Michael Howard has identified the £189 million a year ad budget as an example of "wasteful" spending that a Tory government would halt to enable tax cuts.
A Tory blueprint on "Whitehall waste", drawn up by the business troubleshooter David James, claims adspend has more than tripled since Tony Blair came to power. It says: "In 2003-04, the Government's advertising budget was £189 million and is projected to rise to around £260 million by 2007-08. We recommend reducing expenditure back to 1997-98 levels - that is £60 million."
The Tories said the plan would save £200 million a year by the 2007-08 financial year. Campaigns the Tories would axe include one promoting the New Deal for the unemployed.
Labour said there was no evidence spending would rise to £260 million by 2007-08. One official said: "These so-called 'savings' are pie in the sky. These are factual campaigns which would have to continue under any future administration."