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Local Taxation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 4th July 2005.

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Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Shadow Secretary of State (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) 3:32 pm, 4th July 2005

The underlying point is that our proposals would help more than 5 million pensioners. Moreover, it is a year-on-year payment, not this one-off payment of £200. Under such a proposal, what happens the following year? How does the hon. Lady think pensioners felt about that proposal during the election?

Perhaps the Liberal Democrats should listen to the words of Andy Mayer, director of their think-tank, Liberal Future. He said that

"we're not convinced that the association of income tax with fairness is correct".

My frustration with local income tax is that it purports to be the cure-all that it patently is not. Many Liberal Democrats know it and have admitted as much; as the proposal comes under greater scrutiny, the voters will also come to know it. It is a distraction from the important question of how we can make local taxation fairer to everyone. By persisting with local income tax—that said, I understand that its future as party policy is in some doubt—the Liberal Democrats are effectively ruling themselves out of this fundamental debate.