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First, I pay tribute to the Government for the immense steps that they are taking to tackle coronavirus. Clearly the Budget makes an enormous contribution to help those who have been hugely affected by what is the most serious situation that the country has faced in a generation. My thoughts are with everybody who is fighting to protect all of us.
Before I came into the House, I was a chartered accountant for some 15 years. When I see a Budget, delivered last week, where our debt is falling and is predicted to be four percentage points lower at the end of Parliament, and with a current budget surplus in every one of the next five years and economic growth predicted in every one of the next five years, I see beyond question an economy not only moving in the right direction, but an economy in safe hands.
It was our NHS and our health service, more than anything, that got the boost it really needed. It is a great pillar of our nation and, as our Health Secretary said earlier today, will continue to get the funding it needs. This was a Government that put its money where its mouth was and delivered on a manifesto that people believed in and voted in. That is why we have the majority that we have.
We need to face some facts. I am sorry that it is a political hot potato and that people in this country dare not say it, but we have an ageing population—one that is increasing continuously. In 50 years’ time, we will see nearly another 9 million people aged 65 or over. We simply will have to pour money into the NHS just to keep on top of how our population is changing, and that is no short-term fix. It needs planning—planning for the very long term. To do that effectively and be trusted by the public to get on and do the job properly, we need a Government with stability and the majority that we now have. We have now committed record amounts, including an additional £6 billion on top of the already committed £34 billion.
Why do I stand in the Chamber and bang on about a new A&E at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital? I do that because we need it, because we have the oldest constituency demographic in the country. I grew up there and by golly do we need another A&E. Ours is full constantly. I now know that with the funding we are putting into the NHS, that dream will become a reality.
I am really pleased that the east was not left out. There was huge talk about money for the north, but an awful lot of money is still going to be spent in the east, and there are already funds set aside for the NNUH, the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS foundation trust and South Norfolk CCG. They will all get better targeted investment. My one plea would be that we address social care in this country, and I now know that we will do that in this Parliament.
Just to finish off, for everybody who is preaching caution and saying that we are throwing away our fiscal rules, let me say this from somebody who was in business: now is the time to show that we really can do this. We now have record low interest rates. We have a mandate to run the country. It is exactly the right time to get on and do the job.