Special Charging Orders

Part of Orders of the Day — Local Government Finance (No. 2) Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 5th April 1982.

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Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons) 8:45 pm, 5th April 1982

The Minister betrays scant understanding of the relationship between parish and district councils in many areas. Some district councils are opposed to the very concept of the parish council. They do not welcome parish councils but wish to see district-run services right across their area. The district councils can pursue that policy with the Minister's aid and money and can find more expensive ways of providing services, and of using the money that he has provided instead of handing over the proper grant share to the parish councils, which are trying to do things as cheaply as possible.

With his knowledge of various parts of the country, the Minister should know better. He should know that some authorities have a definite and strong objection to parish councils and would prefer that services were centralised and run on a grand and expensive scale. That does not make good local government. Good local government is where the community is able to contribute its effort and support, where public services are used sparingly in conjunction with the voluntary resources of the local community. The Minister is penalising such people to the benefit of authorities that want to run matters centrally.

I cannot understand why the Minister wants to do that. That is why I am sorry that he has not applied his mind and made his civil servants apply theirs to this relatively simple problem.