If we move away from the rhetoric and look at the facts, we will see that in their first three years this Government have spent £5.6 billion less in capital investment compared with the plans they inherited from Labour. That amounts to a £5.6 billion cut to spending that would have taken place had this Government continued with the plans they inherited from the previous Government. What has happened illustrates the importance to the health of the economy of continuity in large infrastructure projects. It is difficult to get that right between the parties, but we must recognise that there are plans for infrastructure spending so that the tap cannot be turned off easily, as the Government did with the Building Schools for the Future programme. If that programme had been carried forward, it would have assisted economic development, as well as continuing to revolutionise the learning environment of children up and down the land.
In the three months to April 2013, output in the construction industry was 4.7% lower than in the same period a year earlier. Construction output is down by 11.2% since the 2010 spending review. Construction—that energetic sector that drives the economy—continues to struggle. That is why we need to check, three months down the line, the effect on the economy of the decisions that are being made today to ensure that we are moving in the right direction.
The volume of new construction orders fell by 10% between quarter 4 of 2012 and quarter 1 of 2013. That is a massive dip. The number of new orders for infrastructure fell by 49.8% over the same period—the largest fall since 1987. The value of public sector infrastructure orders fell by £2 billion between quarter 4 of 2012 and quarter 1 of 2013. Those are significant contractions of demand in the economy.
That clearly has an impact on jobs. At the end of the day, jobs are what transform people’s lives. There is unanimity about that across the Chamber. The construction sector has lost 84,000 jobs since the Government came to power. That has an impact on the well-being and quality of life of individuals, as well as on the economy and the livelihoods of people beyond the construction industry.
There is much more that I could say, but I will return to the essence of this simple, helpful, concise new clause. I can see no argument for the Government not accepting it. It would help us all if they accepted it gracefully so that we can move forward together in harmony.