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George Osborne demands truth from Darling over national debt and spending projections

George Osborne headshot Shadow Chancellor George Osborne is tonight challenging Alistair Darling to come clean over the full extent of the nation's debt. It comes after he appeared before the Treasury Select Committee and also refused to reveal official projections for total Departmental Expenditure Limits.

As the Daily Mail reports:

"Alistair Darling has been accused of covering up horrifying figures showing interest payments alone on Britain's vast national debt will soon be twice the defence budget. The Chancellor told MPs that the Treasury had made 'estimates' of increases to the debt interest bill - which experts predict will hit £70billion to £80billion a year within five years - but refused to release them to Parliament.

"The Institute for Fiscal Studies, Britain's most respected economic forecaster, has given projections to MPs suggesting the debt interest bill will hit £60billion by 2012/13, £66billion by 2013/14 and £71billion by 2014/15. Mr Darling also declined to reveal Treasury 'assumptions' showing deep cuts to public spending outside of Labour's protected areas of schools, hospitals and police numbers, despite demands to do so from the Treasury select committee."

Mr Osborne has tonight written the following letter to the Chancellor:

“Yesterday your officials gave a commitment to the Treasury Select Committee that they would publish the Treasury's projections for overall Departmental Expenditure Limits that lay behind your assertion that spending would be "broadly flat". I asked you three times in Treasury Questions to publish the same projections. Today, in front of the same committee, you acknowledged that the Treasury had made those projections but repeatedly refused to publish them.

“The only logical conclusion is that the projections contain information about Government forecasts for departmental spending that you do not wish to be made available to the public. After the Budget we published internal Treasury projections which revealed that departmental spending would be cut by 9.3% in real terms. Following the Pre-Budget Report, the Institute for Fiscal Studies have estimated that your announcements on NHS and schools spending imply average cuts in other departments of up to 19% over three years.

“You have said that you want to make public spending plans more transparent, and today you said that you were "reflecting" on what additional information could be published. The lack of detail that you provided in the PBR has resulted in an overwhelmingly negative reaction from international investors that puts Britain's economic stability at risk and threatens the recovery. So I am writing to ask you to publish immediately the projections for overall departmental spending that your officials agreed to provide to Parliament. What are you trying to hide?“

Jonathan Isaby


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