POLITICS

Lib Dems Avoid Mansion Tax Embarrassment In Commons Vote

11/03/2013 21:54 GMT | Updated 12/03/2013 09:52 GMT

The Liberal Democrats have averted a potential Commons embarrassment and announced they will not vote with Labour in favour of a mansion tax.

Business Secretary Vince Cable - who earlier held open the prospect of a revolt - said a solution had been found to sidestep the opposition's "cynical games".

lib dems

There had been speculation that Vince Cable would vote with the Opposition over the Mansion Tax

The coalition parties will instead vote for an amendment on Tuesday which recognises the deep differences between them on the proposals for a levy on £2 million-plus properties.

"This amendment allows Liberal Democrats in Parliament to back our long-held policy of the mansion tax. We created it and will continue to champion it," Cable said.

"The amendment also makes it clear that although we are in coalition with the Conservatives, we have different views on the desirability of a mansion tax.

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"The Liberal Democrats will not however support a Labour motion designed exclusively to play cynical party political games."

Labour leader Ed Miliband recently adopted the mansion tax - a long-cherished Lib Dem policy - and challenged deputy prime minister Nick Clegg's party to break ranks.

Faced with a damaging Commons split, the coalition parties instead devised a compromise amendment that will allow them to remain together in the voting lobbies.

Vince Cable 'Expected To Support Government' On Mansion Tax, Says Downing Street

It specifically sets out that "the part of the coalition led by the deputy prime minister" advocates a mansion tax while "the party of the coalition led by the prime minister does not".

Shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie said: "It would be astonishing if the Liberal Democrats failed to back a straightforward motion supporting their long-held policy of a mansion tax on properties over £2 million.

"The Liberal Democrats have a simple choice: either they back the policy they set out in their manifesto and which Nick Clegg made the centerpiece of the Eastleigh by-election campaign or they don't.

"No amount of wriggling or contortion can get them out of that simple choice.

"After supporting a Tory tax cut for millionaires, a failing economic plan, a VAT rise and a trebling of tuition fees, this is yet another example of why we should judge the Lib Dems on what they do, not what they say."

Labour says it would use the proceeds of a mansion tax to fund the reintroduction of a 10p lower income tax rate.

But its motion did not make that link, to make it easier for the Lib Dems - who prefer the raising of thresholds to help low earners - to back it.

Cable had on several occasions declined to rule out voting with Labour if its motion fully reflected the policy he devised and has personally championed.

The Tories are firmly opposed.

"Parties should be judged on what they deliver on fairer taxes, rather than what they say about them," Cable said.

"In government, Labour rubbished the Liberal Democrat policy of a mansion tax. In opposition, they have simply copied it exactly in an attempt to fill in their blank piece of paper where original policies should be."