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The Conservative party is the party of jobs, opportunities and higher wages, not of borrowing for ever until we go bust. There is nothing whatever compassionate about running out of money. My right hon. and learned Friend Mr Clarke made some very good points, not least that, given the conditions, this is a good time for employers to deal with the subsidy that has built up.
In Australia during the crisis the Government authorised the payment of $900—about £500—as a tax credit, as an absolute emergency measure to keep the economy from going into recession, and there was an almighty argument and stink over whether that was even possible.
Gordon Brown instigated a system that spends thousands of pounds per person every year. He bumped the figure up ahead of elections time and again, and the welfare system got out of control. This was indeed a bribe, and it was made with borrowed money. That is not fair on the general taxpayer. We are the party that wants to reform this system. This is about reducing our deficit and not burdening our children. All our children will be paying for this for ever more unless we reform the system now. It is also worth remembering that the tax credit system is one of the reasons that migration from the EU has been sucked in so hard since 2005, and if we want to deal with that, we must address this issue.
This is the party of incentives. We want to make the future better and enable businesses to create jobs that will pay better wages in order to give people the opportunities they need if their families are to get on. That is why we have a major infrastructure programme in the south-west. We have heard Opposition Members ask what we are going to invest in. Well, we are investing a lot. We are going to make a major difference to people in my constituency and in the south-west. These moves will enable a much broader-based rise in wages, which I look forward to. I believe that we should incentivise people even further in the next phase, and it has been suggested a few times that we should look at the national insurance system. We could raise the national insurance threshold much further, right up to the point at which income tax is collected. That reform would make work pay even more.