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Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Labour and Tories clash over tax
Labour has unveiled its proposals to help business and the economy across Scotland and the UK.
The party published a mini-manifesto in Glasgow, promising to cut down on red tape and reform the tax system for small businesses.
But the Conservatives have attacked Labour over the number of tax rises they claim have been introduced by stealth.
Addressing an audience of business leaders, Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell and Scottish Enterprise Minister Wendy Alexander mapped out how Labour would deliver increased prosperity throughout the UK.
The party said its handling of the economy has built the right foundations to help Scottish and British businesses achieve long-term growth.
Mrs Liddell said: "Labour's commitment to enterprise is at one with our commitment to social justice. A healthy and confident business sector is essential to realising our dream of full employment and a fuller life for all our people.
"I am convinced that Scotland's entrepreneurial and inventive skills will thrive, to the benefit of all, if the right climate is created. Gordon Brown has created economic stability to give confidence to business small and large."
The Scottish secretary said businesses north of the Border had the "added incentive and security" of a strong partnership between Labour in Westminster and at Holyrood.
Mrs Liddell said that the partnership was "delivering a sound economy and enabling Scotland to punch its weight on the global stage".
Ms Alexander added that science and technology in Scotland had a crucial role in the country's future economic performance.
"It is clear that we can no longer expect to compete in international markets by carrying out routine manufacturing tasks cheaper than countries with low wages," she said.
"Already knowledge and know-how are overtaking buildings and machinery as the key assets of business.
"Success is going to those firms and countries who secure competitive advantage through their intellectual and human capital.
"We already have an excellent science base, so it is sensible to use it fully by encouraging the transformation of ideas from our labs into successful businesses."
But the Tories have hit out at what they claim are the 45 stealth taxes introduced under Labour.
They say voters have a choice between more tax rises, or the £8bn in tax cuts.
The Scottish Conservative president, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Scottish Leader David McLetchie, launched the attack during a media conference in Edinburgh.
Mr Rifkind said the burden of taxation was one of the defining issues of the general election campaign.
He said the average family in Scotland was paying £670 a year more in tax because Labour had broken promises it made before the last election.
"Scots have made it clear that they want to see taxes reduced, especially for those in modest incomes," he said.
Mr Rifkind claimed his was the only party committed to reducing the tax burden, whereas the Liberal Democrats and SNP had called for income tax rates to be increased.
He said: "Scotland needs Scots Tory MPs in the House of Commons to assure that Scotland ceases to be the most heavily taxed part of the United Kingdom.
Mr Rifkind articulated his party's theory of relativity as - "X 1.4k" -, indicating that a vote for the party would save on average £1,400 for a one-earner married couple with children.
The Tories said the savings would be made as a result of cuts in abolishing taxes on savings, gains from child tax credit, married couple's allowance and from petrol tax cuts.
The figure is based on the salary of the earner being between £11,859 and £33,335.
And the Tories claimed under their proposed tax cuts, a single pensioner would save £679.66, a widowed mother would save £1,390.58 and a two-earner married couple with children would be £489.61 better off.
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