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Wednesday, November 26, 1997 Published at 22:59 GMT

UK: Politics

Hague seeks answers on disability benefits
image: [ Tory Leader William Hague ]
Tory Leader William Hague

The Conservative leader William Hague is criticising Labour for refusing to guarantee that it will not cut benefits for the disabled.

Charities have been pressing the Government to be more open about its plans following newspaper reports last week that ministers were considering taxing, scrapping or reducing some disability benefits.

Expenditure on these benefits has risen from 4.1bn in 1982 to 23.5bn last year, and now accounts for about a quarter of all social security spending.

Many disabled fear ministers are looking to reduce this burden to help meet tough strict public spending targets.

[ image: Tony Blair dismissed Mr Hague's question as nonsense]
Tony Blair dismissed Mr Hague's question as nonsense
Raising the issue at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Hague said: "It has been reported in the newspapers that the government are considering taxing disability living allowance and attendance allowance. Will the government now rule out the taxing of benefits for the disabled?"

The Prime Minister Tony Blair replied that the Tory leader was stirring up "a load of scares and nonsense".

However, he did nothing to allay the fears of the disabled. Labour was reviewing the entire benefits system and no options had been ruled in or out he said.

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