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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:42 pm on 19th March 2015.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 4:42 pm, 19th March 2015

I thank hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber for their contributions this afternoon. For some, it will have been their last contribution in the Chamber. I congratulate them on choosing such an important final debate.

The truth is that everybody wants economic growth and greater employment. No Government in the world say that they want less growth and fewer jobs. However, there is a big difference between talking about something and achieving it. This Government stand proud of our achievements: the fastest growth of any major advanced economy in the world, employment at a record high, unemployment at a record low, rising living standards, a falling deficit and the return of national optimism. And we have done all that within five years of the worst ever peacetime recession, which was caused not only by the financial crisis, but by the spending of the Labour party from 2001 onwards.

There have been some very good contributions this afternoon. Mr Bailey raised the sale of the student loan book. I can tell him that the first tranche is expected to be sold by the end of 2015-16 and that over a five-year period, the sales are expected to generate between £10 billion and £15 billion in revenues.

Derek Twigg spoke about living standards. Perhaps I can lay his concerns to rest by telling him what Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said was

“the difference between Mr Osborne’s £900 better off and Mr Miliband’s £1,600 worse off”.

He said:

“In part the difference arises because Mr Miliband is talking about gross earnings, not net incomes. The latter allows the fuller description of what has happened to household living standards.”

It is important for all Members to understand the reality of how our economy is performing.