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Government Running Costs

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 9:32 pm on 18th January 2000.

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Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset 9:32 pm, 18th January 2000

I agree with my hon. Friend that the Government seek to use the taxpayer for their own party political ends. He is right to say that it is legitimate for a political party to seek to remain in power and that it is wrong for it to use taxpayers' funds—£1 billion more of them—to achieve that aim. Above all, it is wrong for a Government to use the civil service in that way. That undermines the civil service as the guardian of our constitution and undermines the ability of this place to hold the Government to account. In the end, that is what counts most.

If I had to trade that £1 billion—or several billion more—and the special advisers across Whitehall who do the Prime Minister's bidding for the sovereign integrity of the civil service as the guarantor of the veracity of Government information and the procedures that enable us to hold them to account, I would do the trade. The Government do not offer us that trade. They offer us expense, the addition of advisers everywhere, the campaign teams and finally the corruption of the politicisation of the civil service, which offers an end to our constitutional integrity. That is the charge, and I hope it sticks.