Before I start, may I say how proud and delighted I am to be joined on these green Benches by my new hon. Friend Gareth Snell who made a wonderful maiden speech? I am now grateful that I knocked on every door when it was raining. [Interruption.] We can send him back now.
What we heard last week was a Budget bereft of ideas from a Government in want of a plan. It offered no solution to the crisis in our NHS, no vision for our country’s future outside the EU and no offer of hope for the Potteries, which I am so proud to represent. Its alleged support for health and social care amounted to little more than an empty gesture in the face of crippling financial crisis within our NHS.
The Budget prioritised the vanity projects of an out-of-touch Prime Minister over fixing our struggling education system. It is timid in the face of unprecedented challenges; indeed, it is bold in only one respect—in its choice of victims. The Chancellor will no doubt have been counting his blessings that he had a ministerial car in which to flee the scene last week, because I am sure that the cabbies of central London would have painted him a clear and somewhat colourful picture of what his announcement on national insurance is set to do to their take-home pay.