Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 20:03 UK

I'm honest about spending - Brown

Gordon Brown says he is telling the truth about pressures on spending

Gordon Brown has insisted he is being honest with people about his spending plans amid opposition claims he is hiding the truth about future cuts.

In a BBC interview, Mr Brown said he "always told the truth" and used the word "cuts" for the first time, saying some "programmes" may be affected.

But he insisted hospitals, schools and the police would be protected.

Tory leader David Cameron has said there is a "thread of dishonesty" running through Mr Brown's leadership.

At prime minister's questions, the recent row over public spending continued with Mr Cameron attacking Mr Brown for refusing to acknowledge the Treasury's own figures which he said forecast a fall in "total spending" after 2011.

Mr Brown was forced to correct himself when he mistakenly talked of a "0% rise" in spending in 2013/14 - latter stressing he meant to say there would be a 0.7% increase.

Mr Cameron says Mr Brown's refusal to admit to the possibility of future cuts and his apparent decision not to hold a spending review before the election means he is not being straight with the public about the tough decisions ahead.

But the prime minister told the BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson that he had a credible plan to reduce debt while also improving public services.


He said it was he who was being honest about the action needed now to boost the economy and measures which would rebalance the public finances in the long term.

Nick Robinson
Under pressure to admit that he's going to have to make cuts the prime minister does use the C word for the first time word
Nick Robinson
BBC political editor

"I have always told the truth," he said. "I have always told people as it is."

He added: "I have also explained we have a deficit reduction plan for the future. But you cannot do that without growth and employment in your economy.

"The honest thing to do is to say we have to get back to growth and jobs. The dishonest thing is to say this will happen without taking any action at all."

By making efficiency savings in government and selling state-owned assets, Mr Brown said he could meet debt-cutting targets and he said it would be "fine" if certain programmes - relating to what he described as back-office and administrative functions - were cut.

Nick Robinson said this was the first time the prime minister had personally used the word cuts while insisting the things people cared about, such as schools and hospitals, would be protected.

And Mr Brown stressed investment now was crucial to returning the economy to growth and to reducing unemployment, itself vital to paying down debt on schedule.

"We want to get resources to the front line, to the police, hospitals and schools," he said.

Mr Brown has accused the Tories of wanting to cut public spending in the middle of a recession and planning 10% cuts in many areas after 2011.

Gordon Brown's inadvertent spending slip in the Commons

The Lib Dems have accused the two main parties of staging a phoney debate about spending to prevent a proper discussion of the cuts that will inevitably be needed.

Its leader Nick Clegg accused Gordon Brown of "living in complete denial" about long-term savings which will be needed to balance the nation's books and claimed Mr Cameron wants to cut spending now which would be "economic madness".

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