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Christian group welcomes new Labour pledges

Tobacco firms, tax avoiders and 'mansion' owners will be targeted to pay for a £2.5 billion NHS recruitment drive if Labour takes power, Miliband said in Manchester.

In his final conference speech before next year's general election, he pledged to create a "world-class" health and social care system.

The money will come from a new annual 'mansion tax' on £2 million-plus homes, he said.

"We won't borrow a penny to do it, and we won't do it by raising taxes on everyday working people," he said.

Christians on the Left's political communications officer Stephen Beer told Premier the speech aligned well with his Christian faith.

"One of the things that drives me into politics is the problem of inequality and I believe passionately that the Bible says we're all created equally," he said.

Beer added: "That core message, that core Christian biblical message, has played out through history but there are still real challenges.

"The challenge of real equality is very large.

"We're committed as a party to international development, but it's also important in our own country.

"The gap between rich and poor has been growing; the gap between the super-rich and everybody else has been growing.

"Average wages are not really growing very much, they're growing behind inflation."

Mr Miliband also promised to double the number of first-time buyers to 400,000 a year; to boost apprenticeship take-up until it matches the number going to university; and to halve the number of low-paid workers.

He said: "'Can anyone build a better future for the working people of Britain?' That is the general election question.

"Our task is to restore people's faith in the future.

"I'm not talking about changing a policy, or simply a different programme, but something that is bigger: transforming the idea, the ethic, of how our country is run.

"Strip away all of the sound and fury and what people across England, Scotland and Wales, across every part of the UK, are saying is this country doesn't care about me. Politics doesn't listen. The economy doesn't work.

"And they are not wrong. They are right. But this Labour Party has a plan to put it right."

Stephen Beer said: "There are a number of real problems that we have to deal with.

"People on low pay, people without good housing and a health service that is worrying many people.

"Those are issues that unite everybody but to solve them we need to be united, too."

The Labour Party conference closes on Wednesday.

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