Letwin goes on offensive over 'fat government' waste and red tape

Oliver Letwin condemned Gordon Brown's spending review as "a manifesto for fat government and fake savings" and accused him of presiding over increases in waste and bureaucracy.

The shadow Chancellor told the Commons: "While ministers have been preaching about obesity, their departments have been getting fat on taxpayers' money"

He challenged Mr Brown: "When are you going to accept that what is needed if government is really going to cut out the flab is a complete change of lifestyle? The fact is that fat government is not fit enough to deliver."

To cheers from Conservative backbenchers, Mr Letwin lampooned Mr Brown as the "great wastefinder general" and accused the Chancellor of promising cuts while at the same time delivering large increases in spending.

In a combative performance, Mr Letwin criticised ministers for failing to reduce waste and promised to cut the Government "down to size".

He told MPs: "What we have just heard is a manifesto for fat government and fake savings. The last time the Chancellor told us he was going to make tens of thousands of cuts to the Civil Service was three months ago. Why has he been adding to the numbers of the Civil Service since them?

"What this review really means is more bureaucracy, more targets, more initiatives, more task forces, more centralisation, more regulation, more borrowing and more taxes.

"The Chancellor told us about waste, £21.5bn of waste, and yet this entire spending review is about spending more money. Why is the Chancellor the only person in Britain who thinks the way you waste less is to spend more? People up and down Britain are going to ask themselves the question: Who was it who wasted all this money?"

Mr Letwin said it was a "miracle" that of 88,000 extra jobs in education in the last recorded year only 14,000 were for teachers or teaching assistants.

He said Mr Brown had announced massive cuts in the number of staff at the Department for Work and Pensions two years ago. "Why since then has the number of DWP staff increased by 3,500?" he asked.

Mr Letwin said Mr Brown claimed procurement reforms would save £750m on defence spending. He said: "So why did the defence procurement budget overrun by £3bn last year? That's not just smart, that's definitely a miracle."

He listed a string of areas where he claimed the Government had failed to secure value for its spending. "Why after £305m a year of spending on the New Deal for young people are there still 1 million young people not in work, not in training, not in education?

"Why, after an increase of £30bn on the NHS, are there still a million people on NHS waiting lists? Why, after he has doubled spending on the Home Office, are there still a million violent crimes a year?"

Mr Letwin said Mr Brown was planning to spend £1m a minute and he added: "The only thing that the Chancellor's fat government has delivered is fat taxes."

He asked: "Why will the Chancellor not admit that he has been spending beyond his means and his policies mean third-term tax rises under Labour?"

Mr Letwin declared on behalf of the Conservatives: "We will cut bureaucracy, we will cut inefficiency, we will cut the quangos, we will cut the regulation, we will cut the armies of interferers who do nothing for the people of this country.

And he concluded: "We will cut borrowing, we will cut waiting lists, we will cut failing schools, we will cut crime. We will cut this big fat Labour government down to size."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Travel
Streets ahead: Venice
travelWhat's trending on your wishlist?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect