I asked the Leader of the House today the simple question:
When will the government seek Parliamentary approval for the ??25 billion they have spent so far on Northern Rock, and the ??25 billion they have guaranteed and where did the Treasury and the Bank find the ??25 billion?
This should not be a difficult questions to answer. The Leader of the House is meant to know Parliamentary procedure. Every item opf public spending has to be approved by the House under a vote for an estimate. There was no estimate for Northern Rock when Parliament approved this year’s budget. Clearly the government is either going to have to put through a supplementary estimate for the money, or to seek to argue that it does not have to bother, on the spurious grounds that it hopes to get the spending back.
Clearly also, as the govrnment is already borrowing heavily this year, the money for Northern Rock was either borrowed or came from selling other Bank of England assets.I suspect it was mixture of the two. I suspect there is also a Treasury guarantee to the Bank of England.
It is high time Ministers worked out how they are going to report and control this massive spending, to look as if they know what they are doing. Miss Harman told us that the ledning to Northern Rock was made available, amongst other reasons, to ensure shareholders did not lose money. Has she looked at the share price recently? Wouild she like to apologise for getting that wrong?