Independent commentators and politicians from the SNP, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats all identify Database State projects as primary candidates for post-budget public spending cuts.
STV reports an exchange in the Scottish Parliament between Scottish Labour leader in Holyrood Iain Gray and First Minister Alex Salmond, SNP:
Mr Gray challenged him to follow the lead set by the Labour Government at Westminster, who were committed to safeguarding front-line services and to five per cent spending increases for local health services and a four per cent rise for schools.
The First Minister replied that he would not have spent billions on Trident nuclear submarines and £5billion on ID cards, two Labour initiatives.
Writing in the Guardian, Simon Jenkins lists government projects that could be cut to reduce the deficit:
These are paltry sums compared with those devoured by the crocodiles. The NHS computer system, which nobody wants, is lost to audit somewhere north of £12.7bn. The project has seen suppliers come and go for years and is now out of control. It is merely a way for the NHS headquarters to mop up the extra sums that Blair and Brown boasted in 2000 that they would spend on health – and found it could not be spent. There is no reason for a single ward to go unstaffed or a single operation to be delayed as long as the NHS spends money like this.
The Home Office’s “war on terror” ID cards continue to wander through the Whitehall undergrowth, gorging between £5bn and £19bn, according to estimate. The Trident submarine replacements are so far put at £20bn, plus £180m a year just to run. Brown’s beloved aircraft carriers are postponed, but will apparently come in cheap, at a minimum of £3.9bn for two. The first three of Jack Straw’s Titan prisons are budgeted at £2.3bn. In prisons there are no economies of scale.
I calculate that the six prestige projects listed above, none of which are economically productive, cost more in total than the revenue of all this week’s tax increases for the next three years. The astonishing truth is that ministers are more scared of upsetting the IOC than the IMF.
Interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme, David Cameron commits a Conservative government to cancelling both National Identity Cards and the Contactpoint database.
Vince Cable, writing in the Independent, disagrees with the Tories on several policies, but agrees about the National Identity Scheme:
This is a time for grown-up debate. The deficit is too big and the public is too cynical of politicians to be taken in by vague, unspecific, promises. The only way forward is to identify, explicitly, areas of government activity which will have to be cut right back. My party has already identified several specific cuts – like the ID card scheme; the NHS IT project; “baby bonds”; refusing unlimited taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power. We believe that there now has to be a serious debate about how to scale back the reach of tax credits; ballooning public sector pension commitments, especially to “fat cats” (like MPs); gross military overstretch; the promise of access to universities for half of all young people; and much else.