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Cable: Government letting the economy be brought to its knees

February 2, 2009 1:50 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

In an Opposition Day debate, the Liberal Democrats called on the Government to immediately bring forward funding for capital projects, to generate future income and counter the recession.

As the recession continues to take its toll on the economy, the Liberal Democrats used their Opposition Day to criticise the Government for failing to use the opportunity to invest in programmes to create new jobs and build a stronger, greener Britain.

The motion (see full text below) to bring forward capital spending on public infrastructure was defeated, with 44 votes for and 229 votes against. Labour voted against the motion whilst the Conservatives abstained.

Speaking in the Commons, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable said:

"The British economy is being brought to its knees and the Government is failing to help. The so-called 'fiscal stimulus', the VAT cut, has brought its strategy into disrepute.

"Instead of tackling tricky but necessary reforms, it looks like ministers are taking the easy way out, offloading problems onto councils, cutting front-line services and axing valuable public investment.

"Sensible public investment creates jobs today and builds assets for the future. Ministers must develop an efficient system to identify and fast-track good public investment."

Read Vince Cable's full speech here

Read Sarah Teather's closing speech here

The Opposition Day motion is as follows: Government capital expenditure during the recession

That this House notes that the International Monetary Fund believes that the UK will suffer the worst economic contraction among advanced countries; notes with alarm that the Pre-Budget Report 2008 announced an effective 16.5% decrease in public sector net investment from 2012-13; further notes with concern that the Learning and Skills Council has decided to halt funding decisions for college rebuilding; expresses concern that there are currently 1.77 million people on the social housing waiting list, an increase of 100,000 on last year; further notes that only £400 million has been brought forward out of £8 billion to spend on social housing; notes how little investment the Government has made to ensure that homes are energy-efficient and well insulated; believes that the Government has neglected the current opportunity to invest in expanding the rail network; and calls on the Government to immediately bring forward funding for capital projects, particularly for schools, colleges, social housing, public transport and environmental works, all of which will create assets for the taxpayer and generate future income as well as countering recession in the short run.