Ken Clarke backtracks after tax break quip
CABINET minister Ken Clarke has backed away from comments suggesting the Conservatives may not make good on a promise to give tax breaks to married couples during the course of this Parliament.
In a newspaper interview yesterday, Clarke suggested married couples should not “count on” receiving the break before the 2015 poll, claiming he did not remember anyone in the government promising it.
His comments seemed to be at odds with the Tory manifesto promise in the 2010 election of a transferable tax allowance that could be worth £150 a year to married couples when one spouse stays at home.
But a spokeswoman said Clarke accepted the change will happen, and was not intending to make a statement of policy in his comments.
The measure was opposed by Liberal Democrats, but was not ruled out in the Coalition Agreement, which stated merely that Lib Dem MPs would be free to abstain when measures were brought forward in Parliament.
Clarke said it was too early to be certain the economy is bouncing back and predicted “a long hard road” ahead.
“We never committed ourselves to married couples’ tax by the end of the Parliament,” the minister without portfolio said. “I’m married, I’m not counting on it. I don’t remember anyone promising that kind of thing.”
However, a spokeswoman for Clarke said yesterday: “It was a comment, not a statement of policy. Any tax changes are a matter for the Chancellor. He accepts the changes will happen.”
On the economy, Clarke – a former chancellor – said: “It would be absolute folly to turn around and say it will all be fine by Christmas.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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