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The BBC's June Kelly
"He plans to increase pensions for those on the lowest incomes"
 real 56k

Gordon Brown, interviewed by the BBC's Andrew Marr
"I would not lie and I did not lie"
 real 56k

The BBC's Guto Harri
"Strickly speaking he was telling the truth"
 real 28k

Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 22:09 GMT 23:09 UK
Brown fights critics
Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown: Under pressure
Chancellor Gordon Brown has hit back at critics who say he is out of touch and untruthful over UK Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone's controversial 1 million donation to the Labour Party.

Mr Brown also unveiled plans for a new deal for the UK's poorest pensioners.

And he rejected the 60-day deadline set by fuel protesters, saying that any changes would have to be made through the usual budget process.

Bernie Ecclestone had his donation returned
Unveiling his proposals for pensioners, the chancellor rejected calls to restore the earnings link with pensions, demanded by many Labour activists.

He said he planned to boost the basic pension for the poorest pensioners to 90 per week, possibly from next April.

"Every pensioner is going to benefit from the new proposals we are putting forward, in particular those on modest incomes and those who are the poorest," he told BBC News.

"We know we have to do more and we will do more. But specific announcements have got to wait until the pre-budget announcement."

But his opponents were not impressed. David Willetts, the Conservative social security spokesman, said: "The Chancellor simply doesn't get it. Pensioners are fed up because of the paltry increase in the basic state pension."

I would not lie, I did not lie

Gordon Brown

Mr Brown also denied the government had been unresponsive to the demands of fuel protesters.

He insisted the government was listening to concerns and had already helped the hauliers and had also put extra money into farming.

Asked if he would cut fuel tax, he said: "You have got to know when you make decisions that you can afford them and I am not going to go outside the normal budget process."

And he added: "I do believe there is a big debate to take place in this country on tax and on spending. I want the country to see the nature of the choice that is ahead for this country."

'Dividing line'

Mr Brown was also asked about an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, when he was asked whether he had been told about a 1 million donation to the Labour Party from UK Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

Tory leader Mr Hague has accused Mr Brown of lying in the interview about his knowledge of the issue.

David Willetts MP
David Willetts: Pensioners are 'fed up'

"There is a dividing line between the work I have got to do for the country and the work that other people professionally have to do in relation to donations," he said.

Mr Brown said that Tony Blair told him a donation had been given, but insisted his answer had been correct and truthful.

"I would not lie, I did not lie," he said.

He denied quotes attributed to him in Andrew Rawnsley's book - where the claims about his knowledge of the Ecclestone issue were recently raised - but said after the Today interview he was angry.

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See also:

20 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Brown must go - Portillo
27 Jul 99 | UK Politics
Political donations shake-up
15 Apr 98 | Politics
Party funding in the spotlight
19 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Resign call over donation 'lies'
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