Labour MPs overjoyed

LABOUR MPs in East Anglia were overjoyed at the Chancellor's boost for pensioners, families and businesses in the last Budget before the General Election.

By Graham Dines

LABOUR MPs in East Anglia were overjoyed at the Chancellor's boost for pensioners, families and businesses in the last Budget before the General Election.

The Harwich constituency has the highest proportion of pensioner voters in Britain and its Labour MP Ivan Henderson, who will be defending a 2,596 majority, seized on the help for OAPs with a one-off £200 council tax rebate and free bus travel.

"The elderly in Harwich will benefit enormously from the Budget. Thanks to Labour's investment in bus schemes, we have new links between the villages, Clacton and Harwich. Free passes will allow pensioners to make full use of these services," he said.

Mr Henderson added the child tax credit increases would benefit 11,500 children in 6,400 families throughout the constituency.

Chris Mole, Ipswich MP, claimed Labour had delivered a "stable economy with low inflation, low interest rates, high employment and continuous growth".

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The Labour MP added: "Businesses will welcome this stability and the Government's commitment to a new approach to red tape that means good businesses will be inspected less often, while those that don't protect consumers will be targeted for more action."

But David Ruffley, the Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds, pointed out that the words "rural," "shire counties" or "countryside" did not pass from the Chancellor's lips during the Budget speech. "This is typical of our urban Labour government," he complained.

Mr Ruffley added there was still no help for rural motorists who paid the highest fuel duty in Europe and the increase in stamp duty thresholds would have little impact in East Anglia, which had seen some of the highest rises in house prices.

Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative MP for North Essex, said: "This is exactly the sort of Budget Mr Brown delivered before the last general election.

"He is giving with one hand before the election, only to take back even more with the other, after the election. All the independent economic commentators say that taxes will have to rise if Labour are re-elected."

Bob Russell, the Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, said the Budget did nothing for people in the rented housing sector and added the council tax gimmick was no match for his party's promises to replace it with a local income tax.

graham.dines@eadt.co.uk

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