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Budget Deficit

Volume 511: debated on Tuesday 8 June 2010

We have received a number of representations on the budget deficit, not least from many other European countries, which are now taking steps, as we are, to reduce their deficit—a point that still seems lost on the Opposition.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for answering my question and for her arrival at the Dispatch Box, which is very welcome on our side of the House. Will she take a representation from me on reducing the Budget deficit? Can the emphasis be put on cutting public expenditure, rather than increasing taxes? Does she have any idea of the proportion that will be raised by tax increases and by public expenditure cuts?

We have said that we want to see the bulk of the deficit reduced by restraining public spending. I know that a number of other countries have taken proportions of roughly 80%:20% on restraining public spending and increasing taxes. We are particularly keen to cut out as much of the waste as possible. As we work our way through the previous Government’s horrific spending plans—not that they had any projections into the future—we will do our best to make sure that we do not just bring down our public spending, but use this opportunity to ensure that it delivers better public services for the public whom it is there to serve.

In The Sun the Deputy Prime Minister wrote about the enticing prospect of progressive cuts. Can the hon. Lady explain what a progressive cut would look like?

The hon. Gentleman might be better off directing that comment to the Deputy Prime Minister. I did not see it in the paper. We are conscious of the need to make sure that we can protect front-line services that people depend on. We have already debated pensions this morning, for example, and we are doing our best to protect money that supports the most vulnerable in our society.