My right hon. Friend is correct about where the debt is owed, but as a country we must none the less be wary of a debt that is high by recent historical standards. It is right that we show determination to set out a plan for how the debt to GDP ratio can be reduced to ensure that the UK is in a more resilient place to absorb the shocks to our economy and to the public finances that occur from time to time.
Beyond our fiscal rules to protect the public purse and prepare our economy, the Budget also set out a wide range of things that this Government will be doing to invest in our future. That includes giving our children the chance to go to a good or outstanding school that sets them up to succeed; helping young people across the country get the skills they need for the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future; and investing in cutting-edge technology and innovation, so that Britain continues to be at the forefront of the global technology revolution—three things that will be at the heart of our efforts finally to address the country’s long-standing productivity challenges.
The Budget also promised greater support for our social care system, with substantial additional funding so that people get the care they deserve as they grow older. The Budget works to strengthen our public services over the long term, too, in our determination to bring down the deficit and get the UK back to living within its means, and to fund our public services for the long term through a fair and sustainable tax system. The spring Budget, therefore, was one that made the most of the opportunities ahead by laying the foundations of a stronger, fairer and better Britain.
Following the House’s approval of the economic and budgetary assessment that forms the basis of the convergence programme, the Government will submit the convergence programme to the Council of the European Union and the European Commission, with recommendations expected from the Commission in May. The submission of convergence programmes by non-euro area member states, and stability programmes by euro area member states, also provides a useful framework for co-ordinating fiscal policies. A degree of fiscal policy co-ordination across countries can be beneficial to ensure a stable global economy, which is in the UK’s national interest.
The UK has always taken part in international mechanisms for policy co-ordination, such as the G7, the G20 and the OECD. Although we are leaving the EU, we will of course continue to have a deep interest in the economic stability and prosperity of our European friends and neighbours, so we will continue to play our part in this process while we remain an EU member and in other international policy co-ordination processes once we have left the EU.
The Government are committed to ensuring that we act in full accordance with section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993, and that this House approves the economic and budgetary assessment that forms the basis of the convergence programme.