they have accepted their responsibility, they will lack credibility and no one will listen. Even Lord Mandelson recognised that just last week. They came up with some sort of plans in the past. Spending the 4G auction money on 100,000 new affordable homes was one option; a two-year freeze on stamp duty was another. However, that money has already been used—on the national debt—so I look forward to hearing their alternatives.

This Budget will make a difference to families, and help to kick-start the housing sector and to make Britain’s economy much more competitive. I look forward to hearing the solutions that Labour Members will try—