Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Alistair Darling details comprehensive spending review [July 1997]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 24 July 1997.


The terms of reference for the departmental and cross departmental reviews that comprise  the Comprehensive Spending Review have been announced today by the Chief Secretary, Alistair Darling, in answer to a Parliamentary Question.  The terms of reference of the individual reviews have been placed in the Library of the House of Commons.  Copies are available from individual departments.  The terms of reference for the strategic defence review, which will be the Ministry of Defence’s contribution to the Review, have already been announced to Parliament.

Mr Darling commented that:

“The Comprehensive Spending Review aims to allow the Government to bring public spending  programmes into line with its priorities and objectives.  It will be truly comprehensive, embracing all items of public expenditure. It will also be focussed on the long term, looking at the shape of public spending to the end of the century and beyond.

Ministers have agreed that they will examine each and every item in his or her department, to consider whether it meets the public interest, whether it contributes to the achievement of the Government’s objectives, whether it is the most effective way of achieving those objectives, and whether there is scope for improving efficiency and effectiveness. This will include a thorough look at whether the best use is being made of public assets, with a view to disposing of those which are surplus and which could be used more productively elsewhere and making more use of public/private partnerships.

The Review will be thorough.  As well as looking at departments’ spending it will also address issues that stretch across departmental boundaries.  There will be several self-standing cross departmental reviews, including reviews of the criminal justice system, the local government finance system, the countryside and rural policy and housing.  In addition, each department will examine jointly with other departments those areas where important issues cut across departmental boundaries, such as aid and trade provision, science and simplifying government.

This will be a far-reaching look at what the Government spends peoples money on.  It will ensure that public spending promotes opportunity and employment, investment and fairness. Its conclusions will be the basis for spending plans for the future that  reflect our priorities and meet the country’s needs.”