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Gordon Brown
"I'm not going to apologise for action that the Conservatives refused to take."
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Michael Portillo
"His government has imposed an enormous tax burden on the people of this country and they have done it by stealth."
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Charles Kennedy
"It's all right to have bust in the first half of the Parliament and boom in the second."
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The BBC's Greg Wood reports
"In the House of Commons this afternoon the Conservative's attacked the Budget"
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Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 23:04 GMT
Brown hails 'fruits' of prudence

Brown: "Spending is what we came in to do"
Chancellor Gordon Brown, has defended the government's stringent spending plans for its first two years in office, saying that Tuesday's Budget was the "fruit" of previous prudence.

The Budget has promised extra cash for education, police and transport but the main emphasis has been on the extra 2bn the health service will receive each year for the next four years.

Portillo: Gordon Brown did not invent recovery
Prime Minister Tony Blair outlined on Wednesday afternoon the government's plans for how the money should be used.

Speaking to the BBC, the chancellor said that the government had taken office determined to increase spending - but economic stability had been his priority.

"Spending on the health service and education is what we came into government to do," he said.

"We have got a responsible and balanced approach.

'Fruits of economic stability'

"We've cut national debt, we're cutting it by 18bn in two years and we're cutting income tax to reward work.

"The family tax burden will be lower than it was at any time since 1972 and we're putting money into public services."

Mr Brown said that he had spent two years stopping "boom and bust" and dealing with an inherited 28bn deficit.

"We took the right action and we are getting the fruits of that with economic growth.

Rover's demise hit the headlines last week
"There are 800,000 more people in jobs, I'm not going to apologise for action that the Conservatives refused to take."

With the tax burden falling, said Mr Brown, it was "quite wrong" for government critics to suggest that taxation would be higher than last year.

Portillo warns of dangers

But attacking the Budget, shadow chancellor Michael Portillo said that the strong recovery "was not invented by Gordon Brown" - and that he had failed to address the strength of the pound.

"One of things that alarms me about Gordon Brown is that he talks as if he has abolished economic cycles," said Mr Portillo.

"When chancellors talk as though they abolished economic cycles they're not actually being prudent.

"They're in great danger of doing things wrong because we're still open to things not working out as we want them to."

"This government has imposed an enormous tax burden on the people of this country and they have done it by stealth."

'Great gap'

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said failure to address the strength of the pound was "extraordinary" considering the current Rover car group crisis.

"The strength of the pound, the exchange rate, the absence of a commitment to the euro - none of these words or phrases appeared in yesterday afternoon's budget statement," said Mr Kennedy.

"That's an amazing state of affairs."

But Mr Brown said that the Budget was doing more for manufacturing industry through incentives for investment.

"We want to see modern manufacturing strengthen," he said.

"That's why our tax system is geared towards encouraging new investment, research and development and getting people on to e-commerce."

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See also:

22 Mar 00 | Budget2000
Budget: Full press round-up
21 Mar 00 | Budget2000
Analysis: Brown's Budget tightrope
22 Mar 00 | Business
Budget worries the City
22 Mar 00 | Health
Blair to outline NHS reform
21 Mar 00 | Budget2000
Brown the mugger, says Hague
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