Challenges of the climate change issue

EAST Ham MP Stephen Timms, this week discusses huge challenges to be tackled. He writes: AT this week s Labour Party conference in Brighton we are discussing the huge challenges to be tackled over the next few years. After a tumultuous and uncertain ye

EAST Ham MP Stephen Timms, this week discusses huge challenges to be tackled.

He writes:

AT this week's Labour Party conference in Brighton we are discussing the huge challenges to be tackled over the next few years.

After a tumultuous and uncertain year - global credit crunch, banking crisis and unprecedented worldwide downturn - it is clear the General Election will provide the country with a very stark choice.


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The events of just over a year ago, with the collapse of America's Lehman Brothers bank, completely changed the global economic context in which countries were used to operating. Our response has involved providing real help now, for both businesses and families, and planning ahead for the future.

We implemented a "fiscal stimulus": practical measures to support the economy, like the Car Scrappage Scheme to boost car sales; the Enterprise Finance Guarantee to help businesses; and the VAT cut to reduce families' shopping bills and help maintain consumer demand. We backed the Bank of England's "quantitative easing" programme, to support banks' lending.

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One thing that the above measures all have in common, is that they have been opposed by the Conservative Party. At this month's G20 meeting, there was unanimous agreement that the global fiscal stimulus must continue.

Every major economic power - the USA, Germany, China - agreed. Among all the major political parties, only Britain's Conservatives have argued we should instead have let the recession "take its course".

I remember the damage in Newham in the 1980s when the then Conservative Government allowed that recession to take its course. I remember the despair when we were told that unemployment was "a price worth paying". And in Newham we certainly paid it. We would have been through it all again if we had adopted Conservative policies.

Unemployment has now risen sharply - but we are absolutely committed to battling it with all the tools we can.

We estimate that steps we have taken - like the VAT cut - mean that half a million more people are in jobs today than if we had not acted.

For the future, we are introducing a job guarantee for young people out of work for more than ten months, and making sure an apprenticeship is available for every suitably qualified young person by 2013. We are determined we won't see another generation abandoned to unemployment.

In contrast, the Conservatives have prioritised tax cuts for millionaires. They seem thrilled at the prospect of slashing public spending. We will rein in public spending because we have to. The Tories will cut, because they want to. These are the big arguments at the party conference. Let me know what you think!

World leaders meet in Copenhagen in December for the most important summit on climate change since Kyoto. Oxfam is spearheading a campaign to make us all aware of actions we can take to combat climate change. Log on to www.oxfam.org.uk for Oxfam's action guide.

Oxfam has organised a Newham Climate Question Time on Tuesday October 6 at East Ham Town Hall, starting at 6.30pm. I shall be on the panel. Please do come along and take part.

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