Page last updated at 19:15 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Big projects given 'early' 140m

Paul Murphy MP
Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy urged assembly ministers to act quickly

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy has urged the assembly government to spend 140m capital funding brought forward by the Chancellor to stimulate the economy.

He said cash not due to be spent until 2010-11 can be used this year and next on road building and social housing.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown were "gambling" with national finances.

Plaid Cymru said the government was not being radical enough and the Lib Dems said it was a "missed opportunity".

Mr Murphy said the assembly government would be keen to follow the lead of the Chancellor, who has said billions of pounds of spending in England on big projects like road building and social housing will be brought forward to kick-start the construction industry and the wider economy.

Mr Murphy said he hoped assembly ministers would act quickly on the Chancellor's pre-Budget report as the circumstances in Wales were no different from those across the border in England.

Gordon Brown is mortgaging the country's future to try and safeguard his own
Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan

He said: "It's for capital projects, for local authorities, health authorities - this money is there to stimulate local economies."

Ms Gillan said: "However Labour wraps this up, this is still a Christmas tax bombshell.

"It's a 20bn temporary tax giveaway followed by a 1,400 permanent tax rise for every family in the country.

"Families across Wales will by hit with rising tax and National Insurance bills. That is the reality of this give-away statement. To anybody in work this is going to mean higher taxes.

'Reckless and irresponsible'

"This statement has been done to a political timetable not an economic one. Gordon Brown is mortgaging the country's future to try and safeguard his own."

Plaid Cymru's Treasury spokesperson, Adam Price MP, said he welcomed measures aimed at being a financial stimulus but said he was not convinced that went far enough.

He said: "This is a spending splurge without a social soul, and will do little to truly boost the economy."

"The level of borrowing suggested is reckless and irresponsible.

"Rather, these measures should be funded by higher tax rates on the very wealthy today and not just in 2011, as well as a windfall tax on energy companies as well as scrapping some unnecessary and expensive commitments, such as Trident and ID cards".

'More taxes'

Lib Dem Work and Pensions spokesman, Roger Williams MP, said: "The government have missed a golden opportunity to rebalance the tax system in favour of those on lower and middle incomes.

"Everyone knows that down the line we're all going to be paying more taxes.

The government may be talking about a new top rate of tax after the next election, but that will not raise all the money that is needed, and I am worried that they are using this as a smokescreen for tax rises across the board - we have seen a hint of this with increases in National Insurance."

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