Comprehensive Spending Review

Oral Answers to Questions — Deputy Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 1st November 2006.

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Photo of Douglas Carswell Douglas Carswell Conservative, Harwich 11:30 am, 1st November 2006

What work he has undertaken on Government policy with regard to the 2007 comprehensive spending review.

Photo of John Prescott John Prescott Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

This is the fifth spending review undertaken by the Government and the second comprehensive one. Since 1997, 2.4 million jobs have been created and the UK economy is enjoying the longest period of sustained economic growth for 200 years, which the International Monetary Fund says is a remarkable and enviable record. The present comprehensive spending review is based on an assessment of the long-term challenges facing the UK in the decade from 2007. It will enable us to sustain the momentum of improvements in public services and release the resources needed to meet the challenges of the decade ahead. I have regular discussions with my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, Cabinet colleagues and others about how to meet the changes.

Photo of Douglas Carswell Douglas Carswell Conservative, Harwich

How does the Deputy Prime Minister think that the next comprehensive spending review can avoid a repeat of the prison places crisis and the tax credit fiasco?

Photo of John Prescott John Prescott Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The spending reviews of the past 10 years show the most enviable economic record, as I have just said, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it is our intention to maintain that. The IMF has endorsed that policy, which has not always been the case with Labour Governments or even Tory Administrations. To that extent, it is a bit much for the hon. Gentleman to talk about what he might do about public expenditure—[ Interruption.] The implication is clear—what they would do rather than how we deal with public expenditure. Ours is a successful record, which we will continue.

J

This response is typical of Government ministers; they studiously avoid answering the question just to blow their own trumpets. Such behaviour brings politicans into disrepute. If they are interested only in making debating points, let them quit politics and join their local debating society leaving the House of Commons to those who wish to improve the country.

Submitted by J H Hall Read 1 more annotation

Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

The interim report of the comprehensive spending review in July stated that pay settlements across the public sector should be based on the Government's inflation target of 2 per cent. Does that target apply to public quangos and, if so, will the Deputy Prime Minister explain how, in Northern Ireland, the Police Ombudsman and the chief executive of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment and many other public bodies could receive pay increases of nearly 10 times that target?

Photo of John Prescott John Prescott Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The comprehensive spending review applies to all public sector payments. I am not up to speed on what exactly has happened in Northern Ireland, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the review will apply to all.

Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames Conservative, Mid Sussex

Given the demanding level of future housing that the Deputy Prime Minister has willed on the south-east of England, in the course of his discussions on the comprehensive spending review, what representations has he made to the Chancellor to increase the woefully lacking infrastructure in the south-east?

Photo of John Prescott John Prescott Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

When the Chancellor makes his statement, he will make clear how much of the resources will be available for infrastructure expenditure. But let me be absolutely clear: houses are needed in the south-east, as people in the region make clear, and we shall provide the necessary infrastructure.

Photo of William Hague William Hague Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs)

Will the Deputy Prime Minister tell us how much money will be set aside in the comprehensive spending review to fund his own new Department? Does he think it right that while 20,000 jobs are being lost from the NHS the Government are having to spend millions setting up a new office for a Minister who has been stripped of all his departmental responsibilities?

Photo of John Prescott John Prescott Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

As usual, the right hon. Gentleman is not up to speed with the facts. His hon. Friend Mr. Lansley said that 20,000 jobs had been lost in the NHS, but it was made clear by the Secretary of State for Health and, indeed, the Prime Minister not just that the figure is only 900 but that it should be seen against the increase of more than 100,000 jobs in the health service, so the figure was just untrue and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take this opportunity to withdraw that obvious untruth.