Straw to receive 'Tribune' apology

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JACK STRAW, Labour's environment spokesman, said yesterday that Tribune, the left-wing weekly, would be apologising for a report that a Labour government would keep the council tax and compulsory competitive tendering, writes Anthony Bevins.

In a Commons debate on Wednesday night, Michael Howard, Secretary of State for the Environment, baited his shadow over an interview published in last week's Tribune and accused him of 'sneaking out major policy U-turns'.

Mr Straw told MPs that while he had been reported correctly in saying that the underlying principle of council tax was 'OK', and he had seen the case for compulsory competitive tendering for basic services like refuse collection, he had not told Tribune that they would be retained by Labour.

He said yesterday: 'Just because I see a case for something, that does not commit future Labour policy. The future policy of competitive compulsory tendering and council tax is a matter for the usual policy- making processes.'

Tribune will be publishing a letter to that effect, and Mr Straw said the editor would be apologising for inferring too much from his words.

But a senior party official told the Independent last week that it was fully expected that the necessary policy changes on council tax and compulsory competitive tendering would be made in due course.