Page last updated at 18:17 GMT, Thursday, 24 March 2011

Lawson warns against NI and income tax merger

On 24 March 2011 the former Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby broadly welcomed the 2011 budget but warned against Chancellor George Osborne's plans to amalgamate national insurance and income tax, telling the minister: "Don't go there. There is nothing new about it."

He said he had considered the change before his 1988 Budget but decided against it: "I had a terrifying realisation it would be the biggest elephant trap you could walk into."

He also said he thought that the government had handed out too many "lollipops" in the 2011 Budget which will have to be paid for and they should instead "make a virtue of unpopularity".

Peers debated government policies to promote enterprise, growth and rebalancing of the economy, on a motion proposed by Lord Lawson.

On Wednesday Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Budget to the Commons, setting out plans to balance the nation's books and "fuel growth" in the UK economy.

Mr Osborne said the measures in his Budget made clear the UK was "open for business".

Among the announcements were an additional 1% corporation tax cut - with a further 1% in each of the next three years, reducing it to 23%, a further rise in the personal income tax allowance and a consultation on a long-term plan to merge income tax and National Insurance.

He said fuel duty would be cut by 1p per litre from 6pm on Wednesday and that the annual 1p above inflation "fuel escalator" rise would be scrapped until 2015.

There will also be 21 "enterprise zones" created in England, 40,000 apprenticeships for young people out of work, no new regulation on firms with fewer than 10 staff for three years and financial help for first-time home buyers.

The chancellor downgraded his growth forecasts for this year and next, which Labour claimed was proof that his economic plan was not working.

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