Page last updated at 19:50 GMT, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Budget Responsibility and National Audit Bill

The new independent watchdog set up to monitor government spending should be allowed to assess the UK's economic growth as well, Labour has argued.

As MPs debating the remaining stages of the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Bill on 22 March 2011, shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie said the Office for Budget Responsibility's (OBR) focus was currently too "dry and narrow".

He called on the government to give it the power to review "the impact of Treasury policies in the real economy" as well.

The bill puts the tax and spending watchdog on a statutory footing after it was announced by Chancellor George Osborne in May last year.

The body, chaired by economist Robert Chote, is responsible for scrutinising and reporting on the sustainability of public finances, government borrowing and other economic data.

Treasury Economic Secretary Justine Greening said the OBR already had the freedom to consider the impact of any policy on the public finances.

She told Mr Leslie: "That includes policies on employment and if you look at some of the forecasts they've already made, the OBR's already produced for the next five years forecasts on employment, average earnings, the claimant count and of course growth.

"So clearly the OBR is already producing an awful lot of the analysis that members around this House want to see."

Mr Leslie withdrew Labour's amendments, and MPs subsequently passed the bill.

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