Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:01 pm on 3rd November 2008.

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Photo of Lord Peston Lord Peston Labour 6:01 pm, 3rd November 2008

My Lords, the point that I am trying to make is that that is the medium-term solution that we should be aiming at, just as the Government's propensity to save also has to be put back on track in the medium term. However, in the short term, that is the last thing that we need. The trick is getting from the short term to the medium and long term.

In the long term, the fundamental question is whether to go for less public expenditure or for raising taxes. I have tried endlessly in your Lordships' House to persuade the Official Opposition to stop waving their hands in the air and to tell me whether they are capable of taking serious decisions on the future of public expenditure. However, every time I ask them, they just wave their hands in the air. As I said on the wireless the other day, I assume that the present Government will be in power for the next round, when they will have to take some tough decisions on public expenditure. Equally, were there to be a national disaster and the Opposition became the Government, the idea that they would not have to take similar decisions is preposterous.

I must come to a conclusion. I have not talked about the banks because I will be able to do that when we consider the Banking Bill and I have not talked about some of the detail on the short-term package because we will have a chance to do that when we consider the Pre-Budget Statement. Noble Lords can look forward to hearing me speak on both those matters.