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

I am sure it was a momentary oversight by the hon. Lady that she did not say anything about the decommissioning measures that will be so important to her local industry in Aberdeen and that are listed in the written ministerial statement. She says that no deal will be bad for the economy, and I absolutely agree, but if she understands that, why did she not vote for the deal? I have a great deal of respect for her, but I am afraid she is creeping towards the practices of those on the Labour Front Bench when she quotes the fourth quarter growth figure of 0.2% without mentioning the more recently published growth figure of 0.5% for the first quarter of this year. [Interruption.] If she does the maths, she will find that is okay.

The hon. Lady talked about the downgrade that the OBR has applied to the 2019 growth figure. We would of course like it to be higher, but she has to see the figure in the global context. I know she understands this. Germany’s economy has slowed down and France’s economy has slowed down. Across the G7, we are exactly in the middle of the pack. We will grow faster than Germany, Japan and Italy this year. We will grow exactly the same as France and slower than Canada and the US. That is a perfectly creditable performance. Would I like to do better? Of course I would. If she is going to be honest with the House, she needs to put what she says in the context of what is happening across the global economy.

The hon. Lady asked about PhD-level roles. They will be completely exempt from the visa cap. She asked about assets being moved abroad. Of course I am concerned about that, and £35 billion of insurance company assets moved abroad is £35 billion more than I would like, but she needs to understand that that is in the context of the many trillions of pounds of assets that the companies are managing in London and, increasingly, in Edinburgh. Edinburgh’s ranking in the global asset management league table has once again risen, which we are extremely pleased about.

The hon. Lady talked about pay for the lowest paid. Those on the national minimum wage and the national living wage have seen their incomes increase by an average of £2,750 a year since 2016. She asked about universal credit. Universal credit delivers. People on universal credit are more likely to be in work than those trapped on legacy benefits. I have put billions of pounds into the system over successive fiscal events to smooth the transition to ensure that the movement of people from legacy benefits on to universal credit operates smoothly.

Finally, Scotland gets its share of the increased spending on capital and resource, but precious little thanks do we ever hear from those on the SNP Benches in exchange for it.