The best way to drive economic growth is to raise our productivity growth rate. That is why since 2010 the Government have overseen over half a trillion pounds in capital investment including in the national productivity investment fund, have increased investment in skills and have reduced taxes for business, and I tell my hon. Friend that the way not to support economic growth is through more borrowing, more debt and higher debt service costs.
After we voted to leave the EU, a vote endorsed by huge numbers across the north of England, we were told by some that mismanagement of the economy would occur under this Government. The reality in the north, despite those who talk the economy down, is that we have record employment and some of our areas have the fastest growing economies in the country, so may I urge the Chancellor to continue investing in the north and to ignore those, on the Opposition Benches especially, who repeatedly talk down the north of England?
Since 2010 the shadow Chancellor has predicted that the UK would go into recession on no fewer than eight separate occasions—that is eight out of zero. But the UK economy is growing steadily and is now 10.7% bigger than its pre-crisis level, and the Office for Budget Responsibility expects it to continue to grow in each year of its forecast to 2022. While we know that the shadow Chancellor does not think that a growing economy matters, let me tell him why I do: a growing economy means more jobs, more prosperity and more security for working people.
What consideration has been given to the contribution that varying certain business taxes, such as VAT, according to the nation or region of the UK could make to encouraging economic growth?
The Government’s view is that a unified rate of VAT across the United Kingdom is an important part of our single market of the United Kingdom, which is an essential economic good for the whole of this country.
We absolutely look forward to being able to make progress on the Moray growth deal, and I am very happy to meet my hon. Friend. I know that the Exchequer Secretary, who is dealing with this matter, would also be pleased to meet him.
The Government acknowledge that they want to spread wealth and economic growth across the United Kingdom through their industrial strategy. Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer therefore agree with the Welsh Affairs Committee, chaired by the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies), that the money from the cancelled rail electrification between Cardiff and Swansea should be spent in Wales, so that we can have that shared prosperity?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, I firmly believe that the service that will be provided on the route from London to Swansea will deliver exactly what passengers have bargained to get, without the need for the disruption and cost of overhead electrification. We will look at the funding needs of all parts of the United Kingdom appropriately, to support economic growth and to reduce regional disparities.
Order. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) has question 21, which is not altogether dissimilar from the one with which we are dealing, but which will probably not be reached. If he wants to come in now, he can. If he does not, he need not do so. But he does, so he will.
Especially for the purposes of generating economic growth.
Precisely, Mr Speaker. It is the economic growth generation potential of housing development that we will take into account when evaluating transport proposals. In relation to the specific project to which my hon. Friend refers, the Exchequer Secretary advises me that the Department for Transport is eagerly awaiting a business plan for the project from the relevant local authority.
Does the Chancellor agree that a devolution settlement for all Yorkshire with an elected Mayor, as supported by all Conservative councils in the county, could improve economic growth in the region?
The Government will look carefully at proposals from Yorkshire leaders for a devolution settlement, provided that it does not undermine the existing South Yorkshire-Sheffield city region devolution settlement that has already been established, with a Mayor already elected.
The port operator Associated British Ports, the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce and many local businesses are giving serious consideration to free port status for the Humber ports in the post-Brexit world. Will the Chancellor or his Ministers agree to meet representatives of the business community in the area and to give serious consideration to this proposal when the idea has been further developed?
As my hon. Friend will know, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has a great interest in that proposal. Without even needing to consult her, I can say without hesitation that she will be delighted to meet him and his colleagues.