UK wants to legislate for surpluses

The Guardian reports:

George Osborne is to announce a return to the public finances of the Victorian age, with plans for permanent budget surpluses designed to cut the national debt and to make life uncomfortable for the Labour party.

The chancellor will use his annual Mansion House speech on Wednesday to exploit the political advantage of the Conservative victory in the general election with a “new settlement” that would allow the government to borrow only in exceptional circumstances.

Labour, still shaken by the scale of its defeat last month, will be forced to decide whether it wants to back the proposal that tax revenues should cover spending on both infrastructure and the day-to-day running of government when parliament votes on Osborne’s tougher approach to the public finances later this year.

We should do the same here.

Osborne will say that he wants “a settlement where it is accepted across the political spectrum that without sound public finances, there is no economic security for working people; that the people who suffer when governments run unsustainable deficits are not the richest but the poorest; and that therefore, in normal times, governments of the left as well as the right should run a budget surplus to bear down on debt and prepare for an uncertain future.”

Hear hear.

Osborne will drive home his desire to bring back the days of sound finance by announcing he will convene the first meeting in more than 150 years of the committee of the commissioners for the reduction of the national debt.

Set up by William Pitt the Younger to help repair the damage to the public finances caused by the Napoleonic wars, the body last met in 1860 when William Gladstone was chancellor. Commissioners include the chancellor, the governor of the Bank of England, the speaker of the House of Commons, and the lord chief justice.

Perhaps they should have meet prior to 2015!


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