Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Sunday, 13 July 2008 17:24 UK

Election candidates in TV debate

Four election candidates take part in a televised debate
Four of the election candidates took part in the debate

Glasgow East by-election candidates from the four main parties have taken part in a televised debate.

Labour's Margaret Curran, the SNP's John Mason, Lib Dem Ian Robertson and Tory hopeful Davena Rankin debated issues on BBC Scotland's Politics Show.

The four discussed subjects including the state of the economy, proposals for a local income tax to replace council tax and planned increases in road tax.

The parties have just under two weeks before polling day on 24 July.

In the 40-minute debate, the candidates discussed proposals for a local income tax to replace the council tax.

The SNP and Liberal Democrats support the move, which is opposed by Labour and the Conservatives.

The candidates were asked to respond to claims by the Institute of Chartered Accountants that the current proposals were unworkable and would cause cross-border tensions.

Rising costs

Mr Robertson said: "There are always cross-border tensions but we would make those things work by discussing it with Westminster."

Mr Mason said he was a member of that body, as a chartered accountant.

"There are clearly other accountants, including myself, who believe that local income tax is workable - but the main thing is to scrap the council tax," he said.

Ms Curran said the council tax should be reformed but not replaced by the tax suggested by the SNP and Lib Dems.

"The local income tax has been criticised by a number of financial authorities who say it will not work, it will hit working families hard and will not raise the revenue needed," she said.

Ms Rankin said people in the east end of Glasgow were more concerned about increases in the cost of living rather than the debate over a local income tax.

"They're saying the council tax does need to be reformed but what we need to tackle here and now is the rising cost of food and fuel," she said.

'Two voices'

The candidates also touched on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which was supposed to be debated in the Commons on Monday, but which has been delayed.

Ms Curran, Ms Rankin and Mr Robertson said if selected as an MP, they would vote to back the bill, while Mr Mason said he would vote against the proposals.

All of the candidates said they opposed retrospective increases in vehicle excise duty.

Ms Curran's bid to become an MP as well as an MSP was also discussed, an issue which has also been raised in relation to Alex Salmond.

The SNP candidate said: "The issue should be what the electorate wants - given the challenges facing the east end, I think it would be better having two voices for the area."

Mr Robertson said: "Why would we send down a Labour MP who's going to be part-time or a single issue SNP politician who's focused on independence."

Ms Rankin said: "I'll leave that to Margaret Curran and Alex Salmond to defend - but I would be a full-time MP."

"I would be honest and say I don't think it's sustainable in the long-term but I intend to be active in both parliaments in the short-term," Ms Curran said.

Biggleswade Chronicle Nick Clegg hits campaign trail - 13 hrs ago
The Scotsman Round one to Labour as SNP accused of hypocrisy over 'two jobs' jibe - 18 hrs ago
Rye and Battle Observer Parties battle for by-election win - 19 hrs ago

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