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National Debt

Volume 639: debated on Tuesday 17 April 2018

13. What comparative assessment he has made of the size of the national debt (a) today and (b) 12 months ago. (904786)

Public sector net debt as a percentage of GDP was 85.1% at the end of February 2018, which was 0.9 percentage points higher than last February. The latest forecast shows that debt will fall this year, two years before the fiscal rules require.

The national debt is going up by £5,000 a second. Can I be helpful? Will the Minister join me in stopping hospitals that are outsourcing staffing to avoid VAT, with an estimated 6% savings on wages lost to the Treasury, from doing so?

The important point is that the debt is going down this year. We want to avoid a situation like that in the last three years of the last Labour Government, when public sector net debt doubled.

The hon. Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Michael Tomlinson) can very easily shoehorn in his own inquiry on this question. Question 14 is not dissimilar to 13—have a go on 13, man.

14. That is very kind of you, Mr Speaker. Is it not vital that we reduce our national debt, stop wasting taxpayers’ money on debt interest repayment, and spend it on our public services instead? (904787)

I concur absolutely with my hon. Friend. He might like to know that between 2010 and 2017, we spent £300 billion on debt interest, which is twice the current annual budget of the NHS.

Given all the talk of austerity, will the Minister tell us what Government spending was in cash terms in 2010 and what it is in this financial year?

I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government have taken a balanced approach to the public finances, reducing the deficit by three quarters. We have also made tough decisions to invest as well as to spend on public services, which is what the public expect of us.