Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has announced Conservative plans for an Office for Budget Responsibility.
It will be up and running on a shadow basis in order to be able to publish forecasts at the time of an emergency budget held within 50 days of an election, should the Conservatives win.
This is in stark contrast to the Government’s plans for a Fiscal Responsibility Act which would have no independent oversight whatsoever and comes on the same day that the international credit agency, Moody’s, warned the United Kingdom could "test the AAA [credit rating] boundaries" because of "an inexorable deterioration of debt affordability".
Osborne said that the Moody’s warning was further evidence that Britain "faces the disaster" of having its international credit rating downgraded "unless we get on top of our debts".
He said that the Office for Budget Responsibility "will hold a Conservative government to account for the promises it makes to the British people", and that it would help "avoid the soaring taxes and higher interest rates that a debt crisis would lead to".
Osborne also announced Sir Alan Budd - the former Chief Economist at the Treasury and former Monetary Policy Committee member - will oversee this process. Commenting on his appointment, Budd said that "there is no substitute for political commitment and determination by the Government if the public finances are to be restored to health".
"The independent OBR will have a key role in this process by keeping the spotlight on the Government, in order to ensure it makes the right decisions and sticks to them once they are made. It will be inescapable with the Chancellor forced to answer any criticisms in Parliament – keeping the Chancellor’s feet to the fire."