HC Deb 04 November 1993 vol 231 cc508-9
8. Mr. Riddick

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to cut public spending.

Mr. Portillo

The Cabinet agreed in June to stick within existing ceilings for the new control total for the next two years, and to allow a maximum growth of 1 per cent. in 1996–97. Our spending plans will be set out in the Budget on 30 November.

Mr. Riddick

Does my right hon. Friend agree that every function of Government should be examined for possible savings? Is he aware that millions of pounds could be saved by reducing the size of the civil service bureaucracy, that £5 million could be saved by abolishing the unnecessary Equal Opportunities Commission and that further savings could be made by putting a stop to the absurd inquiry by British policemen into alleged war crimes in the Falklands? Many people are outraged by that inquiry, and feel that it should be ceased forthwith.

Mr. Portillo

As is his wont, my hon. Friend chooses some controversial topics to raise and, as one who likes to avoid controversy as much as possible, I shall not follow him down those lines of inquiry. However, I entirely agree with my hon. Friend's basic point, which is that we need carefully to scrutinise what Government do to ensure that the Government do only what is necessary and that they pass to the private sector that which they do not need to do. That is the basis of the fundamental reviews being conducted into a number of Departments at the moment, which will be extended to other Departments in the new year.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that if we are to rid ourselves of the scourge of mass unemployment, rather than reducing public expenditure, the Government should be increasing it and introducing exchange and import controls to stop 20 million tonnes of coal coming into Britain? We should be exporting coal. In case the Minister is going to ask me how we bridge the gap on the public sector borrowing requirement, I shall tell him now. We should be taxing the rich, the richest 5 per cent. of whom have had more than £50 billion in the past 14 Tory Government years. That is the way to resolve the problem, not by imposing VAT on fuel and light for the elderly and others in Britain.

Mr. Portillo

I am extremely grateful to the hon. Member. His is the authentic voice of the Labour party and I am pleased that, at this Question Time, he has reaffirmed that the policy of the Labour party is to raise taxes and increase public spending and controls. I am sure that he will join me in the pleasure that I feel that the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman) has retained her place in the shadow Cabinet because I believe that she, too, is sympathetic to all those policies.

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