THE END OF THE WELFARE STATE?; Tories Take a Pounding over Secret Plan to Wreck Social Safety Net

By King, Dave | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), July 18, 1996 | Go to article overview

THE END OF THE WELFARE STATE?; Tories Take a Pounding over Secret Plan to Wreck Social Safety Net


King, Dave, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


Furious Labour MPs yesterday launched an all-out attack on sweeping Tory plans which could kill off the welfare state.

The uproar came after the leaking of a Treasury document detailing astonishing proposals to dismantle the current benefits and education systems.

The bombshell dossier calls for widespread privatisation and the State to wash its hands of the needy and vulnerable.

It covers the scrapping of State pensions and unemployment benefit, as well as stating that higher education is now "unaffordable" to the Government.

Labour said the report showed the Tories were "stampeding to the right" with a secret agenda. In the Commons, Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown hammered his opposite number, Kenneth Clarke, insisting he come clean on the astonishing leaked report.

The stuttering Chancellor dodged questions FIFTEEN times and stammered:

"It was written by a middle-ranking official who was asked to advise management.

"It advocates no policy and describes no policy. It's not worth the attention it's being given. It's not the policy of the Government."

But Brown warned: "I'm not satisfied and I do not think the people of the country will be, either."

Earlier, Brown claimed the leaked document proved the Tories would "wreck the fabric of British life" and scrap the welfare safety net built up over the last 50 years.

The ideas in the report are even more right wing than the savage welfare reform programme brought in by hard-line Republican Newt Gingrich in America.

Called Strategic Considerations for the Treasury 2000-2005", the document's proposals depend on the Tories winning the next election.

If that happened, the paper says:

Parents and pupils should pay for post-16 education like Highers and vocational qualifications.

The roads network needs to be sold off to toll-collecting companies.

The right to a state pension for everyone must be axed, with people forced to fend for themselves and make their own arrangements.

Benefits and welfare, costing pounds 90billion a year, should be replaced by more and more private insurance schemes.

Teenage mums must be limited to a maximum five years on benefits. …

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