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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:52 pm on 19th March 2015.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 12:52 pm, 19th March 2015

It is a privilege to respond to the Budget. I have calculated that, if we include emergency Budgets, this is the 20th successive Budget to which I have responded. I have begun to recognise some common traits, one of which is that the shadow Chancellor, whoever it is, has to adopt a tone of outrage. The current shadow Chancellor does outrage very well—I will concede that—but what he does not do so well is memory. He has the same problem as his party leader of forgetting important things.

The shadow Chancellor seems, for example, to have had problems remembering his own version of the millionaires’ tax cut, when throughout almost all the period of Labour Government the top rate of tax for millionaires was 40% rather than the 45% it is today. I think he has forgotten his authorship of that famous phrase, “No more boom and bust,” and his own role in boosting the banking sector such that it became overweight, toppled over and caused much of the damage and hurt we are still living with today. I think he has forgotten his record as a forecaster: we all remember his triple-dip recession—there was no triple and there was not even a recession.

There is help at hand, however, because one of the genuinely good legacies of the previous Labour Government is the Crick Institute, which will open shortly and will do medical research. I understand it will be taking forward some of the excellent work of University college London on neural pathways. That will open the door to a cure for amnesia, which seems to be the shadow Chancellor’s main problem.