Covid-19: Economy - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:48 pm on 4th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Eatwell Lord Eatwell Non-affiliated 3:48 pm, 4th June 2020

My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to this debate. There were so many interesting, albeit short, interventions. I have one major comment, but first, I express concern at the Minister’s use, three times, of the phrase “sustainable public finances”. That sounds very comfortable, but it is the weasel word for austerity. Whenever anyone hears that phrase, the alarm bells should ring.

My general comment is that what many noble Lords looked for was vision—a vision of a resilient economy. In the public sector, that is easy to define. It means building up what the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, called “redundancies”, meaning the excess capacity to respond to emergencies such as the one that we are suffering at the moment. However, in the private sector, it means a regulatory framework which ensures that private firms sustain the level of capacity which will enable them to respond effectively to major crises. In the financial sector, stress tests are required, and those stress tests test redundancies; they test the capacity to respond to major shocks. We need a wider view of resilience and redundancy—in that specific use of the word—to ensure that in our economic future, we can deal with the major biological, environmental and occasionally economic shocks that will inevitably come.

I thank the Minister for his summing up and look forward to hearing his response to my questions. Thank you.

Motion agreed.