Orders of the Day — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:20 pm on 7th July 1997.

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Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Shadow Secretary of State for Education 5:20 pm, 7th July 1997

With great respect to the hon. Gentleman, the Government—not the Opposition—blew the reserve by making commitments on health and education, without working through the implications of those decisions for other spending programmes in the public spending total. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) was clear about the matter last week—I heard his speech. He said that, if he had been Chancellor, he would have sent the Chief Secretary round the Departments looking for savings in order to be able to live within the spending totals.

What happened under this Government was that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced all the easy bits—all the extra money for health and education. I do not know what the Chief Secretary is doing, but apparently there is not to be a public expenditure review this year, so the difficult questions are not being asked. We are being left in the dark about where the 1.5 per cent. spending cuts—which will be necessary to allow the Government to live within their spending totals—will be imposed.