First, I welcome today’s statement and this opportunity to discuss the economy more broadly. Mindful of how many people want to speak today, I will try to keep my comments brief.
Unlike the crack of doom from some of the Opposition, I am delighted that the Government are intending to keep some of their promises at the general election, delivering on jobs and skills, especially for younger people, to drive our economic growth as we recover from coronavirus. I have to say I am overwhelmed by the sheer scope of what was proposed today, which is certainly more than I had anticipated. The measures announced will be widely welcomed not just in my constituency of Heywood and Middleton, but across the whole north-west—not least in my own household, as it now appears that the Treasury is turning every one of my vices into a small act of economic patriotism.
The country faces an immense task in the months and years ahead as we adjust to the new normal, but this Chancellor and this Government are proving themselves more than equal to the task. I know that I speak for many colleagues when I say that the dialogue with the Treasury has been open and reassuring. Reacting to such an unprecedented situation was never going to be smooth or seamless, but it has been heartening to know that, throughout, the Government’s response has been driven by a commitment to keep people safe and our economy strong, based on listening to Members in this House. May I take this opportunity to thank the whole Treasury team, but in particular my hon. Friend Claire Coutinho, who, according to forward estimates adjusted for the medium term, turns 25 today? I should put on record that I am not an economist and some of my figures may be out slightly, but I am sure she will not correct me.
It is clear that the north-west must be at the heart of this country’s economic recovery from covid. I welcome the measures announced by the Prime Minister on
However, whether it is the northern powerhouse, the midlands engine, the western gateway or the southern—whatever it is they have down south: Pret A Manger?—it is clear that this needs to be a national recovery, driven with a one nation approach.