Nick Clegg: No merger with Tories

NICK CLEGG will today tell Lib Dem members that his party will field candidates in all constituencies in the 2015 general election. He will deny rumours of a full electoral pact or even merger between the two parties.

Speaking at his party’s annual conference in Liverpool yesterday, Clegg also backed calls for a review of the coalition’s immigration cap after concerns from the City that it is harming the economy. He said he agreed with Vince Cable’s dissent on the policy.

The government will launch a crackdown on offshore and online tax dodgers and smugglers in a bid to save £7bn a year by 2015, it was also announced. Ministers are to earmark £900m to fund a new team of investigators to probe offshore tax evasion.

They will also use the cash to create cyber tax crime teams and to better detect alcohol and tobacco smuggling.

Tax evasion costs the UK about £7bn a year, avoidance costs a similar amount and attacks on the tax system by organised criminals cost about £5bn. The measures are expected to form part of HM Revenue & Customs’ settlement in the government’s spending review, which it will announce on 20 October.

Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “Tax avoidance and evasion are unacceptable at the best of times but in today’s circumstances, it is morally indefensible.”