Britain eager to protect services

Britain’s Treasury chief said Sunday that the government must make difficult choices on spending cuts as it seeks to slash the country’s growing deficit.

LONDON — Britain’s Treasury chief said Sunday that the government must make difficult choices on spending cuts as it seeks to slash the country’s growing deficit.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling is expected to announce tax hikes and public-sector spending cuts in a pre-budget review on Wednesday.

The government has said it wants to halve Britain’s 175 billion-pound ($290 billion) deficit within four years.

Darling told the BBC that would “involve some very difficult choices.”

“It will mean making public spending much tighter,” Darling said, although he promised to “protect those front-line services that people depend upon,” such as health care.

He also said he would not cut big projects like the Crossrail rail route through London, because “public spending actually can be a driver for growth in the future.”

Darling gave few details of his plans and would not comment on reports he is considering a windfall tax.

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