I want to make a few remarks about economic impacts on the households and families that find it the hardest to make ends meet. Some call them the strivers; some call them hard-pressed families; I have even heard them talked about as alarm-clock Britons. Many families with children find it very hard to make ends meet, so it is worth underlining the strong action that the Government have taken to help people in that position.
First and most important of all is keeping interest rates low. I noted with interest the intervention of the shadow Chancellor on the Chancellor to point out, "Well, there is a liquidity trap; interest rates are too low; it is a bad sign; we need higher interest rates." I think that that will ring very poorly with Britain as a whole. For people who are striving and finding it hard to make ends meet, having to pay higher mortgage interest is not in their interest. The shadow Chancellor and the Labour party are wrong if they are entertaining a policy that is about raising interest rates. That was my understanding of the drift of the shadow Chancellor's speech. I regret it; I do not think it is the right thing to do. Let us bear in mind that a 1% hike in interest rates would mean £10 billion more in interest payments—about £1,000 extra on the average mortgage. People are finding it hard to make ends meet because of rising global commodity prices and the current difficult situation. Higher mortgage interest rates would be a massively retrograde step. One of this Government's most important achievements has been to keep interest rates low by providing stability, clarity and a positive deficit reduction plan to get our finances in order. That is helping millions of families up and down the country and millions of businesses with lower interest rates are far better off than they would be otherwise.
The other really important thing is the help the Government are providing with child care. For a long time it has been difficult, particularly in deprived communities like parts of Dover and Deal in my constituency, for joint working parents to juggle child care. The announcement to help those deprived areas with extra help for child care places was one of the most important in the autumn statement.
It has been an honour and privilege to serve as Member of Parliament for Dover & Deal. I hope to be re-elected to serve our community for another term.
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