Brown pledges to force banks to lend again as parties do battle over downturn

Gordon Brown promised to force banks to lend to small businesses, as the he attacked Conservative MPs during bad-tempered clashes over the economy in the House of Commons.

The truce between the parties, announced by David Cameron at the Tory conference in Birmingham last month, was well and truly over as the parties disagreed over the best way to deal with the recession.

The Prime Minister pledged the Government would take “all measures necessary” to get the banks lending again to small businesses.

Ministers were ready to bring forward proposals “very, very soon indeed” to get the banks to “accept their responsibilities”, Mr Brown said.

He also attacked Warwickshire MP John Maples (Con Stratford-upon-Avon), the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, who claimed earlier this week the Government’s efforts to rescue the economy could actually delay a recovery.

Speaking in the Commons earlier this week, Mr Maples said: “The recession has to take its course... bad debts have to be written off, bad investments have to be written off and people and businesses need to repair their balance sheets.

“The Prime Minister knows that, even if some of his Back Benchers do not. If that does not happen, there will not be a solid base for recovery.”

His comments have been seized upon by Labour MPs, who have tried to compare him to Norman Lamont, the former Tory Chancellor in the 1990s, who once said unemployment was a price “well worth paying” to get inflation down.

Mr Brown claimed the Conservative policy was to “do nothing” to help people.

“As the deputy chair of the Conservative Party said only two days ago, he said the recession must take its course, we will act, they would refuse to act.

Mr Brown also clashed with Shropshire MP Philip Dunne (Con Ludlow), who asked him to explain why Sterling was losing value against the dollar.

The Prime Minister replied: “I would advise Conservative Members not to talk down the pound.

“I would advise Conservative members to take the advice of Lady Thatcher who said that trying to help the speculators and talk sterling down is the most un-British way.”