Results 181–200 of 6258 for (in the 'Commons debates' OR in the 'Westminster Hall debates' OR in the 'Lords debates' OR in the 'Northern Ireland Assembly debates') speaker:Lord Darling of Roulanish

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: I think that the hon. Gentleman means Sir Michael Scholar, who is the chairman of the ONS. I have explained that point before to the House. This was money that was made available by the Bank of England as emergency support to ensure that RBS and the then HBOS could get through the crisis that we faced in October 2008. I have been asked about that and explained the position before. As I have...

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: I shall come on to that point, but as I was saying before I gave way, all Governments have rules and objectives. Up until 1997, those were simply statements made by the Chancellor in a Budget or at some other fiscal event. Since 1998, we have had the code for fiscal stability and two rules that have guided fiscal policy for the past 10 years. The hon. Gentleman is right: it is open to any...

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: The hon. Gentleman refers to the Finance Ministers' meeting in Brussels at the beginning of December, which I most certainly attended, and the rules that pertain to countries in general. The Commission can make recommendations, but as we are not in the euro, we are not obliged to follow them. We have no plans to change our current policy on that issue. The measures that I have announced in...

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: I think that the latter proposition is probably a remote possibility in the current climate, but the hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) makes an interesting proposition. The vital point-one to which I shall return later-is that it is important that Ministers and Governments are accountable to the House, which they are of course. Each and every one of us who are privileged enough to be...

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: I agree with my hon. Friend. I, too, want to reduce borrowing. We have to do more than moderate it-it has to come down. He is right also that part of what we must first do is close the tax gap and ensure that HMRC does everything possible to ensure that it collects every penny due to it. That is not always possible-people go bankrupt and so on-but we must do that. It is also necessary for us...

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: No, I do not accept that. As I said earlier-the hon. Gentleman might not have been here-prior to 2007, when this crisis began, our debt levels came down to the second lowest in the G7. We have been reducing debt while spending more on infrastructure. The hon. Member for Stone (Mr. Cash) mentioned the railways. I know, having been Transport Secretary for four years, what happens when a...

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: When the hon. Gentleman has a chance to think about these things, he might realise that Governments borrow money. There was a time, early in the last decade, when Government borrowing was going down, but then we started to hear concerns from the pensions industry that the Government were not borrowing enough-the pensions industry actually requires borrowing.

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: The hon. Gentleman makes an extremely flippant remark. From time to time, Governments need to borrow money to ensure, for example, that we have infrastructure, schools and hospitals. At times like these, were a Government to shut down spending and so put even more people out of work, or were they to get into the absurd situation, like the Government in the early 1930s, of trying to cut...

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: No, I want to make some progress. Perhaps I will give way later. Clause 1 of the Bill imposes three duties on the Treasury: first, to ensure that Government borrowing as a share of GDP falls in every year to 2015-16; secondly, to ensure that Government borrowing is at least halved as a share of GDP over a four-year period to 2013-14; and thirdly to ensure that Government debt as a share of...

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: I believe that the changes are manageable, and they are the right thing to do. The hon. Gentleman might want to make his point to those on the Conservative Front Bench, who as I understand it want to go further and faster. There is a risk of damaging the economy if that happens. Inevitably, these are matters of judgment, but I am very happy to justify why we have had to borrow so much at the...

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: No, because the Chancellor would quite obviously have to come back to the House if circumstances were as severe as those that pertained a couple of years ago. I do not think that anybody would argue for getting ourselves into a position through legislation where the Government were completely hamstrung and could not effectively govern the country. That would be nonsense. However, it is...

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: I very much hope that the hon. Gentleman and I both agree that the Government are accountable to Parliament and, through Parliament, to the people.

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: My recollection was that when the then shadow Chancellor set out his plans, he set out proposals that we subsequently enacted. The hon. Gentleman asked about independent verification. Again, my recollection is that we said that we thought that there should be a role for the National Audit Office, and there was indeed a role for the NAO, which is independent of the Government.

Fiscal Responsibility Bill (5 Jan 2010)

Alistair Darling: For the reason stated in the pre-Budget report. I said that there was still a lot of uncertainty about. We still do not know what unemployment will be this coming year. We had some good news just after the PBR, in that employment rose and unemployment fell, but we still think that unemployment will rise during the course of this year, so there is a lot of uncertainty about, and we still have...

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury: Budget 2009 (15 Dec 2009)

Alistair Darling: A substantial amount of targeted support has been provided by the Government to help businesses through the recession.

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury: Budget 2009 (15 Dec 2009)

Alistair Darling: I have never seen the attraction of a flat tax at the best of times. It would mean that people at the top end of the income scale would pay rather less than those at the bottom, and at this time, of all times, there ought to be fairness. Of course, I do not think that a flat tax would help businesses at all. The targeted measures that we are putting in place, such as giving businesses time to...

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury: Budget 2009 (15 Dec 2009)

Alistair Darling: I think that I said in my statement on the pre-Budget report that about 850,000 firms had benefited from that measure. It is important that we do everything we can to help small businesses, because after all, they employ a great number of people and will, hopefully, grow into larger businesses.

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury: Budget 2009 (15 Dec 2009)

Alistair Darling: No. I believe that the quantitative easing measures taken by the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England are helping the process of recovery. The hon. Gentleman has a point, however, about bank lending. As I have said before, the stock of lending is broadly similar to what it was before the crisis. In addition, the banks in which we have major shareholdings -RBS and Lloyds-have lent...

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury: Budget 2009 (15 Dec 2009)

Alistair Darling: We have introduced a number of measures to help people get into work, and there are 2.5 million more people in work now than there were in 1997. Also, unemployment would have been much higher if we had followed the course of action taken in the 1990s and the 1980s. The measures that we are taking are working, and they are making sure that we are getting people back into work much more quickly...

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury: Budget 2009 (15 Dec 2009)

Alistair Darling: I met one such customer in Manchester last summer-[Hon. Members: "That's two, then!"] On the basis of those two anecdotal pieces of evidence, I am sure that we must be on the right track. Rather more importantly, however, since the Budget last year there have been 290,000 orders for new vehicles. We have made a further £100 million available, and the scheme is an example of how a...


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