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Financial and Social Emergency Support Package

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:08 pm on 25th March 2020.

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Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 2:08 pm, 25th March 2020

I thank the hon. Lady for registering that point. She will be aware that we have made £1.6 billion available to support local authorities, and, of course, we are specifically supporting them by bringing forward the cash-flow element of business rates. We are leaning into this problem hard, but I thank her for putting the concern on the record.

It has been suggested that this may be the Leader of the Opposition’s final outing at the Dispatch Box. I am sure the House will not welcome that. I will leave it to others to write any political verdict or obituaries that may come, but let me say that no one in this House—certainly not I—would doubt the sincerity and the commitment that he has shown to his beliefs over many, many years, however vigorously we may disagree with them. For myself, I believe in a big society rather than a big state, but let us be clear that, in a time of national crisis, both will be needed. Finally, I think I can speak for my colleagues on the Conservative Benches in saying that we will be sad to see him go.

The coming weeks may be difficult. The action that we have taken has far-reaching consequences for our economy and our society, and yet it has the power to save thousands of lives. Throughout this time, the Government will continue to listen to the concerns of hon. and right hon. Members and of the public. They have already delivered one of the most generous and comprehensive interventions of any Government of the world, and we stand ready to do more. We will make every effort to safeguard people’s jobs and livelihoods, to support our public services and local communities, and to preserve and protect businesses, large and small, across the country. Our message is this: we have got your back and, together, we will defeat this virus and the Britain that emerges from this pandemic will be not only stronger and more resilient, but more united, too.