It was Treasury questions yesterday.
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne poured scorn on the Budget growth forecasts:
"As the Chancellor knows, the growth forecasts that he gave us in the Budget last week, which predicted a return to boom levels of growth in just two years, and that the economy would stay at those boom levels, were greeted with near-universal derision, yet they were the fiction on which he constructed every other Budget forecast. When he gave those forecasts, did he know that the IMF was planning to contradict them flatly just an hour later?
Mr. Darling: Yes, of course I knew the IMF forecasts. The IMF takes a more pessimistic view, not just of our economy but of every economy across the world. However, we ensure that our forecasts are based on the information that we have. If hon. Members look at the IMF and its forecasting over the past three months, they will see that it has downrated its forecasting three times since last October, which demonstrates the uncertainty in the system. However, I believe that because of the action that we are taking, because of the fact that we have low interest rates, because inflation will be coming down this year, and because of the action that most other countries are taking to look after and support their economies, that will have an effect, which is why I remain confident that we will see growth return towards the end of this year.
Mr. Osborne: Frankly, I do not think the Chancellor is in any position to lecture anyone else about downgrading their forecasts after last week. Is not the truth this—that the dishonest Budget has completely unravelled in the space of just a week? We have seen the IMF produce those growth forecasts, which were wholly different from the ones given an hour earlier to the House of Commons. We have the CBI saying that there is no credible or rigorous plan to deal with the deficit. We have the Institute for Fiscal Studies pointing to the black hole, and yesterday a former member of the Cabinet, beside whom the Chancellor sat at the Cabinet table, said that his tax plans were a breach of a manifesto promise that is damaging not just to the Labour party, but to the economy. Today we had the Prime Minister getting a lecture in prudence while he was in Warsaw. We are used to Polish builders telling us to fix the roof when the sun is shining, but not the Polish Prime Minister as well.
Does not the collapse of the Budget in the past week and the damage to the Chancellor’s credibility make an almost unanswerable case for an independent office for Budget responsibility, so that we get independent forecasts on Budget day and the assumptions of the Budget are believed by the public?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009 in Brooks Newmark MP, Daniel Kawczynski MP, David Gauke MP, George Osborne MP, Henry Bellingham MP, John Baron MP, John Redwood MP, Mark Field MP, Mark Hoban MP, Mark Pritchard MP, Philip Hammond MP, Philip Hollobone MP, Richard Ottaway MP, Richard Spring MP, Sir Patrick Cormack, Sir Peter Tapsell MP, Sir Peter Viggers, Treasury | Permalink | Comments (1)
Francis Maude, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, has had a noteworthy written answer:
"To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission with reference to the answer of 4 March 2008, Official Report, column 2242W, on Liberal Democrats: finance, what the (a) status and (b) timetable is of the Electoral Commission's investigation into the permissibility of the donations by Mr. Michael Brown to the Liberal Democrat Party. 
Sir Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that following the recent conclusion of criminal proceedings against Mr. Michael Brown, it has now resumed its investigation into the permissibility of donations made to the Liberal Democrat Party by Mr. Brown in 2005.
This is an episode that the Liberal Democrats would doubtless rather forget. Mr Brown, who donated £2.4 million to the Liberal Democrats, was recently found guilty of fraud on massive scale - stealing £36 million from clients, one of whom was the former Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards. Brown is currently a fugitive, and was tried in his absence.
On a more prosaic matter, geeks should note that Sir Peter Viggers is a rare thing - a Conservative MP responsible for answering written parliamentary questions.
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