HC Deb 22 December 1983 vol 51 c551
6. Mr. Eggar

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to publish the discussion document on long-term public expenditure options.

Mr. Peter Rees

The Government welcome the current public debate on the prospects for public expenditure and are considering the precise form and timing of their further contribution to that debate.

Mr. Eggar

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is essential that the public debate occurs on a Treasury document which sets out realistically the options open to the Government? That is essential, not only so that the level of public participation is increased, but so that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) realises what the reality is. It is obvious, after listening to his radio interview today, that he has no idea of the reality.

Mr. Rees

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. If there is to be a meaningful debate on the subject it should be on a proper factual basis rather than on the hysterical misinformation which the right hon. Gentleman demonstrated this morning.

Mr. David Atkinson

Will my right hon. and learned Friend assure the House that the options to be considered by him include the original Beveridge concept of the welfare state, which still exists today, but is based on conditions in the 1930s and may not match the needs of society half a century later?

Mr. Rees

Many assumptions made immediately after the war may have to be revised, but I should not like to forecast the precise course of the debate.