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Economic Growth

Volume 534: debated on Tuesday 1 November 2011

10. What assessment he has made of the level of economic growth in (a) the UK and (b) other EU members states in the last 12 months. (77451)

Eurostat publishes GDP growth data on all EU member states. These data show the UK economy growing in the most recent three quarters. The IMF’s latest forecast shows the UK economy growing this year, and growing faster than the economies of France, Germany and Italy next year.

The Times says today that the Government’s plans for growth are “piecemeal” and their implementation “patchy”. Given that long-term youth unemployment is up by 60%, do we not need a proper programme for jobs?

The hon. Gentleman will realise that the biggest increase in youth unemployment in recent years took place when his party was in government. This Government have put in place the long-term foundations to tackle unemployment and raise growth across the UK.

May I welcome today’s excellent economic growth figures, which are well ahead of forecasts at 0.5%? Our growth is just as high as US growth this year, without the massive fiscal stimulus. Is that not right?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. It would have been better if the Labour party had welcomed today’s growth figures rather than talking our economy down.

When we embarked on the economic course that the Government have set, Ministers told us that because they were tackling the deficit aggressively, there would be a surge of private sector confidence—and, therefore, investment and jobs. Many people agreed with them. Now that we know that expectation was mistaken, surely there must be a change of course.

Every reputable international organisation that talks about what is happening in the UK economy now recognises that the Government need to stick to the course, rather than throwing away the valuable credibility that we have gained as a consequence of tackling the mess left behind by the previous Government.

Does my hon. Friend agree that having our own currency is one of the keys to turning round our economy? Does he share my astonishment that the Labour party does not rule out joining the single currency?

It is remarkable, is it not, that when the Leader of the Opposition was asked whether a Labour Government would join the euro, his answer was:

“It depends how long I’m prime minister for.”

This Government have closed down the euro preparations that the Labour party set up, and that is why I think that we have taken the right decision to stay out of the euro and tackle our debt and deficit problems. That is why we have low interest rates, which help strengthen the recovery in this country.