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Programme highlights Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Hague launches 'Time for Common Sense'
Hague
Hague launches first manifesto as party leader
The Tories stole a march on their two main rivals today by being the first party to formally launch its election manifesto.

Holding aloft the election manifesto entitled 'Time for Common Sense', William Hague told the press that: "This programme proposes going further than any government before in handing back to individuals and families the power to shape their own lives and their own communities."

The launch once again proved how important the economy will be in the coming weeks - the taxes we pay and the way the money is spent. One of the key words in Mr Hague's presentation was 'free': people, he said, should be free to make their own choices: consequently, he proposed 8 billion of tax cuts.

Manifesto for motorists

Central to that appeal was the much-trailed pledge of a six pence cut in the price of a litre of petrol.


"We believe that people should be free to make their own choices and free to live their own lives

William Hague

But also, the Conservatives would reform the pension system by allowing younger people to opt out of national insurance. Rather than current workers paying the pensions of retired people, an individual would build up their own funded pension account.

Pension plans - add up?

But, in a repeat of the 1997 election campaign, the plans were seized upon by Labour who said that the Tories had failed to account for the cost of transition, as the younger generation would no longer be paying the pensions of the next generation of pensioners.

IFS turn heat on Labour

Labour, however, had their own charges to answer. The respected Institute of Fiscal Studies today claimed that Labour's spending plans would result in either tax hikes or spending cuts if its 3.8% increases in public expenditure continued after 2003/4.

Pressed on whether he would raise taxes by the necessary 2p in the pound or reduce spending, the Chancellor refused to be drawn.

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David Willetts, Shadow Social Security spokesman
Fuel duties are "an unfair tax burden for people who have to use their cars"
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