Osborne insists economy is priority

10:25am Sunday 6th May 2012

© Press Association 2014

George Osborne has insisted the Government is "straining every effort" to tackling the economy as he indicated controversial reforms of the House of Lords and plans for gay marriage were being kicked into the long grass.

The Chancellor said he had taken the message from voters that ministers should be focusing "on the things that really matter" rather than getting "distracted" by too many other issues.

Mr Osborne said that while he was personally in favour of gay marriage, there had never been plans to bring forward a Bill in next week's Queen's speech.

He said the party was committed in its manifesto to "looking" at Lords reform but it was "not the priority of the Government".

Mr Osborne told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show: "I think what people are saying is focus on the things that really matter, focus on the economy and on education and welfare. Focus on those things, don't get distracted by too many other issues."

Mr Osborne dismissed suggestions that voters had deserted the Conservatives in the elections as a result of gay marriage proposals or Lords reform as "clearly not the case".

But he said that while Parliament would debate the planned shake-up of the upper chamber, it was not a "priority".

He added: "We are focused on the really important issues that matter to people. Parliament can discuss these issues, Parliament is very good at discussing these issues, but it is certainly not my priority, the priority of the Government. It is not where the efforts of the Government and the executive are going to be directed."

Mr Osborne insisted the UK was not in the "same kind of financial crisis" faced by other European nations, but he admitted "things have not turned out" as the Government had hoped two years ago. The Chancellor insisted, howeve,r the Coalition would not change course, despite Britain being plunged back into recession. "I think we have got the judgment right. I think we have got the right path for reducing the structural deficit."

Mr Osborne's appearance marks the start of the Coalition's fightback following dismal performances by both parties at the polls. The Queen's speech on Wednesday will set out the coalition's agenda for the coming year, which ministers hope will revive and re-energise the ailing Government.

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