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Byline: By IAN HERNON Political Correspondent

MERSEYSIDE Labour MPs are deeply divided over Gordon Brown's Budget.

They broadly welcomed extra cash for education and health, tax credits to help families and a greater focus on green issues.

But there was a mixed reaction to his promised 2p cut in basic rate income tax and the abolition of the lower lOp tax band intended to help the most vulnerable.

And the chancellor's doubling of road tax on 4x4s to pounds 400 raised fears over the impact on the Jaguar plant on Halewood.

The overall view is that the Budget package was "neutral" in terms of cementing his claim to succeed Tony Blair as premier this summer.

Several Labourites raised fears that by adopting Tory policies, Mr Brown risks alienating key northern voters.

Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle said on the planned cut in basic rate tax from 22 to 20p from April next year: "I wish he had put 2p on the top 40% rate to pay for the regeneration of cities like Liverpool.

"I don't think that the Budget has made any difference one way or another to Gordon Brown's succession as prime minister."

Fellow left-winger Bob Wareing, MP for West Derby, said: "I welcome increased spending on health and education provided it results in real improvements rather than more bureaucracy.

"I am also disturbed by the abolition of the bottom income tax ra which is meant to help those families who need most help."

Birkenhead's Frank Field, "There is a danger in follower Tory policies of cutting taxes which promising improved public se vices. If taxpayers do not see a re; improvement in services the year likely to take it out on us at the next election."

Bootle MP Joe Benton, said "The things that will play best oil Merseyside are the cut in basic in come tax, the boost in family credits and child benefits and his decision to remove 600,000 pensioners from the tax bracket."

Wavertree MP Jane Kennedy, a former health minister, said: "Raising tax thresholds for pensioners, income tax cuts and continued economic stability, more help for families, all will be well received on Merseyside and will increase Gordon's popularity in Labour heartlands."

Riverside MP Louise Ellman said: "It is good for the people of Liverpool. More support for families and schools, making work pay and helping people find jobs, extra investment in science and business ... all of I this will help the regeneration of our city."


GOODBYE: Gordon Brown is expected to leave No 11 for No 10 later this year
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 22, 2007
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