BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 March 2008, 15:11 GMT
Budget 'a green cop out' - Clegg
Nick Clegg
Mr Clegg said the chancellor had "over-egged" his achievements

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has criticised Chancellor Alistair Darling's first Budget for being a "cop out" on green issues.

He also said the government would get "nowhere near" meeting its child poverty targets.

Mr Clegg claimed increases to winter fuel allowances for the elderly were one-offs and accused Mr Darling of "playing with" people's hopes.

The chancellor had "over-egged" any "good news", he added.

'Ventriloquism'

In his speech to the Commons, Mr Clegg ridiculed the government's claim that this was a "green" Budget.

He said Mr Darling was using environmental taxes - such as reforms to vehicle exercise duty to penalise the highest polluters - to take more from "the kitty of the lowest earners".

This is a meagre, tinkering Budget which gives precious little help to the poor but maintains special treatment to the rich
Nick Clegg
Lib Dem leader

He also described Mr Darling's plan to impose charges on non-domiciled workers who remain in the UK for more than seven years as a "flea bite".

Mr Clegg said Prime Minister Gordon Brown, himself chancellor until last year, was driving economic policy, calling the Budget an "act of political ventriloquism".

He told MPs: "This was an opportunity to give whatever help possible to the millions of hard-pressed families who are feeling the pinch, whose money is simply not stretching as far as it once did.

"But that's not the Budget that the chancellor has delivered.

"This is a meagre, tinkering Budget which gives precious little help to the poor but maintains special treatment to the rich - a Budget designed to fill a black hole masquerading as good for the environment.

"A Budget which will not make Britain fairer. A Budget that is a green cop out."



RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific