S GUEST (HAS, Nov 28) correctly points out that the national debt rose slightly after Labour came to power in 1945. This is hardly surprising, as the government borrowed to fund slum clearance, council house building, an improved state education system, nationalisation of key industries, and the establishment of the welfare state and the NHS.

However, by 1948 the debt had begun a steep decline which continued until the 1970s.

Bizarrely, John Young (HAS, Nov 28) claims that "the poor and less well off workers" had to "clean up the mess" from Labour's radical and transformative policies. Obviously, it was the poorest in society who benefited most from free healthcare, decent housing, state education, unemployment and sickness benefits, and pensions.

Mr Young also says, "if you borrow money, you have to pay it back." In the case of the National Debt, this is not true. Britain has never fully "paid back" its National Debt since borrowing began in 1692.

The debt has gone through the roof in times of war – notably during the Napoleonic wars and the first and second world wars.

Right now, long-term borrowing costs are so low that central banks are crying out for governments to start borrowing and spending to boost economic growth.

If we can increase borrowing to fund wars, or to bail out the financiers responsible for the global crash of 2008, surely we can borrow to build council houses (again), finance new green industries and improve the lives of ordinary working people?

Pete Winstanley, Durham.