Spring Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:17 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer 1:17 pm, 13th March 2019

We have just heard the same old recycled lines. I must be going a little bit deaf, because I did not hear any mention of record employment. Perhaps the shadow Chancellor is so ashamed of Labour’s record: no Labour Government have ever left office with unemployment below that which they inherited. I did not hear anything about rising wages; they are rising the fastest in a decade. He did not mention the extra £1.3 billion for local government, or the extra £1 billion of police funding, both of which he voted against. He did not mention the fact that we have had nine years of unbroken growth. He did not mention the fact that this economy is out-performing that of Germany this year. He witters on about manufacturing without any recognition of the global economic context in which this sits—perhaps he does not inhabit the global economy. If he did, he would know very well that the downturn in manufacturing is happening across Europe and is affecting everyone. He did not mention the remarkable turnaround in our public finances and the real choices that we have as a consequence. He just relentlessly talked Britain and its economy down.

Once again, we hear this absurd proposition that the decisions that we took in 2010 were some kind of political choice—as if we could have gone on borrowing £1 for every £1 spent indefinitely, racking up interest bills and burdening future generations with debt. No responsible politician could credibly believe that these were choices in 2010.

The shadow Chancellor talks about homelessness. We have committed £1.2 billion to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping—I did not hear any mention of that. He talks about the downgrade of the 2019 economic forecast without mentioning the global context. He confuses the debt and the deficit. The reason that the debt has risen—[Interruption.] He is not listening, but it is very, very simple. It is not even economics; it is just maths. It is very, very simple. If you have a £150 billion deficit in your last year in office, your successor will find that debt is rising, and that is what we found. I have announced, since 2016, £150 billion of additional public spending as well as getting the forecast deficit down to 0.5% of GDP. That means that we have real and genuine sustainable choices in this country for the first time in a decade.

The shadow Chancellor delivers repeated misinformation which we have heard countless times from those on the Labour Benches. Let us take transport funding for example. He knows that central Government transport funding is higher per capita in the north than it is in London and the south—that is a fact. He knows that there are 665,000 fewer children in workless households now than there were in 2010—that is a fact. He knows that public investment set out in the OBR report today represents Britain’s biggest public capital investment programme for 40 years—that is a fact. He accuses me of talking about housing again. Well, I will talk about housing again, and again, and again, because we have announced £44 billion-worth of investment in housing, and that is an awful lot of announcements that I will have to make.

The ultimate audacity is the moral lecturing tone in the shadow Chancellor’s closing remarks. I really do take exception to being lectured to by a man who has stood idly by, turning a blind eye, while his leader has allowed antisemitism to all but destroy a once great political party from the inside out. Attlee and Bevan must be rotating in their graves. People should look at what this pair have done to the Labour party and just think what they would do to our country.