HC Deb 24 February 1983 vol 37 cc1045-6
11. Mr. Alton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the general allowance for shortfall made in "The Government's Expenditure Plans" (Cmnd. 8789-I).

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Leon Brittan)

The figures in Cmnd. 8789 for estimated outturn in 1982–83 were based on estimates prepared by Departments at the end of 1982. These made provision for shortfall in expenditure on individual programmes where it could be identified at that time. The general allowance for shortfall of £950 million in 1982–83 was an estimate by the Treasury, at the time of preparation of the White Paper, of further shortfall from spending Departments' earlier estimates of outturn. For 1983–84 the figure of £1,200 million is an estimate of the overall net shortfall in expenditure which can be expected to arise in that year.

Mr. Alton

Why does the White Paper not specify individual areas where shortfall will occur, instead of giving a general global estimate? How does the right hon. and learned Gentleman presume that local authorities will fall short by specific amounts when he cannot have any idea whether they will underspend or overspend?

Mr. Brittan

It is not possible to be precise as to exactly which Departments will experience a shortfall of a particular amount.

Mr. Latham

With regard to shortfall, is the Treasury giving active support to the appeal by the Prime Minister and by the former Secretary of State for the Environment that local authorities and nationalised industries should spend up to their permitted targets on construction?

Mr. Brittan

The Treasury is involved with the advice being given to reduce the underspending and considerable progress is being shown in that direction.