Coalition defends its record after ‘secret’ performance audit unveiled

The coalition has insisted it has a “record to be proud of” as it published a 119-page audit of its performance over the first two and a half years in government.

The coalition has insisted it has a “record to be proud of” as it published a 119-page audit of its performance over the first two and a half years in government.

David Cameron said the audit document was designed to offer “full, frank … and completely unvarnished” assessment of how the Westminster government had performed.

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But Labour released its own “audit of broken promises”, listing 40 areas in which it said the coalition had failed to live up to its pledges.

The audit was supposed to be part of the mid-term review produced on Monday, but was held back from the original 
document.

Its existence came to light only after one of the Prime Minister’s aides, Patrick Rock, was spotted in Downing Street yesterday carrying a document that appeared to suggest its publication was delayed to avoid overshadowing the favourable media coverage they expected to receive from Monday’s event.

The audit does not divide the promises from the 2010 Coalition Agreement into those that have been met or missed.

But it notes that the planned cull of badgers to help control bovine TB had been “postponed”, a free vote on repealing the hunting ban had “not yet been taken forward”, and that, after pledging to cancel a third runway at Heathrow, the government had set up a commission to look at “all the options” for future airport capacity.

Labour said that the document failed to live up to the coalition’s claims on transparency and the claims that it had been deliberately covered up dominated the first Prime Minister’s Questions of 2013.

Labour leader Ed Miliband branded Mr Cameron “PR man who can’t even do a relaunch”, and said the government had broken a number of promises since coming to power.

He also questioned why the “audit of coalition broken promises” had not been published at the time of the review.

Mr Miliband quoted from Mr Rock’s document on the advantages and disadvantages of publishing the document: “He said that they shouldn’t publish the secret audit because it had problematic areas, it would lead to unfavourable copy and it would identify broken pledges.”

Mr Miliband also tackled the Prime Minister on his pledge to “make sexual inequality history”, asking: “Will the secret audit acknowledge another broken promise, that the tax and benefit changes you are making are hitting women three times as hard as men?”

Mr Cameron retorted: “You will be able to see, when this document is published, there are more women in work than at any time in our history, that our pension reforms are helping women, that our public sector pay freeze – which excludes the lowest paid – is helping women and that we are helping women with extra childcare for four, three and two-year-olds.

“What a contrast between a government that is prepared to publish every piece of information about every pledge and what has been achieved and a party opposite that cannot even apologise for the mess they left this country in.”

Mr Miliband said the “biggest broken promise of all” was the claim “we are all in this together” following the decision to put the 1 per cent cap on benefit increases while cutting the top rate of income tax.

But Mr Cameron said: “The fact is, under this government the top rate of tax will be higher in every year than in any year under his government.”

The Prime Minister said Labour had failed to deliver promised policies on the deficit, welfare reform and tuition fees.

In a jibe over the taxpayer funding Labour receives, Mr Cameron said: “I have audited all of the government’s spending programmes and I have identified one where the waste is simply appalling: it is the £5 million that goes to his party every year, we get nothing from it.”