It is usually a pleasure to joust with Chris Leslie, but his comments were unremittingly negative. It is amazing that he contrived a speech lasting no fewer than 46 minutes about a Finance Bill that supposedly had so little in it.
For almost the past four years, the British electorate have, perhaps grudgingly at times, recognised that the coalition’s avowed economic plan—the elimination of the structural deficit in the course of this Parliament—has been the right path in response to our grisly economic inheritance.
Key to the plan was consistent growth. The Office for Budget Responsibility’s predicted compound growth of 2.7% to 2.9% for the duration of the Parliament accounted for more than half the deficit reduction programme. As the hon. Gentleman rightly pointed out, that has not been achieved, but the international capital markets have maintained their confidence in the coalition despite its first three years having being characterised by somewhat sluggish growth. Fears that excessive borrowing on the scale that became necessary between 2010 and 2013 would lead to higher interest rates have proved entirely unfounded.