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Economic Growth

Volume 547: debated on Tuesday 26 June 2012

To help the economy, we are cutting taxes for businesses and families. We are, as we have just heard, freezing fuel duty, helping 10,000 businesses with the national loan guarantee scheme, reforming the planning system, creating enterprise zones, setting up the regional growth fund and creating the biggest number of apprenticeships this country has ever seen.

The recent Growth Factory report on industrial strategy highlighted the importance of rebalancing our economy. Does the Chancellor agree that the record increase in employment in the manufacturing sector in the first quarter of this year is a welcome sign of the growing confidence at the heart of our economy?

My hon. Friend is right and I commend him and his group for the interesting ideas, many of which I agree with, that they are promoting. He is absolutely right to point out the increase in employment, including in manufacturing employment. An interesting recent statistic from an independent international body on the British economy showed that the share of manufacturing in the UK economy is increasing for the first time in a very long time, having almost halved under the previous Labour Government.

Why did not the Chancellor cut fuel duty sooner? Why has it taken him all this time? He has done about 33 U-turns as far as I can see.

Last year we cut fuel duty and froze it. This year, we have frozen it again and the hon. Gentleman should welcome that. I know that he is in a slightly difficult position in that he was one of the Labour MPs who voted for the increase that we have now delayed, but he should just get up and welcome these moves.

Economic growth in Cornwall would be discouraged by the introduction of regional pay or the regionalisation of benefits. Will the Chancellor undertake to publish the Government’s evidence to the independent pay review bodies that are considering this issue?

I point out to my hon. Friend that we have published that evidence. As I say, the matter is now with the independent pay review bodies, so let us wait to hear what they have to say.