Howard attacks 'borrow now, tax later budget'

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Tory leader Michael Howard tore into Mr Brown's eighth Budget dubbing it a "borrow now, tax later Budget from a borrow now, tax later Chancellor".

Tory leader Michael Howard tore into Mr Brown's eighth Budget dubbing it a "borrow now, tax later Budget from a borrow now, tax later Chancellor".

Opening the Opposition's response, Mr Howard described the statement as "a credit-card Budget from a credit-card Chancellor".

And he warned: "The country will pay for it later in Labour's third term tax rises".

Rising to loud Tory cheers, after the Budget statement, Mr Howard asked: "If everything's going so well, why do you have to borrow so much?"

In 2001 the forecast for borrowing over five years was £30 billion. A year later the forecast had risen to £72 billion.

"Today you are predicting borrowing of over £140 billion and you are on course to borrow this year alone almost five times as much as you forecast at the time of the last election.

"And this is at a time when you claim the economy is doing well. How much would you be borrowing if the economy went into a downturn?"

He declared: "The truth is that this is a credit card Budget from a credit card Chancellor."

Mr Howard said that under Labour savings were down, the trade deficit was at the highest since the 17th century and manufacturing output was lower than in 1997.

He welcomed the increased spending on tackling terrorism and the potential savings from merging the Inland Revenue with Customs and Excise.

Pledging to examine the Barker review of housing, the Opposition leader said: "So far all this Government has achieved is to hold the record for the lowest number of new houses built in peacetime since 1924."

Mr Howard also welcomed the increased pension for those over 70 but warned: "What this Chancellor gives, this Chancellor takes away."

He went on: "We particularly welcome your announcement that Britain won't be joining the euro - though ... you didn't put it quite like that!"

Mr Howard said Mr Brown had failed to keep within the Maastricht criteria for joining the euro.

"He's broken the rules and he hasn't even joined the club," he said to Tory laughs.

The economy's growth "is funded by a public sector boom paid for by a public sector Chancellor", he said.

"None of the Chancellor's bluster can disguise the fact that this is a government which has increased taxes and increased borrowing and the borrowing that he has announced today is simply unsustainable.

"If Labour get a third term tax rises are inevitable."

There have been more than 60 taxes rises and people are paying half as much tax again as they were in 1997, he said.

He said that the real value of people's pay fell last year.

After the budget, a "black hole" still existed in the country's finances, he said.

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