Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 11:12 UK

MPs' anger at Cable 'mansion tax'

By Tim Reid
Political reporter, BBC News, Lib Dem conference

Vince Cable
Vince Cable's handling of the policy has come under attack

Vince Cable's new "mansion tax" policy has come under fire from senior Liberal Democrat MPs at an angry meeting at their party conference in Bournemouth.

The BBC understands several frontbench members criticised the policy during the private meeting, with one senior MP describing it as "codswallop".

Treasury spokesman Mr Cable was forced to vigorously defend the policy of imposing a levy on £1m-plus homes.

A party spokesman said that "lessons would be learned".

During the hour-long meeting, many of the frontbench team complained they had known nothing about the policy until it was announced, and were furious that they had been left to answer journalists' questions without being consulted or informed.

"At the very least," one told Mr Cable, "we deserved the courtesy to be informed first."

At a briefing on Monday, Mr Cable's spokesman suggested the policy had been discussed by the party leadership.

But during Tuesday's meeting, one MP described the policy as "complete codswallop" while another said it had left Mr Cable "seriously damaged".

Another senior MP complained that the party leader Nick Clegg and Mr Cable had "not been given powers to govern all policy for the party" and called for respect from the Treasury team.

A spokesman for the party said "lessons would be learned".

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