HC Deb 13 February 1986 vol 91 c1091
17. Mr. Yeo

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate for the public sector borrowing requirement for 1985–86.

Mr. Lawson

I shall be giving my latest estimate in my Budget statement.

Mr. Yeo

Bearing in mind that the PSBR may act as a constraint on the amount of any tax reliefs which my right hon. Friend is able to grant this year, will he assure the House that, if there are any reliefs, they will be concentrated in the form of higher tax thresholds and lower employee national insurance contributions, as these are by far the most effective way of stimulating employment?

Mr. Lawson

Cases can be made for many things. My hon. Friend will recall that in my Budget last year I did both of the things to which he referred—I increased tax thresholds and lowered employees' and employers' national insurance contributions for the low-paid. Looking forward to this year's Budget, it is quite clear that scope for manoeuvre has been affected by the sharp fall in our North sea oil revenue.

Mr. Pike

Bearing in mind what the Chancellor expects the public sector borrowing requirement to be, will the right hon. Gentleman allow councils to spend more of their receipts from the sale of assets to meet the problems that they face and to get people back to work?

Mr. Lawson

One thing is essential, and is clearly understood and agreed by all of the major industrial nations. There is a need to keep firm control of public expenditure. Within that control, we allow local authorities to spend their housing receipts, but over a period of time. Of course, if there were a Labour Government there would be no housing receipts because no council houses would ever be sold.