asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in view of the statement by the Governor of the Bank of England that a marked cut in public expenditure was necessary to prevent another sterling crisis, and that civil estimates have risen from £4,304 million to £7,388 million in the last 10 years, if he will appoint an independent committee to investigate and recommend where cuts could be made; and if he will make a statement.
I do not think that an independent committee to investigate and recommend where cuts could be made is likely to help local authorities who are asking for more access to the Public Works Loan Board.
The hon. Gentleman does not seem to appreciate that what he is asking for is that local authorities should have more access to public funds, which the Exchequer would have to carry below the line, so that it would have to borrow more from the money market.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that that Answer will give very great satisfaction in view of the gross deception incorporated in the previous Government's White Paper? In reference to the figures in paragraph 12 of that White Paper, in which there are 14 items ranging from defence to administrative and other services, can my right hon. Friend give me one of those figures which is accurate?
I regret to say that I have not checked those figures. I have been so occupied trying to reduce public expenditure to some form of order out of the chaos in which we found it. What I can do is give my hon. Friend a guarantee that when we produce our figures later in the year, they will at least be realistic and related to what the economy can stand.