Tax to top Lib Dem conference agenda

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Indy Politics

The Liberal Democrats will today outline in detail their agenda for next week's annual conference in Brighton.

At the official launch of the conference agenda document in Westminster, the party will detail the programme for what will be Sir Menzies Campbell's first conference as party leader.

The party are expected to outline what they claim are radical new taxation plans and will aim to put the environment and tackling poverty at the heart of their appeal to the voters.

The leadership wants to make the tax system fairer by abolishing the existing 10p starting rate of income tax, raising the national insurance contributions threshold, raising the starting threshold for the 40% higher rate of tax to £50,000, and cutting the basic rate of national income tax by 2p, as part of a switch from central to local taxation.

In addition, the leadership wishes to scrap its policy of a 50p top rate of tax - although this policy, seen as popular with rank-and-file members, is likely to be opposed on the conference floor.

The party will outline proposals to tax environmental pollution and resource usage, and help fund other reforms through a 'green tax switch'.

This would be implemented by taxing aircraft on emissions, bringing in vehicle excise duty based on carbon emission, reforming the climate change levy, and indexing fuel duty to inflation.

The party will hold major debates on the public services, diversity and equality, taxation and rural issues.

The speech on Wednesday by former leader Charles Kennedy - who resigned in January after admitting he had a drink problem - will be watched with great interest.

The final day of the conference, on Thursday, September 21, will see Sir Menzies give his first conference speech as party leader.

His performance will be closely scrutinised by party members, the media and the public as he attempts to signal what people could expect under a Campbell premiership.

Today's launch will be presided over by Kingston and Surbiton MP Ed Davey and conference committee chair Duncan Brack.