Greater London (Rate Support)

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st April 1982.

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Photo of Mr Hugh Dykes Mr Hugh Dykes , Harrow East 12:00 am, 21st April 1982

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to review the level of rate support to Greater London.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Minister of State (Department of Environment) (Local Government)

We have no plans to review the position of London regarding this year's settlement, but we are already in discussion with local authorities, including the GLC and the LBA, regarding the 1983–84 settlement.

Photo of Mr Hugh Dykes Mr Hugh Dykes , Harrow East

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Has he noticed that Harrow's rate increase this year is nil, while the GLC's rate increase is 91 per cent., and that the two combine to produce a 13 per cent. increase in Harrow's total rates? What conclusion does my right hon. Friend draw between financial discipline on the one hand, and gross profligacy on the other?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Minister of State (Department of Environment) (Local Government)

I hope that the whole House will share my concern about the possible impact on jobs in London of the 91 per cent. increase in rates by the GLC. It is a most serious matter. We shall see the figures mount, if they continue to be portrayed on the roof of the GLC, and we shall know whose responsibility it is.

Photo of Mr Tom Cox Mr Tom Cox , Wandsworth Tooting

Is the Minister aware of the crucial importance to London of rate support on issues such as housing, employment, and improving the environment? Surely he is aware that whatever help private industry may get, the real support has to come via the Government in rate support if we are to tackle the problems of inner London. The Minister can run away if he likes, but the problems will not run away.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Minister of State (Department of Environment) (Local Government)

The hon. Gentleman's question shows his total ignorance of the settlement that took place this year. He mentioned the share of the rate support grant. Does he realise that the share of the rate support grant that London received this year is bigger than it received in all but one of the five years of the Labour Government? He should not criticise this Government by saying that London has not received an adequate share. Is he aware that the average rate increases in London are the lowest of any part of the country for this year? My only disappointment is that Labour authorities have not followed the pattern of Conservative authorities. In inner London, the Conservative increases in the borough rates are less than half those of all the Labour boroughs.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the London borough of Ealing has reduced its rate by 5·1 per cent., but that the effect of the 91 per cent. GLC increase has been to put up substantially the rate to domestic ratepayers? Is he further aware that people living on the border of my constituency side by side with others in Brent are paying half the rates of those that are being paid in the Labour-controlled borough of Brent for identical properties? Is he aware of the effect of these high rate increases by the GLC on jobs in London?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Minister of State (Department of Environment) (Local Government)

I note that the rates on an average house in Ealing of the same rateable value would be £340 and that those in Brent would be £516. The figures that my hon. Friend gives confirm that.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Brent South

Will the Minister consult his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young), on his recent visit to Brent, and compare the inner city and demographic problems that that borough faces with the enormous amount of work that has been done for the disabled, the 10,000 people on the waiting list, and all problems of industrialised buildings having to be repaired because of the Government's previous policy on industrialised building? Will he recognise those factors, as well as the arithmetic?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Minister of State (Department of Environment) (Local Government)

I should like to recognise all the factors that are applicable to the efficiency of a borough's operation. I hope that the hon. Member will turn his attention, in the interests of all his constituents, to the way in which economies can be made, for instance, in the better provision of services, perhaps in his own borough of Brent, and then consider how those services and economies can be better applied in the areas to which he attaches the greatest importance.