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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:55 pm on 20th March 2014.

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Photo of Geoffrey Robinson Geoffrey Robinson Labour, Coventry North West 2:55 pm, 20th March 2014

It is a pleasure to follow Chloe Smith and my hon. Friend Ms Buck, both of whom spoke about the minimum wage and those on low wages. What the hon. Member for Norwich North forgot to say is that this Budget does absolutely nothing for the millions who are paying no tax at all, and that is our principal criticism of it.

Before I deal with that, may I just say a few words about the speech by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, who reminded us that he has seen 18 Budgets? I have seen nearly all of them with him and I remember many of his trenchant criticisms in the past, particularly in the first decade of this century. He seems, as the Tory party wishes to do, to have airbrushed out of his history—and certainly out of his memory—exactly what this Government’s so-called economic plan has achieved over the past four years. It is no good saying that the plan worked, because the plan did not work on any of the measures it set out to measure itself by.

Let us discuss these things one by one: we have had three and a half years of flatlining; we have had growth which has achieved less than 50% of the Government’s plan; we have had investment that is below 50% of what they set out to achieve; and on exports—exports investment was at the heart of the plan—they have achieved less than 50% of the plan, as Members well know. That is some plan, given what has happened on all the key indices.