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Rate Support Grant (England)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 26th July 1983.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Wanstead and Woodford 5:11 pm, 26th July 1983

I am tempted to read it all because it is full of the most astonishing rubbish. I draw attention, however, to this one sentence: As for rate-borne expenditure, it is of course balanced exactly by the rates levied on local taxpayers and so adds precisely nothing in net terms to public expenditure. That is absolute nonsense. If that is what the right hon. Gentleman thinks, I suggest that he takes some elementary lessons in public accounting from some of his colleagues. For example, the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who was in his place a short while ago, would be able to tell him, because he was Chancellor for six years. He knows that all local government spending counts as public expenditure. The right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon), who was also in the Chamber until a few moments ago and who is the new chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, could advise the right hon. Member for Gorton that he was talking absolute rubbish, that expenditure by local authorities is public expenditure and has been so defined by successive Governments for many decades.

The right hon. Gentleman will find that in public expenditure White Papers issued by the Government of whom he was a member local authority spending was treated as public expenditure. Whether it is financed by borrowing, by rate support grant or by rates, it is still public expenditure. By that one sentence in that article the right hon. Gentleman displayed a woeful ignorance, and he does not deserve to be treated as a serious commentator on these matters.