"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Fiscal Responsibility Bill

How's that for an attention-grabbing headline?  I thought I'd check in and see how the 2nd reading was going and caught a very doom & gloom Frank Field talking about Germany's Wiemar Republic and Britain in 1945.  Frank is not a happy chap.  He's worried about what will happen when quantitative easing comes to an end; who will lend money to Britain to buy its own gilts?  He mentioned 'February' so, not long until we find out.  Field is a pleasant, independently-minded MP (Lab. Birkenhead) who doesn't toe the Party line - and that's probably why the Conservatives want him to replace John Bercow after the GE (if they win, that is).

Jeremy Browne (LibDem Treasury Spokesman) was up next and created quite a stir with his meandering speech which, because he's in the position of attacking both Labour and the Cons, went nowhere.  There were quite a few interruptions from both sides of the House which he couldn't answer effectively and he eventually stopped accepting them.

Andrew Tyrie (Con, Chichester) followed Browne and said the only thing he agreed with Browne on was that the Bill was 'pathetic'.  The thrust of Tyrie's argument was that a FR Bill should not be necessary, that it lacked credibility with no meaningful costings.  He'll be tabling an amendment at Committee Stage.  "When the economic history books come to be written it will be on Labour's incompetence, not their intentions, that the writers' pens will linger."  I disagree: I think their intentions will come in for criticism too - depending who the victors are.  He was really quite good as he carried on in that vein - thorough but hardly sparkling.

John Redwood (Con, Wokingham) is a delight and if one can have favourite MPs, he's one of mine.  "You cannot solve a crisis of over-borrowing by borrowing too much in the state sector.  You cannot resolve the British state finances by underwriting every bad bet and every bad loan throughout  the banking system.  You have to get the banks to sort it out and to take more of the hit.  This government has dragged the taxpayer and the state into accepting far too much risk and far too much debt obligation and that is why we are now on the verge of another nasty phase to this long and tragic financial crash and that is the phase you've been talking about this evening: the phase when the state  is made to realise that it's borrowing too much, when the markets and others force the state and its agents, the government of the day, into getting their own house in order otherwise they will find they can't borrow at anything like a sensible rate, if at all, they can't borrow on the scale they wish."  "A political prank; a press release; wasting the time of the House; punk Keynsianism ... ..."

Good old Bill Cash was there (Con, Stone) and he made some excellent points.  Apart from that attendance was pretty thin on the ground.  I counted seven on the Conservative benches by the time Redwood made his speech, including Osborne.  There were two on the Labour front bench (no b/benchers by this time; only two attended and both had spoken against the Bill) and three Liberals snoozing quietly.

The FR Bill debate will be written up in Hansard tomorrow for those who are interested to read more; the overall gist of it is that the Cons and the LibDems see no real need for this Bill so  it will be interesting to see the type of amendments tabled at Committee Stage.


  1. There is no need for it, fiscal responsibility should be a no brainer for every government.

    What this is, is a deliberate attempt to hamstring the next government to play by Labours rules and keep ruining the country. If they throw it out after, Labour will claim they are robbing the poor. If they keep it we go bankrupt within 6 months.

  2. Hi QM, agreed; fiscal responsibility should be a given requirement of any govt and not need legislation. As you say, they're trying bind Labour policies into law. I want to see how the Cons/LibDems handle it though and whether it gets through intact - I think that will give an indication of things to come.


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