Row on dearer heating grows

THE BUDGET row over bigger heating bills will erupt again in the Commons this week after the Government admitted that the pensions of seven million elderly people will not be uprated until a year after they have started paying the higher bills.

The Treasury is resisting pressure to pay full compensation for the imposition of VAT on domestic fuel to 10 million other people who receive income-related benefits, although a majority of Conservative backbenchers clearly want him to do so.

The row will put Norman Lamont, the Chancellor, under fresh pressure to say what level of compensation he will give the least well-off when he winds up the Budget debate tomorrow.

In the wake of his Budget, an Independent on Sunday survey of Conservative backbenchers shows that 52 out of 72 now want him to stay as Chancellor. Although 60 of the 132 MPs contacted refused to answer, the survey shows that backing for Mr Lamont has increased since a similar survey for this newspaper last October - a month after Britain left the Exchange Rate Mechanism.

Then, the majority against his resigning was three to two. The Prime Minister has kept open the option of a summer reshuffle, but some of Mr Lamont's ministerial supporters think he could remain Chancellor well into next year.

John MacGregor, the Secretary of State for Transport, with 15 votes, emerged as first choice in a scattered field of candidates to replace him. He was ahead of Michael Portillo (12), Michael Howard (10), Kenneth Clarke (8) and Peter Lilley (2). The figures suggest that right-wing support is divided between Mr Portillo and Mr Howard, despite Mr Portillo's having taken some of the blame for last week's messy presentation of the heating issue.

A survey in today's Sunday Times finds that three out of four backbenchers want pensioners and poor families to be fully compensated for the VAT rise. But earlier, asked if the Government was ready to pay anything like the pounds 800m to pounds 1bn which Labour estimates as the cost of full compensation, a senior source said: 'No.'

All pensioners except the very poorest face the delay because their pensions will not increase until a year after they start paying the higher costs. Pension upratings take place in April, and reflect the previous September's Retail Prices Index. Mr Lamont said in his Budget speech that 'social security benefits will, of course, rise automatically to reflect the price effect of this change.' Senior Treasury sources have now acknowledged that this would happen 'in time'.

In fact, those pensioners not receiving extra benefit - a group which includes many in low-income groups - will not be compensated fully until they have paid extra bills for two years.

At a Tory students' conference in London, Mr Portillo cited a 1990 Labour policy document, which said that zero-rating on such items as food, books, and children's clothing should stay. Mr Portillo asked: 'Does anyone spot the dog that doesn't bark in that sentence? There is no mention of fuel and power.'

Gordon Brown, the Shadow Chancellor, said the Budget had permanently stamped the Tories 'as the party if rising taxes, devaluation and economic failure.'

THE political parties exchanged insults yesterday over the Newbury by-election even before a date has been set.

The Tory candidate, Julian Davidson, was attacked by Labour after winning the nomination at the expense of a former Treasury minister, John Maples. Mr Davidson, 30, a consultant in design, printing and advertising, contested Paddy Ashdown's Yeovil seat at the general election and signalled his intention to 'nail those Liberal Democrats' in Newbury. A Somerset county councillor, he is to the right of Mr Maples on law-and-order issues.

Labour's campaign manager, Peter Mandelson, MP for Hartlepool, said he was 'amazed that the Tories have selected such an underqualified candidate'.

The by-election, caused by the death of Judith Chaplin, could be held on local election day, 6 May.

Leading article and Political

Commentary, page 22

Christopher Huhne, page 12

Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried