Minister gives accidental preview of spending plans

LONDON (Reuters) - Treasury minister Danny Alexander inadvertently gave Britons an advance taste of a government spending review which will spell out unprecedented cuts to public spending.

He was photographed reading the document as he was driven away from a Treasury building on the eve of Wednesday’s announcement of spending plans for the next four years.

The pages photographed referred to Britain “providing 2.9 billion pounds of international climate finance” to support efforts to reduce global warming.

The opposite page had a reference to a previously published official forecast of 490,000 public sector job losses by 2014/15, followed by a comment that this was likely to change.

It is not the first time a document held by a British official has been caught by the prying lens of a photographer.

A senior police officer quit last year after he was photographed carrying a secret document revealing plans to crack down on a group suspected of plotting terrorist attacks.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman played down the significance of the pages Alexander had displayed.

“That seems to be a piece of paper which shows something that was published about four months ago,” he said in reference to the likely public sector job losses.

However, the Labour Party took aim at the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

“The Tories and the Liberal Democrats still seem to think unemployment is a price worth paying,” said Labour Work and Pensions spokesman Douglas Alexander.