Page last updated at 18:49 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Osborne slams 'tax timebomb' plan

Osborne reaction to PBR in full

The shadow chancellor said the prime minister's promise to end boom and bust had proved "one of the greatest deceits ever told to the British public".

George Osborne said the government's package of measures would double national debt to 1 trillion.

He said this would leave "a huge unexploded tax bombshell timed to go off under a future economic recovery".

He said Chancellor Alistair Darling was giving away 20bn but taking back 40bn through tax hikes.

Mr Osborne said: "The chancellor has just announced the largest amount of borrowing ever undertaken by a British government in the entire history of this country."

The package was the "bill for a decade of irresponsibility", he said.

'Prudence is dead'

"He's giving 20bn in giveaways and taking back 40bn in higher taxes, including the major rise in National Insurance, a tax on the jobs and incomes of middle Britain," he said.

"It is confirmation of the time old truth that all Labour chancellors run out of money and all Labour governments bring this country to the verge of bankruptcy.

"Stability has gone out of the window, prudence is dead, Labour has done it again."


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Mr Osborne said the chancellor's growth forecasts were "vastly more optimistic" than those of independent analysts and yet borrowing was set to rise by 512bn over the next six years.

"That means the chancellor is borrowing more on the nation's credit card than all previous governments put together."

And he said it was wrong to blame the US for the recession because Mr Brown had mistaken a "boom for stability and never prepared Britain for the bust".

The shadow chancellor said the IMF predicted the recession to be worse in the UK than most other major economies.

Tax delays

Half of the measures announced were to compensate for the "10p tax con" - a reference to the abolition of the 10p tax rate which provoked a political storm - and delaying tax rises announced in the Budget.

The rise in the top rate of income tax was "designed to distract attention" from a hike in National Insurance, he said.

"You didn't give your figures so I will. A 4bn tax increase on families and jobs," he told Mr Darling.

"More in tax for a qualified nurse, more for a police officer, 100m on the annual NHS wage bill, 2bn from British business."

Far from being an action plan it represents the greatest failure of public policy for a generation
George Osborne

Mr Osborne said the "reckless" pre-Budget report was the "greatest failure of public policy for a generation".

"The chancellor could have taken a different path today, the path of radical monetary action and responsible fiscal policy - that is the right route out of a recession," he said.

"Instead he offers temporary tax give-aways paid for by a lifetime of tax rises for the British people. The national debt doubled and the future mortgaged to bail out the mistakes of the past."

Monetary activism

Conservative leader David Cameron had earlier warned the government's economic plans would send taxes rising in the future.

In a speech to the CBI, he said "monetary activism" - lower interest rates - should be used by the government to support the economy.

Mr Cameron said: "They might be talking about tax giveaways but everyone knows that they're throwing money at us now to take it away at a later date.

"To pay back all this money would mean an 8% rise in income tax, or a 6% rise in VAT, or a corporation tax rate of 71%."

He added: "This is the real story of today's PBR. Higher debts in the future. Higher taxes just as the economy starts to grow again. More of the same policies that got us into this mess - when we desperately need a change in direction."

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