Letter: Treasury needs a fresh role

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Sir: You correctly reported ('CBI chief calls for split in Treasury', 9 December) that I had warned of the danger that the 'negative culture' of public expenditure control influenced other parts of the Treasury where it was less appropriate. You characterised this as an 'attack' on the Treasury.

I prefaced my remarks by arguing that attacking the Treasury, as many other speakers at your convention had done, was likely to be counterproductive. What was needed instead was constructive analysis of the structural problems at the heart of economic policy- making and how to resolve them.

I went on to say that the changes the Chancellor announced recently in forecasting arrangements and in the publication of economic analysis were, I believed, genuine attempts to open up the Treasury to external influences and that we should seek now to build on them. That was not reported. I also offered a personal view that the various tasks the Treasury seeks to perform would be better accomplished by two separate ministries, working alongside a more independent Bank of England.

Treasury-bashing is fun. Many people have been engaged in it, quite fruitlessly, for years. I was trying a different approach, which might possibly generate a useful outcome, as long as the message is not misrepresented.

Yours faithfully,

HOWARD DAVIES

Director-General

Confederation of

British Industry

London, WC1

10 December

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