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The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Stephen Timms): In 1997 Britain's public services were in a state of crisis. For years, all the energy of Government had been focused on spending cuts. The view was being
 
19 Jan 2005 : Column 864
 
spread that the time for public provision was past and that the way of the future was cuts and privatisation. This week, we discovered that the Tories have learned nothing in the eight years since.

In 1997, everybody could see that the public services faced enormous challenges. There had been growing demands but inadequate investment, and new pressures but old answers from the Tory Government, who were unable to provide the resources to meet the new challenges. Many people believed the Tory propaganda that high-quality public services were incompatible with a successful modern economy. They thought the Tories were right that the only way forward was cuts and privatisation, that there was no alternative and that public provision was doomed to underinvestment and decline.

In the eight years since 1997, we have proved that the Tories were wrong. We have shown and the British people have seen that rising investment to rebuild our public services has gone hand in hand with the strongest economy that any of us can remember. Between 1979 and 1997, the UK was the least stable economy in the G7 except for Canada, with all the problems for the British people that were caused by boom and bust. Since 1997, we have been the most stable economy in the G7, bar none, and we have benefited from unprecedented investment in services.

As a consequences, we see better results in our schools—more children doing well at 11 and at GCSE. There have been more than 28,000 more teachers since 1997, there is more equipment in classrooms, school buildings have been repaired and refurbished, as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. McCabe) and others pointed out, and there are more resources for higher education and colleges. For the first time in their careers, many people in education are confident that they have the resources they need to deliver in the circumstances of modern Britain.

In the health service, the number of people waiting more than six months for in-patient treatment is down 78 per cent. since 1997, and the number waiting more than 12 months is virtually nil; it was 30,000 in 1997. Waiting times in accident and emergency departments are down. There are 77,000 more nurses, 19,000 more doctors and more in training than ever before.

Crime rates are down 30 per cent. since 1997, and there are 14,000 more police officers. Police numbers are at record levels, and there are already 4,500 community support officers. As a senior police officer in my constituency told me before Christmas, the Labour Government have given him and his colleagues for the first time in his career both the powers and the resources to do the job that Britain needs. That has been the value that we have delivered for taxpayers' money. Britain does not want to go back to the bad old days of cuts and underinvestment. Instead, we need to build on the historic improvements that we have seen in the period since 1997.

Mr. John Randall (Uxbridge) (Con): On the question of value for taxpayers' money, can the Financial Secretary assure me that the Treasury will give detailed scrutiny to the unfolding financial scandal of the Paddington health campus?

Mr. Timms: I am certain that those who are following that development will give it the scrutiny that it needs.
 
19 Jan 2005 : Column 865
 

The progress that we have made has been because of, not despite, the remarkably successful, prudent stewardship that the economy has benefited from since 1997—inflation down, interest rates at historic low levels, and unemployment today lower than at any time under the Tories. From the day the Tories were elected in 1979 until the day they were ejected in 1997, unemployment was never as low as it has now been for the past four years. Who wants to go back to 3 million unemployed?

Mr. Quentin Davies: The hon. Gentleman talks about good stewardship. How was it that the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts gave away £7.3 million and incurred administrative costs of £5.9 million? Is that good stewardship?

Mr. Timms: I hope that I will have the opportunity to comment on what the hon. Gentleman said about the James review. He made some interesting points. He praised some parts of it and spent rather longer criticising other parts of it, describing one as bizarre. He spent some time on the James report. We have seen the PowerPoint presentation available on the Conservative party website with 174 slides, 12 of them identical referring to the James review of taxpayer value and accompanied by a rather fetching photograph of Mr. James. I hope, for the sake of the Conservative party Front-Bench spokesmen, that there is the detail behind that PowerPoint presentation that a work of that kind requires. We gathered from the Front-Bench spokesman that the Conservative party will not publish that detail, and, indeed, callers to Conservative central office on Monday were told that it would not do so because that would give too much ammunition to the party's critics, which is probably absolutely correct.

Independence for the Bank of England, the symmetric inflation target, the golden rule, the sustainable investment rule—

Mr. Davies: Will the Financial Secretary give way?

Mr. Timms: No, I will not give way again.

That framework has delivered not only unprecedented stability, but the resources for investment, long overdue and desperately needed under the Tories, delivered under Labour. We now need to build on those achievements, to maintain the investment and to reap the benefits for Britain—

Mr. Davies: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can you discover whether something is wrong with the microphone system in the Chamber? I intervened, at the Financial Secretary's invitation, to ask a question a moment ago. He took the question, but appears not to have heard it.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): That is not a point of order for the Chair.

Mr. Timms: This has been an illuminating debate. We still do not know the detail of the Conservative party's plans; it has published only the bullet points. But we do
 
19 Jan 2005 : Column 866
 
know that the numbers do not add up and that they fail the credibility test. As yesterday's leader column in the Financial Times said:

It is worth reading a little more. It says:

One thing we do know is that even on the basis of those numbers that fail the credibility test, the Tories claim only that they will release £4 billion a year for tax cuts by 2007–08, but they have announced that there will be tax cuts in their first Budget after being elected. The money can come only from more borrowing, putting at risk exactly the remarkable stability in the economy that has been priceless for us over the past eight years.

We also know that the Tories want deep cuts. Even all those cuts that we can glean from what we have seen in the James review—scrapping the new deal, increasing unemployment by privatising and reducing funding for jobcentres, halving the Food Standards Agency, scrapping support for small businesses, scrapping NHS Direct, scrapping NHS improvement targets, even closing the National College for School Leadership, a particularly spiteful proposal—gets us less than half way to the cuts that they have announced that they will deliver by 2012. Yesterday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies rightly pointed out that the Conservative party has announced only one third of the spending cuts that it plans to make by 2012. We know where those cuts lead, because we have been there before, and they would be a disaster for Britain, which will be the verdict of the British people.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 147, Noes 358.

Division No. 35
[4 pm


AYES

Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Ancram, rh Michael
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Bacon, Richard
Baldry, Tony
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burt, Alistair
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Curry, rh David
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hague, rh William
Hammond, Philip
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, rh Michael
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, rh Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, rh Michael
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Dame Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Trimble, rh David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Gregory Barker and
Mr. Peter Atkinson


NOES

Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barrett, John
Barron, rh Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh A. J.
Bell, Sir Stuart
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, rh Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Breed, Colin
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burstow, Paul
Byrne, Liam (B'ham Hodge H)
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Carmichael, Alistair
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, rh Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Cranston, Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, rh Alistair
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Ewing, Annabelle
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Parmjit Singh
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Healey, John
Heath, David
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, rh Adam
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Kennedy, rh Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, rh Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McGrady, Eddie
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, Denis
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moore, Michael
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salmond, Alex
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheridan, Jim
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, rh Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Weir, Michael
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Iain (Hartlepool)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Ms Bridget Prentice and
Mr. Jim Murphy


Question accordingly negatived.


 
19 Jan 2005 : Column 870
 

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Madam Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


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