The Chancellor certainly gave a stark warning when he stated that our health emergency has not yet ended but our economic emergency has only just begun. He did not duck the grim statistics from the Office for Budget Responsibility, indicating there would be no quick, V-shaped recovery and the economy would contract by more than 11 per cent this year. The biggest for over 300 years. As if that were not enough, national debt and annual borrowing are set to rise to levels not seen outside the two world wars. So, the Chancellor deserves credit for spelling out the cold reality of where we are economically. Unfortunately, there was a contradiction between this frank exposition and the rest of his speech. One sympathises with the Chancellor. When you have a national emergency like this, there will be large, unavoidable increases in spending, whether it be on boosting the health service or supporting industry through the furlough scheme. But these financial hits should be one-off and should not morph into general, permanent increases in spending. Many of the across-the-board increases announced on Wedensday, however, will be a permanent additional cost. The increase in departmental spending to £540 billion amounted this year and next to a rise of 3.8 per cent in real terms – the fastest in 15 years. Business will benefit from the huge increases in infrastructure spending. But infrastructure also adds to debt. It is correct that at a time of unprecedentedly low interest rates there is opportunity to invest in projects that could increase Britain’s competitiveness. But this depends, firstly, on interest rates remaining low, which they may not do indefinitely, and also that the projects deliver measurable benefits and are completed on time. That has not always been the case.