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National Deficit

Volume 572: debated on Tuesday 10 December 2013

Last week the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast public sector net borrowing on an underlying basis to be £111 billion, or 7.3 per cent. of GDP in 2013-14, down from 11 per cent. of GDP in 2009-10, the highest deficit in our peacetime history. By 2018-19 the OBR forecasts that the UK will be running a small surplus.

I thank my hon. Friend for that terrific answer. Does he agree that calls to abandon the Government’s long-term economic plan and to borrow and spend more would mean higher taxes and mortgage rates going up for hard-working families in Suffolk Coastal?

When the Chancellor made all his cuts in his emergency Budget, he said that it was because he had to close the deficit by the end of this Parliament. We said that that would be a false economy and that it would not work. In the autumn statement, the Chancellor agreed with us. What do they have to say for themselves now?

I am not sure that the hon. Lady heard the Chancellor correctly if that is what she thinks he said. The reality is that we have to get the deficit down and we have gone through two years of great challenges in the economy. Our argument was that because of those challenges it was more difficult to get the deficit down. Labour argued that the economy could not grow while getting the deficit down. We were right; they were wrong.

The record deficit left by the last Labour Government was, in essence, a tax on the future opportunities of our children and grandchildren, denying them opportunities that our generation was able to have. Will my hon. Friend assure the House that he will not repeat the mistakes of the last Labour Government and that he will prioritise further reductions in the deficit so that our grandchildren can have the same futures that we have enjoyed?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is irresponsible to future generations if we do not take action to reduce the deficit. The approach we had from the party—[Interruption.] The shadow Chancellor has just said that the deficit is going up. He has been saying that all along, and I am afraid he is just plain wrong.

In 2010, the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that the deficit would be gone by 2015. Why should we believe him this time?

This is coming from the party that has opposed every single measure we have taken to reduce the deficit. If we had taken the approach that the Labour party advocated, we would have borrowed a further £200 billion. That is not responsible or fair on future generations; that would put our economy at risk.