Orders of the Day — Rates Bill [Money]

– in the House of Commons at 10:27 pm on 17th January 1984.

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Queen's Recommendation having been signified—

Motion made, and Question proposed,That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Rates Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of—

  1. (a) any administrative expenses incurred by the Secretary of State in consequence of that Act; and
  2. (b) any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable out of such moneys under any other Act.—[Mr. Moore.]

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Cynon Valley 10:28 pm, 17th January 1984

It is important that we should take every opportunity to express our opposition to this measure. I sat through the whole of the debate and, together with many hon. Members on both sides of the House, sought to speak to express the anxieties felt by our constituents and the county and district councils in our areas. It is regrettable that the House has not allowed time for this constitutional measure to be debated properly on the Floor of the House.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. To debate the money resolution is perfectly legitimate.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Cynon Valley

I speak on the money resolution because I believe that we have today created a constitutional precedent, which Parliament will regret in the years ahead. It is regrettable, when we change the constitutional relationship between central and local government not only on finance but on other matters, that the issue is not debated on the Floor of the House.

The legislation will be known as the Rate Act 1984, and the emphasis will be on "1984". The prediction made by George Orwell about 1984 is coming with this measure. Time and again Conservative Members have said that they believe in local democracy and that Whitehall is not the best judge. Big Brother, or Big Sister, will now be able to tell local authorities how much they can spend. The Bill has been foisted on Parliament by the Prime Minister herself who, in the discussion with Brian Walden on Sunday, had to admit to the nation that her Government have failed to curb public expenditure and taxation. Such an iniquitous measure, having been brought before the House, will be dealt with in Committee and rushed through the House, thereby changing a relationship that has existed and evolved between local authorities and Parliament since 1601. Local government as we know it will not be the same in the future.

We must examine public expenditure. Local government has been far more successful than central Government in curbing public expenditure. The Prime Minister at Question Time today said that the cost of unemployment was about £5 billion. Estimates suggest that the loss to the Exchequer is nearer £17 billion. During the next three years, the Government are committed to spending £2 billion on the Falklands, which is far in excess of what the local authorities will spend throughout England and Wales if the Bill is not enacted. The Government have failed to reach their financial targets. The Bill restricts the rights of county and local councils.

The Association of County Councils, which represents 37 of the 39 non-metropolitan counties in England and the eight Welsh county councils—which provide major services to more than 30 million people — asks the House to consider rejecting the present proposal by refusing to give the Bill a Second Reading.

That motion was put to the Association of County Councils, which comprises a majority of Conservative county councillors, and its verdict was 95 votes against the Bill, with only two county councillors, throughout the entire association, voting for the motion.

It is interesting to note that those hon. Members who spoke against the Bill voted against it. Those hon. Members who entered the Lobby to vote for the Bill were hardly present throughout the debate.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

The hon. Gentleman has referred to my hon. Friends who wished to speak and support the Government. It is not our fault that we did not catch Mr. Speaker's eye. New Members are not big enough to catch his eye.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not say things like that.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Cynon Valley

I say, as one who was not called in the debate, that you have been subjected to an unfair attack, Mr. Speaker. There were 75–100 Members who asked Mr. Speaker to call them during the debate, and that is another reason why the Bill should be considered in Committee on the Floor of the House. I understand the frustration of the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) at not being called during the debate on Second Reading. He will have to explain to the district councillors in his constituency and to his constituents that if he is not a member of the Committee he will have no say in the passing of a major constitutional measure. If he is frustrated in not being called, it is to the Government Front Bench that he should address his remarks and not to you, Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

That is right. Parliamentary democracy is being ruined.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Cynon Valley

The Association of Metropolitan Authorities stated: This Bill should not be given a Second Reading. The Environment Committee of the Royal Commission should examine the issue. Failing that, this Bill should be remitted to a Select Committee so that evidence can be taken from those outside central and local government. The enormity of the Bill should not be underestimated. The association concluded: A tax-raising power that has existed since 1601 should not be discarded in the space of a few months. That is why we should take advantage of the three quarters of an hour that is available to us for this debate.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

That is right. We must use every second of it.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Cynon Valley

The association represents six metropolitan counties, 36 metropolitan districts, 31 London boroughs and the GLC. I believe that the people of London will wish to see the continuation of the GLC when they read the reports of this debate. They will not support the Government's proposals to abolish it. Four of every 10 persons in England live in areas that are represented by the association.

The district council in my constituency is represented by the Association of District Councils. The association is entirely opposed in principle to the provisions in parts I and II of the Bill, which contain both collective and general powers to limit the rates levied by local authorities. These provisions are, in some respects, more alarming than the proposals in the White Paper on rates. They constitute a fundamental attack on the basis of local government.

Labour, Liberal, SDP and Conservative councillors unanimously condemn the Bill. That condemnation extends throughout the Association of District Councils. The county councils, the district councils and the metropolitan councils are unanimous in their opposition to the Bill.

The previous Secretary of State for the Environment, who is now the Secretary of State for Employment, had no doubt about the serious constitutional implications of rate-capping. On 8 July 1980, when he was a Minister in the previous Conservative Administration, he said: There are things that one could do in local government and ways in which local government finance could be approached … which would substantially undermine the autonomy and freedom of action of local authorities. Some people have suggested imposing individual cash limits on every authority. That would be a very serious step indeed."—[Official Report, 8 July 1980, Vol. 988, c. 313.] Shortly after that, the right hon. Gentleman was shifted to another Department, and he now finds himself in the Department of Employment.

The Bill relates to England and Wales, but on Second Reading only one Member representing a Welsh constituency was fortunate enough to catch the eye of the Chair. I express on behalf of all the local authorities in Wales—

Photo of Mr Stefan Terlezki Mr Stefan Terlezki , Cardiff West

The hon. Gentleman does not.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Cynon Valley

With the exception of the hon. Gentleman, who is a bit of a maverick in Wales, I speak on behalf of councillors of all political persuasions, who are all opposed to the measure. That is why I am speaking on the money resolution. The Government have in a ham-handed way forced the measure to be taken upstairs in Committee—

Photo of Mr Peter Hubbard-Miles Mr Peter Hubbard-Miles , Bridgend

On the constitutional question, will the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mr. Evans) acknowledge that his constituency is situated in a county which refused to carry out its statutory duties under the civil defence legislation, ordered a civil defence headquarters to be demolished at considerable expense to the ratepayers and had to follow it up by reintroducing that headquarters? Was this refusal to carry out the statutory duties of local authorities not the original breach of the constitution?

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Cynon Valley

The Bill has nothing to do with that question. It does not affect the rates because civil defence comes under the Home Office.

If we have local authorities, they should be allowed to make decisions. The people in Mid-Glamorgan will be answerable to the electors in Mid-Glamorgan when elections take place. That issue can be put before them. The hon. Member knows, and I know, that Wales has declared itself a nuclear-free zone, although there may be argument against it. Local authorities are disturbed about having to take home helps from elderly people, about having to close nursery schools and about having to sack teachers. It is nonsense to talk about building deep bunkers for a nuclear war that nobody will survive. That is irrelevant. It shows how much the Tory party is scraping the barrel in Wales to try to justify this interference with democracy.

If the Bill is going into Committee, I hope that the many Conservatives who have spoken, the majority of whom are opposed to the Bill, will be put on the Committee and will seek to minimise the damage that will be wrought by the Bill. When it gets to another place it may be thrown out.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to apologise to you, Sir, if I have been wrong in my statement. Many of us are frustrated at having sat here for hours. I was pricked by the remark that none of us wished to speak. Many of us did. I apologise to you, Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I thank the hon. Gentleman. if he now wishes to make a contribution I will call him.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 10:42 pm, 17th January 1984

Nobody is as frustrated as those on these Benches who have also sat through seven hours of debate and have only this last opportunity today to resist a preposterous, populist and unprincipled manoeuvre by the Government against the great bulk of elected representatives of not only their party but all parties. There are 2,000 Liberal councillors, some in control of authorities such as Richmond and the Isle of Wight, who know that nothing has been intended so fiercely to strike at the heart of the job they are elected to do as the manoeuvres of the Government in introducing a Bill which effectively begins to undermine local democracy up and down the land.

Not only that, but what we have heard from the Government Front Bench today obscures truth, ignores reality and confuses the electorate. We must take this opportunity to ensure that we do not give the Government the money they claim they need to do something that they allege will save money but will probably do the opposite.

One hundred years ago, Herbert Spencer said: The function of Liberalism in the past was that of putting a limit to the powers of Kings. The function of true Liberalism in the future will be that of putting a limit to the powers of Parliaments. It is clear that the power of Parliament, and especially of the Executive, is growing daily and in a way that does not befit a Government who pretend that they are about devolving power and handing freedom back to the people.

When, 80 years ago, there was a constitutional battle in Wales when the then Board of Education tried to interfere in the powers of local authorities over education, Lloyd George said: It is a new idea in this country that a great Corporation or a County Council is just like a constable, whose business is to carry out orders from above, and liable to be cashiered for breach of discipline if he exercises any discretion. The resistance of those who believe that they are more in touch with the needs of local people on day-to-day issues will continue, partly because we realise how unprincipled the Government's stance is and how quickly they have completely changed sides.

In 1974 the present Prime Minister moved a motion from the Opposition Benches and stressed the need for a fundamental reform of the rating system. She said that local authorities carried out their tasks better than Whitehall could perform them. In 1973, the present Secretary of State for the Environment said: I would very much rather see Local Authorities have a fair degree of discretion and be prepared to take on their shoulders the full responsibility for their decisions rather than that they should become simply glorified agents for Whitehall. Why, with no justification, with paltry arguments and thinly veiled reasons for this about-turn, have the Government found it so difficult to win the loyalty and respect of their Back Benchers, let alone the rest of the country? Perhaps the reasons are as follows. Although the Government want to make a step that will save money, the predictions in, for example, the Financial Times of last week suggest that the Government's plans to limit rate increases, far from curbing expenditure, will mean that the Treasury will be asked to find another £500 million in the first years of the new scheme.

Moreover, it is surprising that the Government, like the Labour Government before them, were happy to continue to subsidise a large part of local government expenditure. My colleagues and I do not believe that that should be the case. We believe that money should be raised locally and spent locally. In that way there is accountability in local authorities' expenditure on behalf of local people. It is not possible to do what the Government have done —suddenly to reduce grants that have traditionally been provided by the Government and then to penalise those councils which are forced to increase rates or to increase their funds by turning to their electorates if they want to maintain services.

In Bradford, for example, the cost to the ratepayer of the council continuing to spend £9 million is £15 million because of the Government's grant penalty. To the £9 million is added £6 million, simply because of an arbitrary formula that is so ineffective and badly thought out that it has had to be adjusted regularly by people in Whitehall who do nothing other than play with figures and have no occasion to deal with what is really happening throughout the country.

Another example is Avon, a Tory-controlled authority that has made strong representations—[HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] It is a Labour-controlled authority. I am sorry. It has made strong representations to Tories in the area saying that between 1974–75 and 1983–84 total spending in terms of real service provision rose by only 6 per cent., but it reached its highest level when the Tories were in control. Since then, less than 10 per cent. of its budget being discretionary and the rest being imposed on it by the Government by way of legislative direction, it has been forced to increase the amount that it has to charge the citizens fivefold in 10 years. It is being penalised for spending money on services such as nursery schools and educational classes. At the same time one of the Tory Members of Parliament is urging the local authority to spend more money on things such as computer education. If Avon had received the same level of rate support grant as the Tory administration did in 1979–80, it could have reduced its county rate by 8 per cent.

Cheshire has no overall majority of any party. Cuts in grant have raised rates by 26·7 per cent., without an increase in services. Information about increases that the local authority has had to make shows that since 1979 £2 million has been obligatorily spent by it because of Government directives. It has incurred penalties because of that.

Essex, the Isle of Wight and many other authorities have a grant-related expenditure figure that is considerably adrift from the target figure, both imposed by the Government and both showing the ridiculous way in which arbitrary figures determine the effect of local government expenditure. The same pattern is repeated up and down the land.

The Bill that brings this muddle to a head is a miserable effort. We have only to look at some of the provisions to see how badly drafted and how ill thought out it is and how difficult it will be to implement. For example, clause 2(2) (b) states that the Secretary of State can penalise authorities if their expenditure appears excessive having regard to general economic conditions. That is even if the figure is less than £10 million or the GREA. The Secretary of State has the power under clause 3(4) to seek information in the event of an appeal by an authority against the Government's assessment. We do not know what sort of information it will be, how long it will take to acquire, what the work load is likely to be—

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The speech of the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) seems to be related singularly little to the money resolution.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) is straying a little wide of the money resolution. I hope that he will bear it in mind that other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The whole point of my examples, such as the clause with which I am dealing, is that the Government are asking permission of the House to have money expended when the provisions of the Bill do not specify in any way what the financial implications will be, not only for the Government but for the local authorities, the work loads of which could be considerably increased, in a way that they cannot begin to contemplate. They have had no guidance either in the White Paper or in the Bill.

This is another directly financial matter. Under clause 4 the Secretary of State may take into account any reserves held by an authority. Does that include housing account balances? Does it include other reserves that the authority has been directed to accumulate? Again, clause 8 involves totally unspecific additional powers with financial implications that are also totally unspecified.

In effect, the Government are asking for a complete power—not just the general and specific powers that we have been debating, but an open cheque—to interfere, in a way that is not at all clear to hon. Members, during the next three or four years of their terms of office in the affairs of every local authority in the land.

There is another problem, and it involves timetabling. An enormous number of steps will need to be taken by local authorities before Parliament is called on—if it is called on—to exercise its decisions by affirmative resolution—and no more—on the specific additional powers that are sought. That could take months, if not years. It is difficult enough for responsible members of all parties in local authorities who are trying to do their best, with reduced powers and facilities, to do the work that they are already doing voluntarily and in their spare time, without the timetabling that will inevitably mean spending considerably more time in dealing with the mandarins and bureaucrats of Marsham street.

The fundamental problem is that the finance that the Government seek for this monstrous new proposal is based on the uncertainty of the GREA and the uncertainty of assessments as a basis for setting targets. The distortion to which that is susceptible has been apparent over the years. My party realises that the Government are taking this step only because they have refused to face the need for fundamental reform. The sterility of ideas, recognised by both sides—

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman would care to read the money resolution, because what he is saying does not relate to it at all.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman. I say to him again—he heard me earlier—that about 76 hon. Members wish to take part in this debate, and he has had a fair share of it.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I was on the last point, which I hope hon. Members will accept is directly relevant to the financing of the Bill.

If the Government had come to the House with a measure to reform local government finance we should have known what the figures would have been, and perhaps we should have been happy to give them the authority to go ahead without controversy and opposition. However, that has not happened. I have read the money resolution several times, and it is as open-ended as any that I have seen in the time that I have been in the House. We are faced with something that does nothing more than confuse the financing of both local government and the public sector generally and is liable to lead the country to spend an enormous amount of wasted money on a muddled scheme which the Government will regret from the moment they introduce it—if it gets through.

We intend—together, I believe, with members of all other parties—to make sure at every stage of the Bill's progress that the Government's proposals are shown to be the shallow, ill-conceived and anti-democratic proposals that they are generally accepted outside the House to be. Populism is not enough. The Government should be responsible not only for their finances but for ours. They have failed in their duty, and we shall remind them of that until they have to change course.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I must remind the House that this debate comes to an end at 14 minutes past 11, and the Minister would like five minutes in which to wind up.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh 10:59 pm, 17th January 1984

We have had a long day's debate on the subject of local government and rates. My experience is almost unique in the House. I served an apprenticeship of 10 years on the council of the London borough of Brent, and then served on a county council that has been put to us today as a pillar of Toryism—Buckinghamshire. In those 20 years, I have had sufficient experience to make a small contribution to the debate.

The point that is often made about local democracy is bogus, because in a county such as Buckinghamshire there is nothing very local if one represents a ward in the south which is 70 miles away from a ward in the north about which one has no knowledge. It is as bogus to suggest that the people locally know what it is for which they are voting as it is to say that the Government do not have an overall responsibility—they do. I am delighted that in the debate on the money element of the Bill it has been clearly identified by all Opposition Members, irrespective of their party, that they are not in favour of assisting the ratepayers but are happy for them to be bled and bled again.

In the constituency of Langbaurgh, which I have the honour to represent, we have high unemployment. I recently carried out an exercise to compare it with the area that I used to represent at the local level. An industrialist in Langbaurgh pays nine times as much in rates as does an industrialist in Wyckham. Such a rate burden is why it is necessary for the Government to step in. What is the council spending the money on in Langbaurgh? Something worthy and good—an aviary costing £55,000 in revenue costs alone. That is the sort of spendthrift nonsense that we have had to put up with.

I am not proud of the local so-called Tory leadership in Buckinghamshire. The chairman and leader of that county council is far removed from the reality of Conservatism. He does not follow it much, but that county council has been used today as an example of Tories against rate-capping. It is suggested that the county council knows better because it is local. In Wyckham, which is not local when one gets up to the district level, we wished to alter the charges for car parking. Who knew best? Buckinghamshire county council, Big Brother. It is just as much guilty—

Photo of Mr Stephen Ross Mr Stephen Ross , Isle of Wight

What does this have to do with the money resolution, Mr. Speaker?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. Imagine that this is a preliminary. The debate has been fairly wide-ranging, and the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) will accept that that has been true of an hon. Member from his party.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

What I am saying has about as much relevance to the money resolution as what the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) had to say.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Gentleman should not follow that line too far.

Photo of Mr Richard Holt Mr Richard Holt , Langbaurgh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your advice.

I did not anticipate being called this evening and have left my notes behind, and am therefore speaking from memory. One or two things that stick in my mind concern money, and that is the real thing for the ratepayers. In Langbaurgh, it costs £1 million more of real money to collect the rents than it does in Wyckham. Such administrative mayhem must be stopped. We need to have the money that we shall be voting this evening to ensure that Parliament saves the wasting of ratepayers' money by counties such as Cleveland, Langbaurgh and Buckinghamshire, so that the people will remember when it comes to elections that only the Conservative party was prepared to do anything to stop the waste of ratepayers' money.

Photo of Mr Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East 11:04 pm, 17th January 1984

In referring to the money resolution and opposing the authorisation of expenditure of administrative moneys in the Bill, I shall bring the House back to the real world. I spend an inordinate amount of time at surgeries when families knock on my door. People write to me and phone me about damp houses and the fact that they cannot find somewhere decent in which to live in Coventry or have been 10 or 12 years on a waiting list for a new council house. I must explain to them that since 1976, and especially since 1979, because of the salami tactics of the Government's slicing of local authority finance, any housing for them is extremely limited.

The city council has backed up this point by writing to me explaining that for the past two years it has built no houses and that for the next three years it cannot budget to build any houses. The council has added that to modernise public housing in Coventry to an acceptable safe and healthy standard would take at least 30 years on the present grants. When the council applies to the Government for money, it receives a third of its application. That is the real world of local authority spending.

It may be convenient for Ministers and those hon. Members who talk among themselves during debate to concentrate on the fringe activities among one or two councils. But this measure and the previous cuts by this Government have exacerbated the problems of ordinary working people when social services, housing and education are failing. It is a fallacy for the Minister to sum up in a speech that was as exciting as watching wood warp and to try to con people that the Government are taking control of local authority spending. This measure is simply a book transfer. Money is taken from the hands of working people at a local level to fund 5 million people who are on the dole because of the Tory Government's policies.

A figure of £10,000 million has been mentioned by several hon. Members today. Since 1976, I have always opposed my local authority raising rates to compensate for the cuts in money from central Government. There is a battle between local and central Government because of the Government's cuts.

This Bill, in which we are asked to authorise expenditure through a money resolution, is a much wider attack. The Secretary of State, who would not answer interventions eight hours ago and managed to absent himself from the debate, was heard on the radio during the past four weeks complaining that a large number of councils raise most of their money from industrial and commercial ratepayers. He complains that those people have no votes. What rubbish! That action shows that the Secretary of State and the rest of the Cabinet never allow facts to conflict with their prejudices.

Business men and bosses have votes as individuals in the areas in which they live. Workers who create the wealth in the factories and workplaces that the business men and bosses lord over have votes where they live. The Secretary of State is asking us to set the stage to give more than one vote to those who contribute industrial and commercial rates. It would be laughable for him to suggest that business is under-represented. We can add up all the company directorships of Tory Members on the Register of Members' Interests to see how many business men are represented in the House.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment wrote me a letter after I had asked about the councils for which the majority of the money raised came from disfranchised industrial and commercial ratepayers. In Scotland there are three, two of which are Shetland and Orkney which have special relationships because of oil. That is 5 per cent. of local authorities in Scotland. In Wales there are five, or 14 per cent. In England there are 29, or 8 per cent. That adds up to 37 councils out of more than 400—less than 8 per cent.—in which most of the rating funds come from the mythical disfranchised majority of industrial and commercial ratepayers. The best example—fortunately this arrived just before 7 o'clock this evening—is Northern Ireland. Ministers make great play of the poverty and penury of businesses, in which jobs are at risk due to high rates bills. They say that high rates cause unemployment and jobs go out of the window. Industrial premises in Northern Ireland are 100 per cent. derated, so the area which most closely conforms with the logic of the Bill has the highest unemployment in the country.

Ministers talk about cutting rates for people in this country and camouflage their true intentions by talking about the accountability of local authorities. If they really want to cut the rates, there is a very simple way to do so. Local authorities now owe £36,000 million to banks and other financial institutions in Britain and abroad in loans and debt charges. That figure has increased by £6,000 million in the past four years—a sum far greater than the so-called overspending of which Ministers have complained today. Coventry owes £200 million to the banks. That has increased every year since the early 1900s when the debt was first launched and there is no way in which Coventry can repay it. The Tories managed to wipe out billions of pounds in debt for British Steel and the rest when they wanted to re-rig the books. If they want to save ratepayers money, let them cancel Coventry's outstanding debt. We could then halve the domestic rate and still have £12 million to £15 million extra per year to spend on the damp houses which I referred to earlier. If the Government would do that throughout the country, it would be a real deal for ratepayers, domestic and otherwise, and for the working people whom we represent.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West 11:12 pm, 17th January 1984

I wish briefly to address the money resolution itself.

The first part deals with the administrative costs for central Government in implementing the rate limitation proposals. We expect there to be savings overall in central Government manpower, principally because the new rating procedures outlined in paragraphs 9 to 16 of schedule 1 will provide staff savings in the valuation office. We estimate, however, that there will be additional administrative costs overall arising from the Bill because of the higher grades of staff required for implementation of rate limitation. Under the selective scheme we estimate those overall additional costs to be about £250,000 per year net. If a move to general rate limitation ever became necessary, the costs would no doubt be higher, given the greater number of local authorities involved, but at present this is an unquantifiable cost and would be much less than the general reduction in local authorities' spending.

The second part of the resolution is designed principally to deal with the cost of additional Exchequer grants to local government for rating relief for properties partly used for the disabled. The extension of eligibility for rate relief to institutions used predominantly but not wholly for the purposes of the Rating (Disabled Persons) Act 1978 is a proposal which I am sure that the House will readily endorse. It is likely to increase the amounts paid out under that Act as 90 per cent. of the cost of the relief given will be reimbursed to local authorities by the Exchequer. It is not possible to say how much is likely to be spent through this increased eligibility since much will depend on the number of institutions successfully claiming relief under the new provisions.

I invite the House to support the resolution.

It being three quarters of an hour after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. SPEAKER put the Question pursuant to Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business).

The House divided: Ayes 333, Noes 98.

Division No. 125][11.15 pm
Adley, RobertEvennett, David
Alexander, RichardEyre, Reginald
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelFallon, Michael
Amess, DavidFarr, John
Ancram, MichaelFavell, Anthony
Arnold, TomFenner, Mrs Peggy
Ashby, DavidFinsberg, Geoffrey
Aspinwall, JackFookes, Miss Janet
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.Forman, Nigel
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Forth, Eric
Baker, Kenneth (Mole Valley)Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Franks, Cecil
Baldry, AnthonyFraser, Peter (Angus East)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Freeman, Roger
Batiste, SpencerFry, Peter
Bellingham, HenryGale, Roger
Bendall, VivianGalley, Roy
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Berry, Sir AnthonyGardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Best, KeithGarel-Jones, Tristan
Bevan, David GilroyGlyn, Dr Alan
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnGoodhart, Sir Philip
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnGoodlad, Alastair
Bonsor, Sir NicholasGorst, John
Bottomley, PeterGow, Ian
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Gower, Sir Raymond
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Grant, Sir Anthony
Boyson, Dr RhodesGreenway, Harry
Braine, Sir BernardGregory, Conal
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGriffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Bright, GrahamGriffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Brinton, TimGrist, Ian
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonGround, Patrick
Brooke, Hon PeterGrylls, Michael
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Gummer, John Selwyn
Bruinvels, PeterHamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Bryan, Sir PaulHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.Hampson, Dr Keith
Buck, Sir AntonyHanley, Jeremy
Budgen, NickHannam, John
Bulmer, EsmondHargreaves, Kenneth
Burt, AlistairHarris, David
Butcher, JohnHarvey, Robert
Butler, Hon AdamHaselhurst, Alan
Butterfill, JohnHavers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Carlisle, John (N Luton)Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Carttiss, MichaelHawksley, Warren
Chalker, Mrs LyndaHayes, J.
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHayhoe, Barney
Chapman, SydneyHayward, Robert
Chope, ChristopherHeathcoat-Amory, David
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)Heddle, John
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Henderson, Barry
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Clarke Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Hickmet, Richard
Clegg, Sir WalterHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Cockeram, EricHill, James
Colvin, MichaelHind, Kenneth
Conway, DerekHirst, Michael
Coombs, SimonHogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cope, JohnHolt, Richard
Corrie, JohnHooson, Tom
Couchman, JamesHordern, Peter
Cranborne, ViscountHoward, Michael
Crouch, DavidHowarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHowarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Dickens, GeoffreyHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Dicks, T.Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Dorrell, StephenHubbard-Miles, Peter
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Hunt, David (Wirral)
Dover, DenshoreHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Dunn, RobertHunter, Andrew
Durant, TonyHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)Irving, Charles
Eggar, TimJackson, Robert
Emery, Sir PeterJenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Alton, DavidDixon, Donald
Ashdown, PaddyDormand, Jack
Barnett, GuyDubs, Alfred
Barron, KevinEastham, Ken
Beggs, RoyEvans, Ioan (Cynon Valley)
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Bermingham, GeraldFatchett, Derek
Bray, Dr JeremyFields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Foster, Derek
Bruce, MalcolmFoulkes, George
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)Freud, Clement
Clarke, ThomasGodman, Dr Norman
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)Golding, John
Cohen, HarryHarrison, Rt Hon Walter
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Haynes, Frank
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Corbyn, JeremyHome Robertson, John
Cowans, HarryHowells, Geraint
Craigen, J. M.Hoyle, Douglas
Cunliffe, LawrenceHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Cunningham, Dr JohnHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Dalyell, TamJohnston, Russell
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jessel, TobyPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Johnson-Smith, Sir GeoffreyPercival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Pollock, Alexander
Jones, Robert (W Herts)Powell, William (Corby)
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelPowley, John
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithPrior, Rt Hon James
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineRaffan, Keith
Key, RobertRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
King, Roger (B'ham N'field)Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
King, Rt Hon TomRhodes James, Robert
Knight, Gregory (Derby N)Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knowles, MichaelRifkind, Malcolm
Lamont, NormanRoberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lang, IanRobinson, Mark (N'port W)
Lawler, GeoffreyRoe, Mrs Marion
Lawrence, IvanRowe, Andrew
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelRumbold, Mrs Angela
Lee, John (Pendle)Ryder, Richard
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Sackville, Hon Thomas
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkSainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)Sayeed, Jonathan
Lilley, PeterScott, Nicholas
Lloyd, Ian (Havant)Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lord, MichaelShelton, William (Streatham)
Luce, RichardShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lyell, NicholasShersby, Michael
McCrindle, RobertSilvester, Fred
McCurley, Mrs AnnaSims, Roger
Macfarlane, NeilSkeet, T. H. H.
MacGregor, JohnSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)Soames, Hon Nicholas
Maclean, David John.Speller, Tony
Madel, DavidSpence, John
Major, JohnSpencer, D.
Maples, JohnSpicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Marland, PaulSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Marlow, AntonySquire, Robin
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Stanbrook, Ivor
Mates, MichaelStanley, John
Maude, FrancisStern, Michael
Mawhinney, Dr BrianStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Mayhew, Sir PatrickStevens, Martin (Fulham)
Mellor, DavidStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Merchant, PiersStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Miller, Hal (B'grove)Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Mills, Iain (Meriden)Stokes, John
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)Stradling Thomas, J.
Miscampbell, NormanSumberg, David
Mitchell, David (NW Hants)Tapsell, Peter
Moate, RogerTaylor, John (Solihull)
Monro, Sir HectorTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Montgomery, FergusTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Moore, JohnTemple-Morris, Peter
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)Terlezki, Stefan
Moynihan, Hon C.Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Mudd, DavidThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Murphy, ChristopherThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Neale, GerrardThorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Needham, RichardThornton, Malcolm
Nelson, AnthonyThurnham, Peter
Neubert, MichaelTownend, John (Bridlington)
Newton, TonyTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Nicholls, PatrickTracey, Richard
Normanton, TomTrippier, David
Norris, StevenTrotter, Neville
Onslow, CranleyTwinn, Dr Ian
Oppenheim, Philipvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Osborn, Sir JohnVaughan, Dr Gerard
Ottaway, RichardViggers, Peter
Page, John (Harrow W)Waddington, David
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilWaldegrave, Hon William
Parris, MatthewWalden, George
Patten, Christopher (Bath)Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Patten, John (Oxford)Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Pattie, GeoffreyWaller, Gary
Pawsey, JamesWard, John
Wardle, C. (Bexhill)Wolfson, Mark
Warren, KennethWood, Timothy
Watson, JohnWoodcock, Michael
Watts, JohnYeo, Tim
Wells, John (Maidstone)Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wheeler, JohnYounger, Rt Hon George
Whitfield, John
Whitney, RaymondTellers for the Ayes:
Wiggin, JerryMr. Carol Mather and
Wilkinson, JohnMr. Robert Boscawen.
Winterton, Mrs Ann
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldRogers, Allan
Kennedy, CharlesRooker, J. W.
Kirkwood, ArchibaldRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Lambie, DavidRoss, Wm. (Londonderry)
Leadbitter, TedSkinner, Dennis
Lewis, Terence (Worsley)Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Litherland, RobertSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Loyden, EdwardSpeed, Keith
McDonald, Dr OonaghSteel, Rt Hon David
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Stott, Roger
McTaggart, RobertStraw, Jack
McWilliam, JohnThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Madden, MaxThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Maginnis, KenTorney, Tom
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Wallace, James
Maxton, JohnWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Michie, WilliamWareing, Robert
Nellist, DavidWigley, Dafydd
O'Neill, MartinWinnick, David
Parry, RobertWrigglesworth, Ian
Penhaligon, DavidYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Pike, Peter
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)Tellers for the Noes:
Prescott, JohnMr. A. J. Beith and
Redmond, M.Mr. Michael Meadowcroft.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Rates Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of—

  1. (a) any administrative expenses incurred by the Secretary of State in consequence of that Act; and
  2. (b) any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable out of such moneys under any other Act.