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Norman Lamont

Can the Welfare State Survive?

With the deepening of the world economic crisis and the inevitable increase in unemployment, homelessness and poverty, pressures on welfare agencies world-wide are increasing. Governments are being compelled to review their public spending budgets in an attempt to meet these problems.

Here in Britain the Chancellor, Norman Lamont, has emphasised the Conservatives' commitment:

    "to reduce the proportion of the nation's wealth pre-empted by the public sector . . . Recession inevitably makes that difficult for a while, as output shrinks while rising unemployment pushes up spending. So public spending as a proportion of GDP will rise for a couple of years. But as the economy recovers we need to get it back on a steady downward trend (Daily Telegraph. 24 July)."

He went on to say that the "total level of public expenditure must be fixed on the basis of what is affordable".

Cooking the Books: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

It is generally recognised that during the referendum campaign the Brexit side relied on lies – about how much Britain paid to the EU, about how the EU worked, about Turkey being about to join – over and above the usual empty promises of politicians as to how things would be better if they won. The Remain side relied more on misleading statistics.

In April the Treasury released a study purporting to show that a ‘Vote to Leave would make British households £4,300 worse off’ by 2030 (Independent, 18 April). The Remain side immediately translated this into a poster proclaiming ‘£4300 cost to UK families if Britain leaves the EU’. This figure was misleading because it was based on the assumption that Britain left the single market as well as the EU institutions; which does not have to be, and might well turn out not to be the case.

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