Alistair Darling yesterday stood by his economic forecasts amid a blizzard of criticism, saying he remained convinced 'that growth will return towards the end of this year'.

Answering Treasury questions in parliament, the chancellor reiterated his view that falling inflation, very low interest rates and fiscal stimulus in countries around the world will lead to a recovery before the year is out.

Severe doubt has been cast on the Treasury’s forecast of a contraction of 3.5% in 2009 after the Office for National Statistics released its preliminary estimate that gross domestic product shrank by 1.9% in the first quarter of the year.

Financial Times