It is a pleasure to speak in favour of the Budget tonight. The decade since the financial crisis has been tough, and it is very good to know that the corner has been turned. The economy must come first, because without a strong economy we cannot afford other priorities such as healthcare, welfare, defence and education. Today in Chelmsford unemployment stands at 1.6%; we have record numbers of jobs and opportunities. We know that politicians do not make jobs—businesses do—but we can help. Businesses often tell me how low corporation taxes have helped them to invest here. Chelmsford businesses ask me for lower business rates, fixed VAT thresholds and a level playing field between online and offline trade, because tech giants should pay tax too. I am really glad that all three of those asks have been addressed in the Budget.
We know that innovation drives growth and keeps us ahead of the pack, and I am proud that this Government have increased investment in science and research by more than any Government in the past 40 years. We on this side do not underestimate the importance of collaboration in science, which is why our EU strategy keeps us in those European networks. I am glad that the Minister for Immigration is here. She knows that we need a fair and fast immigration system to enable scientists to continue to come here.
Fundamental research in science is key. Ideas involving liquid crystals, molecular machines and gas phase chemistry were once just intellectual curiosities, but they have now driven real transformational breakthroughs. We need to ensure that the ideas we have here are made into reality here. Chi Onwurah dismissed quantum technology as a “sexy” sector, but my biggest employer in Chelmsford has embraced the quantum revolution. It has made the cold atom trap—