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Last Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008, 13:04 GMT
Howe to lead Tory taxation review
Lord Howe
Lord Howe was chancellor during the early 1980s
Former chancellor Lord Howe is to lead a review of taxation policy for the Conservative Party.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne made the announcement as he unveiled plans for a fundamental rethink of how tax policy is drawn up.

In a speech to the Policy Exchange in London, Mr Osborne called for a fiscal system "for the 21st Century".

He also said Chancellor Alistair Darling "will never recover a reputation for competence".

Mr Osborne accused the government of having a tax policy driven by short-term political goals rather than long-term economic consequences.

Budgets and pre-Budgets are driven by the shortest of short-term political considerations, with little apparent regard for the longer-term economic consequences
George Osborne
Shadow chancellor

He said the government's "clumsy" attempts to introduce a levy on wealthy foreign business people - the so-called non-domiciles - and "ill-judged" changes to capital gains tax have sent out a "toxic mix of complexity, uncertainty and negative symbols".

Mr Osborne said the government's proposals - a "cack-handed attempt to outfox" the Tories - have damaged Britain's reputation as a place to do business.

'Serious consequences'

He told the Policy Exchange think tank: "We need a fundamental rethink to prepare our tax system for the 21st Century.

"But there is no evidence that the present government understands these long-term challenges to our tax system, let alone has any plan to address them.

"Instead, Budgets and pre-Budgets are driven by the shortest of short-term political considerations, with little apparent regard for the longer-term economic consequences."

Mr Osborne also turned his fire on embattled Chancellor Alistair Darling.

Referring to the ongoing efforts to rescue Northern Rock, as well as other recent problems, he said: "I suspect the Chancellor of the Exchequer will never recover a reputation for competence.

"But what concerns me is the damage done to Britain's long-held reputation as a stable and predictable place to do business.

"If the damage to our reputation is not to be lasting, we urgently need a new approach."

Of Lord Howe, who was chancellor from 1979 to 1983, Mr Osborne said: "I look forward to receiving the conclusion of Geoffrey's group so that we can embed Adam Smith's principle of certainty in a new way of making tax law."

He announced plans to set up an Office of Tax Simplification if the Conservatives win the next election.

SEE ALSO
Treasury 'climb-down' on non-doms
13 Feb 08 |  Business
Top Tories unrecognisable - Howe
10 Aug 05 |  Politics

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