Asked why the Spending Review was no longer called the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) said that pre-1997 they were not called Spending Reviews, they were called Public Expenditure Rounds and they happened annually. In 1997, the first Spending Review under the previous government, and possibly the second, were referred to as CSR’s, but after that they were called Spending Reviews.
Put that the CSR was a three-year programme and asked what time period this Spending Review would cover, the PMS said that this Spending Review would set out budgets for the next four years, essentially for this Parliament. Departments had budgets fixed for this year 20010/11, and on Wednesday we would announce the budgets for 2011/12 onwards.
Asked when the next Spending Review would be, the PMS said that not been decided, but this week we were setting out a clear plan for the next four years of spending.
Asked if there would be an update from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the PMS said that the OBR would update their forecasts at some point in the autumn. It was best to speak to the Treasury for details.
Asked if the Public Expenditure Committee had concluded discussions, the PMS said yes.
Strategic Defence and Security Review
Asked when the next Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) would be, the PMS said that there was currently no timing for the next SDSR. We had been clear that the National Security Council (NSC) would continually look at the issue of national security and the Government would report annually to Parliament on the strategy.
Asked if this week’s National Security Strategy (NSS) constituted the NSC’s first annual report, the PMS said that we would expect in a year’s time to update people on the strategy.
Asked what the rationale was for this week’s NSS when there had been one in 2009, the PMS said that the purpose of the current strategy was to inform policies over the coming years, and part of that was planning where the resources should be focused.
Put that there could have been some duplication of work, the PMS said that the Select Committee report which had been published overnight wouldn’t necessarily agree with that.