Sunday, March 7, 1999 Published at 11:17 GMT
Budget leaks slammed
Ken Clarke during his time as chancellor: Leaks are "deplorable"
Former Chancellor Ken Clarke has condemned Budget leaks as Sunday's newspapers unleash another wave of speculation.
He blamed Charlie Whelan, the chancellor's former spin doctor who quit amid the fall-out from the Peter Mandelson loan scandal, for the on-going leaks.
"Obviously somebody is doing this for Mr Brown now," Mr Clarke said.
"The reason chancellors used to be sacked if they briefed people about their Budgets was because people make money or lose money by speculating in the markets."
What the papers say
The attack came as the latest round of press speculation predicted tax breaks to help the middle-aged unemployed and those wishing to buy shares.
The digested Sunday newspapers' Budget predictions:
A Downing Street spokesman said: "We don't comment on the Budget in advance. This is the usual pre-Budget speculation."
A Treasury spokesman put the press reports down to frenzied guesswork.
"We will not be drawn into commenting on the Budget," he said.
Accountants envisage 10p band
Accountants KPMG said the new rate would apply only to about £1,000 of a person's earnings.
The 10p starting band is a Labour manifesto commitment, but some economic commentators say it will be costly and do little to tackle poverty.
KPMG estimates the new band confined to the level of income it predicts would save the lowest-paid workers about £100 a year.
It would have little effect on other earners as the 20p rate would be scrapped at the same time, it says.
The firm also thinks interest rates have fallen sufficiently for an end to mortgage interest relief.
Miras is currently available at a 10% rate for the first £30,000 of a mortgage.
Its abolition would cost the average home-owner more than £200 a year.