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Clegg risks Tory wrath over taxes

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has risked angering his Conservative coalition allies with a warning that the new Government will aim to make the tax system fairer rather than reduce overall burden.

The Liberal Democrat Leader, who is set to deliver a major speech on political reform, also cautioned against any attempt to "tamper" with the Human Rights Act, which the Tories pledged to scrap in their election manifesto.

Conservative backbenchers have already expressed disquiet at plans in the coalition agreement to make it harder for MPs to force out the Government if it is defeated on a vote of confidence.

Mr Clegg's comments, in an interview with a newspaper, risk heightening the tensions between the two parties.

Asked if the Government would reduce the overall tax burden, he replied: "No, I am saying we'll rebalance the tax system. We're not making great claims about the overall tax burden."

On the Human Rights Act, he said: "Any government would tamper with it at its peril."

Home Secretary Theresa May sought to play down any suggestion of a rift between the two parties, saying that Conservatives had simply been arguing that the Act was not working "in certain areas".

"We are now discussing with our coalition partners what we will be doing in that area. There is no decision on this particular issue," she told a radio programme.

In his speech - his first since taking office - Mr Clegg will promise to take forward the coalition Government's agenda for political reform with "a wholesale, big bang approach".

He will say that it represents a "fundamental resettlement of the relationship between state and citizen" and the most significant change to British democracy since the Great Reform Act of 1832.

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