Gordon Brown was yesterday accused of 'bandying around misleading statistics' in an attempt to minimise the perception of a faltering housing market. Financial Times

With growing concerns about the state of the economy at a time of global financial turbulence, Mr Brown told the Commons that interest rates were 5.25% – compared with 18% during the early 1990s.

But since its foundation in 1694, the Bank of England has never lifted its base rate to 18 per cent. The figure nudged 15% in late 1989 but subsequently fell during the 1990s.

Brown was also criticised for his confused use of repossession data.

Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, attacked the prime minister for denying that the UK was on the 'cusp' of what could be a big housing crash.