Rates

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th June 1985.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Anthony Favell Mr Anthony Favell , Stockport 12:00 am, 5th June 1985

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received about the effect of rates on trade and industry.

Photo of Mr Norman Lamont Mr Norman Lamont , Kingston upon Thames

A number of representations have been received from various bodies on behalf of industry and from individual business men expressing concern at the adverse effects of rates increases on industry.

Photo of Mr Anthony Favell Mr Anthony Favell , Stockport

Is my hon. Friend aware that Stockport and Manchester are next door to each other and that there is not a blade of grass between the two? Is he aware that the rates in Stockport are two thirds those of Manchester, that Stockport has half the number of local authority employees per head of population and that at the height of the recession, between 1977 and 1981, employment went up in Stockport by 4 per cent, when in Greater Manchester as a whole it went down by 9 per cent.? Does he draw any conclusions from that?

Photo of Mr Norman Lamont Mr Norman Lamont , Kingston upon Thames

My hon. Friend makes a good point. I am not sure that I need to underline his conclusions. Obviously, rates increases cost jobs. Perhaps he should send a copy of his question to right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench.

Photo of Mr Stanley Crowther Mr Stanley Crowther , Rotherham

Is the Minister aware that in my constituency the rates levied on industry and commerce could be at least 30 per cent, lower if the Government of which he is a member had not progressively reduced the rate support grant year by year? Will he therefore make representations in appropriate Cabinet circles for the terrible rate burden to be reduced by restoring the rate support grant to its former level?

Photo of Mr Norman Lamont Mr Norman Lamont , Kingston upon Thames

The hon. Gentleman's assertion would be more convincing if local authorities elsewhere in the country had not managed to combine a reduction in the rate support grant with modest rate increases. If empty buses did not travel half the night through Sheffield, the rates there would be a lot lower.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Southend East

Can my hon. Friend explain to hard-pressed employers in Southend, who pay a lot in rates despite the excellent prudence of the splendid Southend borough council, why they should pay quite so much when the agriculture industry makes no rates contribution whatsoever?

Photo of Mr Norman Lamont Mr Norman Lamont , Kingston upon Thames

Fortunately, I am not responsible for The Times this morning, the Department of the Environment or for agriculture so I shall pass on that question.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Denton and Reddish

Does the Minister accept that the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Favell) has his facts wrong, because there is a considerable area of grass between Stockport and Manchester? The biggest problem is that for years Stockport has neglected many of its old council houses. Is the Minister aware that, like the hon. Member for Stockport, I should like them to be modernised? Is not the problem that such modernisation involves local government expenditure, not only in money but in staff, to ensure that the work is done?

Photo of Mr Norman Lamont Mr Norman Lamont , Kingston upon Thames

Yes, but other local authorities have absorbed cuts in the rate support grant. Local authority expenditure in England has been rising by about 8 per cent, in real terms. There is no reason why people should expect to be subsidised by the general taxpayer in that respect.