May I start by saying what an honour it is to have been elected as the Chair of the Treasury Committee? I pay tribute to my predecessor, my right hon. Friend Nicky Morgan, who did such sterling work on the Committee, particularly with women in finance, the gender pay gap and other such important issues, all of which I intend to press forward with.
It is very early days. I was elected only yesterday and I have not even had a proper chance to sit down with the other members of the Committee to consider what we will be looking at in detail over the coming period. However, as this is an opportunity to bend the Chancellor’s ear, I thought that I would raise one or two extremely important points, which have been reflected in the debate so far this afternoon.
The first is Brexit. It seems to me that there is plenty of sound and fury around the issue, but what we need is some illumination and light. We will never all collectively agree in this House or indeed in the Treasury Committee on exactly where we want to end with Brexit, or indeed how we are going to get there. None the less, what we can all agree on is that information is important and that we need to know the data. I accept the Chancellor’s point that the political declaration is not the same thing as what is going through in the Bill at the moment; none the less, an assessment was made of the previous set of deals—on a broad range of circumstances, admittedly—and I think and fully expect that the Committee will be pressing at as early a stage as possible for some kind of assessment to be made of the likely outcomes of the deal that is under consideration.
The second point is about the Budget. A Budget will be coming very soon, which we will be scrutinising very closely. My message to the Chancellor is that after hearing from colleagues, we want to look at the regional distribution of the Budget. The Committee has already done some very good work on regional imbalances across the UK economy, and we will want to look at that closely. We will also want to look at how rural communities—