'Mansion tax' fails to gain Lib Dem backing
The Liberal Democrats have refused to vote for a Labour motion calling for a "mansion tax" on £2 million homes – accusing the Opposition of "pantomime politics".
The Lib Dems have long championed the plan to tax wealth rather than earnings – but have failed to convince reluctant coalition partners the Conservatives to get behind it.
Labour's attempts to drive a wedge between the Government appeared to fail, however, as its motion was defeated by 304 votes to 241, a majority of 63, yesterday.
The Government amendment – spelling out the coalition's differences but attacking Labour's record – was passed by 301 votes to 246, a majority of 55.
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Some 2,300 properties in the South West are estimated to be worth more than £2 million.
Labour has said the tax raised would help pay for a return to the lower 10p-in-the-£1 starting rate of tax that was scrapped by Gordon Brown in 2008. But Lib Dems have argued the Coalition raising the income tax threshold has been more effective, as low earners are now £600 a year better off.
Labour accused Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats of "once again betraying their principles and their supporters".
But Stephen Gilbert, Lib Dem for St Austell and Newquay, said: "The Liberal Democrats are lifting millions of the lowest-paid out of income tax altogether while the Labour motion suggests that Labour want to bring in yet another new tax rate for low earners.
"It's clear that the Liberal Democrats support a mansion tax and that the Conservatives don't. I voted against Labour's new tax rate for low earners and in favour of taking them out of tax altogether, and affirmed my support for a mansion tax, in contrast to the Conservatives."