House of Lords
My Lords, a Bill on infrastructure that is mainly to do with the rearrangement of Whitehall agencies and minor improvements in planning application procedures invites the question of what the relationship is between its provisions and the promotion of investment in infrastructure.
My first point is that cutting public capital investment has been an integral part of the Government’s strategy for reducing the budget deficit—in fact, the only successful part. Gross public sector investment fell from £69 billion in 2009-10 to £45 billion in 2013-14 and has barely started to creep up. That is always how it happens. Cutting capital spending is much easier than cutting current spending. Private sector investment has not taken up the slack.Continue reading...
[Bracketed sections were omitted in the delivered speech due to time limits]
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, for introducing this important discussion. He has been rightly impressed by the argument put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, that the state must play a key part in fostering innovation, and I agree with that. However, of course, that does not exhaust the role of the state in creating prosperity. In the last chapter of his General Theory, the economist Keynes pinpointed as,
“The outstanding faults of the … society in which we live … its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes”.
I believe that these are still the outstandingContinue reading...
| Tuesday, January 29, 2013
My Lords, I join the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, in welcoming the noble Lord, Lord Deighton, to the Treasury Bench; I hope that he enjoyed the experience of renewed contact with the supervision of his former teacher.
When George Osborne took over the controls at the Treasury, he decided that fiscal policy would be governed not by the state of the real economy but by the state of the public finances, as measured by preset fiscal targets, particularly the rate of deficit reduction. Those targets were designed to reassure investors in government debt that the state was solvent and would remain so. Half-way through the life of this Parliament, we can say that the effects of that policy in terms of output and growth have been disastrous.Continue reading...
Leveson Inquiry Speech
House of Lords
| Monday, January 14, 2013
My Lords, almost everything that there is to say has already been said, not least by the noble Lord, Lord Prescott, so I will just concentrate on two points. First, there is the ingenuity of Leveson, which recognises that voluntary self-regulation via the almost toothless Press Complaints Commission has run its course. Therefore, any successor system of self-regulation needs to give confidence that it will not be toothless - hence the need for legislation to guarantee the teeth. I think that is the main thrust.
The truly ingenious feature of Leveson is his proposal to secure publishers' participation in a toughened system of self-regulation by means of incentives rather than compulsion. These incentives are cost-shifting, exemplaryContinue reading...
Growth Debate Speech
| Tuesday, December 11, 2012
My Lords, the best thing about the report by the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, is that it reflects a broad agreement that something more than deficit reduction is needed to get the economy growing again. The noble Lord's enthusiasm to get things done is the thing I have most admired about him over the years. There is a good cartoon on the front of his report, No Stone Unturned. Noble Lords have probably all seen it, but the rock the noble Lord needs to push away ought to have the image of the Chancellor graven on it. The noble Lord proposes a Whitehall pot of £50 billion to be bid for by voluntary partnerships between local authorities and businesses over five years but, as far as I understand it, and I stand to be corrected, the GovernmentContinue reading...