Page last updated at 19:45 GMT, Sunday, 9 November 2008

Tories warn over Brown tax cuts

David Cameron at a shadow cabinet meeting in October
David Cameron: "The cupboard is bare"

The Conservatives have warned Gordon Brown that any unfunded tax cuts would be irresponsible and merely "pass the debt onto the next generation".

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox told the BBC Mr Brown had "maxed out the country's credit card and simply wants to open another one to keep spending".

And Tory leader David Cameron warned tax cuts could push up mortgage and tax bills "to pay off the debt tomorrow".

The comments came amid reports that the PM may be planning 15bn of tax cuts.

The Financial Times reported on Saturday that Mr Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling were considering the emergency package of cuts to boost the economy.

The Treasury described that report as "speculative" but the Sunday Mirror quotes "senior ministerial sources" as saying "there is going to be a major package of tax cuts and public spending".

I think most people watching your programme will think to keep spending now and pass the debt onto the next generation is not a responsible thing to do

Liam Fox
Shadow defence secretary

The Sunday Express predicts tax cuts worth an average 480 to every household in the country, quoting an unnamed minister as saying "we have to find a way of putting money back into people's pockets because they are really hurting".

Mr Brown has already said he does not intend to cut spending - so any tax cuts would have to be funded by increasing government borrowing - which has already soared as the economic downturn has hit the UK.

The speculation about tax cuts comes after Barack Obama won the US election on a platform which included tax cuts for lower and middle earners.

Mr Cameron, writing in the News of the World, said that in the UK the "cupboard is bare" and borrowing more would mean "the risk of higher interest rates - and mortgage bills - and higher taxes to pay off the debt tomorrow".


He said his party's "responsible" plans to freeze council tax, raise inheritance tax thresholds and help small businesses with VAT bills "won't need an extra borrowing splurge".

"We believe we need to get a grip, be responsible and help families now in a way that doesn't cost us our future."

The News of the World also reported that the Tories plan to unveil more "fully funded" tax cut plans within days.

Asked about the issue on BBC One's Politics Show, Liam Fox, said the Conservative view of tax cuts was in "stark contrast" to the government's.

"I think most people watching your programme will think to keep spending now and pass the debt onto the next generation is not a responsible thing to do."

The Liberal Democrat's treasury spokesman Vince Cable called for tax cuts for people on low and middle incomes, funded by tax increases for the better off.

"These are the people who have been hurt, while the people who are very wealthy have done extremely well in the boom.

"But also increasingly there is an economic argument in terms of boosting the purchasing power of people who are not well off.

"Businessmen around the country are telling me their markets are falling of a cliff and it does need an injection of demand."

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