Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Monday, 15 March 2010

Conservatives 'to outline cuts after Budget'

David Cameron
Mr Cameron said parties had to be 'straight with people'

The Conservatives are preparing to outline spending cuts they would make in this financial year if they are elected, the BBC has been told.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson said the party was waiting for next week's Budget before unveiling more details.

Earlier shadow chancellor George Osborne called the PM "dishonest" over the need for urgent spending cuts.

But Labour's Liam Byrne said Mr Osborne needed to be "honest about the cuts he intends to make to frontline services".

Conservative leader David Cameron told the BBC on Monday: "We've got to be straight with people about what needs to be done... we have always said more than the government and we will go on saying more."

Cutting deficit

Nick Robinson said he understood that the party was waiting for the Budget on 24 March before unveiling more about what spending could be cut this financial year.

The Conservatives argue that starting to cut the deficit is necessary to restore confidence in the economy while Prime Minister Gordon Brown argues that cuts now would risk the recovery.

Earlier Mr Osborne said Chancellor Alistair Darling must decide whether to put "his country before his party" in the Budget.

The debt is holding back the British recovery
George Osborne
Shadow chancellor

On Sunday, Mr Darling said there would be no new spending cuts announced in the Budget, with the focus instead placed on measures to boost economic growth and job creation.

Mr Osborne said the choice facing the chancellor was one of "honesty versus dishonesty".

"Whoever forms the next government is going to have to take some difficult decisions about spending," he said, and Mr Darling should be "upfront about the nature of those decisions".

"At the moment, you still have the prime minister going around saying it's a choice between investment and cuts - that is just a dishonest approach to British politics.

"We have a chancellor of the exchequer - who probably is not going to be in post whoever wins the election - who has a very difficult judgement to make about whether he puts his country before his party, and we'll see whether he does that or not."

'Needs to be honest'

Mr Osborne added: "I think the central point we have to understand here is that the debt is holding back the British recovery, and unless we get confidence into the British recovery - and that comes from dealing with our debts - then we will not be creating the jobs that we all want to see."

But Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne said: "George Osborne needs to be honest about the cuts he intends to make to frontline services in just a few months time.

"He needs to be honest about whether and when he intends to cut National Insurance and the 50p [income tax] rate. He needs to be honest about how he'll pay for his marriage tax plans.

"Instead all we get is confusion and obfuscation. Every time George Osborne opens his mouth, he proves he's not fit to be chancellor."

Mr Darling warned last week that the Budget would not be a "giveaway" and would instead be "sensible" and "reflect the times in which we live".

He reaffirmed his commitment to halve the budget deficit over a four-year period, but said cutting any faster would put the fragile economic recovery in jeopardy.

The Lib Dems have also argued against any rush to make spending cuts.

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