Oral Answers to Questions — Domestic Rate Increases

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th May 1975.

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Photo of Dr Edmund Marshall Dr Edmund Marshall , Goole 12:00 am, 7th May 1975

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the largest percentage increase in the final domestic rate demand anywhere in England between 1974–75 and 1975–76.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

The largest percentage increase in domestic rate poundage in England is 75 per cent. for the London borough of Waltham Forest.

Photo of Dr Edmund Marshall Dr Edmund Marshall , Goole

Is the Minister aware that the general rate in the former Thorne rural district, now part of the Doncaster metropolitan borough, has increased by up to 80·1 per cent. between last year and this year after more than doubling in the previous year? Does he not think that such extreme cases require special consideration by the central Government.

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

I am afraid that I do not have the figures for a particular former rural district, but for Booth Ferry as a whole the average increase is 56 per cent. I would remind my hon. Friend that the average cash payment per household in that area is £51 in a year against £147 in Waltham Forest.

Photo of Mr Keith Speed Mr Keith Speed , Ashford

Does the Minister agree that since 60 per cent. of expenditure by local authorities comprises wages and salaries, unless pay claims in the public sector are moderated next year's rate increases will make this year's increases look like the acme of moderation?

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

The Government, and certainly my right hon. Friend, have constantly endeavoured to tell the House that that is precisely what we are trying to do—namely, to get moderation in pay claims. I should like to hear what the Opposition's policy is in regard to wage claims.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , Newham North West

Will the Minister give some facts and figures to show to what extent the higher rates are due to the fact that the people did not give their full-hearted consent and, therefore, certainly did not endorse the ludicrous so-called reorganisation of local government instituted by the Conservative Government?

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

Some of the increases are due to local government reorganisation, but the main factor is inflation, from which local authorities suffer as much as anybody else.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

In view of fact that the London borough of Waltham Forest was not brought under local government reorganisation by the Conservative Government—

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

—how does the Minister account for the fact that the largest rate increase took place there?

Photo of Mr Gordon Oakes Mr Gordon Oakes , Widnes

That was carried out by a previous Tory Government. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that last year London escaped many of the increases which the rest of the country had to bear. I find it astonishing that he should ask such a question in view of the fact that he was responsible for the reorganisation of local government.