Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:31 pm on 13th September 2017.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health 1:31 pm, 13th September 2017

I will make some progress now, because I know that lots of people want to speak in this debate.

The other completely bogus claim we have heard this afternoon is that somehow the financial discipline of pay restraint that we have had to have has been deliberately targeted at ordinary people. Again, that is absolute nonsense, as we see when we look at what has happened. Despite the recession and the pressures on public finance, this Government have taken 4 million of the lowest-paid people out of income tax altogether. At the same time, the top 1% are paying more and the top 20% are paying more, and we have gone further, introducing the national living wage, which since its introduction in April has increased the pay of people at that level of pay by £1,400 per annum. The record overall—this is where we see the most obnoxious untruth spread by the story on austerity—shows that over the past seven years we have seen 600,000 fewer people in absolute poverty and 200,000 fewer children in absolute poverty. Income inequality has reduced to its lowest level for 30 years. Why is it that this apparently evil Tory Government have reduced inequality? It is because we have done what Labour never does, which is grow the economy, with 1 million new businesses, 3 million new jobs and unemployment at its lowest since 1975. Today, youth unemployment is below 5% for the first time and there has been a 40% drop since 2010.