Tories spot 'black hole' in Labour's costing

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The Independent Online
The Conservative Party chairman, Dr Brian Mawhinney, yesterday claimed a "new black hole" has opened in Labour's spending plans, following the row over legal problems with their proposed windfall tax on the utilities.

He said legal opinion on the windfall tax, which was published yesterday by Aims of Industry, confirmed what the Tories have been saying about New Labour. "Their policies are flawed, the danger is in the detail and the taxpayer will foot the bill.

"Last November we published our costing of New Labour's public spending plans. The total came to pounds 30bn. New Labour did not deny these commitments but said that they had explained how their spending plans would be funded. They said that some of their commitments would be covered by the windfall tax.

"Now this opinion opens a new black hole in New Labour's spending commitments. With their proposed windfall tax bogged down in expensive and lengthy litigation, how do they propose to cover the costs of their much trumpeted employment programme?

"Their welfare to work youth employment pledge would cost pounds 500m a year. Where would the money come from? There is now a new annual pounds 1.8bn black hole in the few spending commitments Mr Blair has admitted would cost anything."

The Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine, also challenged Labour to name the firms that would be hit by the windfall tax.