Mr Redwood’s interventions during the Budget debate, 19 March 2014

Mr Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Is there not also a very cruel dilemma in public policy, in that savers want a better rate of interest but we need low interest rates to promote economic growth and to service the Government debt? There is a trade-off, and that is why tax breaks are particularly welcome at a time of low interest rates.

Mr Mark Hoban (Fareham) (Con): Absolutely. My right hon. Friend provides me with the opportunity to praise the Chancellor for introducing the pensioner bond. Those higher rates of interest will provide not only an attractive way of enabling people to save, but some support to the Treasury.

Mr Redwood: I would just like to correct the record. The forecast is for only a 4.7% increase in exports next year and an 8% increase in investment, which I think is achievable.

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): The percentage growth in exports was 0.8% last year, and in the next year it is forecast to be 2.6%. By any calculation, that is more than a three times increase in the rate of growth. The Government have talked about the reduction in the cost of finance for exporters, but measures that were introduced in previous years did not have the intended effect. Of course, that is against the background of a strengthening pound, so there will be a difficulty there. On what is the Government’s optimism based? If it is on export and investment-led growth, past patterns do not show that happening.

Mr Redwood: Has my right hon. Friend noticed that despite all the efforts to control the debt, which we need to do, debt interest will still be £60 billion next year, which is more than the education budget?

Mr Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield) (Con): My right hon. Friend is absolutely right, but can he imagine what it would be like today if the Opposition’s policies were being pursued?

Mr Redwood: Has the hon. Gentleman noticed the forecasted very sharp fall-off in petroleum revenue tax, and is that reflected in SNP plans?

Stewart Hosie (Dundee East) (SNP): It is extremely convenient that, once again, we have a “North sea oil price crash” story on Budget day, some six months before the referendum. If the right hon. Gentleman keeps saying it, I am sure someone somewhere will finally believe him. I am not dreadfully convinced.

The bottom line is that—just like the right hon. Gentleman’s intervention—the Chancellor’s speech was hugely political. He did not tell us about recovery; he did not tell us that he is trying to lift the burden from hard-working families; he did not apologise for trying to rebalance the economy on the backs of the poor. This Budget speech was a political platform for the next election, and if it was supposed to be a vindication of his policies, then it failed, because the policies have failed.

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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