Economic Growth

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:11 pm on 15th May 2013.

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Photo of George Osborne George Osborne The Chancellor of the Exchequer 2:11 pm, 15th May 2013

This is what I have to say about the idea that this Government had some kind of golden economic inheritance from the Labour party: we inherited a situation in which Britain had had the deepest recession since the 1930s, the worst banking crisis in the entirety of British history and the highest budget deficit in the entire peacetime history of this nation. If that is a golden economic inheritance, I would hate to see what the hon. Gentleman thinks a hospital pass looks like.

The shadow Chancellor mentioned France in his remarks. Exactly a year ago the Labour leader could not contain his excitement about the economic programme being unveiled in France and about the red carpet being rolled out for him at the Elysée palace. “Chers camarades” is how he addressed the Socialist party gathering. He said, “What President Hollande is seeking to do in France, I want to do in Britain.” We do not hear much these days about Labour’s French connection. We still have liberté and egalité, but not much fraternité—although fraternity has never been a great topic for the Miliband family.

What we did not hear from the shadow Chancellor was his response to the fact that 1.2 million jobs have been created in the private sector, and that although, yes, our deficit is still too high, it has fallen by a third. He says we are borrowing more. We were borrowing £158 billion a year as a country in 2009-10, and this year it is forecast that we will be borrowing £114 billion. That is a £45 billion reduction in borrowing. None of that has been easy to achieve, and every single measure has been opposed by Labour. Not a single measure in its amendment today would help deal with that deficit, but our plan of monetary activism, fiscal responsibility and supply-side reform is delivering progress.