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Labor minister raises class differences

Jan. 22, 2010 at 1:33 AM

LONDON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Unequal opportunity in Britain would become worse under a Conservative government, Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harman said Thursday.

In her speech to Compass, a left-wing political group, Harman, who is also equality minister, attacked Conservative proposed tax cuts she said would increase income inequality, The Guardian reported. She said Britain remains a split society after 12 years of Labor government but government intervention, especially during school years, can help children from poor families.

"Not only would the Tories put the economy at risk, they would turn back the tide on making Britain fairer," she said. "More people would unfairly be held back in life while a small proportion of the population would enjoy opportunities to get ahead."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown commissioned a report, to be published next week, which found gaps between rich and poor from cradle to grave.

When children are assessed at age 3 on how ready they are for school, children from the poorest fifth of the population do half as well as those from the top fifth, the report said. Average life expectancy is 13 years higher in the richest areas than it is in the poorest ones.

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