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Service Council Tax "concession"  is "Mean and tacky" - MP   (September 25th 2007)

North Thanet`s MP Roger Gale has today (Tuesday) described as "mean and tacky" Gordon Brown`s "Council Tax Concession" for service personnel.

"This deal is like so many of Brown`s budgets" says Roger Gale. "It was designed to grab headlines and the devil is in the detail.  It is targeted only at army personnel on active service in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will do nothing at all for those many who serve less than six months - which includes those repatriated wounded or dead - and of course it does not recognise the existence and the heroism of those serving in the RAF in the skies above war zones or of the Navy patrolling the Gulf."

The MP, who has spearheaded the campaign to persuade the government to honour Blair`s pledge to make funds available for the families of deceased servicemen and women to be legally represented at inquests, was speaking on the eve of a visit to HMS Bulwark in Plymouth.

"What am I supposed to say to my constituents serving on board this ship?" said the MP. "Am I to say that `Your country does not care about the Royal Navy?`  This ship`s last tour in support of the Iraq war lasted eight months - but not all of that time was spent in the war zone. Does that make their contribution to this misguided war effort any the less courageous or valuable?  One of the first combatants killed in the Iraq war was a young naval aviator, one of my constituents.  Another was the first woman officer to be killed in the war.  Does this government not recognise them?

Blair liked to describe himself as "a pretty straight kind of guy"  It seems as though his Chancellor now wishes to be regarded as "a son of the Manse kind of guy" but the fact is that the old mean streak dies hard.

If we want to be fair to our service men and women then we should not be divisive.  Every Service Man and Woman on active duty anywhere overseas should receive full domestic council tax relief for themselves and their families for the duration of their posting and every service family should be afforded accommodation that is large enough, clean and decent.  We either treat our armed forces as the dedicated personnel that we are or we lose them." 

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