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NEWS Tuesday, 9 March, 1999, 19:16 GMT
Tories attack 'pickpocket chancellor'
William Hague launches his attack on Labour's Budget
Tory leader William Hague has launched a fierce attack on Labour's Budget proposals.

Speaking in the Commons after the chancellor's statement, Mr Hague labelled Gordon Brown the "pickpocket chancellor" and accused him of raising the total tax burden.

"He is the pickpocket chancellor who shakes your hand with a smile after he has stealthily removed your wallet."

He said after raising taxes for three years in a row Mr Brown could now "keep a reputation for higher taxes for ever".

"The truth, after three Budgets, is that the total of taxation is still rising and the chancellor did not have the guts in the Budget speech to say so."

Mr Hague said the statement raised taxes for next year by 1.6bn and that the total increase of Mr Brown's three Budgets was 8.9bn.

Mr Hague also gave a lukewarm welcome to the new 10p tax rate as did the Liberal Democrats.

Ashdown: Labour launched a "smash and grab" raid
Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown said it was a "policy driven by headlines, not results".

He accused the chancellor of having a "scattergun approach" which only tackled small problems, not the big issues.

But Mr Ashdown had harsher words for Mr Hague saying his reply to Mr Brown's speech had been: "Hyperbole, hypocrisy and hysteria in about equal proportions."

He added that Labour was not doing enough to tackle poverty, he also said that the government was not offering sufficient leadership on the European single currency.

Mr Ashdown welcomed the abolition of mortgage tax relief but said the money raised should be used to lower tax bills for the "working poor".

Commenting on the last Budget before devolution takes place the Scottish National Party responded to the above inflation rise in road fuel duties.

Dafydd Wigley: "A missed opportunity"
Treasury spokesman John Swinney said: "This tax hits Scotland hard and rural Scotland harder."

The leader of Plaid Cymru, Dafydd Wigley, said the Budget had been one of missed opportunities.

He said a government commitment to matching the funds given to the poor areas of Wales by the EU would have had a greater impact that than cutting the basic rate of income tax.

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William Hague: The pick-pocket chancellor aided and abetted by the artful dodger next door
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Paddy Ashdown: A smash and grab of some of our brightest ideas
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