Blair attacks Chancellor over pounds 14bn `black hole'

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The Independent Online
Tony Blair yesterday called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kenneth Clarke, to clarify whether or not there was a "black hole" in the Government's finances.

The Labour leader was referring to a report in yesterday's Independent that the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has calculated there will need to be tax increases or public spending cuts of up to pounds 14bn. "What this indicates yet again is a great big black hole in the public finances," Mr Blair said.

Speaking at a news conference on Labour's plans for small businesses, he added: "What I would like to know is what the Chancellor of the Exchequer says to this. Is this true or not? Does this deficit exist or not?"

The study by the National Institute, headed by Treasury adviser, Martin Weale, is due to be published next month.