Tories put record straight after Ken Clarke appears to deny a manifesto party pledge for a marriage tax break
Ken Clarke, the minister without portfolio, has backed away from comments suggesting that the Conservatives may not uphold a promise to give tax breaks to married couples.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Clarke suggested that married couples should not “count on” receiving the break before the next general election in 2015.
Clarke claimed he did not remember anyone in the government promising tax breaks within that timeframe. “We never committed ourselves to married couples’ tax by the end of the parliament,” the minister without portfolio told the Telegraph.
“I’m married, I’m not counting on it. I don’t remember anyone promising that kind of thing.”
His comments appears to be at odds with the Tory manifesto promise of a transferable tax allowance that could be worth £150 a year to married couples where one spouse stays at home.
A Conservative spokeswoman said on Saturday that Clarke accepted that the change will happen, and had not intended to make a statement of policy.
She said: “It was a comment, not a statement of policy. Any tax changes are a matter for the chancellor. He accepts the changes will happen.”
The tax measure was opposed by Liberal Democrats but was not ruled out in the coalition agreement, which stated merely that MPs from Nick Clegg’s party would be free to abstain when measures were brought forward in parliament.
In his interview, Clarke appeared to indicate that married tax allowances were likely to be a casualty of the tough economic conditions.
Despite the better-than-expected growth of 1% in the third quarter of 2012 announced earlier this week, he said it was too early to be certain that the economy is bouncing back and predicted “a long hard road” ahead.
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