Spending Review

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:04 pm on 15th July 2002.

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Photo of Lord Boardman Lord Boardman Conservative 5:04 pm, 15th July 2002

My Lords, does the Minister recall that the Chancellor in his speech claimed credit for his prudence and good management in reducing the public debt to a level below that achieved by many governments in the past? What he failed to do was to explain on any of these occasions how he managed to do it. Of course the reduction in public debt was largely due to the,

"unanticipated Spectrum receipts", to which he did not refer, which as one can glean from the Red Book with care, amounted to a reduction of £22 billion—£22,000 million. The Government achieved that windfall by the sale of licences for the use of telephones. The Chancellor has never given any credit to that sum in his financial statements, which he frequently makes about the reduction of government debt.

Does the Minister feel that if the Chancellor were more frank about that windfall profit—and came clean instead of claiming prudence and good management—there would be more belief and more trust in the figures that he has quoted today?