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Yesterday’s Budget proved the time-honoured truth that careful stewardship of the economy, taking difficult decisions, creating the environment for enterprise and generating growth will lead to better days, not just for those with the dignity of employment, now in record numbers, who did not have it in the past, but for the provision of the public services on which we all depend. This Budget reported record jobs, unemployment lower than in a generation, more full-time jobs, the lowest proportion of low-paid jobs for two decades and rising real pay, with the fastest rises in real pay among the lowest paid in our society, thanks to our national living wage.
We have just seen the big difference between the two Front Benches. While we are delivering more jobs, more opportunity and more prosperity, those on the Opposition Front Bench promise more borrowing, more taxes and more debt. We have just heard it again from the shadow Chancellor: no ideas for the future; just talking Britain down. There is a big difference in this Parliament between a party that believes in the future and an Opposition Front Bench that would only take us back. Wherever it has been tried in the world, the programme that John McDonnell proposes has led to bankruptcy and misery for millions, and we cannot fund public services on that. Without a strong economy, we cannot fund an NHS that everyone can turn to in their hour of need, whether that involves a life-threatening condition or falling over some fly-tipping. We are able to put record funding into our NHS only because there are millions more people in work who are earning more and paying their taxes.