Chancellor urged to reconsider refusal to face questions on Spending Review

The Chancellor has been urged to think again on his refusal to be grilled by MPs on his Spending Review.

Mel Stride, chairman of the Treasury Committee, has written to Rishi Sunak requesting again that he appear before the panel to answer questions about the one-year review, which he revealed on Wednesday.

Mr Sunak announced what amounted to a pay freeze for an estimated 1.3 million public sector workers and cut overseas aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income (GNI) in 2021, slicing about £5 billion from the budget.

The overseas aid cut has been widely criticised by the sector and MPs, including those on the Government backbenches.

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Newly installed Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaving Downing Street, London, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson reshuffles his Cabinet. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak at the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove (centre left) and Chief Secretary of the Treasury Rishi Sunak during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. (Photo by House of Commons/Jessica Taylor/PA Images via Getty Images)
Conservatives' Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak (L), Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice (C) and SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon participate in a general election debate in Cardiff, Wales on November 29, 2019. - Britain will go to the polls on December 12, 2019 to vote in a pre-Christmas general election. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks flanked by his new Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (4th R) following a reshuffle at Downing Street on February 14, 2020 in London, England. The Prime Minister reshuffled the Cabinet yesterday. High profile changes were Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, Housing Minister Esther McVey and Northern Ireland Minister Julian Smith all sacked and Chancellor Sajid Javid resigned. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs his first meeting of the cabinet the day after a reshuffle at 10 Downing Street in central London on February 14, 2020. - The British prime minister chaired a first meeting of his new-look cabinet on February 14, the day after a reshuffle that saw Chancellor Sajid Javid quit and be replaced with rising-star Rishi Sunak. (Photo by Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MATT DUNHAM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak poses for pictures with the Budget Box as he leaves 11 Downing Street on March 11, 2020 ahead of the announcement of Britain's first post-Brexit budget. - Britain unveils its first post-Brexit budget on on March 11, with all eyes on emergency government measures to ease the economic pain from the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer departs to deliver the annual Budget at Downing Street with members of the Treasury staff (L-R) Minister of State Lord Agnew, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay Claire Coutinho MP and Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen (R) on March 11, 2020 in London, England. The government is presenting its first budget amid the economic pressure of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier today, the Bank of England announced an emergency interest-rate cut to boost economic activity. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Britain's newly appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street in London on July 24, 2019. - Boris Johnson took charge as Britain's prime minister on Wednesday, on a mission to deliver Brexit by October 31 with or without a deal. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivers his Budget in the House of Commons, London. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is shown the testing of samples for respiratory viruses by Dr Antony Hale (left) during a visit to the pathology labs at Leeds General Infirmary. This is the same procedure that will be used by the lab when it begins to receive coronavirus samples for testing. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak during a visit to Leeds Station to highlight the record infrastructure spend after yesterday's budget. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Britain's Chancellor Rishi Sunak, (L) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson give a press conference about the ongoing situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak inside 10 Downing Street on March 17, 2020 in London, England. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
hBritain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (C) gestures as he speaks to staff members during a visit to the pathology labs at Leeds General Infirmary to highlight the record infrastructure spend after yesterday's budget, in Leeds, Yorkshire on March 12, 2020. (Photo by Danny Lawson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DANNY LAWSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak outside 10 Downing Street, London, joining in with a national applause for the NHS to show appreciation for all NHS workers who are helping to fight the Coronavirus. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Screen grab of Chancellor Rishi Sunak (right) and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries answering questions from the media via a video link during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (R) visit Pizza Pilgrims in West India Quay, London Docklands on June 26, 2020 as the restaurant prepares to reopen on July 4 as coronavirus lockdown rules are eased. - The British government on Thursday unveiled plans to get the public out of indoor confinement and on to the streets to boost the economy after three months of coronavirus lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants pubs and restaurants to be buzzing in the curtailed summer season, despite continued social distancing rules and restrictions. (Photo by Heathcliff O'Malley / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak use hand sanitizer on either side of a table football game as they visit Pizza Pilgrims in West India Quay, London Docklands on June 26, 2020 as the restaurant prepares to reopen on July 4 as coronavirus lockdown rules are eased. - The British government on Thursday unveiled plans to get the public out of indoor confinement and on to the streets to boost the economy after three months of coronavirus lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants pubs and restaurants to be buzzing in the curtailed summer season, despite continued social distancing rules and restrictions. (Photo by Heathcliff O'Malley / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: In this screengrab, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak takes part in the BBC Children In Need and Comic Relief 'Big Night In at London on April 23, 2020 in London, England.The 'Big Night In' brings the nation an evening of unforgettable entertainment in a way we've never seen before. Raising money for and paying tribute to those on the front line fighting Covid-19 and all the unsung heroes supporting their communities. (Photo by Comic Relief/BBC Children in Need/Comic Relief via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 21: Prime Minister Boris Johnson sits beside Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak during a face-to-face meeting of his cabinet team of ministers, the first since mid-March, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on July 21, 2020 in London, England. The meeting in the FCO will take place in a ventilated room in the Foreign Office large enough to allow ministers to sit at least one metre apart. (Photo by Simon Dawson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 16: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak visits a Jobcentre Plus in Barking, east London with Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey (not pictured) to see the new support being provided in job centres by the doubling of work coaches on July 16, 2020 in London, England. The Labour Market Statistics were released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), indicating a drop of around 650,000 in the number of employees in the UK on payrolls from March to June this year. (Photo by Anthony Upton-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak greets an employee during a visit to the Worcester Bosch factory in Worcester, central England, on July 9, 2020. - The UK government on on July 8 committed £30 billion ($37 billion, 33 billion euros) to saving jobs and helping the young find work in an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Delivering a mini-budget to parliament, finance minister Rishi Sunak announced bonuses to companies retaining staff and taking on apprentices, investment in eco-friendly jobs and even allowing Britons to enjoy discounted meals in some restaurants. (Photo by PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PHIL NOBLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 07: Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak visits Peak Scientific, a Scottish manufacturer of gas generators for analytical laboratories on August 7, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Andy Buchanan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in Downing Street, London. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
ROTHESAY, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 07: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak meets with local business people during a visit on the Isle of Bute on August 07, 2020 in Rothesay, Scotland. In recent media interviews, the chancellor has warned that the current furlough program, which subsidises wages for UK employees whose work was suspended by pandemic lockdowns, is not sustainable for the long term. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak during a visit to Peak Scientific in Glasgow, a Scottish manufacturer of gas generators for analytical laboratories. (Photo by Andy Buchanan/PA Images via Getty Images)
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Former international development secretary Justine Greening, who stepped down from the Commons last year, is the latest Tory to wade in, labelling it a "weak decision" in an interview with BBC Newscast.

Mr Sunak also told MPs on Wednesday the economy is not scheduled to recover to pre-coronavirus crisis levels until the end of 2022.

According to the Commons Treasury Committee, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and a host of economists have agreed to give evidence about the Spending Review and current fiscal situation, but the Chancellor has so far declined.

In his letter, ex-Treasury minister Mr Stride told the Cabinet minister, who has been in the job since February, that his predecessors had shown a willingness to give evidence, especially during times of economic upheaval.

Mel Stride
Treasury Committee chairman Mel Stride (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylo/PA)

He said: "The committee and I do not agree that your next appearance would be most appropriate after the Budget.

"We appreciate that you have appeared in front of us twice this year, but this is an especially critical time when scrutiny of Government policy is particularly vital.

"Previous chancellors have often appeared before the Treasury Committee three times a year and in 2008 during the financial crisis the then chancellor gave evidence to our committee on five occasions."

Mr Stride, in a separate statement, said the Spending Review was a "major fiscal event with profound implications" for millions of people.

"At a critical juncture for our economy, it's now more vital than ever that the Government engages with select committees," the senior Tory MP said.

"The committee hopes that the Chancellor will now agree to provide evidence to us before the end of the year."

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