George Osborne downplays Nick Clegg's 'rich tax' call


George Osborne: "I want the wealthy to pay more but I do not want to drive wealth creators away"

Related Stories

Chancellor George Osborne has warned against "driving away" the UK's "wealth creators" after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called for a temporary additional tax on the rich.

Mr Clegg argued that those of "very considerable" means should pay more into the system, leading to an angry reaction from several Tory MPs.

He said this should come in addition to the Lib Dems' proposed "mansion tax".

But Mr Osborne said it was important not to deter business from the UK.

In recent weeks there have been several reported clashes between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives over issues including House of Lords reform, airport expansion and plans to redraw boundaries for House of Commons seats.

'National effort'

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Mr Clegg appeared to highlight differences over fiscal policy, by suggesting the government could go beyond his own Liberal Democrats' current policy for a "mansion tax" on properties of a high value.

He said: "In addition to our standing policy on things like the mansion tax, is there a time-limited contribution you can ask in some way or another from people of considerable wealth so they feel they are making a contribution to the national effort?" he said.

Mr Clegg said fairness was key to the next steps in tackling the "longer economic war".

"While I am proud of some of the things we have done as a government, I actually think we need to really hard-wire fairness into what we do in the next phases of fiscal restraint," he said.

"If we don't do that I don't think the process will be either socially or politically sustainable or acceptable."

The tax idea is expected to be debated at next month's Lib Dem conference in Brighton, with party sources suggesting Mr Clegg could eventually present it to the cabinet.

But, during a visit to Sunderland, Mr Osborne said: "I am clear that the wealthy should pay more, which is why in the recent budget I increased the tax on very expensive property transactions.

"But we also have to be careful as a country we don't drive away the wealth creators and the businesses that are going to lead our economic recovery."

For Labour, shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie said: "Nick Clegg is once again taking the British people for fools. He talks about a tax on the wealthiest, but he voted for the tax cut for millionaires in George Osborne's Budget.

"And he has supported a failing economic plan which has pushed Britain into a double-dip recession and is leading to borrowing going up by a quarter so far this year."

Income tax graphic

Mr Clegg's comments provoked criticism from Conservative MPs.

Bernard Jenkin, who chairs the Commons Public Administration Committee, told the BBC: "If the politics of envy made a country rich, we would be a very rich country.

"I think most rich people are contributing far more in tax than other people.

"I know this is not a fashionable view, but if you go on raising tax on rich people - and that's why, in agreement with Nick Clegg we have had to cut the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p - you drive wealth abroad.

"This is a pre-conference, easy-clap line."

Fellow Conservative MP Mary Macleod said: "This is Nick Clegg saying let's try out a few ideas before party conference, probably will cheer up a few Lib Dems to talk about it. But it isn't government policy."

Discussions about tax and spending will take place before the chancellor's autumn statement.

In his interview, Mr Clegg also hinted at a return to cabinet for former Treasury minister David Laws.

Lib Dem Mr Laws resigned as chief secretary to the Treasury two years ago after admitting he claimed expenses to pay his partner rent.

"I have never made any secret of the fact that I want to see David Laws back in government," Mr Clegg said.

He also promised the coalition would stand by its commitment not to build a third runway at Heathrow, despite growing calls from Tory MPs for a change of heart.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 1571.

    1541 cont
    Policy after policy putting the financial elite (conservative donors) first. Privatisation rearing its head again in areas it's not wanted.
    Then savage cuts to essential services and benefits and a raft of other policies affecting the poorest worst. This type of politics has nothing to do with ethics or community, its classic Tory ideology and its as appalling as ever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1570.

    Another example of take take take. In business I cannot just charge more I have to cut costs. Reduce MP's by 50% stop wasting billions on stupid buildings which are then knocked down, billions on computer systems that don't work NHS. Prisoners who contribute zero, terminate them. Stop all benefits. It's a tough world so man up. Close ALL loop holes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1569.

    The church used to brainwash the poor with quotes like - its harder for a richman to get into heaven than it is for an elephant to get through the eye of a needle.We know all this religious rubbish is garbage now but where is the church and why isnt it saying how evil Cameron and Clegg are.They are intent on destroying society and the church says nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1568.

    Justin150 HMRC figures suggest that it collects about 92% of the tax that is due. Even Labour (I think Ed Balls) said people would not like to live in a society where collection procedures meant that HMRC collect much more"

    HMRC are hardly likely to admit to collecting significantly less, are they? Can we believe them?

    I find Balls' comment rather sinister; what is he suggesting exactly?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1567.

    All income and capital gains could be taxed at the same flat rate - scrap employers NI (to help create jobs) and ideally employee NI and have a single tax. It would create jobs, encourage work, investment and growth. Get people into work and off benefits and everyone wins.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1566.

    Mr Clegg, give up with the pointless rhetoric.You're in a coalition led by Tory millionaires so the likelihood of any progressive taxation of the super-rich is, shall we say, small. Crying about tax 'fairness' isn't going to win you any support now in any case.You and your party are doomed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1565.

    The problem isnt the amount of tax revenue, it is poor spending on silly projects.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1564.

    The graph is interesting - The top 10% of earners pay 55% of the tax. Do they earn 55% of the income?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1563.

    Doctor Bob, “We need to look at how the existing tax take is used.”
    Dam good point, and let`s make the results easy to read with an update just before the next election!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1562.

    Spineless hypocrite!

    I suppose he also thinks that student tuition fees should be abolished & the recent damaging NHS reforms withdrawn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1561.

    Oh sorry, forgot, you can't do that because it would offend your ever shrinking voting base.
    Remember the fuss when the higher tax payer benefit reductions were proposed - ok it was badly put together like most of this govt's policies - but the wailing was deafening.

    # #1498 Teapot
    Never seen the Tea Party Alliance manifesto summarised so accurately and succinctly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1560.

    The problems are the loopholes in the taxation system, not the tax rate.

    Fill are the loopholes in, legal or illegal, and then everyone will be contributing what they are expected to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1559.

    I believe all businesses that pay at or near the minimum wage should repay all the subsidies (Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, Council Tax) out of the proceeds when the business is wound-up or sold. Currently the tax payer is paying handsomely to create millionaires, which is utterly unreasonable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1558.

    Why don't we do what America is doing to get out of our economic crisis? Fine the US banks in the City for wrongdoing (sub-prime fiasco would be a start); claw back cash on specious patent law cases and create monopolies in the process, etc. Oh - and we could not launch expensive foreign wars which don't pay us anything back - that might save a bob or two.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1557.

    Does that include Rich MPs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1556.

    A flat rate of tax is a good idea, unfortunately the issues are that it does not encourage people to buy properties or shares, to save in pensions, to invest in start ups or numerous other schemes which are beneficial to both budding entrepreneurs and the fat cat. Not to mention that you would put many of the top 1% of earners out of work meaning less tax income! I agree with aboliting NI though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1555.

    perhaps the government could bring in a standard single rate Tax...

    say...30 pieces of silver

    As a sweetner everyone could get a 'free' lottery ticket

  • rate this

    Comment number 1554.

    Politics of envy. As earlier comment the top 1% contribute 29% of income tax in any event. Income tax is a small contributor to overall tax revenues.

    We spend 100bn a year too much. Europe 18bn, Child benefit 12bn, too much local govt administration 10bn and overseas aid without benefit to the UK. There you go half way there.

    Problem is all the politicians are using the same old formula

  • rate this

    Comment number 1553.

    Wealthy should pay more tax, says Nick Clegg

    Idiotic statement by an idiotic deputy prime minister.

    He has about as much influence over the conservatives as I have and that is ZERO
    What dirty move is in progress while this holds the headlines

  • rate this

    Comment number 1552.

    @1517 - I suspect those that live on the streets regard those that live in council houses (or have internet access?) as wealthy. So when are you leaving and can you make out your cheque to HMRC?


Page 3 of 81


More Politics stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.