UK's Osborne sets new remit for Bank of England to help growth
* Government halves this year's growth forecast
* Tax cuts and measures to spur home-building
By William Schomberg and David Milliken
LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - British finance minister George Osborne turned to the Bank of England on Wednesday to help galvanise a stagnant economy which he said would grow this year at just half the rate previously expected.
In his annual budget speech to parliament, Osborne stuck to his austerity drive in the face of intense calls for a change of course, but said monetary policy could do more to help Britain get out of its rut of near-zero economic growth. The central bank's inflation target would remain at 2 percent a year, but that was not enough on its own, he said.
"As we've seen over the last five years, low and stable inflation is a necessary but not sufficient condition for prosperity," Osborne said to jeers from the Labour opposition, which wants more spending to help growth.
Osborne said UK economy was now expected to grow 0.6 percent this year, half the rate predicted just three months ago."
Sure we don't often think of England as an island, but ... When compared to everyone else, including Japan (another #&%@ island) the U.S. doesn't look so bad. But that could change too. Moral of the story: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, and islands too.