Ken Clarke rethinks married couples' tax break stance

Ken Clarke Ken Clarke said he did not recall a commitment to a married couples' tax by the end of the Parliament

Related Stories

Cabinet minister Ken Clarke says he accepts his party will honour its pledge to help married couples through the tax system - after suggesting the change might be delayed.

The Conservative election manifesto said the move would happen before 2015.

But in a Daily Telegraph interview Mr Clarke said: "I don't remember anyone promising that kind of thing."

A spokesman for Mr Clarke later said he had been expressing opinion, not policy.

While in opposition the Tories promised a transferable tax allowance possibly worth £150 a year to married couples.

It would apply where one spouse stayed at home.

But in the Telegraph interview Mr Clarke expressed surprise that a pledge had been made to introduce the policy before the end of this parliament.

He said: "We never committed ourselves to married couples' tax by the end of parliament, did we?

"I'm married, I'm not counting on it. I don't remember anyone promising that kind of thing."

Tax changes

Later a spokesman for the former justice secretary said: "It was a comment, not a statement of policy. Any tax changes are a matter for the chancellor."

Then a second comment was released on Mr Clarke's behalf, which said he had no doubt the change would be introduced - but made no mention of a possible timescale.

"He completely accepts it's going to happen," said a spokeswoman.

The government says tax is a matter for the chancellor.

The Conservative manifesto for the election in 2010 stated: "We will recognise marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system in the next parliament."

The measure had been opposed by Liberal Democrats, who secured the freedom under the Coalition Agreement to abstain in any parliamentary vote on the issue.

Mr Clarke told the Telegraph economic conditions were tough, and he believed a "long hard road" still lay ahead.

Despite growth of 1% in the third quarter of 2012 announced earlier this week, which was better than expected, the minister said it was too early to be certain the economy was rallying.

He said: "Anybody who says we are absolutely certain we are bouncing back to strong growth is being very optimistic."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Politics stories



  • Cesc FabregasFair price?

    Have some football clubs overpaid for their new players?

  • Woman and hairdryerBlow back

    Would banning high-power appliances actually save energy?

  • Members of staff at James Stevenson Flags hold a Union Jack and Saltire flag UK minus Scotland

    Does the rest of the UK care if the Scots become independent?

  • Women doing ice bucket challengeChill factor

    How much has the Ice Bucket Challenge achieved?

  • Women in front of Windows XP posterUpgrade angst

    Readers share their experiences of replacing their operating system

BBC © 2014 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.