It is a great pleasure to follow the maiden speech given by Gareth Snell. We all remember our maiden speeches. I personally thought the hon. Gentleman made an excellent speech full of passion and conviction. Perhaps a little shiver went through those on these Benches at hearing a man of conviction, which is what this House needs, in my humble opinion, on many occasions. From Staffordshire oatcakes to the ceramic empire, we heard it all. The hon. Gentleman represents an honourable seat and I am sure he will do an honourable job.
I congratulate the Government on doing an excellent job so far, bearing in mind the appalling inheritance that we had back in 2010, along with the banking crisis and many other factors that led to the massive cash crisis that we face. The UK economy is forecast to grow by 2%, real wages are forecast to rise every year to 2021, the deficit is due to fall, and the debt in proportion to national income is also due to fall. All this, and more, is most welcome, and I congratulate the Government of whom I am proud to be a member.
I am also glad that the Government are not ashamed, as they should not be, to mention the dire financial circumstances that our country still faces. Wherever I go in my constituency—I am sure that most Members are the same—we cannot brush over the fact that we are still on a knife edge. We are told—the figures are there—that there is debt of £1.7 trillion, or £62,000 per household; that private debt, which is not often mentioned, is a similar figure; and that there is £50 billion a year of debt interest, which is more than we spend on defence and policing put together. These are horrifying figures that Government Front Benchers are desperately trying to deal with.
I would not be doing my duty as a Member of Parliament if I did not raise a few of my concerns about the Budget, although overall I support it. The word “fairness” is used a lot by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for reasons I quite understand, but I am not sure that it entirely resounds with those who are going to be affected by one or two tax rises. As a Conservative, I long to hear from a Conservative Chancellor a vision for this country that involves a massive reform of our tax system, which today is one of the most complicated in the world. For example, why cannot we have a flat-rate income tax of, say, 30%? KISS—keep it simple, stupid—is what we were told in the Army, and I think that there is a lot of room for that in the tax system of this country.