Danny Alexander criticised for alternative Budget

Alexander at the Treasury with his yellow Budget box. Picture: PA

Alexander at the Treasury with his yellow Budget box. Picture: PA

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DANNY Alexander was heckled in the Commons as he set out the Lib Dem “alternative” for those “left cold” by George Osborne’s Budget on Wednesday.

The Lib Dem Chief Treasury Secretary vowed that his party would balance the books in the next parliament by cutting less than the Tories and borrowing less than Labour.

He chopped Mr Osborne’s proposed £12 billion welfare reductions in half and instead suggested £6bn more could be found from tax dodgers.

But Mr Alexander was harangued by Labour backbenchers who accused him of hypocrisy and of abusing his position.

Despite confirming that the Budget was agreed by the Tories and the Lib Dems, Mr Alexander criticised the plans contained in it to cut government spending to 1964 levels – “the era of Cathy Come Home”.

Prior to Mr Alexander’s ministerial statement, Speaker John Bercow insisted that such statements “have to be ministerial, delivered not in a personal or party capacity but on behalf of the government”.

Mr Alexander was met with shouts of “this is an abuse of office” and “this is ridiculous” from many Opposition MPs. Others waved the coalition Budget document.

At one point, Labour frontbencher Andrew Gwynne reached across the table separating the despatch boxes with a copy of the red book and dropped it in front of Mr Alexander. Undeterred, Mr Alexander detailed the Lib Dems’ “better economic plan for Britain”.

He said: “The Chancellor set out the final coalition Budget of this parliament. The policy measures contained in the document were all agreed between us.

“I secured key Liberal Democrat commitments, including a significant increase in the income tax personal allowance, support for mental health, tax measures to support motorists, Scotch whisky and the oil and gas sector because together they make our society fairer and our economy stronger.

“Yet I know that millions of people watching yesterday’s exchanges between the Chancellor and the Opposition leader were left wondering: ‘Isn’t there another way to do this?’”

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