GREATER LONDON COUNCIL (MONEY) BILL (By Order)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st May 1975.

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Photo of Dr Rhodes Boyson Dr Rhodes Boyson , Brent North 12:00 am, 1st May 1975

My hon. Friend, in whose constituency I live, is paying close attention to my comments. The borough in which is my constituency last year bought 1,000 houses, and the subsidy for each of those houses per year—presumably this will be for 60 years—is £1,150. This subsidy will come from the local authority and the Government. We shall not solve our financal problems this year. We shall be landed with them for many years to come if we adopt this policy.

One reason for our financial crisis is that local authority expenditure under the last Conservative Government and under the present Government has got out of public control. We shall need a body like the Public Accounts Committee to control it or it will break the back of any Government. Between 1955 and 1972 the share of public expenditure expended by local authorities increased from 25 per cent. to 31 per cent. Its share of the gross national product increased from 10 per cent. to 15 per cent. during that period. This is one of the problems which will rest upon the desk of any Chancellor for a long time.

A large share of the external deficit, with which we are all concerned, arises from having to finance the capital investment of the GLC and other London boroughs.

It is a question of the straw that breaks the camel's back. The level of taxation and local rates in this country is crippling the initiative of our people. Every hon. Member must he concerned about the heavy and rising burden of rates, especially of the GLC, which have trebled in two years.

Heavy taxation always causes revolt in any community. The American War of Independence was based upon a taxation revolt. The great battles of our history of 1381, 1450, 1549 and 1642 were all about heavy taxation. Heavy rates are moving people towards a revolt against both local and national government and against all parties.

I disagree in principle with the usefulness of municipalisation. It does not solve problems; it increases problems more than it solves. I do not doubt the motives of Labour Members, but the result will be against their wishes. We are in the middle of a major financial crisis, and if we do not make these cuts now they will be made by the Chancellor within the next three or six months We are here to help him. The madness must stop some time. The coach will become a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight or whenever it comes. I must not mix my metaphors any more. However, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and I shall be surprised if we do not get unanimous support from the Government benches