Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Monday, 5 May 2008 17:31 UK

Downing St stands by rubbish tax

Gordon Brown
The PM said Labour would recover from the poor local election results

Trials of a scheme to tax householders who throw away too much rubbish are to forge ahead, Downing Street has said.

It had been reported that Gordon Brown was planning to scrap the policy after Labour's disastrous showing in the local elections in England and Wales.

The huge losses on Thursday led to heavy criticism of the prime minister's leadership by backbenchers.

But ministers rallied round, insisting Mr Brown was the right person to lead them to the next general election.

Earlier media reports suggested Labour were about to make a series of policy adjustments.

'Wrong signals'

The so-called pay-as-you-throw scheme, which would be run by local councils, has already been scaled back and it was thought it would now be ditched altogether.

But Downing Street has insisted they are to press ahead with the trials.

Labour MP Joan Walley, a former environment spokesman, said she was worried the government was sending out the wrong signals.

"Local councils have got to be part and parcel of the way in which we deal with the environmental agenda.

"It seems to me to be a little bit odd if somewhere from on high in Downing Street we're saying that five or so pilot projects can go ahead, and we're not really connecting that to the whole way in which councils are part of delivering the environmental agenda."

There isn't - outside of those who have their own personal malice towards Gordon or indeed the odd ones with personality defects - a challenge against Gordon Brown
Tony Lloyd, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party

But it is thought the move could be part of the government's effort to show it is listening to voters.

Many senior figures in the party have come to the prime minister's defence, among them foreign secretary David Miliband, deputy leader Harriet Harman and health minister Ben Bradshaw.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party Tony Lloyd has said Mr Brown's position was not in question.

"There isn't, outside of those who have their own personal malice towards Gordon or indeed the odd ones with personality defects, a challenge against Gordon Brown.

"What there is, is a demand of Gordon Brown to... begin to do what Labour MPs have been saying to him, to make sure that the policies are consistent with Labour's overall position as a party of fairness and social justice," he said.

Third place

Some MPs have demanded more details about the compromise over the abolition of the 10p tax rate.

Others are calling for a shift in policy back to traditional Labour concerns like rail re-nationalisation, council-house building and taxing the rich.

Gower MP Michael Caton said the party should "start talking about really tackling poverty, and that... is going to have to mean that the richest people in society contribute more".

Labour's poor local election results saw their projected share of the national vote drop to 24%, pushing them into third place behind the Lib Dems. They were also defeated in London, where Conservative Boris Johnson beat Ken Livingstone in the mayoral race.

On Sunday, Mr Brown said Labour would recover after its worst local election results in 40 years, adding that voters were worried about rising petrol and food prices and utility bills.

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Gordon Brown Brown's fightback
The PM admits mistakes but says Labour can recover

  Councillors Councils
Party +/- Total +/- Total
CON 257 3155 12 65
LAB -334 2365 -9 18
LD 33 1804 1 12
PC 31 205 -1 0
OTH 10 898 0 0
NOC - - -3 64
159 of 159 councils declared.

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Results in more detail

London Mayoral results
Overall results
Name Party Votes
Johnson CON 1,168,738
Livingstone LAB 1,028,966
Paddick LD 878,097
Berry GRN 409,101

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Results in more detail

London Assembly Results
Overall results
Party Constit' Top-up Total seats
CON 8 3 11
LAB 6 2 8
LD 0 3 3
GRN 0 2 2
BNP 0 1 1

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Results in more detail



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