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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007, 18:52 GMT
Hain in 'free TV' call for poor
Peter Hain
Mr Hain hopes to succeed John Prescott as deputy leader
Labour deputy leadership contender Peter Hain has called for free TV licences and bus passes for the poor, as part of a "war on inequality".

The Wales and Northern Ireland secretary suggested more help for poor families - extending measures already introduced for the elderly.

In a speech in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales, he also called for more help on childcare costs to help people work.

Current deputy leader John Prescott is to resign when Tony Blair steps down.

Mr Hain also called for government departments to commit to poverty-proof policies.

Free childcare

While the over-75s have free TV licences and pensioners now have free bus travel, he said it was time to consider extending the measures to those on low incomes.

And he said too many lower and middle-income families are struggling to pay rising utility bills, council tax and transport costs.

Work offers a genuine route out of poverty and the government should pay more towards childcare, "perhaps as the first step to guaranteeing free, universal childcare for all," he said.

Mr Prescott will leave his job later this year, when Tony Blair quits as prime minister and Mr Hain has been stepping up his campaign to succeed him.

He has described the US government as the "most right wing in living memory", in what was seen as an attempt to appeal to the grassroots party members and others opposed to the Iraq war.

And at the weekend he called for City firms to donate two-thirds of their bonuses to charity rather than giving employees six-figure bonuses.

On Thursday, he said inequality was not just an issue for socialists, but is "dysfunctional to society as a whole".

And he said that people who do not pay UK tax should be barred from the House of Lords, and from writing government reports or serving on Quangos.

Among other deputy leadership contenders are Education Secretary Alan Johnson, Development Secretary Hilary Benn, Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman and backbencher Jon Cruddas.

Labour chairman Hazel Blears is also expected to stand.

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