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Volume 603: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2015

The Government are working hard to deliver the ambitious measures outlined in our productivity plan. We will drive productivity growth throughout the UK by encouraging long-term investment and promoting a dynamic economy.

Productivity has been the Achilles heel of this Government’s economic policy. Comparisons with G7 countries are poor, and the figures are even worse when compared with those for smaller to medium-sized and—dare I say?—independent countries. Is it not the case that the Government have been completely obsessed with austerity, and cuts and have completely neglected productivity, internationalisation and innovation, which is the fairer, more progressive way to raise tax receipts and reduce the deficit?

No, that is absolutely not the case. The hon. Gentleman is right that there has been a long-running productivity issue in our country under successive Governments. That is why we have published the ambitious productivity plan, dealing with issues such as skills, infrastructure and innovation. In the past year, we have seen a 1.3% year-on-year increase in output per hour, which is very encouraging.

After five years in charge, it is time the Government took some responsibility. Why has productivity stalled for the past five years?

Because after 13 years of the Labour party being in charge, we had the biggest recession our country had seen in almost 100 years and it has taken time for the country to recover from that. As I have said, productivity is on the rise.