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Tories to quiz Brown over pension raid

Opposition parties are continuing to make hay out of the revelations over advice given to the Chancellor before his raid on pension funds with the Conservatives lining up a special Parliamentary debate on the issue.

Tory Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has called on Gordon Brown to answer five questions to justify his decision to abolish advance corporation tax relief on pension scheme dividends.

Osborne says Brown must explain why he did not state the risk that he was taking by scrapping the tax relief at the time. He said the Chancellor must give his own estimate of the damage to pension funds and clarify whether he overruled the Prime Minister on the matter.

He says Brown must also explain why he now defends the move as “the right decision for investment” when Treasury officials at the time said the view of economists was that the reform was broadly neutral in terms of the amount of investment.

Osborne says Brown must answer why the Treasury refused to release the pension documents for almost two years and then eventually release them just before Parliamentary recess as the Chancellor was leaving the country.

The Tories aim to keep the issue in the public eye by holding a debate when Parliament returns and calling for an independent inquiry by the Government Actuary.

Osborne says: “It is time Brown faced the music for the damage he has done to British pensions. We now know he as told all along about the devastating impact his tax would have on hard pressed savers. Now he will face the dilemma – does he finally turn up and account for himself on the floor of the House of Commons where he must tell the truth or does he run and hide?”

The Liberal Democrats have also attacked the Chancellor, with pensions spokes-man Lord Oakeshott writing to Brown asking him not to claim the full £4,320,000 pension pot he would be entitled to if he becomes Prime Minister.

Oakeshott says: “Given the Chancellor’s miserly treatment of private pensioners, it is only fair if he follows Lord Falconer and takes a more affordable pension himself from the taxpayer.”

The letter says: ‘You must not look like the captain of the Titanic grabbing the best lifeboat and leaving far less privileged pensioners to sink or swim.”

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