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Top Tories Back Away From Tax-Cutting Agenda

by Amanda Banks,, London

22 August 2007

The leadership of the UK's opposition Tory party continued to back away from John Redwood's tax-cutting plans outlined in the party's Competitiveness Review, as shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond told the BBC's Newsnight on Monday that the Tories considered Redwood's recommendations as just 'good ideas'.

Redwood has proposed the abolition of inheritance tax, and reductions in stamp duty and corporation tax, alongside a bonfire of regulations including the scrapping of IR35 and Managed Service Company regulations. Opponents say that the changes could cost up to GBP21 bn, but supply-sider Redwood says that the tax reductions could more than pay for themselves.

Although at the launch of the programme, George Osborne, Conservative party shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, committed the party to adopting it, he and other senior figures have made it clear that the party would not reduce the level of taxation in the early years of a Tory government, frightened of seeming to back any threat to the UK's range of sanctified public services.

Redwood's proposals have been welcomed by a wide range of commentators as well as being vilified by the left. Professional Contractors Group chairman David Ramsden said: ''These proposals by the Conservatives show recognition of the importance to the UK of its vibrant freelancing sector and we welcome that as positive progress. IR35 is not only unworkable and unfair, it is also intensely resented by the tens of thousands of freelancers who feel as though they are often treated as criminals when in actual fact they are making an enormous contribution to the economy. PCG hopes that now the Tories have put abolition of IR35 on the agenda, other parties will engage in a sensible debate too."

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