Letter: Essential role of the Treasury

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The Independent Online
Essential role of the Treasury

Sir: You are wrong to believe that the Treasury can supply "controlled, effective public expenditure" without being involved in the policies and operations of individual government departments ("A lost opportunity to rethink the Treasury", leading article 27 February).

The Treasury needs to "have a finger in every aspect of a reforming Labour administration" if this administration is to introduce effective policies, and keep its expenditure under control.

Effective new policies do not spring fully fledged from the minds of ministers: they have to evolve through informed debate, outside and inside the government machine. The wider and better informed this debate, the more effective are the policies likely to prove.

The Treasury, as the controller of public expenditure, needs to participate in this debate; it is the only department that can compare the virtues of policies and expenditure across the government machine. Indeed, the Treasury's involvement in policy-making can improve the effectiveness of government policies, by providing an outside, informed and critical view. The poll tax shows what can happen if new policies do not get this examination.

A new government, with new policies, will increase the demands on the Treasury. A handover of government would represent the worst of times to reduce the administration's ability to test new policies and control public expenditure.

DAVID SAWERS

Angmering-on-Sea, West Sussex

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