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Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK

Hague launches pensions attack

Tory Leader William Hague has launched a two-pronged attack on Labour over tax and pensions during his visit to Scotland on Wednesday.

Speaking in the Eastwood constituency, Mr Hague compared last year's 75p a week rise in pensions to what the Tories would offer in government.

Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party has called for a new emphasis on community policing to tackle the fear of crime.

And the Scottish Socialists unveiled an anti-Trident 'manifesto for peace'.

Mr Hague also unveiled a new poster campaign with a strong attack on Labour's record on tax as he visited Scotland to tour target seats in Renfrewshire and Stirling.

Mr Hague said 7 June represented the opportunity for the electorate to vote for a party which would treat pensioners with the respect they deserve.

"We will give pensioners their independence back by letting them keep more of their own money without the need for the means test.

"We will increase the basic state pension, with a higher increase for the over 75s, who tend to be the poorest.

" Tony Blair promised to raise the living standards of the poorest pensioners "
William Hague

"We will take a million pensioners out of tax by increasing the age-related personal allowance," the Conservative leader said.

Mr Hague said that pensioners had been "shamefully" let down by Labour and added that the present government had "spent a lower proportion of Britains income on pensioners than the last Conservative Government did.

He said: "Tony Blair promised to raise the living standards of the poorest pensioners.

"But there are now 400,000 more pensioners living in poverty than there were in 1997."

The SNP has fleshed out the details of its pledge to recruit an extra 1,000 police officers - even though justice is one of the powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Community policing

At a photocall in Edinburgh under a 'safe street' sign, SNP Deputy Leader Roseanna Cunningham alleged that Labour has failed to cut crime and its causes.

Ms Cunningham said the SNP would introduce new community policing designed to protect "vulnerable" Scots.

A central plank of the party's justice policy is to provide 14 extra police officers in every Scottish constituency.

Ms Cunningham said: "In keeping with our concern about youth offending, we will place a new emphasis on community policing in order to ensure that the ability of the police to perform their core function of preventing crime, rather then just detecting it, is enhanced.

"This will ensure that the most vulnerable people in our communities, in particular our elderly people, are better protected.

" Crime - and the fear of crime - is a huge problem in Scotland "
Roseanna Cunningham

"More resources, including a stronger community policing effort, will allow police in Scotland to be pro-active as well as reactive, and in the long term we will reap the reward in lower crime figures."

And the SNP deputy leader said the party was determined to introduce 1,000 more police officers in Scotland, where she said crime "had taken its toll" on the public.

"Crime - and the fear of crime - is a huge problem in Scotland. But with these extra resources, the SNP are determined to restore a sense of safety and security within our communities," Ms Cunningham said.

She claimed that under New Labour police number had been cut - a trend the SNP was committed to reversing.

Unilateral nuclear disarmament was on the election agenda when the Scottish Socialists launched its 'manifesto for peace' in Edinburgh.

The SSP was joined by Scottish CND and other anti-Trident groups as it stepped up its long-running campaign against the nuclear deterrent at the Faslane Naval Base on the Clyde.

Leader Tommy Sheridan pointed towards his recent arrest at an anti-nuclear demonstration, as well as his imprisonment for non-payment of a fine imposed over last year's protest, as proof that SSP candidates are dedicated politicians.

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