Letwin criticises Chancellor's spending habits

07 December 2003
The Shadow Chancellor, Oliver Letwin, has criticised Gordon Brown's handling of the public purse.

Mr Letwin's comments come ahead of the Chancellor's pre-Budget speech next Wednesday to parliament.

In an interview on BBC One's 'Breakfast with Frost' programme, the Shadow Home Secretary outlined what he hopes to hear Gordon Brown say.

Mr Letwin said: 'We all need to hear how he is going to change direction because the problem he's got is that he's been spending an enormous amount of money and putting up tax.'

'The overall amount of tax that Gordon is now raising is equivalent to £16,500 per household, that might be justified if it was being used properly.'

Illustrating his point, Mr Letwin added: 'He's raised the amount of money being spent on the NHS by 37%, but there is only 5% more output so that is just hopelessly inefficient.'

'What's happened as a result of Gordon imposing 60 stealth taxes is business is being squeezed...we can't go on that way indefinitely', remarked Mr Letwin.

Continuing, the Shadow Chancellor underscored his party's intent to roughly match Labour's spending plans.

He said: 'We will set out well in advance of the next General Election exactly how we see the tax and spending equation.'

'Our aim is not to reduce the amount that's spent in the short term on health and education; rather it is to reform them, to turn them round so that they face the customer.'

Mr Letwin confirmed that the Tories will be following the policy outlined by Iain Duncan Smith to link pensions to earnings.

He said: 'The problem that Gordon has created is that he's had a huge expansion of means tested benefits for pensioners, many of the poorest don't take it up because its so complicated.'

'We can't let that go on, what we are saying by raising the pension in line with earnings we can float people off these means tested benefits.'

Mr Letwin also reiterated the Party's commitment to recruiting an extra 40,000 police man.

'We would meet this by reducing our asylum and immigrations system', remarked Mr Letwin.

Earlier this week, Mr Letwin quit his City job with NM Rothschild in order to concentrate on his new role as Shadow Home Secretary amid concerns over a possible conflict of interest.