Skip to main content

Public Finances

Volume 702: debated on Tuesday 2 November 2021

The fiscal rules announced at Budget will ensure that the public finances remain on a sustainable path and support a strong economic recovery. The Government will borrow only to invest in future growth, so that future generations are not unfairly burdened, and I am pleased to say that the Office for Budget Responsibility’s analysis shows that the Government’s fiscal plan is working.

I welcome the new fiscal rules set out by my right hon. Friend in his Budget last week, which will mean that the Government borrow only to invest and that they get the debt falling again by 2024. Does he agree that, unlike the Labour party, which has no plan to deliver responsible public finances, these rules show how it is only the Conservatives who can be trusted to manage our public finances responsibly, avoiding higher interest rates and even higher taxes in the future?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The best foundation for our success as a country is a strong economy and responsible public finances. In contrast to the Labour party, which comes out with unfunded, reckless promises that would lead to our debt rising uncontrollably, it is this Government, and only this Government, who can be trusted to manage the nation’s economy responsibly.

Given the commitments that the Prime Minister is making at the climate circus in Glasgow this week, how can the Chancellor possibly say that the public finances will be managed effectively when the huge costs of net zero are not even published by the Treasury, let alone known by the public? We are already seeing taxes increasing to pay for the huge infrastructure changes that reaching net zero is going to entail.

I very much appreciate the right hon. Gentleman’s concern about the cost of transitioning to net zero. The Government are also mindful of those costs, and the net zero strategy, which my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury mentioned earlier, sets out a comprehensive approach to transitioning, backed up by £30 billion of investment. Indeed, as a result of the spending review and the Budget, the Northern Ireland Executive will receive on average about £1.5 billion a year in Barnett consequentials to help to fund priorities as required.