Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I thank the Minister for his thorough response to a very thorough debate. As we contemplated today’s disappointing borrowing figures, it struck me that, by our calculations, it will take the Government 400-odd years to reduce the deficit at the rate they are going. I am sure you share our concern, Mr Crausby, that it will take us as long to get through the Bill at our current rate.
I applaud the thoroughness of today’s consideration of an important measure. It is one of the few positive measures in this Government’s Finance Bill—a small bit of help for low and middle income earners—but it does not change the reality that was set out in many passionate speeches. My hon. Friends the Members for Edinburgh East, for Gateshead and for East Lothian put forceful arguments for our amendments seeking a thorough review of the overall impact of the tax and spending changes. We also heard spontaneous contributions from Government Members who felt compelled to stand up and defend their Government’s one positive policy.
We have had a wide-ranging debate on the housing tax, unemployment, regional economics and investment in jobs and growth; I appreciate that there has been some concern about the breadth of the debate. It highlighted that the Government are standing by the policy as a blueprint for bringing back jobs, growth and economic benefits to the whole country. However, I and many others worry that the Government cannot see that their plan is simply not working. To take hon. Members back a couple of years, I will quote the Chancellor:
“Today, for the first time in our history, Britain’s credit rating is under threat. Indeed, some commentators think a downgrade is inevitable. That would mean higher interest rates on our national debt and throughout our economy and could tip us back into recession, with more jobs lost and more businesses going under. That’s why our first benchmark”—