[Un-allotted Half Day] — Future Government Spending

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 3:04 pm on 4th March 2015.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury 3:04 pm, 4th March 2015

I will give way in a moment.

I am afraid that Conservative Members are not driven by rationality when it comes to a strategy for dealing with the public finances. They are driven by dogma. [Interruption.] Oh, yes. They are on an ideological crusade to shrink public services as a percentage of national income. Their plan, when they stand up to talk about these things, is not about eliminating the deficit at all; it is beyond that. The guiding principle of the Conservative party is a desire for public services actively to decline year after year after year.

That is why so many Conservative Members have joined that fabled Conservative group, the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs. Kwasi Kwarteng is not in the Chamber, but he has famously called for massive reductions in public spending. The Economic Secretary, who will wind up the debate, is also a member of the Free Enterprise Group, as is her colleague the Exchequer Secretary and the hon. Members for Macclesfield (David Rutley), for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier), for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) and for Dover (Charlie Elphicke). I am sure there are others, although perhaps of a lower ranking order within the Free Enterprise Group structure. [Interruption.] Well, I am not a member of the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs and, with members like that, I am quite glad I am not.

That organisation reveals the true face of the Conservative agenda. It believes very much in shrinking the state and it is driven by that fundamental belief. It is highly dogmatic and has used the financial crisis as a pretext for reducing the level of public investment.