VINCE Cable yesterday suggested the Lib Dems could join Labour and vote in favour of a so-called mansion tax on £2m homes, saying it was an “an idea whose time has come”.
However the business secretary was forced to talk down internal party suggestions for a wealth tax on personal items such as jewellery, saying the plan is “completely impractical and intrusive”.
Proposals for a one per cent annual levy on high-end property, which received the backing of Ed Miliband last week, are due to be debated in the House of Commons next month and Cable said his party could side with the opposition on the issue.
“If it’s purely a statement of sup- port to the principle of the mansion tax, I’m sure my colleagues would want to support it. But very often in these opposition days they can’t resist the temptation to make party political point scoring and dragging other issues in like the 10p rate. If that happens I’m sure we will not. It’s up to them to be statesmanlike and sensible in how they approach it,” he told Sky News’ Murnaghan programme.
Despite Cable’s rebuttal the proposed wealth tax on personal items will be put forward at the party’s spring conference in Brighton next month, where Lib Dem members will vote on whether to adopt it as party policy.
Other proposals to be debated at the Lib Dem conference include a land value tax, cutting the annual limit on pensions tax relief from £40,000 to £30,000, and redefining the mansion tax to include cumulative property holdings up to £2m – potentially hitting buy-to-let landlords and people with second homes.
Meanwhile Nick Clegg will tonight use a speech at the Mansion House to attack Miliband for “blatant plagiarism” of the high-end housing tax . The Deputy Prime Minister will tell a City audience that it is in their interest to rebalance the UK’s economy away from London and the south east.
“[Previous governments] were so bewitched by London’s financial services that they squandered other indus- tries and allowed other communities to wither,” Clegg will say. He will also brand Labour’s policy of funding public sector spending in the regions with City tax receipts as “trying to prop up a nation of 100,000 square miles on the profits of just a single Square Mile.”