Mr Cameron rounded on Mr Brown at Commons question time, after he again
claimed the Tories were planning 10 per cent cuts.
In rowdy exchanges, Mr Brown said that under a Tory Government people could
look forward not just to 10 per cent cuts in public spending but also rising
Challenged by Mr Cameron to say if there would be a spending review before the
election, Mr Brown said it would be “completely wrong” to have one “in
the midst of a recession” when it was impossible to forecast
unemployment and growth.
Mr Cameron repeatedly insisted that under the Government’s plans total
spending would be cut after 2011.
Mr Brown sparked Tory jeers and laughter when he denied this, saying total
spending would continue to rise and it would be a “zero per cent rise
As the row over spending escalated, Mr Cameron mocked the Prime Minister’s
performance as “one of the most feeble” ever.
Rejecting Mr Brown’s charge that the Conservatives would let unemployment
rise, Mr Cameron retorted: “There’s only one person we want to put on
the unemployment register and that’s you!”
He said: “Last week I think it was demonstrated for everyone to see that
capital spending under Labour will be cut. Now I want to turn to total
spending. Will you accept that your own figures show that … total spending
will be cut after 2011.”
Mr Brown replied: “No. Total spending will continue to rise and it will
be a zero per cent rise in 2013-14. In 2011-12 and 2012-13 it will continue
Mr Brown said the debate was about how the country returned to growth and jobs
in the economy.
“The reason we have advanced spending to 2009-10 is so we can spend to
get out of recession.
“We put forward proposals for homes and jobs and more money in 2009-10.
The Opposition have rejected this expenditure.
“We put forward proposals for expenditure in 2010-11 and the Opposition
have rejected that.
“The capital spending we have advanced to 2009-10 and 2010-11 is not
available therefore after 2011.
“This is precisely the way a Government will act to take the country out
Shadow chancellor George Osborne should explain why he was “going into
television studios yesterday saying he was going to cut schools now, cut
Sure Start now, cut the September guarantee for school leavers now and do
nothing about unemployment.
“We cannot get out of recession unless we spend now on the services we
Mr Cameron said the Prime Minister was in “full retreat”.
He said: “In the first answer you said we are going to get a zero per
cent increase in public spending – that’s a new one. In the second answer
you finally admit you are going to cut deeply capital spending.”
The debate was about whether the Prime Minister could be “straight”
with the British public.
“When the Treasury themselves are saying, when it comes to total
spending, there is a reduction in the medium term …. will you give a
straight answer and say when you allow for inflation, total spending is
Mr Brown said current spending would rise and “continue to rise”.
Capital spending would rise until 2011 and then fall.
“I’ve already made clear that current spending for health, and for
education, and all these public services, will continue to rise.”
There was only one “serious party in the world” that was trying to
tell the Government that they should be cutting spending now and that was
Under Mr Cameron’s proposals “schools would be losing money now, teachers
would be being made unemployed, childcare services would be at risk, no
teenager would get a guarantee for jobs.
“That is the future if the Conservatives were ever to implement it.”
Mr Cameron dismissed this as “complete nonsense” and said not even
the Cabinet now backed the Prime Minister’s “ludicrous line” on
“You keep talking about this 10 per cent. I don’t know whether you
realise how much damage it is doing to you – it’s not doing any damage to
“Let’s just explain where this deceit about the 10 per cent comes from.
If you take the Government’s own spending plans, you take off debt interest,
you take off the increase for unemployment, you are left with a 7 per cent
cut in every department – the Government’s own figures.
“If you exempt the NHS you get a 10 per cent cut. If you take out health
and schools, you get a 13.5 per cent cut.
“That’s the Prime Minister. Mr 13.5 per cent – your own figures.”
He demanded: “Are you going to have a full departmental spending review
before the election – yes or no?”
Mr Brown sidestepped the question, saying it was “Conservative policy”
for unemployment to go up. “No wonder you want to cut public services.
You are basing your assumptions on unemployment continuing to rise because
you will do absolutely nothing about it.”
Mr Brown said Government action was helping to preserve 500,000 jobs in the
“We will not forecast our spending plans on unemployment being higher in 2014
and rising every year. But if that is what you want to do, then you cannot
afford public services and the truth is you will be cutting public services
by 10 per cent.”
Mr Cameron said: “This is one of the most feeble performances I’ve ever seen
“There is only one person we want to add to the unemployment register and
He asked again: “Peter Mandelson (the Business Secretary) has said there won’t
be a spending review before the election. Can you tell us, will there be one
Mr Brown replied: “It would be completely wrong to have a spending review now
at this stage because we are in the midst of a recession and it’s not
possible to say what unemployment and growth … are likely to be in 2014.
“The Conservatives are the party of unemployment. They are premising all their
spending plans on unemployment continuing to rise. You said yourself that
unemployment will keep on rising.
“If that’s the basis of your spending plans then people can look forward,
under a Conservative Government, not just to 10 per cent cuts but to rising
“They want these public spending cuts to pay for inheritance tax cuts for the
“They are the party of the few and we are the party of the many.”
Mr Cameron said: “I know the walls of the bunker are thick but you seem
completely unaware that unemployment is rising across the country because of
the Government’s policies.
“We’ve seen hundreds of people lose their jobs at Diageo, in Scotland, another
tragic case, and yet you seem blissfully unaware of what is going on in the
country you are meant to be governing.
“Everyone will conclude that you aren’t going to have a spending review
because you don’t want to own up to the cuts you are planning in department
“The truth is this Government is planning to cut capital spending – fact. They
are planning to cut total spending – fact. And the most important fact of
all is that they are incapable of being straight with the British people.”
Mr Brown said the Opposition would cut public spending this year and deprive
people of help with unemployment and housing.
“This Opposition party would cut public spending next year and cut it savagely
in schools, education and Sure Start.
“We now know the truth about the Conservative assumptions about the future.
They are assuming unemployment will continue to rise to 2014. That is not
the policy of this Government. We want to get people back into work.”
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