I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
It is a pleasure to follow Kwasi Kwarteng, who is now, we hear, a self-declared fan of a balanced Budget. No doubt his disappointment in his own Government has kept him out of the Chamber for the vast majority of today’s debate.
I do not know if you noticed, Mr Deputy Speaker, but on the day of the Budget this Chamber was colder than I have ever felt it before. It was as though a cold, chilly winter breeze was rolling through the Chamber as an ailing, failing, flailing Chancellor came to the Dispatch Box—but it was all too little, too late. I am so pleased to see the Business Secretary in his seat, because he will agree with me—or I will agree with him, most humbly—that the mistake that this Government made was to choke off the recovery. Just as the snow across this country is choking off the green shoots of spring, so this Government, by cutting too quickly and too deeply, have choked off the recovery.
What really chilled me to the bone was when the Chancellor spoke about an aspirational Britain, because I am old enough to remember aspirational Britain the first time around. It was aspiration for some, but not for others.
This Government are out of touch. I apologise for being late for today’s opening speech, Mr Deputy Speaker, but as a trustee of my local food bank my time was being taken up by people who are aspiring to put food on their table, aspiring to heat their homes and aspiring to stay in their homes.