Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:39 pm on 23rd March 2015.

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Photo of Danny Alexander Danny Alexander The Chief Secretary to the Treasury 9:39 pm, 23rd March 2015

No, I will not give way. Opposition Members do not like to hear about tax cuts for working people because they did not deliver those cuts themselves. If they cared about cutting taxes for working people, they would be welcoming and celebrating the fact that 3.7 million working people on the lowest incomes no longer have to pay any income tax at all. That is something that Government Members would celebrate; Opposition Members should be celebrating it, too.

When a Government lose control of the public finances, it is the poorest who are hardest hit. That is why imposing fiscal discipline was such a priority for us in 2010. We created the stability necessary to deliver growth, jobs and investment. Last year, the shadow Chancellor channelled Ronald Reagan and asked, “Are you better off than you were in 2010?” On Thursday, the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies confirmed that families are set to be £900 better off in 2015 than they were in 2010.

Compared with five years ago, we have lower inequality; child poverty is down; pensioner poverty is at record lows; the gender pay gap is smaller than ever; and the number of students at university from disadvantaged backgrounds is at an all-time high. Some 1.9 million new people are in work, which is 1,000 new jobs a day, four fifths of them full time and four fifths in skilled occupations. This is a record to be proud of, and I am proud of these achievements. I am proud of the role my party has played in achieving them.

Responsible government does not mean standing on the sidelines and complaining about how long other people are taking to clean up the mess they created. Responsible government is about stepping up to the challenges and not flinching from taking the tough but necessary decisions. That is what we have done since 2010. We have created a stronger economy, we have created a fairer society, and we have delivered for the people of the United Kingdom. I commend the Budget to the House.