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Budget Resolutions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:35 pm on 16th March 2020.

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Photo of Robert Courts Robert Courts Conservative, Witney 9:35 pm, 16th March 2020

I am very grateful to have been squeezed in at the end of this debate. It is quite clear that this Budget and all of us are very much under the shadow of the coronavirus update, and that we will have many stern days ahead of us. We must all pull together, and it is very good to see the House doing that today.

If I were able to, I would have liked to welcome a number of things in the Budget. I would have liked to have spoken about the environmental measures, and about the measures for veterans and on health in greater detail, as well as about the measures for education and even for potholes, all of which I welcome. If I may, in the brief time available to me, I will just make two points, which are about research and development and education.

For many years, this country has lagged behind others in the amount of GDP it puts into research and development. This has meant that we have problems with productivity, and that in many of the areas in which we excel, such as the high-tech areas of the economy, we are not doing as well as we could. I very much welcome the £22 billion going into that, and particularly the blue skies, ARPA-style agency that will be considering some of the high-risk businesses it will be possible to put money into in the future. I very much welcome that, along with some of the education steps that have also been taken, with the T-levels that are coming in. I also greatly welcome the money that has been put into mathematics, and also skills. One of the things that all businesses say in my constituency—I am sure it is the same for other Members—is that they simply do not have enough people with the right skills. The skills shortage is really something that we have to address, and I am very glad that this Budget does so.

The reason why I make those points and why I am so pleased to welcome these measures in the Budget is that, while we all pull together and deal with the dark days lying ahead of us with the coronavirus epidemic or pandemic, we should look forward to the future because we will have to rebuild the economy, help people to invest and help people to get on with and to rebuild their lives economically as well as personally. It is critical that we do that, because ultimately that is how we will build the excellent public services for the future that we all want to see.