Letter: Labour's benefit cut

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The Independent Online
Sir: The events of Wednesday evening in Parliament represent once again the imposition by the Treasury of dominance over Parliamentary government. From within Whitehall I watched this happen to the Wilson and Heath governments.

The philosophy of the British Treasury, founded on the accounting principles of a Victorian parish council, has remained unchanged for over a century. They seek to control all public finance and dominate the political agenda. They hate all public expenditure, but particularly transfer payments - persons, social security and welfare.

They persuade each succeeding government that sound public finance consists in restricting public expenditure. They insist on exerting control throughout Whitehall and local government. They will not permit any hypothecation, they hate giving up any tax. They insist on controlling all borrowing.

And the irony is that the Treasury has been consistently unsuccessful in its economic policy. We have prospered in spite of them. No other advanced country gives such powers to the national book-keepers.

I, like many, thought that this government would be strong enough to send the Treasury mandarins packing and create a sensible Ministry of Finance. The first signs were encouraging, with the Bank of England given responsibility for monetary policy. But could not last. Wednesday evening was their reply.

RICHARD GRAHAM

London SW6

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