Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Saturday, 28 March 2009

Osborne criticises poor economy

George Osborne
George Osborne spoke at the Welsh Conservatives spring conference

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has said the prime minister will have to explain to world leaders why the UK's finances are in such a poor state.

He said Gordon Brown would have to tell the G20 summit being held next week why the UK has the highest budget deficit.

Mr Osborne was speaking at the Welsh Conservatives spring conference being held in Cardiff.

The Tories also used the event to pledge stronger relations between the governments in Cardiff and Westminster.

Mr Osborne told delegates that the G20 meeting hosted by Britain came at a time when the UK's national debt was rising every day.

Some forecasts predict Britain will have debts of £1 trillion and a budget deficit of more than 10% of GDP by the time of the next election - its biggest in peacetime, he said.

Since this government came to office, Wales has become the poorest region of the UK
George Osborne

"When Gordon Brown sits down with the other G20 leaders in London next week, he will have to explain why he, of all the people sitting around the table, has the highest budget deficit," he said.

"Why the economy he presides over, of all the economies represented at the table, is forecast to still be in recession next year."

He told delegates: "In Wales today, every child is born with £17,000 of government debt hanging over their head.

"And more taxpayers' money will be spent servicing that debt than on educating that child.

"In total, Wales' share of the national debt is a staggering £30bn."

He told people at the conference how public finances were "getting even worse".

Cheryl Gillan
Cheryl Gillan wants stronger links between Wales and Westminster

"And what is Gordon Brown's solution to this mountain of debt? Yet more debt," claimed Mr Osborne.

He said the Conservatives had a "routemap to recovery" which pledged to tackle rising unemployment.

"Every Labour government has left office with unemployment higher than when it came in," he said.

"Here in Wales, 257 people are becoming unemployed every single day.

"Since this government came to office, Wales has become the poorest region of the UK.

"This cannot be allowed to go on. Wales deserves better."

Conservatives want an open dialogue and a strong working relationship between governments, and between Westminster and the National Assembly
Cheryl Gillan

In the afternoon session, the party's local government spokesman Darren Millar promised that a future Conservative Welsh Assembly Government would offer "every pensioner household in Wales" a 30% council tax cut.

Mr Millar said it would be "real help" for pensioners hit hard by council tax rises and falling interest rates on savings.

It is estimated it could save the average pensioner household around £300 a year.

Opening the conference earlier, Shadow Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan said under a David Cameron led government, the party wanted to improve relations with the assembly government and Westminster.

"At present the assembly only sees the Secretary of State once a year.

"To deliver the best for Wales there needs to be an open dialogue, not an annual arrangement," she said.

She promised to answer AMs questions in the assembly chamber four times a year.

"Welsh politicians of all parties and at both places need to be working together for Wales," she added.

Tory leader David Cameron is expected to address the conference on Sunday as will leader of the Welsh Conservatives Nick Bourne.



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