Owen Smith: Labour 'can't commit' to reversing spending cuts

Owen Smith MP says Labour are being 'realistic'

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Labour will not commit to reversing further cuts expected to be announced in the UK government's spending review, Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith says.

However, he says Labour will borrow to invest in large building projects like new roads if it wins power in 2015.

The Welsh government is bracing itself for a "tough deal" from the review.

Conservative AM Byron Davies said he was "fully behind" the chancellor. Plaid Cymru's Bethan Jenkins said the Conservatives and Labour are "similar".

The chancellor is due to outline £11.5bn of savings across Whitehall in his spending review on Wednesday.

Start Quote

Everybody has to make savings... the Welsh government are no different. They have to make savings as well”

End Quote Byron Davies Conservative AM

Speaking on BBC1 Wales' Sunday Politics Wales show, Mr Smith, MP for Pontypridd, said Labour would inherit a £96bn deficit if it won the 2015 general election.

He said that "any prospective government, any opposition... needs to have a realistic and hard-headed view about what we will do to deal with it, and that means that we can't commit right now to reversing the further cuts that we anticipate seeing from George Osborne".

However, he added that Labour "would of course come to government with a radically different set of values and priorities and we would take radically different decisions about how we would reduce the deficit in tune with those values and in tune with our basic understanding of fairness".

He said that if he became Welsh secretary he would not be "rolling over in the way in which the current Welsh secretary is in simply accepting that Wales will have further cuts".

Mr Smith said his party would borrow to invest in projects that could help boost the economy and create growth.

The M4 relief road is expected to be one of the proposals the UK government will back in the spending round.

'Unprecedented deficit'

Conservative transport spokesman Byron Davies AM said he was "fully behind" the chancellor.

He added: "The fact is this coalition government, led by the Conservatives, we had a deficit which was unprecedented since the Second World War and we've cut that deficit by one third already.

"Everybody has to make savings... certain government departments will have to make savings and the Welsh government are no different. They have to make savings as well."

Plaid Cymru's South Wales West AM Ms Jenkins said Labour and the Conservatives were "very similar to each other".

She added: "I think it's totally hypocritical for Owen Smith to come here and say they need to be reasonable and realistic when they offered so much change, when currently they might as well be the Tory party."

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