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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:57 pm on 20th March 2014.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 1:57 pm, 20th March 2014

The hon. Gentleman’s analysis is spot on. Of course that is what has happened. We have managed to avoid mass unemployment, but the average productivity level has fallen. If we are to grow, and if living standards are to grow—that seems to be the focus of the debate—productivity must rise, which prompts the question of how we do it. We are currently doing it in an environment that is severely constrained. We must remember—and I think that the shadow Chancellor often forgets this—that one of the massive legacies of the crisis was the structural deficit. A deficit of that kind does not go away when growth increases; it is there, it is structural, and it will have to be dealt with. The structural deficit, defined as we defined it when we formed the coalition, has fallen from about 5.4% of GDP to 2.7%. We are nearly halfway, but we have to continue the job, and the next Government will have to continue the job. In that context, we must proceed with an agenda of raising productivity and growth.