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Business minister Vince Cable rebuts calls for spending cuts to be accelerated

PUBLISHED: 18:00 02 May 2012

Vince Cable MP (centre) visits Cecil Sharp House, pictured with Martin Sheppard (left), of the Gloucester Avenue Association, and Chris Richards (right), Liberal Democrat by-election candidate. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Vince Cable MP (centre) visits Cecil Sharp House, pictured with Martin Sheppard (left), of the Gloucester Avenue Association, and Chris Richards (right), Liberal Democrat by-election candidate. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Business secretary Vince Cable took a swipe at the Tory right while on a trip to Primrose Hill - insisting the government will not embark on deeper spending cuts despite the double dip recession.

The government has faced pressure from former Conservative defence secretary Dr Liam Fox and other senior Conservatives to slash public spending even more quickly following news the UK has slipped back into recession.

But Mr Cable, whose ministerial responsibilities include encouraging business and growth, insisted there was “no question” of the government changing tack as he visited Cecil Sharp House in Gloucester Avenue last Thursday (April 26).

The Liberal Democrat MP said: “I don’t buy that we need to embark on deeper spending cuts. We have proposed a programme of deficit reduction and we are going to stick to that, but it doesn’t make any economic sense to increase the cuts.

“There are certainly no arguments for intensifying the cuts, but we have to be disciplined and see through the commitments we have made.”

The economy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the first three months of this year, after a slump of 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of last year, throwing the UK’s economy into a double dip recession for the first time since 1975.

The minister has also faced down opposition calls from Labour to ease the pace of public spending cuts.

He said: “The recession figures were not good and there is no trying to explain that away.

“There is no question of the government abandoning the need to get the public finances under control.

“We inherited a massive deficit in the budget that has got to be dealt with. Everybody agrees with this.”

Mr Cable was in Primrose Hill on the election trail to support Liberal Democrat by-election candidate Chris Richards, who is hoping to be elected as a councillor at the Primrose Hill and Camden Town by-election today (Thursday, May 3).

The MP described himself as a “kind of mentor” to the would-be councillor, who is also standing for the Camden and Barnet seat on the Greater London Authority.

The business secretary also offered some encouraging words to residents campaigning against the High Speed 2 rail link, which under current plans would run underneath Gloucester Avenue.

While he insisted the government is committed to the principle of high speed rail, he said the details of the precise alignment of the track were yet to be decided.

He said: “It is absolutely fundamental that we have it to broaden the spread of development in the UK, which is far too centred on London. But that is a separate issue from the detail of alignment which has got to be sensitive, and take into account local concerns.

“The alignments have to be thought through, and the sense I get from the local community is that this hasn’t happened.”

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