Read Ed Miliband’s response to the Budget in full.
Mr Deputy Speaker, the Chancellor spoke for nearly an hour.
But one fact says it all.
Growth down last year, this year and next year.
It is the same old Tories.
It’s hurting but it isn’t working.
What did he say last year about growth?
Judge me on the figures.
Well judge him we will.
Every time he comes to this House, growth is downgraded.
Last June, 2011 growth down from 2.6% to 2.3%.
In November, down again.
In January what did the Prime Minister say?
His three priorities for this year were growth, growth, growth.
An! d what happened?
Growth is down, down, down.
And taking account of all the measures.
What is the Chancellor’s singular achievement?
To deliver a budget for growth that downgrades the growth forecasts.
Down this year to 1.7%.
Downgraded next year too.
It didn’t happen by chance.
It happened by choice.
And it’s the wrong choice.
To go too far and too fast.
There was another way.
In his own words from the June Budget – he chose to go £40bn further and faster in tax rises and spending cuts than our plan to halve the deficit over four years.
It’s the pace of cuts that has seen consumer confidence fall in almost every month since the General Election.
In his first Budget the Chancellor promised:
“steady and sustained economic recovery”.
And when last September’s growth figures came out, the Chancellor took the credit.
He called the figures “a vote of confidence” in the Government’s economic policy.
But when the economy contracted in the fourth quarter, what did he do?
He blamed the snow.
Mr Deputy Speaker, even he must appreciate the irony.
Because while the Prime Minister was grounded from his Christmas trip to Thailand, the Chancellor was on the piste in Klosters.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I guess it was the right type of snow for a skiing holiday.
Just the wrong kind of snow for our economy.
But what is it about the British snow?
They had worse snow in Germany.
.a big freeze in France.
. in the US – the worst blizzards for decades.
But despite all of that their economies grew in the fourth quarter.
And while our growth forecasts have worsened, theirs have improved.
The German economy is forecast to grow more strongly than it was last year.
So is the US.
Growth in the world economy has been revised up.
But which is the ma jor country downgrading its growth forecasts?
The United Kingdom.
It’s not the wrong type of snow that’s to blame, Mr Deputy Speaker.
It’s the wrong type of Chancellor,
.the wrong type of chancellor, in the wrong type of government
With the wrong priorities for Britain.
He also promised in June that his Budget would deliver “low inflation”
And what has happened?
Inflation has risen month after month after month.
It didn’t simply happen by accident.
It is happening because he took the wrong decision on VAT.
Same old taxes.
Same old Tories.
And he promised us falling unemployment too.
And what has happened since he gave his first Budget?
Over 60,000 more people looking for work.
And today we are told in the Red Book unemployment is forecast to rise further.
To this Tory Government, just like the ones of the past, unemployment is still a price worth paying.
And many people will wonder what world the Chancellor was describing today.
In the constituencies of over 130 Members of this House, 10 people are chasing every job.
One in five young people looking for work.
Communities seeing libraries and children centres closing.
Families seeing their living standards squeezed.
Not just this year, but year after year after year.
And what does the Government say to communities losing jobs?
Let me tell you what they recently told the people of Newport, justifying the closure of their passport office.
It said the redundancy payments of the staff being sacked would provide a “boost in trade for the local economy”.
What kind of planet are these people living on?
On growth, on inflation, on unemployment – on the promises he made, the Chancellor couldn’t bring himself to admit the truth.
That his second Budget tells the story of the failure of his first.
At this stage of the recovery growth should be powering ahead.
Unemployment should be falling fast.
And every month when unemployment is higher than it should be it stores up long-term damage.
Every month when growth is lower than it should be, it hits the future potential of our economy.
The problem is, instead of admitting it, he refuses to change course.
What did the Energy Secretary say?
If the figures change the Government “should not be lashed to the mast” of their reckless gamble.
It should be willing to change and think again.
Mr Deputy Speaker, it’s not as if they haven’t had practice at the u-turn business.
They’re becoming the past masters.
On forests, school sport, housing benefit for those looking for work, even on the vanity photographer, they have been forced to climb-down.
But on this, the issue that matters most, they are least willing to change.
At the weekend we learned something new about the Chancellor:
Apparently, his political aspiration is to be a blend of Nigel Lawson and Michael Heseltine.
Mr Deputy Speaker, another comparison springs to mind.
Because we see the same refusal to change course we saw from the Tories in the early 1980s.
The same hubris and arrogance of the early 1990s.
He’s more like the political love child of Geoffrey Howe and Norman Lamont.
Next thing we know, he’ll be ordering in the champagne and singing in the bath, je ne regrette rien.
Mr Deputy Speaker, this is not a growth Budget.
It is not a jobs Budget.
It is a Budget for more of the same.
From a complacent, arrogant Chancellor.
In a complacent, arrogant Government.
It’s hurting but it isn’t working.
Mr Deputy Speaker, let us not forget, these are not just the Chancellor’s decisions.
They are not just the Prime Minister’s decisions.
They’re the Deputy Prime Minister’s decisions too.
He is an accomplice to this Tory plan.
When it comes to the economy, the man who coined the phrase alarm clock Britain has the snooze button well and truly on.
Nobody voted for this deficit plan.
Least of all his Liberal Democrat voters who were told in promise after promise that he would never countenance it.
Mr Deputy Speaker, if I can put it this way, is it any wonder no-one wants to share a platform with him.
On the measures he proposes to support growth, we will look at them.
But there is little reason to believe they will make the difference to growth we need.
The Office for Budget Responsibility has already factored in every single measure he’s just announced.
And they still produced today’s downgraded growth forecast and higher unemployment figures.
And it’s no wonder.
An enterprise zone proposal dusted off from the 1980s cannot undo the damage of a deficit plan that goes too far and too fast.
It didn’t work then, it won’t work now.
And you can’t blame people for being sceptical when the Chancellor says he’s got a new flagship policy for growth.
Because what happened to his last flagship policy for growth, at the centre of his June Budget?
Does anyone remember the national insurance holiday?
He was strangely silent about it today.
In June he boasted it would help to protect the areas worst hit by his cuts.
He stood at that despatch box taking credit for the 400,000 small firms he said would benefit.
How many have actually benefitted?
Mr Deputy Speaker, he’s been strangely shy in revealing the figures but someone let slip to the Financial Times.
By mid-January it wasn’t 400,000.
It wasn’t 40,000.
It wasn’t even 4,000.
It was less than a half of one percent of the number he prom ised, just 1,500 businesses.
And his green flagship policy, the Green Investment Bank.
I think his energy Secretary had it spot on.
“Ducks quack, and banks borrow as well as lend.”
Well his green bank can’t borrow for the next 5 years.
And this policy is a lame duck.
On his incentives for small firms, we will look at the detail.
But I have to say, his decision to cancel flexible working for families with children between 16 and 18 is extraordinary.
Only this Prime Minister could take the credit for championing a policy with Mumsnet, and then a few months later take the credit with small business for dumping it.
You’ve got to ask Mr Deputy Speaker – has he no shame?
The idea that families needing flexibility imperil our economic future is frankly absurd.
And tells you all you need to know about this Government’s values and how they think our economy succeeds.
Greater insecurity as t he route to greater prosperity.
Well we take a different view.
Flexible working is yet another broken promise from the broken promise Prime Minister.And while we’re on the subject what about one of the biggest broken promises of all.
Remember what he said before the election?
He, the Prime Minister, was banker basher in chief.
He was the man to deliver, and I quote, a day of reckoning for the bankers.
It’s not a day of reckoning, it’s business as usual.
Last year Labour’s bonus tax raised £3.5bn.
And this year their bank levy raises just £1.9bn.
A Tory Government cutting taxes for the banks.
Instead of doing that he should have used the money to reintroduce the Future Jobs Fund, build 25,000 homes, and boost enterprise.
They are not taking the long term steps to build the high skill, high wage economy of the future.
Mr Deputy Speaker, they are failing on growth, and they are failing on living standards too.
What did the Prime Minister say before the election to families receiving tax credits?
He said that below £50,000 a year, their tax credits were safe
When Labour said otherwise, the Home Secretary said this:
“That is a lie, and it is irresponsible for Labour to be . worrying families needlessly”.
But what is the truth?
Next year, over one million families with incomes as low as £26,000 will lose all their tax credits.
They should be ashamed of their broken promises.
All part of the cost of living crisis they are imposing.
The Chancellor trumpeted the rise in the personal allowance.
But let’s look at the facts.
He came along in the June Budget and put up VAT, costing families £450 a year.
Now he’s got the nerve to expect them to be grateful when he gives them a fraction of their own money back.
Let me tell you what the Institute for Fiscal Studies told us this morning: “there is an awful lot of giving with one hand. and taking away with lots and lots of other hands.”
It’s the classic Tory con.
And what about their decision on petrol?
He’s done the same thing again.
He’s cut duty by 1 pence.
But he’s whacked up VAT on fuel by 3p.
Families won’t be fooled.
It’s Del Boy economics.
For a two earner family both on average wages, after VAT and tax credits, it’s the same as 5p up in the basic rate of income tax this year and just 1p down next.
What do the British people know from history?
Every Tory tax cut ends up costing them more.
Same old Tories.
Same old deceit.
We needed a Budget that changed the direction of economic policy.
We needed a Budget that protected the Promise of Britain that the next generation does better than the last.
We needed a Budget that changed course on cutting too far and too fast.
The Chancellor said at the weekend with his customary modesty that he had completed his rescue mission of the British economy.
After this Budget, it’s not the Chancellor who is rescuing the country.
It is the country that needs rescuing from the Chancellor.
Mr Deputy Speaker, when families look at this Budget,
Look at the squeeze on their living standards,
Look at the job losses in their communities,
They will conclude:
It’s hurting but it isn’t working.