The claimant count is 1.6 million nationally and 3,111 in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency.
I have here a booklet entitled “Britain forward not back”, and also entitled “The Labour party manifesto 2005”. It can be found in the fiction sections of all good libraries. In bold letters, chapter 1 promises “Low debt and high employment”. Instead, we have record debt and high unemployment. Why should we believe any promises made by the Labour party?
The hon. Gentleman may have missed it, but 18 months ago there was a rather major financial crisis which involved major banks throughout the world nearly crashing to the floor and having to be rescued by national Governments throughout the world. Global trade has shrunk substantially, and as a result every country in the world has experienced recession and an impact on employment.
This Government believe that it was right to support the economy through difficult times. That is why we increased investment, and also why we have kept the unemployment level half a million lower than it was expected to be last year. Billions of pounds have been saved for the Exchequer as a result.