[Un-allotted Half Day] — Future Government Spending

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 4th March 2015.

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Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 3:31 pm, 4th March 2015

My hon. Friend makes a very important point, to which I will return in a moment.

Although we have made considerable progress, the reality is that we face further difficult decisions. On that basis, the House signed up to a charter for budget responsibility last month. It enshrines in law that the Government elected in May, whatever their colour, must have a plan to tackle the deficit and to bring our national debt under control. Pretty well all of us, with one or two exceptions, committed to achieving falling national debt as a share of GDP by 2016-17, and to balance the cyclically adjusted current budget by the end of the third year of the rolling forecast period, which is 2017-18.

On the latest forecasts, the charter requires about £30 billion of consolidation in the first two years of the next Parliament. Under the plans set out by the Chancellor, it will be achieved by bearing down on spending, the welfare budget, and tax avoidance and evasion. To break the figure down, that is at least £13 billion of savings from Departments’ spending, at least £12 billion from welfare and more than £5 billion from tax avoidance and evasion.

The Labour party agreed to the charter: the motion was passed by 515 votes to 18. Perhaps it believes that a fiscal consolidation of £30 billion is too much. After all, that is the position of the Greens and the nationalist parties, who have explicitly said that they would borrow more over the next three years. That position is irresponsible, but I accept that it is coherent with everything else that those parties are saying. Labour, however, has voted to accept that a fiscal consolidation of £30 billion is necessary, so where is it coming from?