Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:10 pm on 31st January 2023.
My Lords, there is no harm in people being optimistic if there are grounds for optimism. Rather than taking this report as a very worrying indicator, the Government are spending their energy downplaying and discounting the bad news in it. Let us look at another indicator that points in the same direction: the ONS statistics on company insolvencies. Its survey, published today, shows a 57% rise in the number of companies going bust; that is more than at any time since the 2009 crisis.
Will the Minister now acknowledge that, as well as the problems that our competitor countries have, with which the Government seek to associate us, there are other problems that are unique to us? The Minister acknowledged the extraordinary problems we are having with skills and the lack of people to work, and the fact that our exports to the European Union have plummeted. Will the Government acknowledge that there is a problem so that they can start solving it?