David Laws MP

26 May 2010 17:27:17

The wisdom of the Tories' favourite "honourable ally", the Chief Secretary, David Laws

Screen shot 2010-05-26 at 12.04.50 It was interesting earlier watching the Tory benches smile as David Laws represented the Coalition during an emergency statement on spending cuts. I suspect the Chief Secretary is quickly going to become their favourite "honourable ally".

Here are some key statements from George Osborne's number two:

The Coalition needed to act quickly given the mess Labour left behind: "The previous Government were borrowing at the rate of an additional £3 billion per week—that is an unsustainable rate. Those huge public debts threaten financial stability and, if left unchecked, would derail the economic recovery. We need not look far across our own continent to see that action to tackle our budget deficit is both urgent and necessary, and this is only the first step in a long road to restoring good management of our public finances."

Higher interest rates are a greater danger to the recovery: "Because of the mess in the public finances created by the last Government, the amount of debt interest that we have to pay out is growing and beginning to exceed some core Government budgets. Had we not acted to maintain the credibility of our fiscal policy, there was a real risk that we could have seen a big rise in interest rates that would have gobbled up additional expenditure and helped to wreck the recovery that is now taking place."

Responding to the accusation that the Coalition had been wrong to announce spending cuts and the Office of Budget Responsibility before Parliament had recovened: "I gently point out to the shadow Chancellor that in 1997, the Labour party announced its policy of Bank of England independence not to this place but outside it. That was not even a policy that the Labour party had stood on in its manifesto, so there is a very considerable difference with the proposals that we brought."

The role of Government: "I am afraid that there is a basic ideological differences between those on the Labour Benches and those on the Government Benches—we believe in devolving power and giving freedom to people. We do not believe that Government know best, and the previous Administration proved that very effectively."

Labour's failure to control spending (to Sandra Osborne MP): "I suggest that the hon. Lady tells her constituents the truth about the catastrophic amount of debt left by the last Government, their total irresponsibility and the risk that would have been posed to the country’s economy and their prospects if we had a Government sitting around doing nothing as her Government did for the past two years."

Watch Mr Laws in action.

Tim Montgomerie