Darling urged to be more prudent

PUBLISHED: 12:23 05 November 2008 | UPDATED: 14:48 20 April 2010

EAST Devon MP Hugo Swire has branded the government 'Johnny Scattercash' for a massive increase in the nation's debt mountain.

EAST Devon MP Hugo Swire has branded the government 'Johnny Scattercash' for a massive increase in the nation's debt mountain. As the country heads towards £70 billion in debt, and borrowing is the highest for 60 years, Mr Swire has slammed Labour for running up more credit. As Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling recommends spending our way out of recession, Mr Swire fears the nation's debt will reach £100 billion in the next two or three years. He said: "We have said it before and I'm afraid we, as the main opposition party, will say it again - this government has behaved like Johnny Scattercash. "And it did so as it was making grand statements that the era of boom and bust, thanks to their management, was now well and truly consigned to the economic graveyard. Not so. We are going to have to pay for this recklessness for a good time to come." He added the Chancellor was exacerbating the situation by delaying action. He said: "The problem is, the Chancellor is rather like someone who is putting off opening an envelope for fear of reading bad news. So what does he do? He continues running up credit." While he agreed with some of his projects, which helped provide employment, he felt he was neglecting other areas of the economy. Mr Swire warned against raising taxes because it would result in less spending and, in turn, the recovery would be slower. "I don't envy Darling or anyone else in his position - it's a tough call," he said. "He has got no other accounts, no reserves he can suddenly produce out of nowhere as if by magic, no spade big enough to dig himself out of the hole he is in." Mr Swire says economic responsibility and a long-term plan are needed to rebuild the economy. He said: "We need to change from irresponsible capitalism and irresponsible government to a responsible free enterprise and responsible government. "Firstly, a responsible fiscal policy, with an independent Office of Budget Responsibility to hold every government to account. Second, a responsible financial policy bolstered by a renewed role for the Bank of England in monitoring overall debt levels. Third, a responsible attitude to economic development, which fosters more balanced economic growth." In the short term, he believes each aspect of the economy needed to be examined. He said small and medium-sized businesses, which employ over 13 million people and turn over £14,440 billion a year, were the 'lifeblood' of the economy and needed help. He called for VAT bills to be deferred for six months, urged councils to speed up payments to small businesses that provide them with goods and services, and for banks to act responsibly.

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