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24 Jun 2008 : Column 209

Families will be concerned by the increases at supermarkets and petrol stations and in their energy bills. To address those concerns, we have to tackle the root causes of the higher prices. Those causes are international. We are not alone in saying that; the Governor of the Bank of England also says it. He said that 1.1 per cent. of the 1.2 per cent. increase in inflation since the end of last year has been due to international circumstances. We have to work with our international partners to find the right response and we must respond to the ongoing impact of the global credit squeeze, which is contributing to the challenging economic times that we face.

As I listened to the opening speech from the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr. Hammond), I found it interesting that he did not at any point indicate that the problem was international or that the solution lay at an international level. At no point did he urge us to work through OPEC to raise oil production; neither did he urge us to work with our EU partners to liberate the global food market. I can only presume that when his party was in power, it had an empty-seat policy at EU level; its record gives it no credibility on the international stage.

It is important to work with our international partners to address what is an international issue; at the same time, domestically, we must provide families with support when they need it. That is what we are doing, through the increases in personal allowances this year, the additional payments that we are making through the winter fuel allowance and the delay in the fuel duty increase that was due this April.

I turn to some of the specific points raised in the debate. Disparaging remarks have been made about the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Nigel Griffiths). I enjoyed his excellent and factual contribution. He pointed out that the roofs of the schools, hospitals and railway stations have been fixed under this Government. The investment in public services—extra police, doctors and nurses—has been widely welcomed. In the past 10 years, real pay has gone up by more than 20 per cent. in each of those sectors, and we are rightly proud of that.

By contrast, the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) said that we should have made earlier decisions about nuclear power. What—like his party, which deliberately said that it would defer the decision, despite the long lead time required to invest in this low-carbon technology? He also said that we should try to reform the common agricultural policy, but in many ways we have succeeded in doing that.

Mr. Graham Stuart: What?

Kitty Ussher: We have, with the shift from pillar one to pillar two of the common agricultural policy, and we continue to make our case. The party of the right hon. Member for Wokingham, would not even engage on the European stage; if it were still in power, we would not have achieved that progress.

In an intervention on the right hon. Gentleman, the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Browne) pointed out that the Conservative party—far from anticipating what it now says was the need for a different economic policy
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during what the Governor calls the non-inflationary consistent expansion, or NICE, years—went into the last two elections explaining how it would spend more while cutting taxes. It would, apparently, have surfed the wave of economic prosperity—in a way that would have created even more of a problem, given the black hole in its finances.

That gets to the core of today’s debate. On the one hand, the Conservative party says that it will match our spending; at the same time, it tries to imply that it will return money to the British people by sharing the proceeds of growth. I do not know where that extra money would come from. I can only presume that the Conservatives are hoping that the black hole in their finances will suddenly spew out pound coins for them to distribute liberally throughout the economy.

That all relates to what we have seen in this Opposition day debate. The Conservatives are trying to imply, in a salesman-like way, that there is some huge problem with the Government’s record on the cost of living. At the same time, their own words in their own research document show that the standard of living has risen under the Government. Since 2001-02, pensioner couples have been £30 a week better off in real terms under Labour, say the Conservatives; single women pensioners have been £21 a week better off under Labour, say the Conservatives; and couples of whom one partner works full time and one works part time are £14 a week better off under Labour, say the Conservatives. The Conservatives say that lone parents are £12 a week better off and that on average everybody is £9 a week better off because of our policies. I will take no lessons from the Conservative party about the cost of living under Labour.

As always, my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Ms Keeble) made a helpful and well informed speech. In response to an intervention from the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr. Stuart), she pointed out that real wages have risen under the Government. Using Institute for Fiscal Studies data, the hon. Gentleman seemed to try to imply that incomes had fallen. I have read that report, which is extremely credible. However, the authors admit that the specific figure that he cited was within the scope of the margin of error, so it was not appropriate for the hon. Gentleman to use.

Perhaps we should look at the report resulting from the survey of households of below-average incomes. It shows that the incomes of the poorest and richest 20 per cent. of households have risen by 2 per cent. a year since 1997 and that real household disposable incomes across the board have risen by 27 per cent. Let us put it all into context: from the 1980s until the mid-1990s, the real incomes of the poorest 20 per cent. of households rose by less than 1 per cent. a year, while those of the richest 20 per cent. rose by about 2.5 per cent. a year. It is absolutely clear that the tax credit, benefit and welfare to work policies of the Government have arrested the relative increase in income disparities that happened under Conservative Governments.

My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North urged me to continue to focus on the needs of the working poor in our future policies, and we will of course always do that. On fuel poverty, I should point out that we have got the six major energy suppliers to increase their spending on the most vulnerable by £225 million. The Warm Front programme has been
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rolled out under the Government and it has had a huge effect, particularly in constituencies such as mine, which have a high proportion of old terraced housing. Driving costs are 16 per cent. lower under this Government than they were under the Conservative Government. [ Interruption. ] I do not know why hon. Members are muttering among themselves. I can only presume that it is because they do not want to listen to the facts and are attempting, by spin and innuendo, to imply to the country that we have not made the enormous inroads that we have, as everybody knows from looking at their own standards of living compared with 10 years ago.

We continue to work closely with the Council of Mortgage Lenders to find out what more can be done to reduce the burden on people who are having difficulties with their mortgage costs.

We face some genuine issues that need to be addressed internationally as well as through domestic policy, and we are doing that. Today’s debate has shown that Conservative Members have absolutely no ideas and no policies.

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

The House divided: Ayes 189, Noes 297.
Division No. 228]
[7 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evennett, Mr. David
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris

Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Maples, Mr. John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Paice, Mr. James
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Thurso, John
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

James Duddridge and
Jeremy Wright

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Creagh, Mary
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark

Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Tellers for the Noes:

Alison Seabeck and
Tony Cunningham
Question accordingly negatived.
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24 Jun 2008 : Column 215

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

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


24 Jun 2008 : Column 216

Opposition Day

[15th Allotted Day]

NHS (60th Anniversary)

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): I must remind the House that Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment standing in the name of the Prime Minister.

7.17 pm

Mr. Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire) (Con): I beg to move,

On Saturday week, it will be the 60th anniversary of the national health service, and my right hon. Friends and I felt that the House should have the opportunity, in anticipation of that day, to record our appreciation of all that the NHS has achieved and all that it has meant to the people of this country over the course of those 60 years. We do so this evening entirely in the spirit—

Mr. Jim Devine (Livingston) (Lab): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Lansley: When I have made a little progress.

We do so entirely in the spirit in which the national health service was created. I shall let the House have a quotation:

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