It is a real pleasure, as always, to follow Julie Hilling. Listening to her speech, and indeed that of the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Leslie, I was reminded, given recent events in Ukraine, of the charge of the Light Brigade in the first Crimean war, which we fought some years ago. They were very game, very determined and, in complete denial of the situation in which they find themselves, carried on regardless. It was fascinating to listen to the shadow Chief Secretary’s amazing negativity about the changes the Government have made. The Government have turned around a very difficult situation that they inherited.
The hon. Member for Bolton West seems to have a somewhat short memory, to put it gently. She was quick to blame the problems on everyone else, but slow to acknowledge any responsibility on the part of the previous Government. It is important to remember that there were problems in the UK’s banks due to the extremely poor and dislocated regulatory system put in place by the previous Prime Minister. There were problems with this country’s finances, and not just since the 2008 recession, because the previous Government ran a structural deficit from 2002 onwards, which left this country massively exposed. They said that they managed the crisis so well, but the UK, as some of us recall, had one of the largest budget deficits in the developed world. They spent the good years introducing more welfare and more spending, rather than controlling welfare and spending and making sure the UK’s finances were in a good state while the sun shone.