Page last updated at 17:59 GMT, Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Chancellor accused of "fiddling the figures"

The chancellor has been accused of "fiddling the figures" during a short debate in the House of Lords on the Autumn Statement.

Speaking on 5 December 2012, shadow Treasury minister Lord Eatwell alleged that the deficit figures were being "padded" by an asset transfer of more than £11bn from the Bank of England to the Treasury.

He said there was no clarity over what contingency there had been for returning this money to the Treasury in the next five years, and what impact this would have on the deficit.

The Autumn Statement states that the deficit has fallen by a quarter in the last two years, and that both the deficit and cash borrowing were forecast to fall this year.

Treasury Minister Lord Sassoon denied that the figures were being massaged, and focused on proposals in the Autumn Statement to boost investment in infrastructure.

He said that infrastructure investment was running at £33bn a year, compared with £29bn total investment by the previous administration.

"In a tough economic climate, we are making progress," he added.

The statement is one of two major statements the Treasury gives to Parliament every year, and has grown in importance since the onset of the economic crisis.


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