HC Deb 30 January 2003 vol 398 cc991-2W
Mr. Prisk

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will list the Government's contingent liabilities; [94342]

(2) if he intends to list the Government's contingent liabilities in his forthcoming Budget statement; [94343]

(3) if he will list the criteria which Government liabilities must meet if they are not to be included in estimates of public borrowing. [94341]

Mr. Boateng

Under UK accounting standards, a liability is treated as contingent if it is dependent on uncertain future events, cannot be estimated with sufficient reliability, or is not likely to be called. By definition, contingent liabilities may never result in actual expenditure. Therefore they are not included in estimates of public expenditure or borrowing unless or until there is a reasonable expectation that expenditure will be incurred.

The Government does not need to publish separate details of contingent liabilities in the forthcoming Budget statement because these are published in the Supplementary Statement to the Consolidated Fund and National Loans Fund Accounts. This lists all outstanding contingent liabilities during the financial year where they are reportable to Parliament using the criteria set out in Government Accounting. The Supplementary Statement for 2001–02 was published on 19 December 2002 (HC 381). In addition, departments must follow accounting standards when disclosing contingent liabilities by way of notes to their accounts.