My speech in the Budget 2024 debate


Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. This budget demonstrates that this is a government that exists for one reason and one reason only, and that reason is that if it didn’t exist the Conservative Party would have to face a General Election and the only thing that the five families all agree on is that the one thing they hate more than facing the tough choices that their disastrous legacy has left this county, is facing the harsh verdict if the British people and so, the Government limps on, endlessly, joylessly, hopelessly and without any sense that it has a clue how to tackle the kind of issues facing our country that I see at my constituency surgeries every week of the year.


This is a budget that self-evidently fails to rise to the challenge that 14 years of Tory government has left our nation facing. Crumbling public services, growing social problems and a bleak fiscal forecast is the damning, but unsurprising, legacy of 14 wasted years. This is a government that has failed by every measure. They came to power saying they were going to cut the nation’s debt. Now my hon. friend from the Rhondda knows British history far better than I do, but the earliest example of UK debt, that I could find, was under King William III, back in the late 17th Century. It took the collective governments of the next 316 years to raise a cumulative debt of £1 trillion. This government, in 14 useless years, has increased that debt from £1 trillion to £2.6 trillion. This is a government that for all their failure on public services, existed, they told us, in order to reduce the nation’s debt.


But it’s not just the national debt that is rising. People are worse off, real GDP per capita will be lower at the end of this year than it was at the start of this Parliament. Real pay has gone up just £17 per week over 13 years of Conservative government. Under the 13 years of a Labour government real wages rose by £183 per week and OBR figures show that within this budget, for every 10p extra that working people will pay in tax under the Tory’s plan they will only be getting 5p back as a result of the combined National Insurance cut. The idea that this is a budget that is on the side of working people is simply untrue.


Under this Tory Government work doesn’t pay. Now, it was interesting to spend a moment of my day today listening to the hon. member for Ashfield, this is a man who, just 2 months ago, was the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. He said that under this Government the cost of living is out of hand, people can’t get a GP appointment, there’s no control on migration, there’s crime on our streets, you can’t get a police officer to a burglary, people are pulling their own teeth out for the lack of a dentist. Now, for someone who was the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party just a couple of months ago, you have to say there’s not much that’s wrong in that analysis.


There is so much more that you could say. I see my own Conservative council in Derbyshire and the disastrous decisions that they are making. Now, I have no time for the Leadership of the Conservative council, and I see the huge impact on parents whose children are waiting for a special needs assessment or are unable to get support with special needs Teaching Assistants in school. I see the state of our roads that are simply unfit to be driven on. I see people who are waiting for a social care assessment. I met a gentleman, just today, whose literally at the end of his tether trying to get support for his wife who’s in a terrible state.


But, for all the failures that Tory Derbyshire County Council have, you have to come back and look at this Government’s funding of local government. When councils right up and down the country are experiencing the same, whether they are Labour or Conservative or Liberal, they all are saying that council funding is out of control and we also see the impact on NHS waiting times, the longest waiting times in our history. We see food bank usage coming to be absolutely common place. We see rising child poverty and I hear every time I go to a school, that the school have children turning up unable to learn because of the hunger that they experience.


And this is a Government so out of ideas that, at the same time that they claim that the Labour Party doesn’t have a plan, they actually steal Labour Party policies on a whole raft of areas. Whether it be the non-doms announcement, whether it be our plan on dentistry, whether it be our plan on NHS workforce, whether it be the current consultation on water bosses bonusses. All of these things have in common that they’ve been attacked by the Tories and then stolen by the Tories.


So, Mr Deputy Speaker, it’s clear this Government has neither the ambition nor the courage to tackle the issues facing our country. Not only does our economy need growth but our country needs a shot in arm that a government with a commitment to tackling poverty and the causes of failure that have gone unchecked under this government. No more a country where people die on NHS waiting lists, waiting for the treatment that could have saved them. No more a country where the trains don’t run, and the roads aren’t fit to drive on. No more a country when the place you are born is the biggest determinant of your chances in life.


Change is coming Mr Deputy Speaker, and it can’t come a moment too soon.

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