20/09/2012 18:51 BST

David Cameron Adviser Lord Young 'Questions If We're In A Recession'

One of David Cameron's key advisers faced a backlash after reportedly questioning whether Britain is really in recession.

The comments were made by Lord Young, who quit as the Prime Minister's enterprise tsar two years ago after suggesting people had "never had it so good".

He was later reappointed by Mr Cameron.

lord young

Lord Young was forced to quit two years ago over controversial comments - now he's reportedly questioned if Britain is really in recession

During a panel discussion at the MADE Festival in Sheffield this morning, the peer was asked whether it was a good time to start a business.

According to website TheBusinessDesk.com, he said: "I have experienced every recession since 1955 and I have never known a recession where employment goes up and at a time when the population is growing.

"I am not sure the government can actually measure the economy any more...

"The internet has had such a tremendous effect on business the last few years.

"I'm not sure for example sales through google, eBay, ever get measured.

"One of the things I think we are doing if we are not careful is we are going to talk ourselves into a recession.

"From 2008 onwards, small firms have had a problem getting cash anywhere, large companies have £600m sitting in the bank waiting to be spent.

"All we need now is confidence and on the back of the best Olympics and Paralympics ever, I think this nation should have enough confidence, frankly, to get up and get on with it."

Lord Young - a trade and industry secretary under Margaret Thatcher - resigned his unpaid advisory role in November 2010 after suggesting that low interest rates meant most people had "never had it so good" since the "so-called recession" began.

In a newspaper interview, the 80-year-old also dismissed 100,000 job cuts in the public sector as "within the margin of error".

Downing Street played down the significance of the peer's latest remarks, insisting he was merely highlighting contradictions in recent economic data.

But shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie said: "Instead of questioning whether we're in the longest double-dip recession since the war, this complacent and out of touch Government should be doing everything it can to get us out of it.

"The reality is that families are facing a big squeeze on their incomes, our economy has shrunk in the two years since the spending review, long-term unemployment is at a 16 year high and that's why borrowing has now risen by a quarter so far this year.

"Rather than denying that their policies are failing, this Government should be changing course and kick-starting the economy with a real plan for jobs and growth."