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Government Capital Expenditure

Part of Opposition Day — [3rd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 2nd February 2009.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Treasury) 4:20 pm, 2nd February 2009

If the hon. Gentleman reads my article tomorrow morning in his favourite newspaper, he will discover that we deal with tax havens —[Interruption.] Not the Morning Star.

To round off my comments, I acknowledge, as has been pointed out clearly in interventions, that we operate in an environment in which, although the British public finances are not in quite the desperate state that they are sometimes portrayed to be, there is a legitimate source of anxiety. Therefore, any public investment cannot be undertaken indiscriminately; it must be very carefully vetted. At the moment, we have no mechanism for doing that, because public investment has largely been undertaken through private finance initiative projects, which are subject to commercial confidentiality. Through the Public Accounts Committee we know very approximately and many years later whether such projects were good or bad ones, but there is no system for assessing in advance, publicly and openly, what are good projects and what are bad projects. We have to set such a system in train.

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