News snippets from the Conservative conference: tax, Europe, migration and more

Trouble ahead on tax as George Osborne opposes a mansion tax:

We are not going to have a mansion tax, or a new tax that is a percentage value of people’s properties.

Before you rush to spot the loophole in that – what about adding extra higher bands to Council Tax? – he opposed that too. Given Osborne made much of his reputation as was by opposing changes to inheritance tax, perhaps it is on capital gains tax that there will be room fro an agreement with the Liberal Democrats. We’ve often called for taxes on income and wealth to be more equal, instead of advantaging wealth over income. The post-2010 election budget saw a big move in that direction with capital gains tax going up. Perhaps another move towards equalisation is on the cards?

Whether it’s capital gains tax or not, David Cameron has told the BBC:

[We will] take further action to ensure rich people pay their fair share.

Meanwhile, Cameron has said Council Tax in England will be frozen for a third year and rail fare increases capped:

The fares rise cap — set by the PM today at one per cent on top of inflation — will be a massive relief to angry train users braced for punishing ticket price leaps of 11 per cent this autumn.

At a cost of £300 million, it will last until the end of 2014 and save commuters with an average annual season ticket up to £45 a year, Mr Cameron said.

The council tax freeze — now for the third year in a row — will save the average family up to £72 next year.

On Europe, Cameron is making hostile noises to a further increase in the European Union’s budget:

The Prime Minister also vows today to use Britain’s veto, if necessary, to block “outrageous” attempts to increase the European Union’s overall budget in upcoming negotiations to set total spending for the years 2014 to 2020

This is an issue that has caused some controversy in the Liberal Democrats when opposition to increases in the budget have been previously floated. Or rather floated and then sunk by opposition within the party, especially from Lib Dem MEPs. Changing economic circumstances may make the debate more even-handed this time round.

And finally Theresa May who sounded like she’d made an announcement, until David Cameron rowed back on it.

Here’s May [£]:

Visa controls to prevent an influx of immigrants from some European Union countries are being considered by the Tories in a move that challenges one of the fundamental tenets of the EU. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Theresa May, the home secretary, says the EU’s freedom of movement directive, which guarantees the right of its 500m citizens to travel freely within the EU, should be reviewed.

But then Cameron was interviewed:

Finally, a reminder of one of the differences the Liberal Democrats are making:

David Cameron has been given a clear demand from the Conservative Party’s grass roots to drop his controversial plans to legalise same-sex marriage in an eve-of-conference poll. [Daily Telegraph]

If it weren’t for coalition, these calls would have already sunk the proposals – and there’s no sign of such calls succeeding this autumn either.


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