Local Government

– in the House of Commons at 10:31 pm on 23rd January 1984.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 10:31 pm, 23rd January 1984

First, I congratulate the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Mr. Carttiss) on his maiden speech. It was an excellent and courageous speech which ably fulfilled the first duty of us all, which is to represent our constituents.

This debate has proved an even greater embarrassment to the Government than the debate on the Rates Bill just six days ago. At least in that debate five Conservative Back Benchers spoke in favour of the Bill. Today only one speaker has supported the Bill. Indeed, the score stands at 22 to 1, and it includes 10 own goals. Ten of the 11 speeches from the Conservative Back Benches have been thoroughly against the report on the rate support grant settlement. Even the hon. Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill), who began his speech with a vitriolic attack on the spending policies of the Islington borough council—that was just the froth—reserved his venom for his own Government and Ministers.

We make five charges against the Secretary of State and the Conservaive Government. First, the Government alone are responsible for the fact that there will be rate rises of at least 8p in the pound—and, in many cases, up to 40p in the pound—in Conservative as well as Labour areas, in counties as well as towns and cities. Second, the Secretary of State has fixed the system of grant assessments so as to penalise the most hard-pressed areas — almost invariably Labour—and force up their rates significantly more than the average. Third, the Secretary of State has claimed as overspenders many Labour authorities which have, in fact, made real cuts in their expenditure over the past four years. Fourth, by reducing the proportion of the rate support grant, most authorities, including many of those which have done exactly what the Secretary of State and his Conservative predecessors sought, face massive rate rises or cuts in services, or both. Fifthly, the Secretary of State has imposed upon local authorities demands about cuts in services and general improvements in efficiency which central Government have manifestly failed to achieve themselves.

The vote against the Rates Bill last Tuesday was lost but the argument against it was overwhelmingly won—on the question why rates have risen and will rise as much as on the rest of the disreputable and discredited case which the Secretary of State and his junior made for the Bill. In the now immortal words of the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Sir I. Gilmour), who was once a leading member of the Prime Minister's Cabinet, It is not a matter of what the Labour Party says. It is the truth. It is the truth that rates go up every year because the Conservative party has cut the rate support grant. In other words, whether one lives in the town or the country, whether one has a Labour or a Conservative council, it is not the local council but the Thatcher Government which has pushed up one's rates in the past and will push them up again next April.

As well as that of the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham, we have the Secretary of State's word for it. Last Tuesday he was forced to admit — wriggle though he might — that the calculations of his hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed) were arithmetically correct when that hon. Member pointed out that had the rate support grant stayed at 60 per cent., as it was in 1979, rates would have risen less than the retail price index rather than rising by 50 per cent. more.

We also have the word of the Association of County Councils, a Conservative-controlled body dominated by the men and women who form the backbone of the Conservative party in its heartland, the shires. The ACC says that the ratepayers face abnormally high increases, serious cuts in services, or both. In discussing why rates have risen more than inflation, the Association of County Councils said that the "excess and more" of the increase in rates above the rate of inflation can be attributed entirely to the action of the Government, by reducing the percentage of their support to local government … and by failing to maintain the real terms value of the domestic rate relief. If these had been properly taken into account then the figures show that rates would have risen more slowly than general inflation. While rates have risen almost everywhere, as both Conservative-controlled associations predicted, there is no question but that some of the greatest increases have occurred and will occur in predominantly Labour and urban areas. The simple reason is that the Secretary of State has manipulated the grant-related expenditure assessment system which allocates rate support grant and the methodology of targets to ensure that those areas, which on the whole need most, should receive least.

The Secretary of State claims that the GREA system is an objective measure of the amount needed to provide a standard level of service. In doing so, and then making grant-related assessments the yardstick against which to measure individual authorities' assessments, the Secretary of State is using the assessments in a way in which his predecessor, the Minister for Local Government, explicitly pledged to the House that they would never be used. GREAs can at best be no more than a rough and ready way of allocating grant to local authorities. Apart from the opportunities that the system may provide for political bias, no one who has studied the appendix to the report could possibly come to any conclusion but that the system is riddled with value judgments of an arbitrary kind.

I shall give a non-political example. Does anybody seriously believe—does the Secretary of State believe—that the only indicators of whether children under five will be at risk, and thus impose demands upon the social services, are whether they have a black father or mother, whether their parents are separated, or whether they live in a house with no inside water closet or bath? Yet that is what the grant-related assessment says. That is what the Secretary of State asserts. Both are wrong in a way that should offend both our compassion and our common sense.

In the selection of factors, the weight given to them and the Secretary of State's discretion over multipliers, the system is open to clear political bias and has been used by the Secretary of State in a wholly unacceptable and subjective way. The Secretary of State, in defending himself against the charge by the Opposition that expenditure by the Government had risen faster than that of local government, said that unemployment had doubled. Does he not realise that the doubling of unemployment—the 3·5 million on the dole—imposes additional demands not only on the Government but on local authorities? Yet the weight given in the GREAs to adult unemployment is minimal compared to the overwhelming burden that its growth has imposed on so much of the country, nowhere as much as in the inner urban areas.

With regard to how the grant system has been manipulated, we not only have to take my word for it or that of the ACC, but we have the word of the Secretary of State, at least as communicated by the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner). The Financial Times of 5 December, commenting on the howls from the ratepayers of Reigate about what will happen to them in April, stated: Mr. George Gardiner, the local Tory MP, has told the council that Mr. Jenkin 'grabbed me in the division lobby to say he had instructed his department to "feed every possible solution into the computer" to try to find a way of helping Reigate'. Did the Secretary of State say that, or was the hon. Member for Reigate making it up? If the right hon. Gentleman said that, what was the purpose of feeding every possible solution into the computer if not to manipulate the system of GREAs, or was it of targets, in a purely partisan and political way? The Secretary of State has the gall to call the system objective. As the ACC commented, The operation of targets"— the Secretary of State's computer— has robbed GREs of their last vestiges of credibility. I hope very much that no Conservative Member will be taken in by the syrupy words of the Secretary of State about how the system might be changed next year. It is a promise of jam tomorrow that will not come right. All that is on offer under this Secretary of State is brimstone tomorrow.

As the right hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) said, these promises ring hollow when compared to the experience of local government. As the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) said, what the Secretary of State was doing was encapsulating the doctrine of "mailana", that something would turn up. Conservative as well as Labour authorities had promise after promise, and I hope that their representatives are not willing to accept more promises or unbankable cheques from the Secretary of State and his junior.

To justify himself, not least to his sceptics on Conservative Benches, the Secretary of State said, as he told the ACC conference in Cardiff, that the high spenders were depriving the shire counties of resources which you need in your counties. That statement is simply and categorically incorrect. In every single statement by Conservative local authority associations, the blame for high rate increases has been placed exclusively at the door of the Government. In not one of any of their statements have Conservative local authority leaders suggested that the higher-spending Labour authorities are to blame, nor arithmetically could that be true. The amount of rate support grant that each Conservative area has received cannot possibly have been affected by the other authorities' budgets. The system simply does not work in that way. The Government, for all the Secretary of State's complaints, have made a handsome profit out of the alleged overspending by Labour authorities. The £280 million that the Secretary of State has docked from the rate support grant of higher-spending authorities has been retained by the Treasury to reduce the public sector borrowing requirement.

Let us hear no more complaints by Conservative Members that what Labour authorities are doing is pushing up public borrowing. What Labour authorities have been doing for the last year, thanks to the Secretary of State's system, is pushing down Government borrowing to the tune of £280 million. None the less, the Secretary of State persists in his mendacious justification of this settlement by pointing to high spenders who continue to spend with no regard to national policies or the burden to their ratepayers". It is, indeed, the case that some of the authorities on the Secretary of State's hit list—though far fewer than he would have the House believe — have increased their spending by more than the average, just as the national Government have increased their spending on some services—for example, on defence and unemployment—by considerably more than the average. These overspending authorities fall into three categories—the GLC and ILEA, some inner London boroughs and the metropolitan counties.

Most of the GLC's increase in spending has gone on additional subsidy to London Transport. This additional subsidy has proved overwhelmingly popular with the 90 per cent. of Londoners who use public transport in London—not that the Secretary of State would know anything about that. This year, so popular has the travelcard proved that London Transport will make £40 million profit from the scheme. The Secretary of State for Transport has said that the present fares will not increase significantly above the level of inflation. Unless the Secretary of State for Transport is lying to the House, he will, when he takes over London Transport, have to confirm more or less the same level of subsidy as the GLC is providing today.

As for ILEA, its costs are higher than other counties elsewhere, but so, too, are those of other London services provided centrally — for example, the Metropolitan police. There has been a reduction, not an increase, in staff by ILEA of 3 percentage points, and ILEA's expenditure, which has increased by 95 per cent. since 1979, has increased less fast than central Government's expenditure on goods and services.

As for the London boroughs, they, too, have had to meet massive increases in demands, especially for social services. As the Alliance Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright)—he is no particular friend of the Labour borough of Greenwich—pointed out in the Rates Bill debate last Tuesday, despite the substantial increases in spending by Greenwich—and Greenwich's spending has gone up by 113 per cent. since 1979—Greenwich still spends less per head on vital services for its electors than many similar boroughs, including Conservative boroughs, according to a study by the very Audit Commission whose work the Secretary of State was commending to the House only six hours ago.

As for the metropolitan counties, their real increase in spending above the average has been approximately 13 per cent. in real terms. That is attributable, first, to the much higher levels of inflation in the fire and police services caused by pay settlements, nationally negotiated and agreed by central Government; and secondly, to the growth in the numbers in the police service and in subsidy to public transport. Forty per cent. of the real growth of the metropolitan counties is a direct result of those counties carrying out the national Government's mandate on the police, the rest as a result of improved support to public transport. That improved level of support to public transport formed a central part of the manifestos on which the Labour party fought and won the county council elections in 1981. That was at a time in 1981 — how time passes and opinions change — when the same Conservative Government who are now seeking to end local democracy had defended the ideal of the local mandate by solemnly telling the House that the ultimate decision on rating and on the volume of expenditure of local authorities is a matter for the councillors themselves", to quote the words of the then Minister for Local Government.

The Government's position is even less defensible, because a Department of Transport study shows that, for every £1 of subsidy paid by the metropolitan counties to public transport, the economies of those areas benefit by £1·20 or £1·30. The Government's claim about the bad effects on local economies of subsidies from the rates have been damned out of their own mouth.

So much for authorities that have, following clear local mandates, spent more than the average. What of those that have spent less than the average but are, nevertheless, attacked daily by the Secretary of State as profligate overspenders? Why does the Secretary of State keep picking on Sheffield and Haringey when their expenditure has risen by less than the average?

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Wanstead and Woodford

Haringey has the highest rate in London.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Of course it has. That is because of the cuts in rate support grant imposed by the Secretary of State. I am talking about what has happened to expenditure.

Why does the Secretary of State keep complaining about rate rises in Newcastle? As he told the House, rates have gone up by 130 per cent. in Newcastle, but the council's expenditure over the past four years—while it has been Labour-controlled — has gone down in real terms; it has risen less than the retail prices index. Will not the Secretary of State admit that the reason why rates have risen in Newcastle has nothing to do with that authority and everything to do with the cuts in rate support grant which he has imposed? What is true for Newcastle is also true for Manchester and Liverpool.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

I bet the Secretary of State is glad that he is not replying to the debate.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The Secretary of State's approach to local government spending is even more outrageous, because the Government are making of local authorities demands that they have manifestly been unable to achieve themselves. Yes, the Government have made cuts in public spending, but they have principally been cuts in grants and subsidies to social security beneficiaries, hard-pressed industries, public transport and, of course, local authorities. When it comes to the services for which the Government are responsible and which Ministers are running, a different picture emerges.

The public expenditure White Paper shows that Government spending on central wages and salaries, goods and services has risen by 101 per cent. — four percentage points more than the comparable spending of local authorities. And those figures exclude the amount by which unemployment benefit has had to rise.

One of the truths about central Government is that they run little directly, but they run defence. Not only has defence expenditure risen by 110 per cent., apparently as a result of a deliberate decision, but we see such enormities as prefabs in the Falklands costing £130,000. We would never hear the last of it if that were being done by a Labour-controlled local authority.

The Government run the Metropolitan police, expenditure on which has gone up by 20 per cent. in real terms, compared with only 15 per cent. on police in the metropolitan counties, yet London still has the least efficient police force, with an expenditure per head twice that of the police forces in the metropolitan counties and with the most overblown bureaucracy. But the GRE system accommodates the Metropolitan police overspend while penalising increased expenditure on the police in other metropolitan areas, despite the fact that that has been done at the behest of the Government.

Then we have the record of the Secretary of State when he was running the National Health Service. What a record that is! He introduced a reorganisation to cut administrative costs. There were no elected councils to get in his way. The transitional costs of the reorganisation—£40 million—were 500 per cent. of what they should have been and—surprise, surprise—there are now 6,000 more administrators in the NHS than there were when the Government took office.

It is this Secretary of State who is now expecting authorities to make cuts of between 3 per cent. and 10 per cent. in their spending in the course of a single year. Thousands of firemen, teachers and social workers face the sack if the Secretary of State's plans go through. The services that they provide to those most in need will be decimated.

Only one hon. Member, the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Maples), has spoken in support of the Government, and he used figures that he had made up.

Photo of John Maples John Maples , Lewisham West

What particular figures is the hon. Gentleman suggesting I made up?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

If the hon. Gentleman did not make them up, they were still very different from the figures that the Secretary of State gave the House on recent spending in Lewisham, which has been less than the average rise for local authorities.

The Association of County Councils has, for the first time, called categorically for the report to be rejected because of the damage that it will do to its Conservative-controlled local authority members. However, this Conservative Government are deaf to criticism. Last week's revolt was brushed aside because, Government business managers told the Financial Times, those dissenting from the Government were either "has-beens" or "never would-bes".

As I told the House last Tuesday, the system of control over local authorities that the Government are taking has no parallel outside the Soviet bloc. We now find the Government adopting not only the methods of the Kremlin but the language as well. In one of the most revealing statements that I have ever read during the period of this Government, we learnt on Friday that Mr. Bernard Ingham, the Prime Minister's press secretary, and a man in whom only last week the Prime Minister was expressing her fulsome confidence, described those who dare to oppose the Government from their Back Benches as "dissidents" who were to be "neutralised". [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have no doubt that Mr. Ingham was reflecting the language of his boss, the Prime Minister, and that opposition inside the Conservative ranks is now to be treated as dissidence.

I hope that Conservative right hon. and hon. Members will not accept such Stalinist sentiments, will show their disgust at the way that the Government are undermining democracy, and recognise that the tradition that the Prime Minister is seeking to establish has nothing to do with the tradition of the British Conservative party and everything to do with an alien, continental Right-wing tradition, which would lead this country and their party down a difficult path.

If we reflect on what has transformed the quality of life of our citizens in the past century, absolute changes in living standards will come a long way down the list. Our nation has been transformed by the provision of pure water, a decent sewerage system, public health control, free education, a free health service, effective public transport, gas and electricity and decent social services. The institutions most responsible for these services, which have pioneered these services and which have, above all others — certainly above central Government — been responsible for the real improvements in our lives, are the local councils, which have provided these services collectively and in a democratically accountable way.

That great Liberal turned Unionist, Joseph Chamberlain. who did so much to transform the lives of the people of Birmingham by such collectively provided, democratically accountable services, would turn in his grave if he knew what vandalism was being wreaked on these services in the name of the Conservative party. We oppose the report because it will wreck education, social services, transport and public health services and will seriously damage the quality of life for millions of our citizens. In doing so, we invite Conservative Members to join hands with their Conservative colleagues in local government and join us in the No Lobby tonight.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West 10:59 pm, 23rd January 1984

The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) never uses one exaggeration when two will do. He scored an own goal by introducing Birmingham, because the gentleman who sits under the portrait of Joseph Chamberlain, and all the other Chamberlains, hanging on the staircase of that great building is not only a stalwart supporter of the Government's rate-capping legislation but for two years running has managed to cut rates. It is an example that Opposition Members should follow.

There have been two, exactly mutually contradictory, lines of criticism of the report in the debate. The Opposition have again and again claimed that targets set for authorities could not be met, or that meeting them would have the direst effect on services. The message from the Labour party was the age-old message of the Labour party in Opposition — although it soon becomes a different tune in Government—that spending where they have any say over it has increased, is increasing, and should be increased even further. That line of argument is most honourable when it is at its most straightforward, as in the speech of the hon. Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald), who argued simply that Labour believes in high spending and that is the end of it.

Against that, we must say, as Conservatives with a large majority in the House, that we take a different view, and that we believe that it is our duty to struggle to restrain spending at the level which the House has approved. Less satisfactory is the argument from some Opposition Members, including the hon. Members for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) and for Blackburn, which makes excuses for high spending, claiming that authorities have been forced into it by the system or by the Government. That is an attempt. for the purposes of debate, to diminish the perfectly straightforward political division between us — Labour high spenders on one side and Conservatives who resist increases in public spending on the other.

The completely contrary argument is put by my right hon. and hon. Friends who have criticised the report. They say, most stalwartly, that spending can and must be held down. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym) said that straightforwardly, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) said it with great force. Even more important, they say that in some cases it has been held down. That is the essence of their case.

My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison) said that the record of central Government was not as good as that of local government in this matter. But that is what the House voted for. In the 1980 White Paper that embodied the policies that we put before the electorate at the 1979 general election, the services that we considered as priorities, such as defence, were mostly those run by central Government. There is nothing surprising about it; that is what we voted for. However, it is not fair for my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes to use the argument—of course, the Opposition use it. because they will use any old argument—that rates have increased because central Government grant was cut. The purpose of cutting central Government grant was not to transfer spending from one tax to another; it was to demonstrate with the only means open to us at the time that: we wanted spending to be reduced.

My right hon. and hon. Friends' criticism is based on the fact that they say that the very thing which the Opposition say cannot or should not be done has been done but has not been sufficiently rewarded or recognised by the Government in this report.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East, who is perhaps the hon. Member with whom I least wish to disagree, reaffirmed his commitment to the control of public spending. But my right hon. Friend must recognise that the system as it now operates was not designed in six months by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. He is the first Minister with the courage to come to the House to ask for direct weapons to use on high-spending councils, to enable him to move towards rewarding the low-spending authorities. My right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton made that point most fairly. The Secretary of State has had the courage to do that, but I shall return to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East.

Photo of Mr Charles Morrison Mr Charles Morrison , Devizes

My hon. Friend has just implied that if the overspend by some local authorities is brought to an end, that will enable the Government to redistribute the money that is saved among the low spenders. Last week, some of us understood that the overspend was an overspend pure and simple and that the Government were trying to save £750 million. If that is right, there will be no money to redistribute. Will my hon. Friend say which is right?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

The two objectives are not incompatible. The first is to save money and to meet the targets that my hon. Friend and the rest of us have voted for. If at the same time we have the subsidiary objective of making the system fairer, surely that is a perfectly honourable position.

Photo of Mr John Gorst Mr John Gorst , Hendon North

Although I understand the reply that my hon. Friend has just given, I do not understand how, when a borough such as Barnet complains that wrong facts are going into the computer, we can expect any sort of justice.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

I believe that the borough of Barnet is complaining about the Audit Commission figures, which are based on the CIPFA figures. No doubt Barnet is conducting that discussion with CIPFA.

The two arguments we have heard today are at completely different ends of the political spectrum. Without doubt, an Opposition whose support is so diminished will look for support where they can find it, but it does little for the consistency or rationality of the case of the hon. Members for Blackburn, Copeland or Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) to pretend that there is any point of genuine contact between their arguments and those of my hon. Friends who are dissatisfied.

My right hon. and hon. Friends make criticisms with which I can feel sympathy, and I shall return to them, but, as for the Labour party, it was with mounting incredulity that I heard the claims about what our targets mean for vital services. Of the 10 authorities being asked to cut by 6 per cent., seven have increased current expenditure by more than 100 per cent. since 1978–79 against a price increase of 71 per cent. The GLC is, of course, being asked to cut spending by roughly a third because it has managed to increase its spending by no less than 185 per cent. in the same period. It has nearly tripled its expenditure.

These are huge real terms increases, and they allow massive room for savings without damaging essential services.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

The hon. Gentleman has just made a 30-minute speech and I am trying to answer the debate.

Some hon. Members — for example, the hon. Member for Newham, North-West—have claimed that the expenditure targets for particular authorities are unattainable. Very high-spending authorities that complain about their settlement targets are complaining about a self-imposed burden. Year after year they have deliberately decided to spend beyond their targets, and, having got themselves into this situation, it is now for those authorities to decide what to do. Authorities remain free to choose to exceed their targets, but the consequence in loss of grant means that rates will be higher than they would otherwise be. If our targets have been so impossibly strict, how are 80 per cent. of local authorities budgeting to spend within 2 per cent. of target in 1983–84? The truth is that the variation in the cost of comparable services between authorities is far too wide to be explained even and only in terms of variations in efficiency; we have to recognise that in many high-spending Labour authorities public spending is seen as an end in itself. The right hon. Member for Halton (Mr. Oakes) asked whether any shires were among the high spenders. I am in the unfortunate position of living in one that is—Avon.

Some of these authorities, not content with being high spenders on traditional local government services, have steadily expanded into other areas. Some of them are intrinsically sensible, such as regional industrial policy and help for the unemployed, but they are areas where Parliament has decided that central Government has the principal responsibility for action. Others are intrinsically absurd for local authorities, such as foreign and defence policy or Northern Ireland policy.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Why does the Under-Secretary categorise Avon as an overspender when its expenditure—an 87 per cent. increase over 1979—is less than the average for local authorities? Apart from the fact that they are Labour-controlled, why are authorities such as Avon, Manchester and Newcastle classed as overspenders when they spent much less than the average?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

The present Conservative opposition in Avon—although it will not be in opposition for long—could easily explain how large savings could be made without damaging any essential services. Those savings should be, and will be, made.

Some of the authorities have launched out into areas that are intrinsically absurd for local authorities, where expenditure has not only been poured down the drain but has been mischievously expended. For example, Sheffield city council has spent £15,000 of ratepayers' money to prepare a video to show Members of Parliament its views on local government finance. The Conservative group on the council prepared a rather better video. I watched it carefully. It cost £50, and they paid for it out of their own pockets. There are hundreds of other examples.

Lambeth is owed almost as much in rent arrears as the whole of Birmingham, which has nearly three times as many tenants. Sheffield and Camden have appointed peace officers on the rates. Sheffield is having a record label and plans a fully equipped recording studio for budding pop stars. Lambeth has decided to pay all the parking fines of its local officials. Camden has put on free exhibitions on peace and disarmament. I hope that I do not need to go on.

Photo of Mr Anthony Favell Mr Anthony Favell , Stockport

Is my hon. Friend aware that in Sheffield it now costs about £1,000 per annum per employee of the British Steel Corporation? Is it small wonder that BSC is on its knees?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

The effect on commerce in Sheffield has been well demonstrated to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State by local business men.

This argument, that many Labour authorities are absurdly high spenders, should not be confused for a moment with the allegation that we do not recognise the particular problems of some urban areas. We do.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

I have been in the Chamber for all the debate and would like to know whether the hon. Gentleman agrees that it was wrong of Nottingham council to give grant aid to the two iceskaters who have just won the European championship.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

I shall pass over that question.

Of course we recognise the real needs of urban areas. Urban areas will get as big a proportion of rate support grant under this settlement, if they spend on target, as they received under the Labour Government's last settlement. London, for example, stands to receive 16 per cent. of block grant in 1984–85 assuming spending at target. In 1977–78, it got 15·1 per cent, of grant. That may be of interest to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West, who asked me about such matters.

So, despite the criticisms we have heard of block grant and GRE methodologies, if—but only if—inner city authorities would take steps to moderate their spending they would get the same sort of share of the total grant cake as they have had under successive Governments. Another way of putting that is that the GREs for inner city areas are usually far higher per head than for other areas, in recognition of the spending need. Of course the system recognises need.

Outside London the nine metropolitan districts with the highest GREs per head are all either partnership or programme authorities. Similarly, inner London boroughs such as Islington, Southwark, Hackney and Lambeth have much higher GREs for the services that they provide than authorities elsewhere.

Our commitment to urban regeneration policies is demonstrated in the continuing partnership and programme authority arrangement. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) reminded us of that. The urban programme grant, which authorities receive already, reduces their net expenditure for comparison against target. In addition, we are proposing again to disregard, when assessing holdback liability, all increased spending by partnership and programme authorities on projects supported by urban programme grant.

The hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett) questioned the section 11 Home Office grant for areas with high Commonwealth immigration. The grants have been supported by hon. Members on both sides in the past. They recognise the need for extra language tuition for new immigrants. There is traditional bipartisan support for those grants.

The fact is, of course, that too many inner city authorities are making no attempt whatsoever to moderate their spending—quite the reverse. They are apparently happy for their ratepayers to suffer the consequences in lost rate support grant. Let us look at Islington, if we can bear that briefly for another moment. Over the last two years alone, its expenditure has risen by 32 per cent, while local authorities' costs have risen by 13 percent. Of course the borough has problems. We recognise that and that is why it is a partnership authority and why its GRE per head is £353 compared to Wandsworth's £240. We cannot ignore massive increases in expenditure of that order. The message is clear. If inner city authorities are losing grant, it is mostly because of their own spending decisions.

I said earlier that I had far more sympathy with the quite different criticisms of my right hon. and hon. Friends. They say not that spending cannot be cut but that it can be, should be and has been, and that particular authorities deserve more credit for that than we have been able to give them so far. That is at the heart of the worries expressed by my right hon. Friends the Members for Cambridgeshire, South-East and Taunton and by my hon. Friends the Members for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) and Devizes.

Some authorities will make great efforts and manage to keep their budgets at or close to target in 1984–85. I pay tribute to them for their efforts. Their most acute worry is about 1985–86. Many authorities, but not all, are telling us that they cannot make further cuts. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has given reassurance on that because, of course, in 1985–86 the picture is importantly different. Subject to Parliament's approval, the Rates Bill will soon be on the statute book. That means that for the first time we shall have the power to restrain the worst excesses of the high spenders directly.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) made a formidable speech, but we are not talking about the doctrine of manana. My right hon. Friend has had the courage to come to the House and to ask for direct powers to take action. Manana has arrived. The situation will be changed by the Rates Bill. As my right hon. Friend made clear, once that Bill is enacted and begins to take effect, we should expect, from 1985–86 onwards, to be able to set targets which take greater account of GREs and thus recognise the efforts that low-spending authorities have made.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East asked me to be more specific. With his long experience of such matters, my right hon. Friend knows that at this stage I cannot give figures for a year when the first PESC round has not yet even started. We had in mind that, subject to overall spending constraints, the rules for target and holdback in 1985–86 will pay greater regard to the present need and the low historic spending levels—some of which go back well beyond 1979 — of authorities which have budgeted prudently and responsibly over the years.

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , South East Cambridgeshire

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. I think that he is trying to help the House in a difficult situation. My right hon. and hon. Friends have spoken throughout the debate about the unfairness to the low-spending authorities. Is my hon. Friend undertaking that in all circumstances he will stop penalising low-spending authorities, pay full regard to the historically low-spending experience of such authorities and treat them fairly? That is what we are asking.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

I understand what my right hon. Friend is asking, and we shall pay regard to it. He will understand that the extent to which we can ease the problems of low-spending authorities must inevitably depend on overall public expenditure.

Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , South East Cambridgeshire

Whatever constraints there may be from 1985–86 and thereafter, will the Minister be fairer to the low-spending authorities than his statement suggests?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

I can give a categorical answer to that question—yes.

The pressure on high-spending authorities to make cuts will be increased because we shall have the means to do this once Parliament has approved the Rates Bill.

I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) that it is not a matter of the formula or the computer. The truth of the matter is that the House has not until now agreed the powers to enable my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to take direct action against the high spenders. We do not have such powers this year, and we must ask for the patience of the genuine low spenders for a little longer.

We have been warned by my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Mr. Carttiss), who made a powerful and excellent maiden speech, and by my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman) that the patience is not unlimited. We all understand that. I hope that the assurances given by my right hon. Friend and repeated by myself make it clear that we understand that. Of course, we will guarantee to examine specific elements. My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes wanted us to re-examine the relationship of the GREs to the expanding areas, and we shall. My right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton asked us to look again at different ways of measuring unit costs, and we shall.

I wish to refer to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West (Mr. Macmillan). I hope that I have already dealt with some of the essential parts of his argument. He also mentioned how the rate-capping Bill might work.

Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way as he has just made a very important statement to the House in response to a question by his right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East (Mr. Pym). How will the Government in fiscal year 1985–86 deliver the wide-ranging commitment that the Minister has just made? Will they abandon penalties, increase public expenditure or change the grant structure?

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

The hon. Member for Copeland knows that we will be in a position, with the support of the House, to cap the high spenders. The commitment that I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, South-East is that the low spenders—those with a record of low spending over the years—will benefit.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West said, correctly, that if high spenders spend less they will get more grant, as they will be subject to less holdback of grant. The extent to which any authority is subject to holdback has no effect whatsoever on the grant entitlement of other authorities. If a high spender cuts its spending, it could get more block grant, but the effect on grant entitlements as between more than 400 authorities in 1985–86 will depend on a series of decisions yet to be taken, such as the threshold above GRE at which block grant begins to taper, the slope of the taper, the calculation of GREs and so on. We will, obviously, have to ensure that decisions on these matters do not negate the purpose of the Rates Bill.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, South-West questioned the room for manoeuvre left by the centrally negotiated pay settlements. Most of those are negotiated on behalf of local authorities at a time of year when they already know the provisional targets. Local authorities have not only the means but the incentive to achieve low pay settlements.

My right hon. Friend also asked what we would do for local authorities if the Rates Bill failed to deliver the savings we expect. I can only say that we are absolutely adamant in our intention that it will deliver those savings. No one should doubt that it can. Those who do should read—

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the Minister to address himself only to those points raised by Conservative Members? I want to hear the answers to my questions on the Merseyside transport supplementary grant.

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

Order. The Minister has dealt fairly with many points that have been raised on both sides of the House. He still has five minutes to go.

Photo of Mr William Waldegrave Mr William Waldegrave , Bristol West

It may be that when we look at the Official Report we will find that I have spent a quarter of an hour dealing with the rather frivolous points raised by Opposition Members.

Those who doubt that savings can be made should read the article by Peter Kellner in the New Statesman, who told Labour readers that the Rates Bill will work.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton made the point once again that targets, as opposed to GREs, reflect to some extent past spending behaviour. The assurance that my right hon. Friend has been able to give is explicitly that once rate capping begins to bite he will ensure a fairer regime for the low spenders.

I wish to make two points about my hon. Friend's well-known and formidable campaign against the rating system. First, the purpose of the cuts in Government grant was not to transfer spending on to the rates but to signal that Government policy was that the 25 per cent, of public spending represented by local authority spending should be diminished. Secondly, I remind my hon. Friend that this report makes a far smaller cut in grant than any of its immediate predecessors.

Even among the low spenders, the remorseless pressure for economy must not be abandoned. My right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton made a powerful speech on that point. I hope that I can guarantee that my right hon. Friend's imperatives to go on searching for economies will be heeded by the Government.

I congratulate the East Sussex county council on being the only county to achieve the volume of savings planned by the Government in 1979–80. Let us remind others that could have done equally well that they must never give up the search for economies. Perhaps that is the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby). The Audit Commission, the comparative figures and the achievements to date all show what can be done.

Let us consider the savings that businesses have had to make to survive in the recession. There is no question that many, even low-spending, authorities can find gains and efficiencies. There is a slightly ritual quality about the prophecies of doom from the Opposition that accompany this statement year in and year out—to be followed every year by further savings, efficiently made, by even some of those who denied that that was possible. To reverse and adapt a remark once made by an ancestor of mine, there has over the past few years been a great deal of wringing of hands and, perhaps, not a sufficiently continuous ringing of alarm bells about expenditure.

My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes told us that we were at the end of the road for finding savings. I know that Wiltshire is a responsible authority—a classic case of the sort of authority that my right hon. Friend will be endeavouring to help in future. My hon. Friend argued that Swindon should be classed as a new town. That has not been the policy of this Government or their predecessors, but the GREs try to take account of expanding areas. We shall look again at that point.

I hope that I have dealt with most of the substantial points raised in the debate. The report provides the necessary basis for local authorities to take final decisions on their budgets. If authorities across the country take responsible decisions and spend to target, that will benefit not only the national economy but the individual ratepayer.

In many instances we would see rate reductions and not merely low rates. I commend the report to the House.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 332, Noes 203.

Division No. 132][11.30 pm
Adley, RobertFallon, Michael
Aitken, JonathanFarr, John
Alexander, RichardFavell, Anthony
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelFenner, Mrs Peggy
Amery, Rt Hon JulianFinsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Amess, DavidFletcher, Alexander
Ancram, MichaelFookes, Miss Janet
Arnold, TomForman, Nigel
Ashby, DavidForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Aspinwall, JackForth, Eric
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Fox, Marcus
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Franks, Cecil
Baker, Kenneth (Mole Valley)Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Freeman, Roger
Baldry, AnthonyFry, Peter
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Gale, Roger
Batiste, SpencerGalley, Roy
Bellingham, HenryGardiner, George (Reigate)
Bendall, VivianGardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Berry, Sir AnthonyGarel-Jones, Tristan
Bevan, David GilroyGlyn, Dr Alan
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnGoodhart, Sir Philip
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterGoodlad, Alastair
Body, RichardGow, Ian
Bonsor, Sir NicholasGower, Sir Raymond
Bottomley, PeterGreenway, Harry
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Gregory, Conal
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Boyson, Dr RhodesGriffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGrist, Ian
Bright, GrahamGround, Patrick
Brinton, TimGrylls, Michael
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonGummer, John Selwyn
Brooke, Hon PeterHamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Bruinvels, PeterHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bryan, Sir PaulHampson, Dr Keith
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.Hanley, Jeremy
Buck, Sir AntonyHargreaves, Kenneth
Budgen, NickHarris, David
Bulmer, EsmondHarvey, Robert
Burt, AlistairHavers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Butcher, JohnHawkins, C. (High Peak)
Butterfill, JohnHawksley, Warren
Carlisle, John (N Luton)Hayhoe, Barney
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hayward, Robert
Carttiss, MichaelHeath, Rt Hon Edward
Chalker, Mrs LyndaHeathcoat-Amory, David
Channon. Rt Hon PaulHenderson, Barry
Chapman, SydneyHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)Hickmet, Richard
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hicks, Robert
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Hill, James
Clegg, Sir WalterHind, Kenneth
Cockeram, EricHirst, Michael
Colvin, MichaelHogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Coombs, SimonHolland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Cope, JohnHolt, Richard
Couchman, JamesHooson, Tom
Cranborne, ViscountHordern, Peter
Crouch, DavidHoward, Michael
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHowarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Dickens, GeoffreyHowarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Dorrell, StephenHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Dover, DenshoreHowell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardHubbard-Miles, Peter
Dunn, RobertHunt, David (Wirral)
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Eggar, TimHunter, Andrew
Emery, Sir PeterHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Evennett, DavidIrving, Charles
Eyre, Sir ReginaldJackson, Robert
Jenkin, Rt Hon PatrickPatten, John (Oxford)
Jessel, TobyPattie, Geoffrey
Johnson-Smith, Sir GeoffreyPawsey, James
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Jones, Robert (W Herts)Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithPink, R. Bonner
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElainePollock, Alexander
Key, RobertPorter, Barry
King, Roger (B'ham N'field)Powell, William (Corby)
King, Rt Hon TomPowley, John
Knight, Gregory (Derby N)aroctor, K. Harvey
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)Raffan, Keith
Knowles, MichaelRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Knox, DavidRathbone, Tim
Lamont, NormanRees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Lang, IanRenton, Tim
Latham, MichaelRidley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lawler, GeoffreyRidsdale, Sir Julian
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelRifkind, Malcolm
Lee, John (Pendle)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkRoe, Mrs Marion
Lester, JimRossi, Sir Hugh
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)Rost, Peter
Lightbown, DavidRowe, Andrew
Lilley, PeterRumbold, Mrs Angela
Lloyd, Ian (Havant)Ryder, Richard
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)Sackville, Hon Thomas
Lord, MichaelSainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lyell, NicholasSayeed, Jonathan
McCurley, Mrs AnnaShaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Macfarlane, NeilShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
MacGregor, JohnShelton, William (Streatham)
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Maclean, David John.Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)Sims, Roger
McQuarrie, AlbertSkeet, T. H. H.
Madel, DavidSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Major, JohnSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Malins, HumfreySoames, Hon Nicholas
Malone, GeraldSpeed, Keith
Maples, JohnSpeller, Tony
Marland, PaulSpence, John
Marlow, AntonySpencer, D.
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Mates, MichaelSquire, Robin
Maude, FrancisStanbrook, Ivor
Mawhinney, Dr BrianStanley, John
Mayhew, Sir PatrickSteen, Anthony
Mellor, DavidStern, Michael
Merchant, PiersStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Meyer, Sir AnthonyStevens, Martin (Fulham)
Miller, Hal (B'grove)Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mills, lain (Meriden)Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Miscampbell, NormanStokes, John
Mitchell, David (NW Hants)Stradling Thomas, J.
Moate, RogerSumberg, David
Monro, Sir HectorTapsell, Peter
Moore, JohnTaylor, John (Solihull)
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Moynihan, Hon C.Temple-Morris, Peter
Mudd, DavidTerlezki, Stefan
Murphy, ChristopherThatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M
Neale, GerrardThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Needham, RichardThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Nelson, AnthonyThorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Neubert, MichaelThornton, Malcolm
Newton, TonyThurnham, Peter
Norris, StevenTownend, John (Bridlington)
Oppenheim, PhilipTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.Tracey, Richard
Osborn, Sir JohnTrippier, David
Ottaway, RichardTrotter, Neville
Page, John (Harrow W)Twinn, Dr Ian
Page, Richard (Herts SW)van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilVaughan, Sir Gerard
Parris, MatthewViggers, Peter
Patten, Christopher (Bath)Waddington, David
Wakeham, Rt Hon JohnWhitfield, John
Waldegrave, Hon WilliamWhitney, Raymond
Walden, GeorgeWiggin, Jerry
Walker, Bill (T'side N)Winterton, Mrs Ann
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)Wolfson, Mark
Waller, GaryWood, Timothy
Ward, JohnWoodcock, Michael
Wardle, C. (Bexhill)Yeo, Tim
Warren, KennethYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Watson, JohnYounger, Rt Hon George
Watts, John
Wells, Bowen (Hertford)Tellers for the Ayes:
Wells, John (Maidstone)Mr. Carol Mather and
Wheeler, JohnMr. Robert Boscawen.
Alton, DavidDavies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Anderson, DonaldDavies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterDavis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Ashley, Rt Hon JackDeakins, Eric
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Dewar, Donald
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Dicks, T.
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Dixon, Donald
Barnett, GuyDobson, Frank
Barron, KevinDormand, Jack
Beckett, Mrs MargaretDouglas, Dick
Beith, A. J.Dubs, Alfred
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Bermingham, GeraldEastham, Ken
Bidwell, SydneyEvans, loan (Cynon Valley)
Blair, AnthonyEvans, John (St. Helens N)
Boothroyd, Miss BettyEwing, Harry
Boyes, RolandFatchett, Derek
Braine, Sir BernardFaulds, Andrew
Bray, Dr JeremyField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Fisher, Mark
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Flannery, Martin
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bruce, MalcolmForrester, John
Caborn, RichardFoster, Derek
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Campbell-Savours, DaleFreeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Carter-Jones, LewisFreud, Clement
Cartwright, JohnGarrett, W. E.
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)George, Bruce
Clarke, ThomasGilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Clay, RobertGolding, John
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)Gould, Bryan
Cohen, HarryGourlay, Harry
Coleman, DonaldHamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.Hardy, Peter
Conlan, BernardHarman, Ms Harriet
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Corbett, RobinHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Corbyn, JeremyHaynes, Frank
Cowans, HarryHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Heffer, Eric S.
Craigen, J. M.Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Crowther, StanHolland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Cunliffe, LawrenceHome Robertson, John
Cunningham, Dr JohnHowell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Dalyell, TarnHowells, Geraint
Hoyle, DouglasPenhaligon, David
Hughes, Mark (Durham)Pike, Peter
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hughes, Roy (Newport East)Prescott, John
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Radice, Giles
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Randall, Stuart
Janner, Hon GrevilleRedmond, M.
John, BrynmorRees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Johnston, RussellRichardson, Ms Jo
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldRoberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Kennedy, CharlesRobertson, George
Kilroy-Silk, RobertRogers, Allan
Kirkwood, ArchibaldRoss, Ernest (Dundee W)
Leadbitter, TedRowlands, Ted
Leighton, RonaldRyman, John
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Sedgemore, Brian
Lewis, Terence (Worsley)Sheerman, Barry
Litherland, RobertSheldon, Rt Hon R.
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lofthouse, GeoffreyShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Loyden, EdwardShort, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
McCartney, HughSilkin, Rt Hon J.
McDonald, Dr OonaghSkinner, Dennis
McGuire, MichaelSmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
McKelvey, WilliamSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Mackenzie, Rt Hon GregorSnape, Peter
Maclennan, RobertSoley, Clive
McNamara, KevinSpearing, Nigel
McTaggart, RobertSteel, Rt Hon David
McWilliam, JohnStott, Roger
Madden, MaxStrang, Gavin
Marek, Dr JohnStraw, Jack
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Mason, Rt Hon RoyThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Maxton, JohnThompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinThorne, Stan (Preston)
Maynard, Miss JoanTinn, James
Meacher, MichaelTorney, Tom
Meadowcroft, MichaelWallace, James
Michie, WilliamWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Mikardo, IanWareing, Robert
Millan, Rt Hon BruceWeetch, Ken
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Welsh, Michael
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Wigley, Dafydd
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Williams, Rt Hon A.
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Winnick, David
Nellist, DavidWinterton, Nicholas
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonWoodall, Alec
O'Brien, WilliamWrigglesworth, Ian
O'Neill, MartinYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Park, GeorgeTellers for the Noes:
Parry, RobertMr. James Hamilton and
Patchett, TerryMr. Allen McKay.
Pendry, Tom

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That the Rate Support Grant Report (England) 1984–85 (House of Commons Paper No. 151), which was laid before this House on 14th December, be approved.