Director of Social Welfare Ian Strachan yesterday pledged not to cut spending on social services before or after 1997. 'We will not cut costs. It's not part of our agenda, and will never be part of our agenda,' he said. Mr Strachan made the pledge to legislators at the Welfare Services Panel after members raised doubts about a proposed new funding method for the territory's 171 non-governmental organisations. The Government has proposed that subsidies for non-governmental organisations be based on organisations' average pay for employees. Democratic Party member Dr Yeung Sum feared larger organisations, with more senior staff, might be forced to cut manpower. Unionist Lee Cheuk-yan asked whether the proposal was a means of controlling spending in the light of a Chinese official's warning against excessive welfare expenditure. 'Is the Government going to achieve this target at the expense of services' quality?' he said. But Mr Strachan reiterated the Government objective to expand the services in the run-up to the 21st century. The consultation period will be extended to August 2 in order to make sure more opinions can be sought. Mr Strachan told legislators that reports he was seeking early retirement were untrue. But Dr Yeung still said he hoped Mr Strachan would be able to complete the design of new fund methods for non-governmental organisations before he left. Mr Strachan said: 'I am not going to leave - unless you know something I do not know.'