Sustainable public finances will increase consumer confidence in the medium term. The decisive action taken by the Government in the spending review and June Budget, including the increase in VAT, will put the public finances and spending on a sustainable footing.
Unless we get the public finances right, there will be no long-term consumer confidence. Can we imagine what the impact would be if the Government abandoned their approach and just started spending money, like the previous Government did, and failed to tackle the deficit? I am afraid that consumer confidence would go through the floor.
My hon. Friend is right to say that we have increased the personal allowance, taking 880,000 people out of income tax, resulting in an income tax cut for millions of people. It is none the less the fact that we must tackle the deficit. To the extent that the Labour party wants to do anything about the deficit, it advocates reducing the deficit by increasing taxes by more. Think what that would do.