Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Comprehensive posterior covering review

Well I suppose it is called a "pre-budget statement" as well as a Comprehensive Spending Review, so Mr Darling can be forgiven for using the occasion to shoot as many of the Osbourne ducks as possible.

The controversial air passenger duty is being axed by 2009. Instead of being levied on individual customers, it will be charged on flights.

Copyright: Liberal Democrat party

I welcome the commitment to increase overseas aid, but it seems we will, on the basis of Darling's announcement on the subject, reach the UN's recommended level 0.7% of GDP in about 2012. How long is that since the UN first made that recommendation? It must be nearly 30 years.

Mr Darling has just announced changes to the inheritance tax system (where the Tories scored a major win last week with their plan to raise the threshold to £1m).
He's not going that far. Instead, the threshold is going up to £600,000 now, and £700,000 by 2010.

That's higher than we proposed (which was £500,000) but it effectively neutralises that whole debate. It is for couples.

The chancellor now moves to non-domiciled residents who avoid paying tax in the UK.
The Conservatives proposed a flat rate of £25,000 to get non-doms to pay tax. Mr Darling tells the Commons that George Osborne's numbers were wrong.
"Instead of raising £3.5bn, it would raise just £650m," he claims, adding that it would deter vital workers like doctors and nurses from moving to the UK.
Instead, he says he will consult on legislation to fix this problem, and may introduce a charge for non-doms who've lived here for seven years, with a higher rate coming in after they've been here 10 years.

Again, that neutralises that one. But he ought to get on with it. Labour have promised to do something about non-doms for years. He is right to slate Osbourne's plan, if perhaps a little too low in his estimate of how much the £25,000 levy will raise.

A doubling of financing for improving the rail network.

Hallejujah - but how much of this is a double, quadruple or quintuple announcement of what we've already been told about - I wonder?

Nothing about stamp duty or married couples, I notice, but Darling is quite right to emphasise that money should go into hospitals and schools rather than giving tax cuts to the already well-off. The question is how well is the money spent? - particularly in the NHS.

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