Key committee urges Major to sack Chancellor: Tory members missed crucial votes as Lamont's record came under attack

THE Prime Minister was urged to sack Norman Lamont as Chancellor of the Exchequer and replace him with someone inspiring more public trust in a damning Commons report on last month's Budget, agreed last night by the Tory-led Treasury select committee.

The highly critical and embarrassing report was pushed through by a Labour and Liberal Democrat majority - in the absence of some Conservative committee members.

Two Tory members of the committee did not turn up and another was so late that he missed key votes. One Labour MP said: 'We therefore passed some amazingly tough stuff. It's another case of Tory incompetence.'

Even so, one section of the report, on what was described as the Government's policy of phasing-out mortgage interest tax relief by stealth, was said to have been agreed unanimously, with neither of the two Tory members present, Nigel Forman or Barry Legg, voting against. John Watts, the Conservative chairman, does not vote unless there is a tie.

In his Budget, Mr Lamont gave notice that mortgage interest tax relief would be restricted to the 20 per cent income tax rate from April next year, yielding pounds 820m in the next financial year, and pounds 870m in 1995-96, further squeezing the politically sensitive relief. Nigel Lawson restricted the relief to homes rather than people, and in Mr Lamont's first Budget in 1991 relief was limited to the 25 per cent basic rate of tax, costing an estimated 860,000 higher-rate taxpayers pounds 420m in the financial year 1992-93.

The ceiling for relief was last increased - from pounds 25,000 to pounds 30,000 - 10 years ago and the Treasury select committee believes that freeze, together with the shrinkage of the relief rate, amount to a de facto phase-out. The committee called for that policy to be made explicit.

But the biggest embarrassment of the report, to be published on Monday, was the criticism of Mr Lamont. It is expected that the committee report will return to allegations that the Chancellor ordered Treasury officials to 'massage' statistics on the growing public sector borrowing requirement before last year's election.

Mr Lamont told the committee, in evidence, there had been no impropriety, but some members were clearly not satisfied by his response to allegations that statistics had been falsified.

Those allegations, taken together with the withdrawal of sterling from the Exchange Rate Mechanism on 16 September last year - in breach of all the Chancellor's previous protestations - led the committee to the conclusion that his statements increasingly lacked credibility and that the Prime Minister should consider his replacement by someone inspiring greater City and public coinfidence.

One Labour committee member said: 'Yes, it is a one-day wonder, but it is severely embarrassing that such a report should be passed by the most senior departmental select committee of the House.' '

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future