There has been argument over the Chief Secretary’s use of a £40 billion figure for the UK’s contribution to the IMF yesterday on TV. I have been back and checked the Hansard record of the Committee I attended to hear the government’s case for an increased subscription on July 5th 2011. The Minister said:
“The subscription is drawn in the IMF’s unit of account and currently stands at 10.74 billion SDRs which is approximately £10.7 bn at today’s exchange rate. The Order will raise the subscription to 20.16 bn SDRs, equivalent to £20.15 billion.” It appeared we were being asked to approve an extra £9.5 billion.
Apparently the figure including borrowing will be double the new total in this speech. Had I been told that at the time it would have made no difference to my action, as I voted against the increase anyway when it came up for vote in the Commons on 11 July. Others must say if it might have affected the way they voted, where they voted to approve the Order. I thought an extra £9.5 bn was too much given the UK’s current financial position, and the possible use of these funds for Euro area rescues that may not work as intended. Double that would in my view be worse.
PS The Prime Minister clarified the position this afternoon. Parliament did vote to approve a couple of Orders in 2009 and 2010 to increase the UK borrowing resouces for the IMF, so the government does have permission to make up to £40 bn available.