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Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:26 pm on 22nd March 2016.

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Photo of George Kerevan George Kerevan Scottish National Party, East Lothian 2:26 pm, 22nd March 2016

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I serve on the Treasury Committee with Chris Philp, and I did not take what he said personally.

If we do not get productivity, what happens? We do not get growth. Mr Clarke gave us a wise presentation, as he normally does, but he slipped up a little. He said that, under this Chancellor, the United Kingdom had experienced the fastest growth in the developed world. That is not true. As he phrased it, it is not true—unless, of course, Australia is not developed; unless, of course, the United States is not developed; unless, of course, Sweden is not developed; unless, of course, Korea is not developed; unless, of course, Spain is not developed. All those countries experienced faster GDP growth than the UK in 2015, largely because they experienced faster productivity growth. That is what this Chancellor has not delivered. That is not what this Budget contains. And that is this Budget’s weakness.

If we look at the failure of productivity growth in the UK under this Chancellor, we see that productivity is lagging in practically every commercial and industrial sector. Crucially, productivity has been falling by an average of 1% a year in the financial services industry—our flagship industry, our key service industry, the industry that is leading our service exports. This Chancellor has devoted a lot of time and effort to reconstructing the financial services sector—I grant him that—but what have we got? Falling productivity. According to the

Office for National Statistics, productivity in the British financial sector, including insurance, is now behind the level of financial services productivity in France and Italy. That is not a great record, Chancellor. Here is the bottom line: if we do not have productivity growth, the cash economy will not grow, wages will not grow and income to the Treasury will therefore not grow.