3 SEPTEMBER 1988, Page 20

Major road ahead

ANOTHER explanation is that the whole thing has been got up by John Major, the Chief and resourceful Secretary of the Treasury. This is the time of year which finds Mr Major up to his eyes in demands for money. The Pesc, which is the Treas- ury's obsolete acronym for the planning of public spending, now reaches its climax, and it is the Chief Secretary's job to bargain with the spending departments, each armed with a piteous plea of necessi- ty. Until the other day he was awkwardly placed. The Exchequer, obviously, was overflowing with revenues, the economy was blazing away, and how could he assert that the country could not afford short fat frigates, tall thin nurses or whatever? Now the mood has swung round, restraint is the order of the day, and the public interest requires the spenders to live within the Treasury's means. Mr Major must find it difficult to keep a straight face. If I find him driving around in a huge F-registration BMW, I shall know he has imported it on purpose.