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Clegg vow to 'rebalance' tax system
3:18am Wednesday 19th May 2010
The coalition Government will aim to make taxes fairer, rather than reduce the overall burden of taxation, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.
The Liberal Democrat leader's comments - less than 50 days ahead of Chancellor George Osborne's first budget - risk angering some Conservatives for whom tax cuts are a cherished priority.
The coalition agreement struck between the two parties last week ditched Conservative cuts to inheritance tax in favour of the Lib Dem policy of making income tax "fairer" by increasing personal allowances to £10,000. Capital gains tax is also expected to rise on non-business assets like second homes.
In an interview with The Times, Mr Clegg was asked if he expected the Government will reduce the overall tax burden.
He replied: "No, I am saying we'll rebalance the tax system. We're not making great claims about the overall tax burden."
Mr Clegg also risked annoying Tories by defending the Human Rights Act - which David Cameron's manifesto promised to scrap - and warning: "Any government would tamper with it at its peril."
Last week's agreement already sparked rumblings on the Conservative backbenches that Mr Cameron gave too much ground to the Lib Dems in return for the deal which handed him the keys to 10 Downing Street.
But Mr Clegg insisted that the Lib Dem agenda has a great deal in common with Mr Cameron's Big Society proposals.
He told The Times: "The interesting thing I have discovered over the last week is that we have been using different words but we mean similar things. What I call liberalism David Cameron calls the Big Society. We clearly both agree that trying to administer from the centre, from a highly intrusive state, through Whitehall paternalism, doesn't work. It's a model tested to destruction in the last decade. I call it empowerment, he calls it responsibility."
Mr Clegg said that he will be consulted on any decision to sack a Liberal Democrat minister from the coalition Government, and revealed that there will be a "one-in one-out" rule, requiring any Lib Dem who is reshuffled to be replaced by one of the party's other MPs or peers.