26 March 2004
The Treasury is determined to monitor Whitehall departments to ensure that extra investment reaches the front line and is not held up in overrunning capital projects, Chancellor Gordon Brown warned this week.
He told a Commons' Treasury committee hearing on the Budget that, although additional resources had been delivered, some departments were acting faster than others.
Asked by Labour MP Nigel Beard whether more action was needed to ensure the flow of money into public capital projects, Brown said: 'We are monitoring the position. I share your desire to keep to programmes and timetables.'
The chancellor told the MPs that the government's move away from 'stop-go' public service investment should encourage the construction industry to invest in recruitment and training.
Brown also pointed to the government's success. Of the 120 new hospitals commissioned since 1997, 40 had already opened, while 20,000 schools had been modernised. He conceded that the cost of investment in the railways had been a 'real problem'. He said: 'It's been more expensive than we expected, but a continuous programme of investment is what we seek.'
Put under pressure by Conservative committee member Michael Fallon, the chancellor refused to rule out tax rises after the next general election, but added: 'Every commitment we made last week is affordable and fully financed.'