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GORDON BROWN TO FOLLOW TORIES IN TWO YEAR BUDGET STANCE

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Shadow chancellor Gordon Brown will announce today that a Labour government would follow the Tories' public spendin...
Shadow chancellor Gordon Brown will announce today that a Labour government would follow the Tories' public spending plans for the first two years, BBC Radio Four's Today programme reported this morning.

This will mean continued restrictions on public sector pay, Today reported.

'I cannot allow public spending to get out of control and I will not do so', Mr Brown told the programme.

Mr Brown denied he was accepting the Conservative's policy for the economy. His approach was necessary because of the present government's mismanagement of the economy, he said.

He said when in office he would have a 'fundamental review of the uses of public spending'.

The Independent today publishes (p1) sections of Mr Brown's speech.

He says: 'The first question for a Labour government will not be whether to spend an extra billion here or there, but whether we are using the existing£300bn in total public spending efficiently and in a way which meets Labour priorities.'

The paper reports that the total public spending in 1997-98 would be£226.5bn under Labour, rising to£273.7bn in 1998-99 as detailed in the present chancellor's plans.

In the first year of a Labour government, each minister would be expected to review spending priorities in his or her department, Mr Brown will announce. A cabinet sub-committee would examine the results of this process (in an exercise which would replace the normal public-spending round.)

Mr Brown says: 'The remit of this comprehensive spending review will be to put our public spending principles into practice. At the centre of each is our commitment shift resources from welfare to education.'

Mr Brown will tell his audience today that his plans for public sector pay rises will be 'firm but fair'.

The Independent reports that if Labour comes to power, Mr Brown will announce a budget within six to eight weeks, which will impose a windfall tax on the former public utilities along with any other tax changes announced before the election.

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