[10th alloted day] — The Economy

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 12:49 pm on 26th November 2014.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 12:49 pm, 26th November 2014

The hon. Gentleman and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were backing all the spending plans during those years. Moreover, the hon. Gentleman did not even mention the banking crisis. Where was he during that period? Does he really think that his constituents will be tricked by his airbrushing of the situation? The hon. Gentleman’s party has been in office for five years, but the Conservatives have failed on the promises they made to tackle the Budget deficit and get borrowing down. They promised that we would not have a Budget deficit, and they failed and it will be up to the next Government to finish the job.

Whoever wins the next election will have to pick up the pieces of this current mess. We will make sure that resources are channelled towards the issues that matter most to the public, but we should not have to wait until next May: the Chancellor has the opportunity to act now. That is why the third task for this autumn statement is to deliver a costed and funded plan to save and transform our national health service. In my constituency in Nottingham it is getting harder to see a GP; on cancer waiting times we still have a system struggling to meet the two-week target from GP referral to first outpatient appointment; and at the beginning of the month in Nottingham almost one in five patients had to wait more than four hours at our local emergency department. We have excellent staff and diligent management at our local hospital, but the pressures on their shoulders have been getting worse and worse, and Ministers have left the NHS to cope on its own, without finding the new sources of funding to put this situation right.

I therefore put this challenge to the Minister today: when she gets to her feet to respond to this debate, will she accept our suggestion to use £1 billion of banking fines from the recent foreign exchange rigging scandal and earmark this windfall for the NHS? More than that, will the Minister do what is required to tackle tax avoidance, and introduce a levy on tobacco firms and a tax on properties worth over £2 million to raise £2.5 billion a year—on top of the Government’s spending plans—for an extra 20,000 nurses and 8,000 doctors? These are necessary—and some of them are difficult—decisions, which focus relentlessly on supporting the NHS at this time of need.

These are the tests for next week’s autumn statement: a recovery for the many; a fairer approach to balancing the books; and a plan to save our NHS. Britain cannot afford another autumn statement of inactivity, neglect and the same old trickle-down economics. We need a Government who step up and take action to deliver a recovery shared by all. I commend the motion to the House.