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Government Debt

Volume 523: debated on Tuesday 8 February 2011

Public sector net debt doubled in the decade from 2000-01. By the end of last year, it stood at £900 billion. Servicing it costs the taxpayer £120 million every day.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. As I am sure she is aware, a debt of some £37,000 hangs over the head of every voter in my constituency of Ealing Central and Acton, thanks to the Labour party. Can she reassure us that there will be no deviation from the path, regardless of siren calls, of getting rid of the deficit as soon as possible, so that this country can move forward to prosperity once again?

Yes, I can, and of course my hon. Friend is not the only person to hold that view. The secretary-general of the OECD said only last week that Britain needed to “stay the course”. He realises, as did the Bank of England Governor Mervyn King when he talked about our deficit as being “clearly unsustainable”, that if we had not set out a credible plan and got a grip on our public finances to tackle the deficit, we would have run the risk of an even sharper fiscal tightening later down the road, a loss of confidence and higher interest rates in future.

It costs £150 to give a person debt advice, and it costs £50,000 to rehouse a family. Will the Economic Secretary explain why Treasury Ministers are cutting the funds to citizens advice bureaux to provide such advice, and why that is a good way to cut the debt?

We are looking at ways in which we can ensure that people still get the debt advice that they need, and of course a lot of the grants are provided by local authorities. There is no point in Opposition Members talking about debt, because it was their party that created the problem in the first place.