Russell rebels over VAT increase

Colchester MP votes against coalition

AN Essex MP who voted against the coalition government’s proposals to raise Value Added Tax to 20% said Labour had to shoulder the blame for the mess the economy was in.

Colchester Liberal Democrat Bob Russell said VAT was the most unfair tax, but it hit disproportionately the poorest members of society.

“Millionaires will not notice the extra 2.5% on bills, but people on very low incomes will be really hit by this increase.”

Mr Russell, however, did not criticise Chancellor George Osborne for having to push through massive tax hikes and spending cuts to try to rebalance the economy.

“Labour left this country in an appalling mess. We have been spending way beyond our means and something had to be done.

“However, VAT is regressive. The poorest families will have to bear the brunt.

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“Child poverty under Labour has rocketed, even though Gordon Brown and Tony Blair said their main aim was to eliminate it.

“It now stands at 3.9million - what a shocking indictment of 13 wasted years of Labour government.”

During resumed debate in the Commons on the Budget, Mr Russell asked about the Government’s commitment to fight child poverty.

He said: ``Can you advise me whether the current level of 3.9 million children living below the poverty line, inherited after 13 years of failure of a Labour

government, will be increased or decreased by the end of this Parliament?’’

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith replied: ``Directly in terms of this Budget there will be no increase at all, that is the figure approved by the Office of Budget Responsibility, and it is our determination to drive that figure down.”

The House of Commons approved the increase by 346 votes to 270, a government majority of 76. Mr Russell was joined in the `no’ lobby by one other coalition MP, Mick Hancock, who is Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South.

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