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Quick to announce, slow to deliver

The main point of George Osborne's speech on the economy today was to highlight the Government's failure to deliver on the many economic action programmes that it has been quick to announce.  The key passage is the bottom of this post but the Shadow Chancellor also fumed at the failure of the Chancellor to come to the despatch box and respond to the Opposition's economy debate.  The Conservative Opposition had to use its time to debate the econopmy because of Labour's failure to do so.  Chief Secretary to the Treasury Yvette Cooper took Mr Darling's place.

Mr Osborne:

"We also see today that the IMF has produced new growth forecasts for the world that show that Britain is set to be in recession for longer than any other major economic area.  Indeed they predict that the British economy will be only major economy contracting next year, 2010, when the economies of America, the eurozone and Japan are all forecast to be growing again by then.  And today Lord Turner has published his Report. the first part of it.  It says something about the coordination of the tripartite committee that they couldn’t get the report to Hon members in this House. The report offers a pretty devastating critique not just of the regulatory system created by the Prime Minister in 1997 – but also of the model of economic growth that was based on unsustainable debts, overleveraged banks and a huge macroeconomic imbalance.

You would have thought, Madam Deputy Speaker, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer who commissioned that report and whose policies are deepening this recession would be here to debate the economy and defend his approach. But apparently not.

We have not had a debate on the economy in government since December and the government have known about this debate for two weeks.  When we suggested it, we were told there was no pressing international summit or unbreakable commitment that would require the Chancellor’s absence.

There is only one conclusion.  The Chancellor is running away from the debate because he knows he is losing the debate. A confident Government, and a Prime Minister who meant what he said about restoring the primacy of Parliament, would have relished the chance for the Chancellor to appear before us today."

George Osborne then turned to the record of the Government programmes announced with fanfare but then left undelivered:

"The scandal of inaction continues.  Let us take the most important support needed, the support for loan guarantees.

Finally, two months after we proposed it, on 14th January, the government launched in a blaze of publicity their scheme to guarantee credit lines to small and medium sized businesses – the Working Capital Scheme.  The Business Secretary said at the time: “there will be real results coming from these schemes going live today”  Two months later that scheme does not exist.  The date when it was supposed to be up and running has come and gone.  The negotiations with the banks are still continuing.  And all the while good businesses are going bust, and good people are losing their jobs.

I wish it were an isolated example of incompetence.  But it is not.

There is the Automotive Assistance Programme which is supposed to help the car industry.  Two months after it was launched there is no evidence yet that a single car manufacturer has been helped.

Earlier this week the Government proposed a car scrappage scheme. Today the Treasury is briefing the media that they are not in favour of that particular scheme. That one didn’t even last a week.

Then there is the Homeowners Mortgage Support Scheme, announced by the Prime Minister back at the beginning of December.  Here we are in March and it simply doesn’t exist.  Repossessions are rising, thousands are losing their homes, and not a single homeowner has received support.

And what about the National Internship Scheme announced three months ago? It has completely disappeared from trace.  They can’t distinguish between getting the headline on the Today programme and actually making sure the help they promise is delivered and working.

But the public can.  And it is causing widespread disillusion and despair."


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