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I am much obliged to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for calling me at this late hour to speak about what I consider to be an extremely effective Budget. I think that it is a Budget about business, about aspiration, and about savings. I also think that it recognises what everyone else has recognised in the last six months: that the country is back on its feet after a very poor period of stagnating growth, and that we have stuck to the plan and put Britain back on track.
It is particularly paradoxical to hear Opposition Members say that the recovery is unbalanced. A year ago, they complained that there was no recovery. A year ago, they were talking about triple dip. A year ago, they were talking about trying to go back to plan B and ditching the original plan. Today, when we have the strongest growth in the OECD and the strongest growth among our European partners, they complain about the nature of the growth. It is true that the growth could be more balanced, but I certainly prefer some growth to no growth whatsoever.
I want to talk about the general fiscal position of this country. We have heard a lot of arguments today, especially from Mr Hain, suggesting that Labour had nothing to do with the debt crisis and the deficit this Government inherited in 2010. Nothing could be more absurd. If we look at the fiscal position in 2001, we will see that the Budget was balanced. In fact I think the first Labour Administration were pretty good in terms of the fiscal position—I have said that publicly before, although I was not endorsed by the Whips for doing so. For those four years the Budget was either in balance or in surplus and it was a very good fiscal record.