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Green road taxes prompt Brown v Cameron fight

exhaust.jpgRound at Tory central, if you listen hard over the sound of smuggery and privilege, you might be able to hear the sound of squealing tyres and a hand brake going on hard. No stunt men here, rather the sound of David Cameron pulling a lazy U-turn on green road taxes.

After previoulsy supporting a proposition to put up vehicle excise duty on the most polluting cars, Cameron has now changed his mind and told PM Gordon Brown he’ll be out on his ear if he doesn’t drop Labour’s “unpopular” green road taxes.

Here’s the ding-dong from PM’s question time last night:

Mr. David Cameron (Witney) (Con): The Chancellor of the Exchequer is today in front of the Select Committee on the Treasury. The next tax hike planned by the Government is to hit family cars, including those bought seven years ago, with massive increases in vehicle excise duty. Is the Prime Minister really going to go ahead with this deeply unpopular tax when families are struggling with the cost of living, or can he give us another of his trademark U-turns?

The Prime Minister: If the right hon. Gentleman looks in detail at the proposal, he will see that the majority of drivers will benefit from it. If he looks in detail at his own policy, it says:
“We recommend…changes in VED, aimed primarily at influencing the used car market where annual running costs comprise a larger proportion of total costs.”
What he proposes is a band in excess of £500; that is far worse than what he says that we are proposing.
Mr. Cameron: When is the Prime Minister going to learn that new green taxes should be offset, one by one, by cuts in family taxes? The Prime Minister says that we should look at the detail; let me take him up on that, because he spews out statistics that, in any other walk of life, would result in trading standards officers coming in and clamping him in irons. He says that next year, half of all motorists will be better off or no worse off; that is what he has just said. The full effect of the tax rise is not planned to take effect until 2010, and the Treasury has said that under this regime, 81 per cent. of cars will be worse off. Once again, dodgy statistics from the Prime Minister.

Let us start when the tax was first announced. Can the Prime Minister tell us why the Chancellor, in his Budget speech, made no mention of the fact that the tax would hit people who had bought a car up to seven years ago? Why no mention?

The Prime Minister: It was in the Budget documents. Twenty-four of the 30 top models, which are the most popular models, will have the same or lower tax as a result of it. The right hon. Gentleman says that he supports green taxes. He also said a few days ago that
“there will be tough choices to make for the environment and I won’t shy away from them for one moment”.

Let us assume that we both agree on the need for green taxes. Let us also agree that we need to deal with polluting cars, and let the right hon. Gentleman tell us that he now supports our policy.

Oooh, handbags. So what do the Tories propose now?

A whip-smart party source explained it to The Independent like this:

“We will increase the proportion of taxation raised through green taxes by rebalancing taxation away from taxing ‘good’ things, like jobs and investment, towards taxing ‘bad’ things, like pollution and carbon emissions.”

Ah, Greenbang gets it now. It’s a sort of good v bad thing. Thanks for the insight.

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