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Government Running Costs

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 8:28 pm on 18th January 2000.

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Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Chair, Agriculture Committee 8:28 pm, 18th January 2000

My hon. Friend is right. That hardly encourages people to believe that, in the new, open, inclusive style of government of which the Government boast, their views are being taken seriously. I am grateful to him for making an important point.

With regard to the new deal, the Government are once again in danger of believing their own propaganda. They seem to think that their huge expenditure has created jobs. It has not. The jobs were being created by the private sector. Youth unemployment was collapsing under the previous Government because of the success of their economic policies.

The present Government have spent £20 million of our money—taxpayers' money—on promoting the wretched new deal. They are doing so for party political advantage. They are trying to be seen to do something about unemployment. That is a monstrous use of money. New jobs are being created not by the Government, their bureaucrats or the new deal, but by hard-working small business men and women, who were doing so anyway without the Government's meddling interference.

Others want to speak, so I shall be brief. The Minister's research was quite good. He suggested that I was a special adviser to Lord Walker of Worcester. I was not. I was a special adviser between 1987 and 1989 to Lord Young of Graffham at the Department of Trade and Industry.

I freely admit that special advisers have a useful role to play. That is why the previous Government had a number of them. They can bridge the gap between civil service and party, work alongside Parliamentary Private Secretaries on parliamentary liaison, and inject original thinking into policy making. They are an extra set of eyes and ears for the Minister.

All that is good, but their role is not, as the special advisers of this Government seem to think, to promote party at public expense, to undermine the Government information service or to brief against other Ministers. It is clear that that is happening in spades in the Government.

We must cap the numbers. What justification is there for increasing the number of special advisers at No. 10 from eight under the previous Government to 22 under the present Government?