HC Deb 23 April 1998 vol 310 cc965-6
14. Mr. David Ruffley (Bury St. Edmunds)

If he will list the number of corrections made to the most recent "Financial Statement and Budget Report" since 17 March. [38255]

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Alistair Darling)

A corrigendum was issued on Budget day and a further written answer was given in reply to a parliamentary question on 27 March making the necessary alterations.

Mr. Ruffley

Does the Chief Secretary accept that, while the revisions have the direct effect of artificially massaging down the national tax burden, the burden on ordinary families is increasing? Does he accept House of Commons Library figures that show that a family on average earnings is £1,000 a year worse off under this Government as a result of mortgage rate increases and tax increases—yes or no?

Mr. Darling

I think that the hon. Gentleman was a special adviser to the former Chancellor of the Exchequer. He might wish to bear in mind two things when considering whether people are worse off. Under the previous Government—despite their promises at the previous general election—people were substantially worse off because of the tax increases introduced by that Government.

The hon. Gentleman is quite right: we did issue a corrigendum, but at least we were not in the situation he was in when he advised the former Chancellor. The former Chancellor did not have just to correct the figures three years ago: he had to correct his whole Budget when he was defeated on value added tax on fuel.