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Mike Wood: This House can have confidence in the Government because they have taken the country from the brink of bankruptcy to the point where we have a successful and growing economy that is creating prosperity and better opportunities for people in every part of the country. They recognise the hopes and aspirations of hard-working people—people who work hard and want their children to have better chances than they had.
The Government are giving children the best possible start in life, by doubling free childcare for three and four-year-olds. Next year, there will be more record spending on early years education. The reforms—originally made in the face of hostile opposition—by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my right hon. Friend
Mike Kane Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)
There are more children!
Mike Wood: Yes, that is 87% of a bigger number—of course it is. It is even better. And that is despite the well-recorded increase in the difficulty of inspections.
Tracy Brabin Shadow Minister (Education)
I thank the hon. Gentleman so much for giving way. I do appreciate it. I know that we are short of time. Does he agree that there are more children in good and outstanding schools because there are more children? Do his figures include the poorest children?
Mike Wood: I hesitate to explain basic mathematics. A rise from 66% to 87% of a bigger number is even more of an increase.
When people are looking for work, they are more likely to get a job. There have been, on average, 1,000 new jobs every day since the Government came to power in 2010. Four fifths of them are full time. Most jobs are more likely to be paid more, thanks to the introduction of the national living wage and increases in the national minimum wage. At the end of all that, people are allowed to keep more of the money that they have worked so very hard to earn. While Labour doubled the starting tax rate for the lowest paid workers, the Government have taken 5 million low-paid workers out of paying income tax altogether.
Let us turn now to people who are looking for their first home. House building had collapsed ahead of 2010 as a result of the recession, but rates of house building are higher now than in 29 of the past 30 years. The Government recognise people’s aspirations to own their own home, but they also recognise the need for good social and private rented housing as well. While the Opposition are dogmatically opposed to letting people buy the houses in which they live, the Government are supporting first-time buyers and lifting the cap on housing revenue account borrowing to allow for more council-built social housing.
At every stage in life, spending on the NHS will be £20 billion higher at the end of this five-year period than at the start. That is on top of the 15,000 extra doctors and the nearly 13,000 more nurses in our hospitals compared with 2010. Hard-working families deserve better than the paleo-Marxist Citizen Smith tribute act that is offered by the Opposition Front Bench team—
Mike Wood: Economic security, greater opportunity, sustainable investment in our public services and many other reasons are why Dudley South and this House can have confidence in Her Majesty’s Government this evening.