Campbell seek £15bn cuts in spending

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Indy Politics

The Liberal Democrats would cut public spending by £15bn to pay for their own policy plans, their leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, has said.

The exercise to find the cuts has already begun and he is "entirely open minded" about where the savings would come, he said. He has not ring-fenced any services from cuts, including the NHS. "If we can't achieve the savings we will not be able to fund the alternatives. This is an open-minded exercise."

The admission is likely to anger many of his MPs and will be seized on by Labour, who are likely to say the Lib Dems are planning dramatic reductions in public services. The review is being led by the party's Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable.

At the last election, the party faced an outcry over £5bn in cuts proposed to balance their tax-and-spend proposals, including axing the Department of Trade and Industry.

Sir Menzies, at the start of his party's annual conference, in Brighton, said health, education and welfare spending would not be affected. "The last thing we will be doing is indulging in cuts that affect the quality of public services."

The leader has called on his party to be more "disciplined" and not to "flip about opportunistically" for votes.