Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 18:06 UK

Give detail on cuts, say Lib Dems

Vince Cable on identifying spending cuts: "We have to look across the board"

Politicians must stop arguing about "generalities" on spending cuts and set out their proposals, Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable has said.

He added that it was time to debate "when, how and where" the government's budget deficit would be cut.

Among his suggestions are freezing civil service pay, scrapping ID cards and the Trident nuclear programme.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted for the first time on Tuesday that "cuts" are needed in the public sector.

The Conservatives had accused Mr Brown of being evasive on the issue, while Labour says the Tories are planning a "ruthless" cull of frontline services.

The spending deficit is expected to reach £175bn this year.

'Restore credibility'

In a pamphlet for the think-tank Reform, Mr Cable said: "The time for generalities is over. Instead, we need serious proposals for cutting public spending and tackling the UK's budget deficit.

"The priority is to move the economy out of recession, but there is also a need to restore fiscal credibility and to allow government to focus its resources where are they are most needed.

Politicians must not shy away from explaining in detail how they will tackle the problem of deficits and debt
Vince Cable, Lib Dem Treasury spokesman

"We need to debate when, how and where the cuts will come. Undoubtedly more are required to meet the exacting fiscal disciplines, but asking the British public for their vote at the next election means being upfront from the outset about what government should and should not be spending its money on."

Mr Cable said cuts would be needed in many areas of public spending, with no budgets "ring-fenced".

He added: "Existing spending has to be justified, not simply assumed to be necessary and trimmed at the edges."

Pensions review

The pamphlet identifies nine areas of potential savings although the party says they are just ideas, not policy.

They include scrapping the renewal of the Trident nuclear missile system - which the party says could save £70bn over 25 years and other defence procurement programmes like tranche three of the Eurofighter aircraft.

Others include zero overall growth for public sector pay, worth £2.4bn a year, and a 25% cut in the total pay bill of staff earning more than £100,000 a year.

Higher employee contributions and later retirement ages would form part of a "radical review" of public sector pensions, while £200m would be saved by ending civil service bonuses and freezing salaries, Mr Cable argues.

He also proposes scrapping several major IT projects including the ID card scheme and NHS computer, and identifies £600m of annual savings through curbing centralisation in education and abolishing quangos. Public sector asset sales are also being considered.

Mr Cable said: "Politicians must not shy away from explaining in detail how they will tackle the problem of deficits and debt."

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