During yesterday’s questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer after the announcement of the Pre-Budget Report, John Redwood highlighted the staggering levels of debt we are now seeing in the economy, and pressed the Government to be more transparent about its borrowing. John was also very critical of the fact that there was no proper debate scheduled for after the Pre-Budget Report, given the dire state of the public finances.
The full text of John’s contribution, taken from Hansard, now follows:
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): In his speech, the Chancellor said that this year’s borrowing would be £78 billion, but the Budget book tells us that central Government need to borrow £153 billion this year—£93 billion more than at the Budget forecast. As he believes in transparency, why did he leave out so much of the borrowing?
Mr. Darling: I gave the House the borrowing figures, as the House would expect. I am also laying before the House the pre-Budget book. It is all there, and I am happy for hon. Members to look at it. Equally, I would be happy to listen to proposals from Conservative Members. The only proposal that I recall from the right hon. Gentleman recently related to the deregulation of the mortgage market, which I do not think would be a very good idea.
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): As we have just heard a pre-Budget report that turned out to be a Budget with an urgent and big tax change, will the Minister give us guidance from the Treasury Benches on how soon we will be able to debate and vote on the huge VAT change? It is very unusual to have a Budget, yet not be able to proceed to a Division on it.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. I do not see the relevance of that point to the motion before the House.
Mr. Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) none the less raises an important point on which I would like your guidance. We have effectively just had a massive Budget—bigger than many of the real Budgets through which I have sat over the past 25 years, all of which have been followed by five days’ debate. Have you received any indication, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that there is to be a change in House business to allow us to debate that Budget, or is democracy at an end in this place?