Orders of the Day — Economic and Energy Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th December 1973.

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Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Altrincham and Sale 12:00 am, 19th December 1973

The right hon. Gentleman nods. I must tell the House that there is not one shred of truth in those assertions, and I will explain why.

The rate support grant will be reduced only in line with the savings in expenditure and if, like the rest of the public sector, the local authorities reduce their current expenditure in accordance with the Government's request, that will not lead to one extra penny on the rates. That should be perfectly clear. If, on the other hand, any local authority deliberately sets out to flout the national interest—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—if it deliberately sets out to pursue a policy counter to the request that we have made and the rates go up in consequence, the necessary steps will no doubt be taken to remind electors where responsibility lies. I would add this: such deliberate action could well call in question the continuance of the present system of local autonomy over current expenditure which also carries with it the duty to act responsibly.