Local Government (Scotland)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 17th January 1983.

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Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries 8:30 pm, 17th January 1983

That is true. I am glad that my hon. Friend has highlighted yet another of the statements by the right hon. Gentleman. When one delves into what he has said in the past, some remarkable things appear.

The right hon. Gentleman did the most tremendous U-turn or somersault in the latter part of his speech, when his usual forecast of a 20 to 25 per cent. increase in rates came down to something very modest. I can see him getting cold feet. He has been taken to task for going over the moon with the most ridiculous anticipatory forecast last year.

The real issue is that our constituents, whom we represent, are ratepayers. They do not wish rates to rise dramatically year by year. Therefore, it is right that local authorities should budget as closely and tightly as possible. Local authorities must make a determined effort to keep rates down. One has only to drive about some of the major cities, which, for their sins, have been under Socialist control, to see the large shops that are now empty and for sale because the owners cannot pay the rates. That is damaging to Scotland's economy.

Opposition Members have only to think of what happened in Edinburgh and, as a result, what happened to the Lothian Socialist council. At the end of the day the ratepayers call the tune. What happened in Lothian may happen in many other Socialist-controlled authorities throughout Scotland. I hope that it does. The sooner they get the message, the more likely they are to stay in power. I am not sure which way I want it to be.