Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:56 pm on 25th March 2013.

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Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng Conservative, Spelthorne 8:56 pm, 25th March 2013

I happen to be a balanced budget Conservative. Even at the time, before I was elected to this House, I completely disavowed any move to stick to Labour’s spending. I thought that it was a big mistake at the time and I am quite happy to say that in this House. I think that it was entirely a mistake to do what the Labour Government did and run deficits at a time when the economy was growing at 3%. It was absolute madness to run deficits at 3% of GDP when the economy itself was growing at 3%. Not even the most starry-eyed Keynesian has ever suggested that we should be running deficits while the economy was expanding. As a direct consequence of this irresponsible period, in 2010 we were left with the largest peacetime deficit and the highest deficit-to-GDP ratio of any of the OECD countries. That period of stewardship marks the ultimate disgrace of the Labour party in terms of managing the national economy. We have now reached the point where we are borrowing £100 billion a year and the national debt is going up, as people have mentioned. As a consequence of this high level of deficit financing, we are going to leave a national debt in years to come that is higher than it has been for generations.

What serious proposals have Labour Members come up with during this four-day debate? Their answer is simply to borrow more money and to spend more money. They would accelerate our downward path and we would end up, as one economic commentator has said, with Club Med levels of debt similar to those of Portugal and Greece—without, unfortunately, the good weather. That is what Labour Members are leading this country towards. Members of the public will be absolutely astounded that Labour Members have expressed not one shred of remorse, regret or acknowledgement. They live in a world in which they did nothing wrong. Everything has been blamed on the coalition Government, who have tried to clear up the appalling mess—[Interruption.] Labour Members are chuntering from sedentary positions. They do not like to hear the facts.

People up and down the country realise and acknowledge that the Labour Government were entirely irresponsible. What solutions have the Labour Members come up with? Absolutely none. It is embarrassing to listen to some of their speeches. They talk about more growth despite the fact that the eurozone is flat on its back. They talk about more investment despite the fact that we are borrowing more money than we ever have before. When one asks them where this money is going to come from, they repeat, “The bankers’ bonus tax”, as though that would pay for absolutely everything they wish for, although it has already been spent about 100 times. It is depressing to see Labour Members, who fancy themselves as the next Government—they are very confident, I notice—offering such poor, ill-thought-through and pathetic solutions to a grave national crisis. People watching this debate at home will be appalled, frankly, by the level of argument, contribution and solutions that Labour Members have contributed.

I welcome this Budget. In very difficult times, the Chancellor has identified weaknesses and has managed to alleviate some of the distress that we suffer.