House of Lords
On the Autumn Statement
| Thursday, December 10, 2015
Motion to Take Note
Moved by Lord Carrington of Fulham
That this House takes note of the economy in the light of the Autumn Statement.
Lord Skidelsky (CB):
My Lords, four minutes is hardly long enough to have a properly developed argument or debate, so I will confine myself to a number of propositions that I hope might at least excite the interest of the noble Lord, Lord O’Neill.
The first proposition is that the Chancellor has failed to meet his deficit reduction targets. In 2010, he said that the deficit would be down to zero by now; this year he is set to borrow £70 billion, and the balancing is postponed for five years. To me the explanation is clear enough: the Chancellor’s policies
Universities: Freedom of Speech
Motion to Take Note
Moved by Baroness Deech
That this House takes note of the protection of freedom of speech in universities.
Lord Skidelsky (CB): My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, for making possible this debate. I shall draw your Lordships’ attention to two threats to free speech on the campus. In four minutes I have time for only two threats, but I think that they cover most of the ground.
The first threat comes from the Government. The state has a duty to protect its citizens from terrorism. The Government have conceived of that duty in part as preventing university students from being what they call “radicalised”. The Counter-Terrorism and Security
My Lords, at the time of his first Budget in June 2010, the Chancellor said:
“The most urgent task facing this country is to implement an accelerated plan to reduce the deficit”.
He committed himself to achieving a “cyclically-adjusted current budget balance”—the relevant part of that deficit standing at 4.8%—by the end of this Parliament.Instead, today, we still have a deficit of 2.8%. Of course, as a good politician, the Chancellor left himself wiggle room by talking about a “rolling five-year period” for achieving his goal. We are still rolling, but always “on target”. In last week’s Budget Statement he said that he will hit his original target three years late. He is like the runner, who, when the race is finished, gets to decideContinue reading...
I concentrate on one point: the Chancellor’s failure to meet his budgetary targets.
Growth has been revised up to 3% this year, to be followed by 2.4% 2015, 2.2% in 2016, 2.4% 2017, 2.3%, 2.3%, 2.3% 2019, and so on.
These estimates are not worth the paper they are written on, being conditional on all sorts of things unlikely to happen.
Their importance lies in the fact that they are the basis of the budget projections.
In 2010 Osborne forecast growth of 2.3% in 2010-2011, 2.8% 2011-12, 2.9% 2012-13. In fact it was 1.6% 2010-11, 2011-12, 0.7%, 2012-13 1.7%.
According to the Chancellor economy should have grown by 8.2 compounded; in fact it grew by 4.1%.
No wonder his deficit reduction plans went awry.
Agreed, that it was notContinue reading...
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...