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Economic Growth

Volume 511: debated on Tuesday 8 June 2010

The Government are taking action to support enterprise and create a fair, competitive and efficient tax system to deliver the private sector-led recovery that will be the foundation of future growth. Fundamental to this strategy will be tackling the budget deficit and providing a stable macro-economic environment that will underpin private sector investment and growth. Further details of the action that the Government will take to secure future growth will be included in the emergency Budget on 22 June.

We agree that investment, enterprise and modest tax rates will help the economy grow out of the inherited mess. In addition to the academic work of Arthur Laffer and Sir James Mirrlees, will my hon. Friend hold in mind the situation of an elderly lone mother who may have put money aside to buy a house, and after decades may wish to sell it, without too high a capital gains tax bill?

Obviously, this Government will want to encourage hard work and enterprise, just as the Government in which my hon. Friend served with much distinction in the 1980s did. As for specific tax measures, I am sure that my hon. Friend will understand that with only a fortnight until the Budget, I do not intend to make any specific comments. None the less, I am grateful for his remarks.

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his elevation to his post. I also take the opportunity to thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for taking time out during the general election to come and support my re-election in Harrow West. The Opposition recognise that the new politics is not designed to help Labour Members, but I am grateful for the little bit of Tory love that came my way.

Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House who in the Government will have the final say on whether and which regional development agencies will survive? Will it be the Business Secretary—once a supporter of RDAs—or will it be the Chancellor? No one expects it to be the Chief Secretary. Is not the real truth that RDAs such as One NorthEast are playing, and could continue to play, a key role in helping to deliver new jobs in new industries crucial to Britain’s economic future, such as renewable energy and advanced engineering?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. I should congratulate him on being re-elected on this occasion, but I also note that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) is here, which is a bit of a triumph for us. On the hon. Gentleman’s specific points, the decision will be made collectively. The Government will work in a cohesive manner in making those decisions.

When I was in business, it was the oldest trick in the book for managers to come in with hopelessly optimistic growth estimates. Does the Minister think that that was endemic in the last Administration, and has he greater confidence, now that we have the impending Office for Budget Responsibility, that it will not be the case with our Administration so that, for the first time in many years, we will have realistic growth estimates?

It is clearly very important that we have credible growth projections. We look forward to hearing the projections from the Office for Budget Responsibility. As for the previous Government’s record, time will tell.

Transport infrastructure is of course important for economic growth, and as the hon. Gentleman’s right hon. Friend the Chancellor will know, as a Cheshire MP, there is a very important project, the Mersey Gateway project, which is crucial to the economic regeneration of Cheshire and Merseyside. Will that be excluded from the proposed cuts that his Government are making?

The Government will make a decision on all matters considering the value for money and considering the very difficult financial circumstances that we find ourselves in, bequeathed by the previous Government.