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Nadhim Zahawi: Does my right hon. Friend agree that the case of Mr Nur and his family, who have moved into a £2,000 a week house in Kensington at taxpayers' expense, is exactly the sort of thing that the coalition was elected to fight against?
Nadhim Zahawi: Did the hon. Gentleman make the same argument when his Government put up VAT?
Nadhim Zahawi: I want to talk about one of the biggest challenges that the coalition Government, the House and the country face: the issues of jobs and unemployment in our country, and what the Government can do to tackle them. The Opposition motion would be hard to support in any circumstances, but it would be more credible if it had started with an apology. Nearly 2.5 million people are now unemployed. To...
Nadhim Zahawi: I will not, as I would like to make some headway in my speech. Following the election of the new Government, it immediately became clear to us that we faced a series of immense challenges in tackling unemployment and worklessness. Let us be honest-those problems have not come about purely because of the recession. Over the past decade, the very fabric of this nation has been altered. This is...
Nadhim Zahawi: My hon. Friend is right. One example is the way in which the gap between the south-east and the rest of the country has grown. Labour Members just do not seem to understand what it takes to create an enterprise economy.
Nadhim Zahawi: And your point is? At the end of the day, you only have to look at the facts. The facts are that you have left us with a legacy of £500 million a day-
Nadhim Zahawi: It is not sustainable to follow the path of the previous Government and bloat the public sector. Business needs confidence to invest. Our first Budget last month has laid the groundwork for these aims. We will drop the headline rate of corporation tax by 1% each year for the next four years, lowering it to 24%. We have ended the disastrous jobs tax that the last Government tried to introduce...
Nadhim Zahawi: My hon. Friend is right, and that is one of the areas I am passionate about.
Nadhim Zahawi: That is not the point I was making. If the hon. Gentleman had been listening carefully, he would have realised that my point is that we have to inquire into what is happening. I am not talking about instructions, but about understanding the dynamic so that we can create a similar environment to that in Silicon valley, for example, where people can get access to funding more easily than in our...
Nadhim Zahawi: The hon. Lady cites the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, but the Institute of Directors also produced a report on the RDAs, which showed that only 18% of directors thought that they made a contribution, and 60% thought that development would have taken place in the regions without the RDAs being in place. To cite selectively from PricewaterhouseCoopers is slightly misleading.
Nadhim Zahawi: rose-
Nadhim Zahawi: The right hon. Lady talks about the young people coming out of schools and colleges. Did she think about them when she was in government and borrowing £500 million a day? Did she think about their future while the Government were borrowing £100 for every £300 they were spending?
Nadhim Zahawi: I have to come back on that point. Your policies have mortgaged and remortgaged the future of those young children, so for you to stand up and say that without borrowing you cannot sustain the recovery is inaccurate. You have to admit that borrowing £500 million a day-not a week or a month-is unsustainable.
Nadhim Zahawi: What steps he is taking to ensure transparency of his Department's expenditure on aid.
Nadhim Zahawi: I am sure my right hon. Friend is aware of recent surveys showing that, in these difficult times, public support for international aid is waning. Does he agree that if we are to win the argument for his Department's budget in the court of public opinion, we have to ensure that the transparency agenda is linked to achieving the goals of the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office?
Nadhim Zahawi: On that point, I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman protested as much when the previous Government raised VAT on businesses? Did he make that point in the Chamber?
Nadhim Zahawi: For a long time.
Nadhim Zahawi: I rise to speak on a topic that is of great importance to this House but that sadly, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr Leigh) said, is not engaged with in the same way as some of our policy debates are engaged with. However, I have to say that the name of the project is rather unfortunate. As well as confusing me the first time I read it, it definitely does not do what it...
Nadhim Zahawi: I am slightly puzzled by the shadow Minister's speech, because it sounds like a debate for tomorrow.
Nadhim Zahawi: The court of public opinion will judge the shambolic way in which the BSF programme was administered by the previous Government. Does my right hon. Friend have an estimate of the number of teaching hours that were wasted by teachers and schools devoting time to the BSF programme?