Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Tories oppose spending cuts

You may remember the outrage among opposition parties when it emerged that the Wales Office budget was to rise by 80 per cent one year.

There is now similar outrage about plans to cut the same budget by more than half next year.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan says: "At a time of austerity, all departments need to think about how they can save the taxpayer money, but Labour need to come clear about their plans and stop treating people like fools.

"Peter Hain promises that there will be real increases in government departments’ spending, when he must know his own department’s budget is being halved.”

Mrs Gillan also complains that the Wales Office will now bear the full cost of Mr Hain's salary - in his previous incarnation there the bill was picked up by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The amounts involved are relatively insignificant - something like £3.6m in a Welsh settlement of around £16bn (the figures refer to his office costs not the Hain salary!).

The Wales Office points out that it also paid Mr Hain's predecessor, Paul Murphy. A spokesman says: "This was a three-year settlement dating back to the Government's last Comprehensive Spending Review of 2007, which included a substantial increase in the Wales Office budget for the first two years.

"Planned efficiency savings over the first and current financial years were always anticipated to give us the resources necessary for spending needs in the final year, 2010/11. Nothing has changed."

The disputed figures cover the next financial year, by then the Conservatives hope to take power: no news yet on how much the budget would be under a Cameron government.

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