Page last updated at 21:03 GMT, Sunday, 11 April 2010 22:03 UK

Labour 'will pledge not to raise income tax rates'

Gordon and Sarah Brown
Gordon Brown will launch the Labour manifesto on Monday

Labour's manifesto will promise not to increase income tax rates - but there will be no such pledge on raising VAT, the BBC has learned.

The first line of the manifesto will be a tribute to troops in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Labour would "rebuild the economy, renew our society and restore trust in politics".

Conservative leader David Cameron has accused Labour of having "no new ideas" - the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said Labour did not deserve a fourth term.

More rights

Labour's programme is due to be launched by Mr Brown on Monday as the election campaign enters its second week.

The BBC understands that despite a commitment not to raise income tax rates, there will be no pledge on VAT rates - but the manifesto will commit to no expansion of the scope of VAT.

After 13 years of Labour failure business as usual is all Gordon Brown has to offer
Danny Alexander, Lib Dems

It will also promise to keep business taxes as low as possible.

Patients in England will receive commitments on health diagnoses including a one-week guarantee to get a cancer diagnosis.

More rights will be offered to parents at schools in England, including allowing them a ballot to change the ethos or leadership of a school.

The long-term unemployed would get a right to a job or training, but there will be no right to refuse a job or training.

The manifesto will also commit Labour to having council house-building at the rate of 10,000 a year by the end of the next parliament.

In its foreword, Mr Brown will say that Labour's manifesto is "ambitious but affordable, bold but realistic, and learns from the lessons we take from our experience to date".

He will add: "This cannot, and will not, be a 'business as usual' election or manifesto.

"There are no big new spending commitments, but there is a determination for every penny to be used wisely, and, as present plans make clear, to give the maximum protection to frontline public services."

Mr Miliband, who chaired the group which produced the document, said it would more resemble the party's 1997 manifesto - which offered few spending commitments - than those in 2001 and 2005.

In Sunday's other election developments:

  • Green Party leader Caroline Lucas says there is a "real possibility" they will get their first MP elected to Parliament.
  • UK Independence Party leader Lord Pearson outlines plans for a flat tax and compares the EU to a "corrupt octopus".
  • SNP leader Alex Salmond says the Westminster Parliament has "declined in extraordinary fashion" during his time as an MP.
  • The Conservatives call for an apology after it is revealed Labour sent 250,000 women cards warning them Tory policies on cancer could endanger their lives.

The BBC understands Labour's manifesto will also include a commitment to doubling paternity leave from two to four weeks, while there is also expected to be support for first-time homebuyers, including an initiative to help low-income families buy property.

Plans to restrict takeovers of British firms on public interest grounds, following the controversial takeover of Cadbury by US food giant Kraft, are also likely to feature.

However, the BBC's Robert Peston said these would focus on specific industries - like the energy sector - rather than applying across the board.

Conservative philosophy

The Conservatives have given a flavour of the themes underpinning their manifesto, which will be published on Tuesday.

In the foreword to the document, their leader David Cameron urges everyone to "join together...to start to fix the economic, social and political problems that threaten the nation".

We offer a new approach: a change not just from one set of politicians to another; from one set of policies to another
David Cameron
Conservative leader

He adds: "We offer a new approach: a change not just from one set of politicians to another; from one set of policies to another.

"It is a change from one political philosophy to another. From the idea that the role of the state is to strengthen society and make public services serve the people who use them. In a simple phrase, the change we offer is from big government to big society."

The Mail on Sunday reported that the Tories are to guarantee patients access to a local GP in their manifesto while party sources also confirmed their commitment to hold a referendum on any future transfer of powers from Westminster to Brussels.

Ahead of its publication on Wednesday, Lib Dem manifesto group chairman Danny Alexander said Labour's promises rang hollow.

"After 13 years of Labour failure business as usual is all Gordon Brown has to offer," he said.

"People want change and they want fairness. And they will never get that from Gordon Brown. Only the Liberal Democrats will make the tax system fairer and clean up politics."

As well as the manifesto launches, the campaign's second week will see the first debate between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

Different agendas

Other party leaders have also been seeking to emphasise their differences from the three largest parties.

UK Independence Party leader Lord Pearson said his party had a distinct position on tax, immigration and Europe.

It is deeply unfair that those on lowest incomes pay a greater proportion of those incomes on tax than those on higher incomes
Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader

"What we want to achieve out of this election is to make it clear that no, none of the failed old parties can form a government unless they give us a referendum on the EU," he told the Andrew Marr programme.

If the Conservatives were elected, he said, further powers would be lost to Brussels: "Everything will have gone - City of London supervision, justice and home affairs and so on."

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas said a fairer tax system, rather than spending cuts, was central to her party's approach.

"It is deeply unfair that those on lowest incomes pay a greater proportion of those incomes on tax than those on higher incomes," she also told Andrew Marr.

"So we would bring in the 50 pence tax rate not on incomes over £150,000, as Labour would, but on incomes over £100,000.

"We would take off the limit on National Insurance contributions at the upper end. And then we would also look at people on lower incomes, reinstate the 10 pence tax band and so forth."



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