Chancellor under attack over official accounts

Chancellor Gordon Brown is under attack for planning to withhold full
information about off-balance sheet liabilities from official accounts this

Tory Accountant MP David Heathcoat-Amory accused him of going back on pledges
to increase Treasury openness and transparency – particularly over the
increasing number of PFI arrangements.

His attack followed the disclosure that the information – previously
published in the government’s old-style Consolidated and Loan Fund Accounts –
will not be available following the switch to resource accounting until the
Treasury is in a position to publish Whole of Government Accounts, for which no
fixed date has been announced.

The information about contingent liabilities is being made available, but
only on individual departmental websites.

Heathcoat-Amory, a former Tory shadow chief secretary and now a shadow
pensions minister, said: ‘This increases my suspicion that the government is not
being completely open and honest about its total liabilities.

‘We know the government is increasing borrowing. It is alarming that it is
apparently not disclosing the full extent of liabilities.’

Heathcoat-Amory added: ‘If our worst fears are true, that there has been a
sharp rise in government borrowing, this could well lead to tax increases as we
predicted during the general election campaign.’

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